Over the last number of weeks, we have been looking at John 6. Just one day after the feeding of the 5000, the crowds became offended at Jesus’ teaching and largely walked away, never to return. They grumbled about Him, argued with Him, and ultimately decided that they knew better than Jesus did. Their final recorded words, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it” (John 6:60), stand as a warning to all who would reject Jesus because they’re offended at what He says. While few Christians today are offended by Jesus’ claims to be the “bread of life” (v. 35) or the “bread that came down from heaven” (v. 41), many are offended by another teaching of Jesus in this same passage. The teaching that people find so offensive, today, is the idea that no one trusts in Jesus unless God enables them to do so. Let’s look at the text again and see if that’s what it really says.
Several weeks ago a visitor came to our church for the first time. After coming to faith, he had become more and more uncomfortable with his church’s teachings that you can ‘lose your salvation’ if you don’t keep up morally or spiritually. He didn’t know anyone from our church but had visited after finding our church web-site. That morning I taught on the security of a believer from Ephesians 1:11-14, a great passage that explains how God seals and guarantees the salvation He offers. It had been many months since I had taught anything on this theme. What are the chances that he would just randomly walk into our service on the day I was teaching on the very topic he had been struggling with? And yet it happens again and again. According to the survey LifeWay Research published this fall, 60% of people believe that God knows everything, but doesn’t necessarily determine it. Another 11% were unsure. In the case of the newcomer, they feel that God was aware of the amazing coincidence ahead of time, He just wasn’t responsible for it. While that sentiment feels attractive, the Bible paints a very different picture of God. You may be surprised to learn the extent of God’s rule taught in the Scriptures.
At last week’s Fellowship conference there was a report about a youth ministry in a poor, urban area. A teenage girl had been attending the church’s youth group meetings but her attitude was terrible and unfortunately it had spread to other young people in the group. One week the leader took the youth to an evangelistic event geared towards young people. The speaker asked for a volunteer but no one offered to take part, and so he pointed to someone in the crowd and asked for them to come forward. The person he chose was the teenage girl that had been causing so much trouble in the youth group.