Meditations on Various Scriptures 7

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

After misunderstanding to a degree what Jesus was saying, they asked Him what they were to do in order to do the works of God. It is an interesting way to put it, but John is quite clear that these Jews were looking for works to do in order to obtain eternal life. Jesus just told them that He had to give eternal life to them but they missed that part and focused on the works they were to do in order to work the works of God. This is just like the natural man. He understands that he must do something and perhaps that he must be changed, but he cannot understand that this is quite apart from his works and it must be given to him. The natural man is a Pelagian by nature and unless God opens his eyes he will always understand things in accordance with works and what he can do. Jesus was clear, but the sinful heart of man gives darkened eyes and a darkened understanding.

We live in a world today where the professing Church is like the Jews in many ways. They do not understand the clear teachings of Jesus and twist His words in order that they can actually do works to please God and perhaps even to obtain merit. The natural man does not really understand grace at all, but the little he understands he will hate. Man wants to do the work or at least enough so he can remain in control (he thinks). This is why the natural man hates the sovereignty of God and necessarily the sovereignty of grace (the only kind of grace that there is). The natural man is full of self and blinded by that self as to his own power as well as being at enmity to God. The selfish heart will hate the true God because God is opposed to that sinful heart and all that it loves and desires.

The words of Jesus in response to their question about what works is a profound statement that should impact the way the Church reaches out with the good news of the glory of Christ, but it seems as if the vast majority of the professing Church evangelizes in accordance with the works mentality of the Jews. The modern Church stresses the need for men to believe and to exercise their will in order to believe. The modern Church things and so acts as if men had the power to have faith within them. Though Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the author and finisher (perfecter) of faith; the professing Church wants man to be the author of his own faith. In John 6:29 Jesus has settled the question forever: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” It is not the works that men do, and it is not the work of faith that man must come up with in his own strength. The real issue is that faith is the work of God. We must never get away from that profound teaching. Faith is the work of God. Faith does not come because man works it up in his own strength, but faith is the work of God.

In our preaching and teaching of the Gospel of free-grace we must stress that for the Gospel to be all of grace and nothing but grace then faith itself is the gift of God. All spiritual blessings are in Christ and come to us on behalf of Christ, so faith is a great spiritual blessing. Sinners must be taught to look to God in order to obtain true faith rather than look to themselves for it. Faith is the work of God and Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith. The Gospel of grace alone tells us that we must have faith in order to please God, but it also informs us that this faith comes to us by grace alone too. If faith is necessary to receive grace, then if faith comes by our own work and strength then grace comes because we have worked up faith in our own work and strength. This turns the Gospel of grace alone on its head. We must stand firmly for the fact that faith is the work of God and for man to be saved by grace alone man cannot work up a natural faith from his own dead heart and enmity toward God and expect God to respond with salvation. Oh no, man is to look to God alone who by grace alone gives man a new heart which has true faith.

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