Gospel of John
Gospel of John

Gospel of John Study – Part 9

RS:  We have a lot to cover. A lot is said here. I don’t think we’ll probably get through it all. It will spill over into two weeks from now.

You know, what you notice throughout the book of John is there are a number of words that are used consistently. For instance, if you pay close attention, you go in a concordance, and look up, for instance, the word light, L-I-G-H-T, it’s amazing the number of times it turns up in the book of John. The phrase “eternal life” is used a lot, obviously, not only is it mentioned, but how we attain eternal life. But one of the things that Jesus does is He uses a lot of different metaphors, and images to help us to understand certain concepts, particularly eternal life.

And one of the ways He does it, is He says, and you only see it in John, you know, you see a lot of, He comes forth and says, I AM, like He says, I Am the door, you have to enter through me. He says, I Am the Way, I Am the Truth, I Am the Life. He says, I Am the Light of the World. I Am the Good Shepherd. And here we read about Him saying I Am the Bread of Life. And so, He uses the image of bread, which by the way, was one of the, I guess, kind of the central food staple, at that particular time in history. And, if you think about it, bread, like all food, you take it into your body, and the energy of the food you eat is released within you. And that’s physically. And Jesus is saying, that’s what I have come to do in your innermost being, in your heart and your soul. That’s what He wants to do with us spiritually. I mean, you see Him, look at the number of times He said it in verse 27. He says, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” Look at verse 33. He says, “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of Heaven and gives life to the world.” Verse 35, “I Am the bread of Life. He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” And then, 48. “I Am the Bread of Life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died, but here is the bread that comes down from Heaven, which you may eat and not die. I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven.”

I mean, you see this, this theme of being the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Life, that’s come down out of Heaven, and this is quite interesting, what I’m getting ready to share with you, and I think it’s enlightening, and hopefully, it will be enlightening to you. You know the Greek language is interesting. It’s much more dynamic than the English language. For instance, we use the word “love”. We throw “love” around, and it’s almost a meaningless word. Where the Greeks have several different words for love. They have the word, phileo, which is kind of brotherly love, or friendship type of love. Then you have eros, erotic, romantic love. You have agape love, which is selfless Christ-like love. And so, you see this in a number of areas. But where you also see it, and where this is most significant is there are two different Greek words that are used for life. And the first of those words is Bios. And that is physical and biological life. It’s our bodies, our outer bodies. The life of the body. The experience of the body. The other one is an interesting word. It’s the word Zoe, Z-O-E, and it has to do with the quality of your life experience. You see, you can be physically alive and have a horrible quality of life. And we encounter that a lot here in the work we do. And bread, when you see the word “bread”, it’s normally linked to bios, because it’s something you eat and you maintain physical life. But what you read here in John, all the time, every time you see the word “life”, it’s the word Zoe.

And what we’ve said, we saw this with the woman at the well, I share this in The Investigative Study, humans, this is our problem. We often look to things in life that are meant for the bios, the body, thinking they will produce Zoe. In other words, we look to the physical, sensual side of life, thinking that it will satisfy the thirst of our souls. And it doesn’t, in fact, because it can’t. It’s incapable of doing that.

We read this also, I’m just going to turn to this real quick and read it to you, this is what God says to the people of Israel. This is from Isaiah 55. It says, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come, buy, and eat.” Now, when he says, when you have no money, come, buy, and eat, he’s talking about the spiritual dimension of life, because if you are going to go buy food and water and wine, it costs money. Literal food, water, and wine costs money. He says, “Come buy wine and milk.” And you can do it without money and without cost. And on the other hand, why is it that you, in fact, do spend your money on what is not bread and why do you spend your wages on all those things that don’t really satisfy you? He says, listen carefully to me. “Eat what is good and delight yourself in abundance, incline your ear, and come to me, listen that you might really live.” Even though that’s in Hebrew, and they don’t use the word, he’s talking about Zoe.

Now, let me stop here. Comment or question on anything I’ve said?

Unidentified audience member:  Richard, what would you say, just curious, going back to your comment about how the physical side of things does not settle, address the spiritual. How does one discern whether they’ve got truly a physical or a spiritual need?

RS: I think we’ll answer that through the course of this study. And, if I don’t, raise your hand and say, how about addressing my question. All right. I think I’m going to, though. Anybody else?

Okay. Whenever you see the words “eternal life”, it’s not referring necessarily to an eternal existence, because it uses the word Zoe in it. You see, an eternal existence is not what we’re after. Everybody is going to live eternally. What we’re looking for is a Zoe eternal existence that starts now and extends into eternity. Guys, we’re not here just to exist. God’s Will is that we really live, and this is what zoe is. This is what Jesus offers. To live with a sense of purpose and joy and exhilaration. And the question that I would ask kind of relates to what Jim asked. Is that true in your life? You see, by understanding Zoe, it helps us to understand the Scripture better, too. That’s why, someone told me if you really want to understand the Bible, learn Greek. I don’t know of many people who go to the trouble to do that, but it really is helpful when you’re studying the Scripture, to go and look up the Greek words. But, it helps to understand other… Everybody keep your finger at John 6, and turn to John 10. Scott Reed, would you read verse 10? John 10:10.

Scott: Sure. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

RS: How many people do you think out in the world think Jesus is kind of a thief that wants to steal my life, and my fun, and my enjoyment away from me? And He says, I’m no thief. I came that you might have Zoe, is what He says, and that you would have it in abundance. That’s what God wants for us, but He’s saying, I’m the source of that. The Bread of Heaven.

Now, it helped me to really understand, and I’ll give Andy Stanley credit on this, and I went back and looked. In November 2013, which is what, three and a half years ago, I taught on three verses in the book of Galatians. And one of the verses, I just didn’t quite get it, and I’m going to explain to you why in a second, but once you understand what Zoe is, it makes sense. And you know the first verse. It’s Galatians 6:7, which I think is one of the most crucial verses in Scripture, explaining your life and my life. What does it say? “Do not be deceived. God will not be…” what?

Unidentified audience member:  Mocked.

RS: “Whatever a man sows, this he shall also reap.” Critical verse, guys. And notice he does, Paul doesn’t say, you’re going to reap what you sow. He says, first, don’t be deceived. Now, why would he say that? Because we are so easily deceived when it comes to this principle. You heard me say this before. So many men think they can make terrible decisions, and yet reap a great harvest in life. That I can get away with it, I can make bad decisions and get away with it. It’s kind of like the thought of, you know, I can plant watermelon seeds, and get pumpkins. But the bottom line he’s saying is, that whatever you sow, you’re going to reap what you sow. If you plant watermelon seeds, you ‘re going to get watermelons. If you plant pumpkin seeds, you’re going to get pumpkins. And he says, because I will not be mocked. You think you can make decisions? I will not be mocked. And then, a crucial word. Whatever. You know what that means? In any area of your life. Whatever you sow, you’re going to reap. And so, we need to look hard at the decisions that we make because the decisions are really, the decisions and choices is what he’s talking about. Every decision, every choice, has some kind of…?

Unidentified audience member:  Consequence.

RS: Consequence. Good word. Now, then I went into the next verse, and the next verse just really didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Let me really it to you. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature is going to reap destruction.” Well, I got that. I understand that. But then he says, “The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” And I thought, eternal life, I would have thought he would’ve said, will reap a really great life here. And so, it kind of didn’t make sense to me until I understood Zoe. Andy Stanley says, “Zoe is fullness of life.” John Stott said it even better. He says, “It means to experience a full intensity of life now, and throughout eternity.” Bill?

Bill: So, another verb for sows would be follows?

RS: You sow, is just, all right, who is good with words?

Unidentified audience member: It’s to plant.

RS: It’s kind of, you know, whatever decisions you, I see it as decision-making, choices, and whatever choice you make, you’re going to reap something. There is a consequence.

Unidentified audience member: So, you might could say, whatever a man chooses, he will also reap from his choices.

RS: I mean, think about your life today, guys. One day, we’ll probably understand this, and know this. But think about your life today. Your life today is nothing more than the sum of the decisions that you’ve made over the course of time. The bad decisions and the good decisions. And the more good ones you make, the more you’re going to reap, Zoe. That’s what he’s saying there. That’s why when you see the word eternal life, it has the word zoe in it, it means life now and eternal. It’s not eternal existence, it’s real life. And this is what everybody is seeking, this is what everybody is searching for, and yet, it’s so elusive because you’re not looking to the source, the Bread of Heaven. And going back to what Jimbo said, we’re looking for it in the Bios. We’re not looking to the true Bread of Life. We’re looking for it in the bios, out in the world. But Jesus is saying, the Bread of Heaven is where it’s found. That’s what He’s saying to these people in verse 27. He’s talking about Zoe in verse 33, he’s talking about zoe, in 35, zoe. And He’s saying, if you don’t experience Zoe, you’re not really living. And unfortunately, this could be true in Christians’ lives. That we’re not really looking to Christ as a real source of life, and we’re working therefore, for the food which He talks about in verse 27, the food that perishes. Or, as Isaiah said, the bread that does not satisfy. And this is why the Bible speaks often of Zoe, excuse me, of false zoes, which generally are idols in our lives which we talked about back in January. You see, all the false zoes depress your mind’s ability to see reality. It dulls the understanding of reality. That’s what Paul tells us back in Romans 1. If you don’t look for zoe in the Bread of Heaven, you will become darkened in your understanding of life, you will exchange the Truth of God for a lie, and you’ll worship and serve created things instead of the creator.

Now, many people think verse 35 is one of the most significant verses that Jesus ever says. When He says, “I Am the Bread of Life.” But, because of it, of His – and let me stop here real quick. Let me say this. You’ve got to remember who He’s talking to. If you weren’t’ here last week, then it won’t mean as much to you. But these are the same people that walked nine miles to hear Jesus teach and heal, and He fed them all, and then they go back across the Sea of Galilee, and the people follow Him. And what we read is, He says, Ya’ll are here, ya’ll saw this great sign, remember they wanted to make Him what?

Unidentified audience member: King.

RS: They wanted to make Him King. And then here, He starts teaching, and what do they start doing?

Unidentified audience member: Grumbling.

RS: They start grumbling. And then you get to the end of this chapter, Russell’s on his game today. When you get to the end of chapter 6, a lot of these people abandon Him. And a lot are followers of His. It’s kind of like they go, want to make Him King, they start grumbling, they abandon, and then down the road they start yelling to crucify Him. I’m convinced some of these people were the same ones in the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him.” And this is when most people think, you know, at a certain point, everybody loves Jesus. He heals, He teaches, He makes them feel good, I guess. And now He starts talking about something, and they don’t like it as much. He starts saying, talking about the Bread of Heaven, that’s one thing, but He says, I Am the Bread of Heaven. And what did they say? This is Joseph’s son. What in the world is He talking about? They don’t like it. David?

David: Do you ever think, I’m just going to be a minute here, that if I was, we have the benefit of the Bible and looking back, and a lot of preaching, but, if I was standing there back in that day…

RS: It would mystify you, wouldn’t it?

David: I think I would be going, what is this guy talking about?

RS: Jim Boyer made a great statement on that yesterday morning. He says, you know, really to get this, you have to have spiritual eyes. And, in one sense, he’s right. And I kind of agree with you. I’m not sure how I would have responded.

David: I’m really worried. I’m really worried I’ve been going…

RS: Well, you know what the good news is? You’re not back there then, you’re here now, and you’ve got the whole story, right?

David: Amen to that.

RS: Well, the good news is, you might have gotten to see the Resurrection, so that might have changed your mind a little bit. If you were back there.

David: Right.

RS: Because a lot of people got to see that.

David: Right.

RS: Anybody else?

Unidentified audience member:  Well, he does bring up an interesting point. After people were witnessing these things, and if their idea is this earthly King, and He’s created this dynamic shift in that, then all of a sudden, they’ve got to choose what belief system they’re going to adopt.

RS: And you know what really, ultimately turned the Jews away from Him? It was when He let Himself be crucified. Because they said there is no way our Messiah would ever let that happen to Him. Yet, it is prophesied in the Old Testament.

Unidentified audience member: Is that still their hang-up?

RS: You know, I don’t really know what their hand-up is. Someone told me, I asked this guy, I heard him speak a number of years ago, he was Jewish, he became a Christian, and he was now a, I don’t know if he still is, he was a minister at the largest church in Jerusalem, in fact, of all of Israel. And I asked him a question about that. I asked him about Isaiah 53, which is about, the picture of someone being crucified and bearing the sins of the world. And I asked him, what do the Jews say about Isaiah 53. He said, most of them don’t even look at it. It’s almost like they pretend it’s not there. And then he, this is the point he made, Russell. He said, 80% of the Jews in the world are what we call secular Jews. And he said, they don’t know anything about Judaism. You ask them, and we probably know more about Judaism than they do. They don’t care about it. Then you’ve got 20%, he says, that are Orthodox. And you see them around town. They wear the little…the things, they’re serious about their…and I don’t really know, it’s a really good question, but I don’t know any Orthodox Jews to even have a conversation with, but if I could sit down and talk with them, there are a number of questions I would ask. Anybody else?

Unidentified audience member: [Unintelligible 21:52] Orthodox Jews because it seems like part of their regimen is you see them walking a lot.

RS: I think they, I don’t think they can drive on their Sabbath, I think that’s the case.

Unidentified audience member: What about the other 80% he was referring to?

RS: Well, they just think they’re okay because they’re Jewish. I’m one of God’s chosen people, and that’s all. All right, we’ve got to move on. I’ve just got to find where we are.

Unidentified audience member: We’re covering a lot of ground.

RS: We are, we are. Jesus is telling them, and this is the struggle they have, that the Bread of Heaven is not a mystical force, it’s not something that you read in the Old Testament. He says the Bread of Heaven is a person. It’s Me. It’s Me. I Am the Great I AM, that we talked about last week. I’ve come in the flesh and I’m dwelling among you. And what He was really saying, guys, is, and I want to have a relationship with you. I want you to know Me.

And so, I ask you to reflect on your own relationship because the relationships is the key. I mean, this is not rocket science. What makes life so good are relationships. The problem is, so many people have bad relationships and it poisons their life. But He’s saying, good relationships, but more significantly, a relationship with the Bread of Life. And, if you really get to know Jesus, I want to tell you something, it changes everything.

But, I ask you this question, and think about your own relationship. Question, good question. Do you talk to Him every day in a very real way? I mean, you do with your wife. But, do you talk to God in a very real way. I’m not talking about saying the Lord’s Prayer. But talking to Him. And, number two, do you find that He’s teaching you new things in the Scripture? I mean, is He speaking to us? Again, the relationship. Do you find that He’s changing you? Because that is the ultimate by-product of a relationship with God is, He begins to change your life. And then, finally, and only you can answer this. Are you really living? Are you experiencing zoe? Or, are we just kind of existing? Again, only you can answer that. You see, guys, without Christ, there is no Zoe. If you don’t have Him in your life, there is no Zoe. You have no real life. You see, He’s the essential of life, and that’s why He used that word “Bread”. That’s why He’s described as the Bread of Life, and in one of my commentaries that I use, William Barclay’s, he says the hunger of the human soul is ended when you come to know Christ in a very real way. He says, “in Christ, the restless soul is at rest, the hungry heart is satisfied”, and I’m sure this is what Augustine meant when he made that great statement. “God, you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts will not find rest until they rest in Thee.”

Unidentified audience member: Richard, we all know people that, you know, judgmentally, they probably are not Christians, or at least don’t exhibit any of those behaviors, because they seem so full of life, everything is just, do they not have Zoe? Do they, I mean…I don’t think anybody can answer it.

RS: I’ll give you my opinion. I think they’re faking it.

Unidentified audience member: Posers.

RS: Posers, yeah.

Unidentified audience member: True.

RS: No, I think they’re faking it, and, it’s kind of like, the way they – were you there Friday morning at the BCC when I spoke?

Unidentified audience member: No.

RS: Well, you need to listen to it, because I talk about it, I talk about this.

Unidentified audience member: [Unintelligible 26:31] out of town.

[Laughter]

RS: Well, now everybody knows why you weren’t there.

[Multiple concurrent comments]

RS: I really was just asking, because I talk about this. But, you know, one of the real problems, this is the strategy that people take in life is that every single human being struggles with the fear of death and dying, and every year that goes by, it gets worse. And so, one of the things you do, is you look for ways not to think about it, you divert the mind, and you fill your life with activities. You fill your life so that you don’t have to think about it. And that’s what sometimes I think so many people do, but, the problem is, that strategy doesn’t work. I mean, every day you begin to realize, as Paul says, We don’t lose heart, as Christians, even though the outer body is decaying, the inner man is being renewed day by day. And what he’s saying is, if you don’t have Christ, you are losing heart because you don’t have any choice but to lose heart, because your body is decaying, you’re getting old, you’re getting decrepit, and you’re going to die. But we don’t lose heart, he says. Because even though our outer man, we have the opportunity to be renewed day by day by day. And so, that’s what I believe. I could be wrong when I say somebody fakes it, but, if you don’t have Christ, you don’t have any real understanding of why am I here, what’s the reason for my existence, what does life hold for me when I die, and if you don’t have an answer to those questions, it leads to despair. It really does. Anybody else? Good question.

Okay. Let me read what Keller says, and then we’re going to look at something that’s controversial. Controversial is not the right word. There’s disagreement, and I’m going to lay both sides out, and you can kind of figure out where you are on this. But let me read you what Keller says. He says, “Do you see what it means to make Jesus the bread of your life? Something in this life is your bread. There is something that you are pursuing that you believe will lead to an abundant life. The question is, is it Jesus? Do you see that it’s a personal relationship with Him? Because, if not, just like He says in John 6, if not, your bread is going to spoil. It’s going to perish. It will not endure. And that’s why He says, come, take, and eat the Bread of Heaven that endures to eternal life.” That endures to Zoe.

All right. You know, I’ve got a couple of little details I was going to just make a comment about, but I’m not. We’re going to go right into this last issue. Everybody at John 6? Todd, you want to read verses 43 and 44?

Todd: Sure. “Jesus answered and said to them, do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

RS: All right. What does it say in 44? No one can come to me except for who?

Unidentified audience member: The Father.

RS: The Father what?

Unidentified audience member: Draws.

RS: Draws, yeah. The Father draws him. I want to read you that same verse from the Amplified. Listen to this. “No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me.” Jesus says it again in John 12. He says, when I am lifted up, that’s how I draw people to Myself, through the cross. And thus, what He is saying, guys, is that we are Christians by the sheer grace of God. And He’s saying, basically, we need to be drawn by God Himself. Why do you think God has to draw us?

Unidentified audience member: Because we won’t do it.

RS: Because we don’t want to come. Naturally, our natural desire is to not want Him. That’s the nature of sin, to be autonomous. Keep your finger here, and go to Romans 3. Who wants to read? How about reading verse 10, 11, and 12? Romans 3:10-12.

Unidentified audience member: “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

RS: There’s no one who seeks after God, are you kidding me? Is that what He’s saying? That’s what it says. It comes from Psalm 14, by the way. Let me read you another verse. This is Romans 8:7. It says, “The sinful mind of man is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor could it do so.” What he’s saying here, guys, what Paul is saying, is that human beings naturally are hostile to God and His Word. We don’t naturally, think about it, there is nothing natural about wanting to surrender your life to Christ. There is nothing natural about that. We want to do our own thing, we want to live our lives, we want the freedom to do what we want to do, because we’re naturally rebellious, and we’re naturally self-centered. We naturally want our wills, not His.

Again, I don’t know how many of you were at the breakfast at the BCC, but I used the word “unbelief”, that the Bible talks about, part of our depravity, is unbelief. And what is unbelief? It’s a willful refusal to follow Christ. It is intentionally leaving God out of your life, and this is why God has to draw us to Himself, because we don’t naturally want to come. Now, let me give you an example of this, a real-life example in Acts. So, if you would, turn to Acts 16, verse 14. Mike Shannon, you want to read that for us?

Mike: Okay. “One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”

RS: The Lord opened her heart. Paul did not open her heart, did he? Did Lydia voluntarily open her heart? It says, no. It says the Lord opened her heart. You know what it says? It says that we now love Him, not because we first loved Him, but He first loved us. He pursued us, He drew us, He opened our hearts.

Now, let me tell you, I’m just going to share with just a second about my own story, and then I’m going to lay out the two different views on this, and you’ll see how there can be real disagreement here. Forty-four years ago, no, excuse me, 43 and a half years ago, I was a sophomore in college. I was 19, and it was in October of 1973, and I came home for, I think it was a football weekend, that’s when Alabama used to play at Legion Field.

Unidentified audience member: That’s exactly what it was.
RS: Yeah, okay. Fred was my roommate.

[Multiple concurrent comments]

RS: I don’t know; I think you may have been there, Fred. Let me finish my story. Let me finish my story, guys, come on, we won’t ever get out of here. And, I came home for a football game, but also, it was the birthday of a girl that I was really good friends with. There was no romance, in fact, she and her husband are still really good friends today. She was turning 16, and on Saturday night, we were at a party at a guy’s lake house, and a lot of ya’ll know what lake house I’m talking about.

[Multiple concurrent comments]

RS: Was it Spider Lake? He still have that place?

[Multiple concurrent comments]

RS: Anyway, I’m at the, it was a very festive party, if you get my drift, and, but I don’t remember why, but I was not having a good time. I was just, I remember sitting there thinking and looking around and then, it was not an audible voice, guys, but it was like a voice within me. And, at the time, I had no interest in Christianity, I had no interest in it, I had none. Life was good up at Sewanee. But while I was there, I remember it was like a voice that asked me this question. Is this what life is really all about? And guys, that, I believe, was the moment that God really began to draw me to Himself. And it was through some other people, it was through reading books, I even read the Bible, I think Fred thought I’d lost my mind – what’s he doing reading the Bible? And then, some circumstances, and all those came together to Spring Break, March of that year, that would be 1974, that I waved the white flag. And I believe that God opened my heart, and I surrendered. Nobody had, I didn’t pray with anybody or anything, I made that decision. Or that decision was made. Now, this is the difficult component of all of this.

The Bible is clear. He draws us because we don’t want to come. And, in my opinion, He opens the heart, like He did with Lydia. That’s what you call predestination, guys. The election. It came from John Calvin, the central part of the Presbyterian faith, and maybe some others. The other view, and it’s Biblical, is that God draws us to Himself, but ultimately, you have to make the choice. You make the decision. It’s free will. Now, I believe in election. I believe in the first, and the reason is because it’s Biblical, but I understand the free will part because we use the argument of free will to explain evil in the world. So, you can see how there’s two different views, and the hard part of the first one, and I don’t really want to say I struggle with it, but at times, I do. If God draws us, if God opens the heart, okay, He’s opened my heart, well what about my friend down here who is basically a heathen? Why doesn’t He open His heart? Why doesn’t He open everybody’s heart? That’s a legitimate question, and it’s a struggle, if you take the first view. The second view is kind of like, okay, we’re drawn to God, but I choose, and this was part of my story, is that, I think, for the longest time I resisted because of Romans 2:5. Because your stubborn and unrepentant heart. That was a part of the problem. And so, the question, that stubborn and unrepentant heart, does God open it, or do we voluntarily do it ourselves? And there is a difference. Does that make sense, what I’ve said?

Unidentified audience member: What’s the first one again?

Unidentified audience member: Yeah, repeat that.

Unidentified audience member: It sounded like you were using the word election versus choose, or choice.

RS: Well, election means that God, it’s called God’s elect, that there are certain people that, basically, He chooses to open their hearts, and the rest He does not.

Unidentified audience member: That’s what election is.

Unidentified audience member: But, He chose to open, you had to meet Him; I mean, He put the message out there, but you acted upon it.

Unidentified audience member: You chose to read those books.

RS: I understand, I got it.

Unidentified audience member: What they’re asking, I agree. Is there not an association between them?

RS: Yeah, there is. In both cases, you’re drawn, but, in the end, is it like Lydia, where God opens the heart, or do you open your heart yourself voluntarily and surrender?

Unidentified audience member: I think they’re one and the same.

RS: Well, they’re not. I promise you, they’re not. Do ya’ll all know that term, predestination?

Unidentified audience members: Yes.

RS: It’s very controversial; it causes a lot of people.

Unidentified audience member: I just didn’t realize you were on the one.

RS: I am.

Unidentified audience member: I didn’t know that.

RS: Yeah.

Unidentified audience member: You were predestined?

RS: Yeah, I believe in predestination. I believe in the first view that I pointed out, that God opens the heart, and that we don’t.

Unidentified audience member: You’re going to miss your 3:00 meeting, but, doesn’t that, to some degree, say that He’s not a loving God to all them, if you believe that?

RS: Well, that’s what I said a minute ago, that’s why it’s so…that’s the troubling part. Why doesn’t He open everybody’s heart?

Russell: Doesn’t that have direct contradiction and conflict with a loving God who loves all?

RS: Russell, I don’t know that I…somebody put it this way. That everybody is on their way to perish, but that God rescues some of them, but not everybody, and that’s what predestination is.

Unidentified audience member: I don’t like that.

RS: Well, like I said, a lot of people don’t like it.

Unidentified audience member: I’m going with the loving God.

RS: It’s in the 39 articles in the Episcopal Church. Of course, I don’t think the 39 articles are in there anymore. But, anyway, I tell you who gave a great, the best sermon I’ve ever heard, on it, who believes in predestination is Frank Limehouse. In fact, I may try to get a copy of it, and everybody can listen to it. He does a great job explaining it, probably much better than I do. Yeah, Reed, what?

Reed: You do have people who never hear the Word, though, right?

RS: That’s a good entree into my final point. Final point, and then, if some of you need to leave, fine, and we can sit around and talk some more if you want to.

This is from Keller. This is an old, a 20-something year old sermon that Keller has preached on this, and he agrees with me, by the way. It’s for one reason, not because I like it, but because it’s Biblical. He says, “Don’t you know that Aslan was right in The Chronicles of Narnia, the great Christian fairy tale? There is a place where the Lion, the Christ figure, says to the little girl, Child, I tell you your story, but I don’t tell you anybody else’s story,” like the one that Reed just talked about, you know, about the people that are maybe, the Bush people in Africa who have never heard. “There is a place,” Keller says, “where Jesus, in John 21, is talking to Peter, and He says, ‘Peter, someday you are going to die for your faith. You’re going to be crucified for your faith.’”

Do you remember what Peter says? He turns and looks at John, and says, well what’s going to happen to John over here? And what about him? And that’s kind of what we do sometimes, well, tell me about this person. What happens to this person or this person or this person or this person?

“Jesus says, Peter, if I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You, Peter, you follow Me.” What is Jesus saying? He says, Peter, mind your own business. He says, it’s going to be hard enough for you to discover My relationship to you. If you say, I cannot accept the way You relate to me until You explain to me how You’re relating to everybody else, do you realize what a ridiculous request that is?

Keller says, “My friends, do not be distracted by what He’s doing to other people. Get the sweetness out of what He has done for you, and what He is doing in your life.”

It’s like a guy that I went through The Investigative Study with, probably, well, I can tell you because I remember where I lived, 20-something years ago, and he had all these questions, particularly what about the bushmen in Africa. And we talked about that, and finally, one day, and I’ll never forget this, we were really at the end of it, and I thought, I’m not getting anywhere, and he says, you know, I’ve realized something. He says, I can’t spend the rest of my life worrying about the bushmen in Africa. He said, I know this. I need Jesus in my life. My family needs Him. My marriage needs Him. He became a Christian that day.

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