In John 6, followed by the masses, Jesus preaches to them how they ought to be saved, declaring, “he who believes has eternal life.” Believes in what, though?
Everyone has their own opinion and reasoning. Furthermore, by our own sinful nature, everyone sees themselves as right in their own eyes (Prov 16:2). But how will we know? How will sinners know their need for a Savior if they have not heard? And how will they know if someone does not preach? (Rom 10:14; Acts 8:31).
For these people, in John 6, Jesus does preach. He preaches the Gospel. In doing this great task, He explains the meaning of the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16), as a typological picture of Himself as the Savior, for the Scriptures “testify about [Jesus]” (John 5:39). Jesus, however, does not sugar coat the message.
He does not attempt to make the sermon appealing for younger generations. Jesus knows nothing about the “seeker sensitive” movement, nor does He tone down His language for the sake of reaching the easily offended. What Jesus has to say is far too important to adulterate the message in anyway. Jesus does not “water down” nor appease the culture. Jesus preaches the Scriptures and asks the people to make a decision: life or death.
This is always the stake when a Christian preacher enters into the pulpit on Sunday morning (or another day.) “Will these people hear the Word of God, believe, do and live or will they not and die?” This is the question for every time the word is opened and explained. Do we still believe that belief and obedience to the Word of God means life or death?
As John recounts in chapter six of his gospel, we see the effects. For the Jews who listen to Jesus’ exposition, they respond with arguing (v. 52), offense (v.60; see Matt 11:6); and grumbling (v.61). John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church, once said that the goal of his preaching is to prompt the people to make a decision: will we do what God has said or will we not? Life and death hangs in that decision (Deut 4:39f).
Will we give God all of our lives or will we not? Will we believe and obey all of His Word, or will we argue, grumble, harden our hearts and abandon Him forever?
Upon hearing Jesus preach in John 6, abandonment is what the people choose (v. 66).
The chaff always blows away (Ps 1:4ff). The true Christians, however, always remain. They are planted in the rich soil (Matt 13). After the others choose death, Jesus then asks the 12 disciples if they will leave Him like the others? To which Peter replies with the wonderful words of God secured preservation, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (v. 69).
Unlike the unbelievers presented in this chapter, the true Christian does not argue over truth with their brothers and sisters in the faith. For the matter is settled: God has spoken in His Word. We may only examine the scriptures to know the truth (Acts 17:11).
The true Christian does not find offense in the Scriptures, either. For God is good and all of His words are good for us (Ps 19:7ff). Thus, when the Word would offend us, we must realize it is not the Word that is not right; rather we are not right. Pray over that.
Furthermore, the true Christian does not grumble at the commandments of God, as if it were some sort of overbearing restraint on them. No, the Word of the Lord is life (Rom 1:16f). It is compassionate in a time of need (Is 42:3), and it is humbling in a time of plenty (Lk 12:16-21). It is convicting in a time of sin (Ezek 18:20, 24), and it is an encouragement in a time of great faith (Rev 21:1-7). Those who love God say in their hearts with the psalmist “O how I love your law! It is my meditation … Sustain me according to Your Word, that I may live.” Ps 119:97, 116)
So, then what is Christian preaching and why does it matter? Christian preaching is only expository preaching. Nothing else will do. The Christian sermon is built, informed, organized and carried along by the Scripture it is expositing. I do not say this out of preference. There is no other. I say this out of the biblical reality of preaching (Neh 8:8; Acts 7; etc.) As Paul relates to the Corinthian church, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord” (1Cor 4:5).
This is Christian preaching. Is this what is happening in your church?
Are the Scriptures being opened, read, explained and applied without fear or preference? Is the preacher bold in their proclamation, drawing authority not from themselves but from the Word? Are they clear, committing themselves not to the culture but to the Scriptures for your sake? Are they workmen, trusting themselves not to the words of man but the Holy Spirit for guidance (2 Cor 2:15)? Is the Word proclaimed in your church? Is it a matter of life and death?
If not, you must ask yourself, “Why am I still here?” If the Word is a matter of life and death to you, think on this. Pray and seek God’s guidance on this important matter. I believe God has given us an opportune time to do so. I pray you will. Until next week, God bless!
(Jeremy Breland is a farmer in Ruffin and a M.Div. student at Southern Seminary. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)