February 9, 2009

If Anyone Eats of This Bread...” (Part 2)

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today we continue with part two of Jan’s two part series. If this is your first look at this series, please return to “
If Anyone Eats of This Bread...” for the first installment.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 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,” (John 6:47-51).

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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day,’” (John 6:53, 54).
In verse 47 Jesus says that all that is necessary for eternal life is to believe in Him. But in the later verses He describes what believing in Him entails. In the latter part of verse 51 we see that the bread that He shall give is His flesh, and that He shall give His flesh for the life of the world. He then goes on to say that in order to have eternal life we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, which He will give for the life of the world. Therefore, it is not only Himself but His offering of Himself to the Father on our behalf that we must accept. This is eating His flesh and drinking His blood. We know that this offering of Himself was the sacrifice foretold in the Passover. Jesus Christ is indeed our Passover, sacrificed for us.
...‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb....Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year....Then the whole assembly of the house of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh of it on that night....So you shall eat it is haste. It is the Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast....Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt,’” (Exodus 12:3,5-8,11-13).
The Israelites were to kill the lamb and eat it. They were not to drink the blood, but they were to use it in another way. There was no guarantee of their firstborns living through the night apart from the observance of this sacrifice. They could not just ask God to give them life and omit the Passover sacrifice. They believed God would spare the lives of their firstborns through the means God had given -eating the sacrificed Passover Lamb and putting its blood on their doorposts. And so He was faithful to preserve all who did.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat, this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes,” (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
On the same theme, we revisit the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking of His blood each month in our communion memorial. It is His death that we commemorate with the elements of bread and wine (grape juice). The symbols of bread and wine represent His flesh and His blood respectively (symbols and representations only- they are not His flesh and blood in any actual or transubstantial sense and do not impart grace themselves). When we ingest them we illustrate our acceptance of not only Himself, but also His sacrifice for us. Or, more precisely, Himself via His sacrifice for us. This picture alone makes it quite clear that it is His death on our behalf that we must accept. There is nothing arbitrary about it. It is of central importance to the gospel message.

These three passages taken together argue powerfully for the necessity of accepting the cross/death of Christ in order to have eternal life. But there is more:
...and the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering...’,” (Leviticus 16: 2-3a).
In the Old Testament we are told of the once yearly offering made by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The conditions of entry into the Holy Place were very specific. Death was the result if the instructions were not followed. The first instruction given was that Aaron must enter the Holy Place with the blood of a young bull for a sin offering. He was not to enter the Holy Place without it. It was impossible to gain access to the presence of God without a blood offering obtained by killing an animal.
For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part in which was the lampstand, the table, and the show bread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All....But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance....,” (Hebrews 9:2,3,7).
In Hebrews it is confirmed that the High Priest entered the Holy Place only with blood for his and the people's sins. He did not deal with the person of God apart from the required blood or he would die. Blood was necessary to be accepted before God.
...but Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption,” (Hebrews 9:11,12).
Christ Himself entered the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood on our behalf. Because of this, we may enter as well. Yet today many are attempting to gain access to the presence of God apart from the blood of Christ by eliminating the need to believe in the cross work of Christ. But if, as Hebrews says, Christ Himself enters the Holy Place in heaven with His own blood, how are we to think we may enter without it? If the earthly tabernacle could not be entered without blood on pain of death, how is the heavenly tabernacle to be entered apart from faith in Christ's blood? The Bible does not teach this, but the opposite.

What has been shown here is that in order to approach God and live, there must be a sacrifice offered on the sinners behalf. Without that sacrifice the sinner faces certain judgment and death. The final sacrifice was made by Christ and not the sinner. The sinner is commanded to receive by faith the truth that this sacrifice was made on his behalf. It must be agreed upon by both parties- the sinner as well as the Father- that the sacrifice is acceptable for the offense. To fail to accept the sacrifice offered by God for man's sin is to approach Him without a sacrifice. We must come to Jesus for eternal life
through His death on the cross for our sin. It is not case that if the Lord is accepted then the cross is too, by default. Rather, if one does not accept what has been done to procure one's salvation, one has also not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. Put another way, if the cross is rejected, the Lord is rejected. It is precisely the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, which must be accepted in order to gain the Living Lord Himself and the eternal life which, He gives.

If we do not preach acceptance of the cross- the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood- we do not give the terms by, which Jesus must be accepted. Hence, we do not properly allow for the sinner to accept eternal life. Paul said he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He did not preach Christ apart from the cross.

The reception of eternal life depends on the acceptance of what has been done to procure it. Therefore it is incumbent on each evangelist to preach
Christ crucified, the offering for our sin and the means whereby we are reconciled to God. It is incumbent on teachers to teach others to do the same. The sinner must believe Christ has been crucified for him and he must accept that Christ crucified is acceptable and sufficient to atone for his sins. Anything less is not the gospel and will not save.

Many thanks to Jan for this excellent two part series.

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