Sermon - Who is on the Lord's side?

  • Who Is on the Lord's Side?
    The Gospel of John (John 6:51-71)
    Sermon by Rick Crandall

    BACKGROUND:

    *Please open your Bibles to John 6. At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus multiplied five small loaves of bread and two little fish until it was more than enough to feed 5,000 men, plus thousands more women and children!

    *That night, Jesus worked two more amazing miracles to cross over the Sea of Galilee. First, the Lord walked on water about 3 miles to catch up to His disciples in the boat! Then, as soon as Jesus got in the boat, He instantly transported it to Capernaum on the other side of the lake!

    *Some of the people who were miraculously fed caught up to Jesus the next day. They were highly interested in getting a lifetime supply of that free bread. But Jesus used the occasion to point them to infinitely better bread. Jesus pointed them to the only bread that can give eternal life, and that is the Lord Himself.

    *Starting at the end of vs. 32, Jesus said this to them:

    32. . . "My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
    33. "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.''
    34. Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always.''
    35. And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

    *In today's Scripture, Jesus was still trying to teach them the essential truth that He is the Bread of Life. With this background in mind, let's begin by reading vs. 51-71. And as we read, please think about this crucial question: Who is on the Lord's side?

    MESSAGE:

    *During the savage violence of the Civil War, a preacher from the North told President Lincoln that he hoped "the Lord is on our side." Lincoln replied, "I know that the LORD is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the LORD'S side."

    *"Who is on the Lord's side?" This is one of the best known questions in the Old Testament. It's the question that Moses asked after the Children of Israel rebelled against God and began to worship an idol made of gold. In Exodus 32:26, "Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, 'Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. . .'"

    *Who is on the Lord's side? Moses needed to know 3,500 years ago. President Lincoln needed to know in the early 1860s. And we need to know today. Are we on the Lord's side today? Today's Scripture shows us how to get there.

    1. FIRST: WE MUST NOT BACK AWAY FROM JESUS.

    *We must not back away from following Jesus Christ. We must not turn away from following the Lord. But here in God's Word we see a lot of people who backed away from Jesus. Verse 66 says, "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."

    *Why did they make that fatal decision? Because they were offended by Jesus. They were offended by the things Jesus said. Again, the Lord was trying to teach them the crucial truth that HE is the Bread of Life. And by faith we must take Jesus Christ, God's spiritual bread, into our hearts and lives. Then Jesus will give us His eternal life, and when we leave this world, He will take us to Heaven.

    *Many of the Jews were having a hard time understanding this truth, so in vs. 51-58, the Lord made it as clear as it can be. Jesus said:

    51. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
    52. The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"
    53. Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you."
    54. "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
    55. "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed."
    56. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him."
    57. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me."
    58. "This is the bread which came down from heaven not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."

    *That surely seems clear to me! There is no eternal life without Jesus Christ. But many of the people in that crowd either couldn't get it, or wouldn't get it. So, they were offended by Jesus and they rejected the Lord.

    *God's Word shows us their fatal mistake in vs. 59-66:

    59. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
    60. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
    61. When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?"
    62. "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?"
    63. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you (they) are spirit, and they are life."
    64. "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.
    65. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been given to him by My Father."
    66. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

    *Verse 66 tells us that these people were the Lord's disciples. But don't be confused about them being Christians. These people who backed away from the Lord were never true believers. Jesus always knew that, and He said as much in vs. 64: "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe..."

    *God forbid that we would ever back away from following Jesus Christ! But this also means that we shouldn't back away from the Lord's Church. Years ago, "USA Today" reported a survey that said eighty percent of Americans in my generation think you can be a good Christian without going to church. But that's not true!

    *We cannot be good Christians without being actively involved in the Lord's Church! The reason why is because God designed Christian life to be lived in the context of His Church. Ephesians 2:19-22 is a great place to see this truth. There Paul wrote these words to us as Christians:

    19. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
    20. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
    21. in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
    22. in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

    *Church: We are part of the household of God! So we are supposed to be together. Of course I'm not talking about shut-ins, but as long as we are able, all Christians should be actively involved in God's Church.

    *I got my background from church obviously, but I hate going and always have. I have always seen going to church as a waste of my day. I don't need to sing and all that stuff to believe in Jesus. If I go to church the day is shot. I can't work in the yard or just relax on my only day off. So my question is can I give my child a good Christian background from home?"

    *Church: The answer is: NO. You can be saved without going to church. But you cannot be a good Christian without going to church. You cannot be an obedient, growing, serving Christian without going to church. And you cannot give your child a good Christian background without going to church.

    *In Ephesians 2:21-22, Paul also said that Christians are a "building, being joined together" by God. We are growing "into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit."

    *We are a building joined together by God. But think of trying to build a house. Suppose I went out Hwy 4 and laid the foundation. Then I went up to Monroe to nail the studs and rafters. Then I went out to Calhoun and left some shingles on the side of the road. And finally, went down to Olla to lay some brick. That wouldn't be much of a house would it?

    *God has always planned for His church to gather together. That's why Hebrews 10:24-25 says:

    24... Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
    25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

    *We shouldn't back away from following Jesus, and we shouldn't back away from His Church.

    2. TO BE ON THE LORD'S SIDE, WE MUST NOT BACK AWAY FROM JESUS, AND WE MUST NOT BETRAY JESUS.

    *God forbid that we would ever betray our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! But we see a well-known betrayer in this Scripture. I suppose that Judas is the most famous traitor in history.

    *To me it has always been a mystery how someone could spend 3 years with Jesus, see all of the miracles Jesus worked, hear all of the wonderful things Jesus said, and still betray the Lord. But above all other things, Judas was a betrayer. The New Testament speaks of him as a betrayer 35 different times!

    *And Jesus knew all about him from the very beginning. God's Word makes this truth clear at the end of vs. 64. There John wrote: "Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him."

    *Then in vs. 70-71, Jesus said this to His 12 disciples:

    70."Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
    71. He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

    *If Jesus wanted to, He could have stopped Judas at any time. So these verses also prove that Jesus chose to die on the cross for us. That's how much He loves us!

    *But Judas was a betrayer, and He's not the only one. There are many betrayers in the world today, many enemies of the cross.

    *The Apostle Peter warned us about them in his second letter to God's Church. Peter closed out chapter 1 by stressing the great value of God's Word. There he said:

    19. We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
    20. knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
    21. for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

    *Then in chapter 2, Peter gave us this warning:

    1. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

    2. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

    *There are many false teachers in churches today. In the name of anything-goes tolerance, or misguided love, and intellectualism, they are betraying the cause of Jesus Christ. And like Judas, they are part of the organization, but they are not part of the Body of Christ. Some of them have high positions of authority, but they deny the truth about Jesus Christ.

    *One clear example of this kind of betrayal is our most prestigious universities. Most of them were actually founded to train Christian preachers. Harvard University was established in 1636, and their statement of purpose from 1642 basically said that every student's main aim is to know Jesus Christ, and to recognize that Christ is the foundation of all learning. It also demanded that all students exercise themselves in reading the Scriptures twice a day, and be ready to give an account of their proficiency in God's Word.

    *Can you imagine the hate-filled howl that would take place if the administrators enforced those spiritual rules today? What happened to Harvard? It was taken over by enemies of the cross. Somewhere along the way, they were betrayed by false teachers. And God forbid that we would ever betray our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

    3. TO BE ON THE LORD'S SIDE, WE MUST NOT BETRAY JESUS. INSTEAD, WE MUST BELIEVE IN THE LORD.

    *Christians: By the grace of God, we can say that we truly believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The people who believe are the people who have truly eaten the spiritual Bread of Life. We have received Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. And that's the kind of people the other eleven disciples were here in God's Word.

    SO, NOTICE THE LORD'S INVESTIGATION OF HIS FOLLOWERS.

    *We can see it in vs. 66-67:

    66. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
    67. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"

    *In the KJV, Jesus asked, "Will you also go away?" And the key question for us is how committed are we to Jesus Christ? Sometimes we need the Lord to search our hearts. King David showed us this truth in Psalm 139:1-3, where he prayed to the Lord and said:

    1. O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
    2. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
    3. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

    *Then in vs. 23-24, David said:

    23. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
    24. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

    CHRISTIANS: WE NEED THE LORD'S INVESTIGATION. WE ALSO NEED PETER'S INSPIRATION.

    *We need the same kind of inspiration Peter showed in vs. 68-69:

    68. Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
    69. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

    *In other words, "Jesus, you are the one! You are the one and only Savior of the world! There's nowhere else for us to go. But we don't need anywhere else to go! Jesus: You are the one who has the words of eternal life! You are the Christ! The Son of the living God."

    *Here on the resurrection side of the cross, we can also say, "Jesus: You are the one who died on the cross for our sins! And You are the one who rose again from the dead! You are our inspiration!"

    *Jesus Christ is the inspiration for any good thing we could ever do. And there are countless stories of how the Lord has inspired His people.

    *In January 1999, our "Commission Magazine" told one of these stories. It was about one of our missionaries serving in a Muslim country. For the sake of security, they changed the missionary's name to "Bill." Bill made friends with a Muslim man they called "Omar."

    *One day the subject of religion came up, because Omar wanted to share Islam with Bill and take him to the mosque. That opened the door for Bill to begin telling Omar about Jesus. One day, Bill asked Omar, "Why do you think what I believe is wrong?"

    *Omar replied: "Bill, you believe in Jesus. We do too, but as a prophet, not as God. How can God have a son? You shouldn't say that; it is a grave sin. You will be burned in hell forever. Friend, I want to save you."

    *Bill said, "Open your eyes. Open your heart. God is not limited, my friend. He made you and will show himself to you. Ask him."

    *Omar went home with a storm in his heart. He couldn't eat or sleep. But he kept praying. Days later, Bill said, "Omar, this is the time to challenge God. Find a quiet place, close the door and kneel before him. Ask him to come to you in the name of Buddha, in the Hindu gods' names, in Muhammad's name and in Jesus' name. See which name he answers."

    *Omar later gave this tremendous report: "I came to my room and closed the door and windows. I knelt before God and put a chair in front of me, like he would come and sit there. I said, 'God, all these years I have prayed to you. You know my heart. I want to know you. I need to challenge you. Talk to me. If you are the God who created me, I ask you to come to me in Buddha's name.' I waited. No answer. Then I said, 'I ask you to come to me in the name of all those Hindu gods. If this is the way you want me to worship you, I will worship those idols.' I waited 5 minutes, 10 minutes. No answer.

    *Then I started praying in the name of Muhammad. My heart was heavy, because I always had such respect toward Muhammad, the holy, beloved prophet of God. I told God, 'All these years I have been praying to you through Muhammad. The time has come now to ask you if Muhammad is the anointed one.' There were tears in my eyes. I waited, 10, 20, 30 minutes. No answer.

    *Then, unwillingly, I said, 'If you want me to pray in Jesus' name, if he is your real anointed one, I ask you to come and talk to me.' Let me tell you, I didn't have to wait 30 minutes! Right at that moment, I felt like someone walked into my room. The hair on my body stood up. I felt from my feet to my head that somebody was touching me. I heard a voice saying, 'Omar, I am Jesus, your Lord. I love you. Do you want to know anything more?'

    *I cried, 'No, my Lord. I trust you! You are my Lord from today. All these years I have been worshipping God, and he never answered. Today, You answered.'

    *I didn't sleep that night. Such joy filled my heart that I had never felt before. The next day I went to see Bill. Before I said anything, he understood. He hugged me and said, 'Son, are you ready?' I said, 'Yes, I'm ready.' In his living room I made my profession of faith. From that day on, God has had such mercy and grace to this sinner. To this day I am serving Jesus in His ministry."

    CONCLUSION:

    *What a great testimony! "From that day on, God has had such mercy and grace to this sinner." And "To this day I am serving Jesus in His ministry."

    *That should be our testimony too! Jesus was the one for Omar. And He is the one for us. Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world! So as we go to God in prayer, call on Jesus to save you! Make sure you are also on the Lord's side.

    Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal! life, John 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him Prov. 2, 3.

    Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoretical observations of Language and Logick, and in practical! and spiritual! truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple, Psalm, 119:130.