Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . The offence of the Gospel

. The offence of the Gospel

THE OFFENCE OF THE GOSPEL

 

John 6:52-59 (ESV) 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, 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 feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on 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 whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.”

 

Introduction.

 

The first few words triggered my theme for today.

 

We live in a day and age where people want to be none-offensive as far as the gospel is concerned. When it comes to the gospel, some believe the gospel must be pluralistic, others believe it must be gender sensitive, others believe it must be politically correct, and others believe it must be seeker sensitive. So, whatever they want to hear, we must let them hear that.

 

Now where do we get the idea that the gospel must not offend? Here we see people offended by Christ. Now I know that there are some who try and make the gospel inoffensive and they blame Paul for it. They love to quote Paul from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV) 19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

However, all Paul is saying here is that he had ‘limited his personal liberties’ for the sake of reaching people with the gospel but never have these words been more misconstrued and abused than in the day we are living in. Paul most definitely does not say that he has modified the gospel. These words have been used to excuse things done in the name of ministry that are completely foreign to the spirit of the gospel.

Never were these words meant to teach believers to allow themselves to be shaped according to the world’s fashions and agenda.

And never were these words meant to teach us to take the sharp edge off the gospel in a way that we tamper with the Word of God. Paul never meant that we tamper with the gospel at all. On the contrary, look at what he says in Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) “6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I think Paul’s motives are clear here.

Never were these words of Paul meant to teach believers that they were to create an atmosphere contrary to the character of God’s holiness and God’s truth in the name of presenting a Holy and truthful Saviour.

Never were these words meant to create an atmosphere that is light and flippant in order to present the most serious message a living soul will ever hear.

 

The very verses I read a few moments ago are the driving force behind the seeker-sensitive movement where they market Jesus just like any commodity that we want to sell. For this purpose, some have really turned Jesus into just another god that has to be put on the shelf with many other god’s. One of the proponents of the emerging Church movement made some radical claims that affect the gospel. When writing about his missional views McLaren is very clear in his book ‘A generous Orthodoxy’ on page 264 that Although I hope that all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don’t hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus.” We need to think of the implication of this when it is drawn to its logical end result. You walk down the street doing evangelism and someone says to you, ‘oh, by the way, I am a Muslim follower of Jesus.’ This is not the gospel of Christ.

Now what has all of what I just said have to do with the text before us? The reason this has grabbed my heart is that in our text with our Saviour we see something entirely different. Far from avoiding the offence of the truth concerning Him, it is almost as if Jesus escalates it. I believe that the way we share the gospel should compare more with what Christ and the Apostles said and did.

The focus of Christ’s message here is how someone appropriates Him as the bread of life. There are many questions here. We know that Jesus is the bread of life but what does that mean for the individual who is presented with that truth?  What are we who hear the gospel to do with it?  What are we who hear about Jesus to do with Him?

 

That is the subject matter here.

Point 1. We see their misunderstanding

John 6:52 (ESV) 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

The first thing we see in verse 52 is that the Jews didn’t understand what He was talking about. It is because Jesus said in verse 51 that He is the bread that came down from heaven. We see them grumbling in verse 46, now they argue amongst each other. In verse 61 you will see the many disciples of Jesus grumbling, just because they don’t understand. Even to them this was a bothersome statement.  Look at John 6:60 (ESV) 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

 

Now you and I know in hindsight that when Jesus talked about giving His flesh for the life of the world, He was speaking of His death on a cross. And when Jesus, as we will see in a moment, talks about someone eating His flesh or drinking His blood, He isn’t talking about cannibalism, nor is He talking about anything having to do with sacraments. Some have taken these verses to teach that when you partake of the symbols at communion it literally turns into the body of Christ and into the blood of Christ, and you literally eat Him to have eternal life. That is as big a distortion of the truth as what these Jews were doing in their minds with the truth.

 

Jesus is talking about appropriation. He is talking about believing, coming to Him by faith. Jesus is very clear in this section that He is talking about faith. We see this in verse 47 where He said: I tell you the truth; he who believes has everlasting life.” These guys are confused. They do not understand what Jesus is about. They were thinking in physical terms – He was speaking in spiritual terms. They were thinking in literal terms – He was speaking in metaphorical terms. And the result of their misunderstanding was that they were offended.

 

Their problem was the age-old problem with so many people. If something does not make sense to me, then it is nonsense.

 

But how does Jesus respond to their grumbling, arguing, misunderstanding and offense?

 

Point 2. We see Christ’s response. (VS.53-58)

Look at what He says in verse 53: 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Now, doesn’t this sound just shocking?

 

Isn’t this the wrong way to go about it?  If I was Jesus, would I not rather correct their misunderstanding, or clarify a little bit better what I mean, or maybe restate the same truth but in a little bit of a simpler fashion. But Jesus does not do that. Look what He does.

 

2.1 He makes it more difficult.

 

Can you think of anything more offensive to the Jewish mind than the thought of eating a man’s flesh and drinking His blood? What Jesus did here is to make the gospel more offensive to the Jewish mind in the language that He used. The error was not in His teaching; the problem was in their listening. Jesus by the way a little later says this with regard to their misunderstanding in verse 63: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

So what lesson is there in this for us? A few things stand out in the preaching of the gospel.

 

Firstly, the teaching of the gospel should be bold. The teaching of Christ had authority. We see the same with the apostles. When they preached people either repented or wanted to kill them. In Acts 4 the Christians pray that God will enable them to preach with boldness, and in Acts 28:31 we read that Paul proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about Christ with boldness. Let me tell you this. We must not be dogmatic about the gospel, we must be bull-dogmatic. Too many people are catmatic and pussyfoot around the issues. When people grumble, let them, but we do not restructure, redefine and re-interpret the gospel to make it less offensive.

 

Secondly, the gospel is offensive to anyone who is not desperate for life. Until man understands by the power of the Holy Spirit his desperate condition, he will be offended with the gospel.


Thirdly, the gospel is narrow and leaves no room for any other option. Christ is emphatic here in what he says about eating his flesh and drinking His blood. There are no counter arguments. There is one way, one gospel and that is to eat of Christ.  The Gospel is offensive to those who want a broader way, but we know that narrow is the way that leads to eternal life. We are not negotiating with sinners, we simply declare God’s terms.


Fourthly, the gospel brings about a great change. The change is phenomenal, it is enormous. So, we realise that natural man is repulsed by the gospel but at Salvation he embraces the very thing that repulses him. For these Jews to be saved they need to go from being offended by His words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood to embracing His words, but more than that – to embrace Him. If they were not willing to do that, they would not have life. And we know that the only reason they can do it is because the Father draws them.

 

So, Jesus makes it more difficult, but He also makes it clearer.

 

2.2 He does make it clearer.

 

The first thing Jesus tells them is that you must receive Him at a point in time to have life. John 6:53 (ESV) 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” When Jesus talks about eating and drinking in verse 53 it is in the aorist tense. Now, remember last week we saw that eating and drinking means to believe in Jesus, to come to Jesus. This might be instant, it might happen in your life, where you see the fruit of salvation. It is not about Christian rituals and habits, but about faith. If you cannot declare faith in Christ as a done deal, then there is no salvation.

 

Now I know that there are times when a person cannot pin point the exact date, but eating of Christ and drinking of Christ happened at a point in time. You don’t just pick up Christianity, no – you become a Christian, when there is new birth, when there is faith in the Lord Jesus. Now some of you might say that you are really troubled because you cannot figure out the time, it feels like to you that it happened over time. Let me solve your predicament with the words of CH Spurgeon: “you don’t have to know when you are born to know that you are alive, but I certainly can tell you that if you are alive, you were born.” The issue is not the date, the issue is “do you really believe”, and if you do, then there was a point in which God birthed you from above. There was a time that you were dead and then God made you alive.

 

Secondly you must receive Him in terms of atonement. John 6:54 (ESV) 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” When you come to Jesus in terms of atonement you believe He gave His life on a cross, you believe that His blood was shed for the remission of your sins. You come to Him as a Saviour, as the sin sacrifice for your sins. Jesus is not a social gospel; Jesus is a crucified Saviour and must be believed in as such. We have not preached the gospel until we have preached Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We have not preached the gospel until we have preached Jesus crucified, risen and coming again. Jesus is not just a helper to help you fix your life up, Jesus is the Saviour who comes to you in such a way that the old man is gone, and the new man has come. But there is something else in verse 54 which is wonderful to take note of.


Thirdlywhoever has eternal life lives on Christ. Notice the word ‘feeds’ there in verse 54. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” It is now no longer in the aorist tense, but it is in the present tense. Who ‘has’ eternal life? It is the person who did not just come to Jesus on one occasion but who lives with Jesus daily. You keep coming to Jesus; you keep on feeding on Him.  Why? Because you are saved by His merits, and you are kept by His merits. So, people who have eternal life are people who are in a living relationship with the Lord Jesus and they live with Him every day. Do you want to know if somebody is saved – look out for those who have a daily relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Life equals Jesus, that is why Paul can say – for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. If life = Jesus – Death = gain. You will have eternal life.

 

FourthlyHe alone can truly satisfy you. John 6:55 (ESV) 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” Now remember again that He is talking spiritually. The bottom line is that you don’t come to Jesus as an experiment, the gospel is not give Jesus a try or a chance – you might try and find your satisfaction in many things, but when you have eaten of Jesus and keep eating of Jesus you are truly satisfied as He is real food and real drink. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

 

Fifthlythis feeding on Christ is a personal union. This means that He is in us, and us in Him and our whole life is lived from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at John 6:56 (ESV) 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” How do I keep on feeding on Jesus, how do I keep drinking of Jesus? You stay in a relationship with Him.  The way to feed on Jesus is to stay in a 24/7 relationship with him where I am continuously feeding on His word and meditating on it, where I am continuously in prayer to Him. It is not a segmented relationship; it is a remaining in Christ daily relationship which is represented by so many things, like reading your Bible, praying, gathering for worship, talking about Him, giving ourselves for the service of Him etc.  None of this must take place if you are not in a relationship with Him. Worship is not just reading your Bible – it is reading it in relationship with Him, praying is not just a prayer, there are many people who do that, but it is 24/7 communion with Him, and so we can go on.

 

Sixthly Christ means to us what the Father means to Him. John 6:57 (ESV) 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.” Christ continuously declared His dependence on the Father. In the same way we are dependent of Christ. That same intimate union that Jesus enjoyed with His Father while on earth is the union that we must enjoy with Christ. He has given us eternal life and that life will never be quenched and will never end because we have been joined to Him forever and northing can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.  It is because He is the vine and I am a branch in union with Him. I bear fruit to the glory of God just as Christ bore fruit to the glory of the Father because I have been joined to Him.

 

After this I am not amazed at the words of Paul in Romans 1:16 (ESV) “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 22 April 2018