By Elmer A. Josephson
This article is from an unpublished manuscript and Chapter 25 of Israel, God’s Key to World Redemption.
Our religious doctrinal ruts are so deep and our iron-clad concepts of interpretation of Scripture are so cut and dried we could not possibly imagine that we might be wrong in some instances. We are so fully obsessed with getting people ready for heaven that we seem totally oblivious to a real concern for their obedience to Christ on earth; according to the aphorism, “We are so heavenly minded we are no earthly use.” Some could seriously ask (not in slang), “What in the world are you doing for heaven’s sake?” We talk, sing and preach, but do not live “Christ is the Answer.”
Many are concerned with the unlimited horizontal quantity of life, but rather indifferent to the vertical quality of the life of God. Contrariwise, when it comes to “love and fellowship”, we shift our emphasis mostly vertical: professing “we are the people” that have the closest fellowship with God, we greatly forget now the horizontal love and compassion we should have for all, to the sinner and “those who are out of the way.”
Generally speaking the vast majority of Christians do not read the Scriptures in depth. We skim the surface quickly and if we do not understand the passage, we apply our pre-taught, and many times biased concepts. Thinking we are ‘in the groove’, we have actually fallen into a rut. John chapter 6 is a case in point: Jesus, being an observant Jew living in Israel, would of course have a Jewish audience, and so we reason he was speaking specifically to Jews. Yet he said in his discourse, He came to give ‘life unto the world” and since we Gentiles contend He is the world’s Redeemer, let’s take a closer look at John 6.
The main theme of the chapter is world redemption through Him that ‘giveth life unto THE WORLD,” to the nations, as indicated in verse 33. In this passage it is evident Jesus is speaking more of the quality of life rather than its quantity. God in Christ symbolizes Himself as the bread from heaven, not just to give life, but life abundant: healthful, moral and spiritual life unto the world. In this passage, as well as in others, He indicates it is essential to have this bread daily, teaching us to pray, “Give us day by day our daily bread” — rather than interpreting this above passage, “take but one bite and live forever”; i.e., thinking it had only to do with eternal salvation!
This chapter has primarily to do with the quality of that life: “He that eateth [the Word of God day by day – John 1:1-3] shall live by me [that is, become fully alive to enjoy what God meant life to be which Jesus explains in verse 63] “THE WORDS THAT I SPEAK UNTO YOU, THEY ARE SPIRIT AND THEY ARE LIFE.” And these spiritual-bread-eating believers are detected by His Spirit and His life in them. Christ is pointing up how essential it is to read, absorb, believe and to obey the Word of God day by day; not as some superstitious Christian teaching: that eternal life comes by literally partaking of the bread and cup at the communion table. Some have actually held their hand over their mouth lest they cough out the bread and with it their eternal life!
To the World
It is essential that we understand John’s Gospel was written primarily to the world. The word, “world” appears 18 times in Matthew; 5 times in Mark; 10 times in Luke, but 80 times in the Gospel of John, which clearly indicates that the latter is written especially for and addressed by-and-large to the whole Gentile world. Much difficulty is encountered when attempting to apply all Gentile passages to Jews who “shall not be reckoned among the nations . . . Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth to be thine inheritance: (Num. 23:9; I Kings 8:53).
A key verse is, “I SPEAK TO THE WORLD those things which I have heard of Him” (John 8:26) — indicated by many passages such as, “that was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh INTO THE WORLD” (John 1:9). And verse 29, ”Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin OF THE WORLD.”
John 3:16, “God so loved the WORLD, that he gave his only begotten son [He then goes on to conclude] that whosoever believeth in him . . . shall have everlasting life.”
V. 17, “For God sent not his son INTO THE WORLD to condemn THE WORLD, but that the WORLD through him might be saved” — salvaged, redeemed, restored!
The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at Jacob’s well brought many Samaritans to Jesus and they said: “Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves and know indeed that this is the Christ [Messiah], the SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD” (John 4:42).
In Christ’s great discourse on the bread of life in John 6, he said, “For the bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven and giveth life UNTO THE WORLD . . . And the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD’ (John 6:33 & 51).
After attending the Feast of Tabernacles at the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus declared, “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”
Know Who He is?
The whole concept of God’s redemptive compassion, peace and love was conceived by the Father, given by Him through Israel and revealed through Christ to the nations.
We must conclude that Christ’s ministry is wrought by the Spirit of God (Zech. 4:6). Christ does all things by the Spirit as when he came to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. Christ in this dispensation makes himself known by the Spirit. Before his ascension, he promised his disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:18), predicting the coming of God’s Spirit (Acts 1:4-8, 2:17-18).
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I AM in the midst.” His invisibility makes him no less present.
In the same manner His Kingdom will be established as Zechariah was told, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of Hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
Our newspapers are giving accounts daily of: “I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee” (part of the Everlasting Abrahamic Covenant in Gen. 12).
Those of us who profess Christ need to become better acquainted with Him and truly fear him rightly, more than a plush fire-escape to heaven! Does he have “all power [authority] in heaven and on earth? Did he have power to still the waves, control the very fish in the seas to fill the disciples empty boats? Or did all that diminish and cease when he arose from the dead? “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). -