This Week's Focus Passage

John 6:66 ‘Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.’

This Week’s Focus Passage: John 6:66

‘Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.’

This rather remarkable statement is found in the midst of a confrontation—one of many between Christ and the Pharisees—and here the focus is to be found back in verses thirty-seven and forty-four, where the Son of God, in undaunted boldness, declared to His audience that, (verse 37), All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And (verse 44), No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. The particularly relevant phrases for our serious consideration today, are ‘shall come unto me; no man can come, along with, except the Father…draw him. These are extraordinary, and also very striking, discriminating terms, setting both the mind and heart of serious readers of the book of God, namely the Bible, into a proverbial dither. Even the true believer is caused to cry out, as it were, with Nicodemus (John 3:9), “How can these things be?” And the Arminian, that has been brought to understand the teaching of the free will of man, must be ‘dithered’ to the point of perplexity. Yes, how can these things be?

‘The Message,’ confessed freely, as is the Living Bible, to be, not a translation of the Scriptures, but rather a paraphrase, although the publishers seem to be asserting that it is a translation. They employ clever language to avoid an admission of what it truly is, a paraphrase. Use is made of ‘alternate expressions’ such as allowing that it is ‘a highly idiomatic translation’ of the Bible by Eugene H. Peterson. In, perhaps, an unhappy attempt at clarification, it is offered that it is a ‘simplistic translation.’ What do these expressions mean? Idiomatic and Simplistic translations; what are these if they are not paraphrastic? But judge for yourselves. We set before you the Message’s rendering, i, e, translation, paraphrase of the verse being considered: Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. Not quite as pithy and commanding as the true translation. Virtually every other offering states the truth in those three most poignant words, NO MAN CAN! 

    While many of us have grown up in a land; in a country, where there has been, in its history, events such as that in New England, denominated by historians as the ‘Great Awakening,’ followed over the years by other such ‘awakenings,’ it only serves to raise the question, ‘What indeed is to be considered a true awakening’? Or it may be best to inquire what folk in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries considered the term to imply. This is not to be taken to suggest that there have been no awakenings in the twentieth century. The most likely answer to this question in the mind of most religious folk, and possibly the best answer would be to relate such to revival, or to a specific revival. But to return to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were activities that may have been viewed as revivals. The question that this raises then is with regard to what constitutes revival. Revival in its purest and simplest sense is a word with several connotations. A dictionary supports this assertion by giving more than a few potential definitions. Revival, they tell us, is 1. “a reviving or being revived” (which begs the question). 2. A bringing or coming back into use, being, etc. 3. A new presentation of an earlier play, etc. 4. Restoration to vigor or activity. 5. A meeting led by an evangelist to stir up religious feeling.” Truly, it appears that this dictionary has missed the point. Maybe we can make some sense by looking at the core of the word; revive. If we were considering ‘refried beans,’ would we not look for the meaning of ‘fried’? Let us, then, consider what ‘vivify’ means. ‘Revive,’ or ‘revivify’ would be a corollary with ‘fry’ and refry’ would it not?  ‘Vivify’ most simply means ‘to give life to; animate.’ Well, then, can we not, with all reason, declare that ‘revive’ or ‘revivify’ means ‘to give life again’?

    We have, most conspicuously, been cast back to Nicodemus and the third chapter of John. When Jesus said to this Pharisee, Except one be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, he could have just as easily said, ‘Except one be revived again, or revivified again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. “Resuscitation is to revive someone from unconsciousness, or apparent death.” Therefore, a ‘DO NOT RESUSCITATE’ order, is a legal order, indication that a person does not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation if that person’s heart stops beating. We take all this back to the definition, #5, given above, for revival as ‘a meeting led by an evangelist to stir up religious feeling.’ Why is it not defined as ‘a giving of new life,’? The answer to that is, that in spite of themselves, they are being honest, and not pretending that they are giving new life, but only attempting to ‘stir up religious feeling.’ Men may be able to announce a ‘revival,’ but they can do nothing more than ‘stir up religious feeling,’ at such questionable events. This is, of course, not to say that God the Holy Spirit cannot, or will not, exercise His Sovereign activity over an individual, or many individuals, if the Word is being preached. He may even give His imprimatur, as it were, to the Word preached by regenerating hearts of men, woman, and children. He is absolutely free to do as He wishes. Generally speaking, we may not have any right to anticipate His honoring methods employed solely in order to ‘stir up feelings.’ Methods such as calling upon people to ‘come forward,’ to ‘raise their hands,’ to ‘ask Jesus to come into their hearts.’ 

    True God sent revivals will largely imitate the revivals that we are able to see in Scripture. Under the preaching of the Word of God; the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by Peter on the day of Pentecost, many were brought to cry out, ‘What must we do?’ Peter solemnly called upon those to Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then they that received his word were baptized, and there were added unto the church that day about three thousand souls. What happened? What caused this great number to cry out, What shall we do? We resort to the focus passage with which we began; All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me. That is the simple answer. And later in verse sixty-six, we read that Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Many cared not to walk with Him; to continue with Him, after the truths that He had preached, declaring unto them that No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. How many friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and even family members, will no longer ‘walk with us’ because we believe these grand truths regarding the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of mankind? One writer, we recall distinctly, famously explained this behavior when his proclaimed; “All men are born Arminians.” To put it another way, ‘all mankind are possessors of the effects of that Total Depravity that we have received from Adam.’ And one of the saddest effects of that nature received from Adam is that we also, apart from the magnificent discriminating Grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit, wish to save ourselves by some means, or works, anything for which we allow ourselves to take some of the credit, ever how small, for our salvation. But it is all of God, and none of ourselves; it is all God, making us willing in the day of His power to come to Him as those under Peter’s preaching came to Christ that wonderful day.   

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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