The Bread of Life – “Knowing Christ: The I AM Sayings of Jesus” with R.C. Sproul
Articles
19


R.C. SPROUL: Today we’re going to start a
brand new series of lectures, and we’re going to be focusing our attention in this series
on the person of Christ. We remember back to the occasion where Jesus met with His disciples
at Caesarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples the question, “Who do men say that I am?”
And they gave the report of what the scuttlebutt around the countryside was about Jesus. Then
He turned back to the disciples and said, “Well, who do you say that I am?” And it was
on that occasion that Peter gave what is called the great confession when he said, “Thou art
the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But what we’re going to be looking at in this
course is not so much other peoples’ views of Jesus, but we’re going to be asking the
question who did Jesus say that He was? And in declaring His identity to the people during
His earthly ministry He used a very unusual structure to identify characteristics of His
person that are recorded for us. These sayings are recorded for us in John’s Gospel, and
only in John’s Gospel. And these sayings are called the “I am’s” of Jesus, because He introduces
these statements by the words I am—things like I am the bread of life; I am the light
of the world; I am the good shepherd; I am the door, and so on. And so we’ll be looking
at each one of these statements of Jesus to see what they reveal to us about His own self-understanding.
And the first one that we will look at today is the statement “I am the bread of life,”
which is found in John’s Gospel, chapter 6. In verse 30 of the 6th chapter of John we
read these words: “Therefore they said to Him, ‘What sign will you perform then, that
we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert;
as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”‘” Now in this discussion that
Jesus is having with His contemporaries, and they’re discussing His identity, and they’re
asking for some sign that will prove to them the truth of the claims that He had been making
about Himself. And they hearken back to the pages of the Old Testament where God manifested
His presence with the children of Israel by providing for them food to eat supernaturally.
It was the manna that God gave in the wilderness, and so they’re saying God gave the people
of old a sign. Now what sign are you going to give us to indicate your identity? And
it’s against the backdrop of that question that Jesus answers by saying, “Most assuredly,
I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true
bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life
to the world.” Then they said, well “‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said
to them, ‘I am the bread of life. And he who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who
believes in Me shall never thirst.'” So this is the first I am in which Jesus in the context
of this discussion of manna from heaven says to those who are around Him, “I am the bread
of life.” Now the thing that we notice that is extraordinary, not only in this I am, but
in all of the I am’s that are recorded for us in the Gospel of John is the structure
of Jesus’ statement. Normally in the Greek when somebody wants to say I am, they use
the word ego. We get the English word ego, which is our personality or our personal identity.
And so that word simply means in Greek, I am. But the Greek language has another verb
— form of the verb, to be — that also can be translated by the English I am. And that
is the word eimi. Again, in the Greek, eimi means I am. Now what is strange about this
particular statement of Jesus that He doesn’t say ego the bread of life, I am the bread
of life; nor does He say eimi the bread of life, I am the bread of life, but rather He
puts these two verb forms together saying, “Ego, eimi the bread of life.” It sounds like
a redundancy. It sounds as if Jesus is stuttering because literally what He is saying here is
I am I am the bread of life. Now what again, what is so significant about this is that
this structure of the verb is exceedingly rare. But one of the most important places
where we find it elsewhere is in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old
Testament. And in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, when the Greek translators
came to chapter 3 of the book of Exodus, where God reveals His name to Moses in the burning
bush when He says, “I am who I am.” The way in which that strange phrase that God uses
to reveal Himself is rendered in the Greek is by this exact form, ego, eimi. So there’s
a thinly veiled reference back to the sacred name of God when Jesus refers to Himself with
this language, ego, eimi. There’s something else about the grammar in — when this structure
occurs — if I were to say I am the bread of life, I am would be the subject or I would
be the subject, and bread of life would be the predicate. But when this occurs in the
Greek language, that’s reversed. So that really, the literal translation then would be the
bread of life is I. So that He is the focal point of the affirmation rather than the concept
of bread. So in any case these statements in the Gospel of John have been used historically
to call attention to Jesus’ claims for deity, that He self-consciously uses language that
is usually associated with divine pronouncements. And, of course, that was not missed by his
contemporaries. They were aware of that, and that’s what provoked such hostility on many
occasions when He talked in this manner. But apart from the actual construction of the
language, what I want us to look at in the I am’s is principally the content. What is
it that He is saying about Himself, and what do these things that He says about Himself
indicate about His identity? So let’s go back to the text then where Jesus said first of
all that, to His contemporaries, in referring back to the manna of the Old Testament He
reminds His hearers that the manna in Israel was not provided by Moses. Moses was the mediator
of the covenant people; he was the leader at the time when the manna was given. He announced
the giving of the manna, but it wasn’t Moses that provided the manna. It was God who sent
the manna. The manna came not from earth; it didn’t come from Moses. It came from God;
it came from heaven. And it’s critical to Jesus identification of Himself with this
same kind of provision that God had made in the Old Testament. When He said, “Moses did
not give you the bread, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven, for the bread
of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” What is He saying
here? He’s speaking about His own origin. And this is the point that is critical for
our understanding of Jesus’ self-consciousness, that Jesus doesn’t say hey, I come from Bethlehem,
or I come from Nazareth. Rather, He is saying I come from heaven. I am the one that the
Father sent from heaven Himself. I am the true bread, the bread that gives life to all
who partake of it. Again, the New Testament is very much concerned about the exaltation
of Christ after His death and resurrection, and about His entering into His glory. And
at the heart of that concept of the exaltation of Christ is His ascension into heaven. And
the word ascension does not simply mean going up somewhere, although there are times when
the verb to ascend means to go up simply. People ascended to Jerusalem; they went up
to Jerusalem. But when the New Testament speaks about the ascension of Jesus, they’re not
talking simply about a point that’s elevated to which Jesus goes. They’re talking about
His going to a particular place for a particular reason. So that His ascension is to go to
the right hand of the Father where He then has His coronation as the King of the kings
and as the Lord of the lords, and where He enters into the heavenly sanctuary as our
great high priest. That’s why Jesus can say, “No one ascends into heaven.” Now when He
says no one ascends into heaven, He’s not saying that His people will not follow Him
in the resurrection. In fact, we are all promised that sometime we will go up to heaven at the
time of our death and so on. So when Jesus said no one ascends into heaven, He doesn’t
mean no one else will go there, He means that no one will ascend in this unique sense that
He ascends to that place of cosmic authority. But when He talks about the uniqueness of
His ascension what does He say? “No ascends into heaven, except He who has descended from
heaven.” So that in Jesus’ understanding His ascension is linked to His prior descension.
When He ascends into heaven, He’s merely returning to the place from whence He came in the first
place. And so here in this discourse, Jesus is calling attention to His heavenly origin,
that the place from which He has come is heaven itself. So let’s continue then with our examination
of the text. When He says “The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives
life to the world,” they say, “Lord give us this bread.” And He said, “I am the bread
of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger. He who believes in Me shall never thirst.
But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet you do not believe. All that the Father
gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For
I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
And this is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I should
lose nothing. But should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who
sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life;
and I will raise him up at the last day.” Now at this point the Jews begin to complain,
and they say, “He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ They say, ‘Isn’t this
Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it than that He says,
“I have come down from heaven?”‘ So Jesus answers and says, ‘Don’t murmur. No one can
come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up the last day.'”
Now, in the historic dispute between Augustinian theology and Pelagian theology, John chapter
6 has been a focal point of the discussion with respect to the dependence of the believer
upon the grace of God for salvation. In other words, the 6th chapter of John in general,
and this passage in particular reeks of the doctrine of predestination. And it’s interesting
to see how many commentators, when they come to John chapter 6, dance all around this.
But at the heart of these sayings that Jesus makes here is His affirmation that He repeats
in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17, is that there is a body of people that the New
Testament calls the elect, that the Father gives to the Son. And Jesus says here that
all who the Father gives to Him will do what? Will come to Him, because God is determined
that Christ will have an inheritance. We go back to Isaiah 53 where we hear the statements
in chapter 53 of Isaiah that “He will see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.”
And so God the Father sends the Son into the world as the bread of life to provide life
for His people, for the ones whom the Father gives to Him. And every one of those persons
that the Father gives to the Son comes to the Son. And all of those who come to the
Son are in no wise cast out. They receive their nourishment from the One whom the Father
sent in their behalf. Now this, as well as the statement of His origins, provoking no
small amount of discussion. And so when Jesus says in verse 43 “Do not murmur among yourselves,
no one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Twice in the 6th chapter
of John Jesus speaks about man’s natural ability to respond to Jesus on their own. And elsewhere
Jesus says no one, no man, “no one can come to me unless it is given to him of the Father.”
Now we have the assumption in our day that Jesus was sent into the world by God as a
potential Savior for everybody, and everybody in the world has the ability to come to Jesus
or not come to Jesus. And we struggle when Jesus Himself says, wait a minute, nobody
is able to come to Me unless. Now that little word unless underscores what we would call
a necessary condition—a condition that must be met for a desired consequence to occur.
And so Jesus reminds these people; He says you can’t come to me; you won’t come to me,
because you can’t come to Me, not because you don’t have a will, not because you don’t
have a mind, not because you don’t have a heart, but you are dead in sin. You are in
bondage to your sin. And just like the leopard that can’t change his spots and the Ethiopian
the color of his skin, so you, in your natural state, in your fallen corruption, are powerless
to come to me unless God does something, unless God gives it to you to come, unless God gives
you a gift. Now, some people say that’s true, but God gives that gift to everybody. But
remember Jesus saying all that the Father gives to Him come to Him. And now He reinforces
this with the statement in this segment of the text when He says, “Again I say to you
nobody can come to Me unless the Father draws him.” I can’t believe how much debate has
gone on in church history over the significance and meaning and application of the word that
Jesus used here which is the word to draw. I’ve always been fascinated that that’s even
the English word that is chosen in most English translations because the same word is used
elsewhere when people are thrown into prison, and that the theological dictionary of the
New Testament translates the word draw as the word to compel. When I think of drawing,
I think of enticing, wooing, you know, trying to persuade people to come, and we could interpret
this by saying that Jesus is saying nobody can come to Me unless the Father woos him,
unless He entices him, unless He persuades him. But the verb is much stronger than that.
The wooing, if you will, the drawing that God does is effective. When God the Holy Spirit
actively draws a person to Jesus, that person comes to Jesus. Let me say it again. The person
that God the Holy Spirit draws to Jesus, comes to Jesus, not because he’s raped, not because
he’s coerced, not because he’s dragged kicking and screaming against his will, but because
God the Holy Spirit in that act of effectual drawing changes the heart of the person. Where
that person previously was blind to the things of God, now the scales of the eyes have been
removed, and that which was unpleasant to the soul now is shown to be sweet, attractive,
and something that is altogether desirable. So the heavenly drawing of God is one by which
God changes the attitude or the inner disposition of the soul of the person so that when the
Father draws them to His Son, they come to His Son. And they eat this bread that gives
them this spiritual life that is forever. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who
sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up the last day. It is written in the prophets,
‘And they shall be taught by God.’ Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the
Father comes to Me.” All that the Father teaches, all that the Father opens, as it were, come
to Jesus. “Not that anyone has seen the Father except He who is from God; He has seen the
Father. And most assuredly I say to you, He who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
I, again, “I am the bread of life. Your father’s ate the manna in the wilderness, and they
are dead.” That is the manna in the wilderness sustained them from day to day, or from week
to week, but eventually they died. This bread is different. “This is the bread that comes
down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which comes
down from heaven. And if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever: and the bread
that I shall give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” This is seen by some as obviously linked to the Lord’s Supper. I don’t it was intended at
that time, but you can’t help but draw parallels from this discourse on the bread of life to
what Jesus teaches in the Upper Room when He said of His own body, and when He … refers
to the bread, “This is my body which is given for you.” Because the bread from heaven gives
His flesh as a sacrifice for His sheep. And those who partake of this heavenly bread,
those who partake of the bread of life of Jesus Himself have life everlasting. So in
summary, Jesus is saying I’m a heavenly being, I’m sent from the Father. I come to nurture
you, to feed you, to give you the life that is eternal. There is no other source for that
anywhere under heaven than in Christ Himself.

Deuteronomy 4:35, 2 Chronicles 33:13, and we can get more Scriptural truth against that stupid idea that we are god, we are just slaves, slaves of GOD or slaves of sin, you choose… The Hebrew of I AM is just fullfiled by YHVH… READ THE BIBLE

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

R.C. really screwed up verse 45, didn't he? Even the NASB has that little word "all" in it. Unfortunately for the listeners, they didn't hear R.C. utter that little word 'all'.

John 6:45a “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’

Why do you suppose R.C. failed to read that little word? It's probably because that little word "all" allows for a non-Calvinistic reading of the text of John 6. If there exists a non-Calvinistic reading of John 6, then that non-Calvinistic reading would be the preferable reading, since it harmonises with the rest of scripture; the presuppositional stance of the scriptures that we have the ability to choose and respond; the verses that express God's real love and desire that ALL men be saved; etc.

It may be true that a Calvinistic theology template can be laid over the text of John 6, but it doesn't necessitate Calvinism.

It would be wonderful if you guys listed the notes (or a link to it) in your description. Thank you for the message!

Sproul is a Calvinist heretic who insults God with his garbage.

The Bible says, John11[26] And WHOSOEVER liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

The Calvinist says, John11[26] And ONLY THE PRE-SAVED liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

The Bible says, John12[46] I am come a light into the world, that whosoever [hostis] believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

The Calvinist says, John12[46] I am come a light into the world, that ONLY THE PRE-SAVED believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

The Bible says, Acts10[43] To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

The Calvinist says, Acts10[43] To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name ONLY THE PRE-SAVED believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

The Bible says, Romans10[13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

The Calvinist says, Romans10[13] For ONLY THE PRE-SAVED shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

The Bible says, Matthew18[4] Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The Calvinist says, Matthew18[4] ONLY THE PRE-SAVED therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The Bible says, John3[15] That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.[16] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Calvinist says, John3[15] That ONLY THE PRE-SAVED believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.[16] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Bible says, John4[14] But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The Calvinist says, John4[14] But ONLY THE PRE-SAVED drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The Bible says, Matthew7[24] Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

The Calvinist says, The Bible says, Matthew7[24] Therefore ONLY THE PRE-SAVED heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

The Bible says, Mark8[34] And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

The Calvinist says, Mark8[34] And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, ONLY THE PRE-SAVED will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

The Bible says, Revelation 22[17] And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The Calvinist says, Revelation 22[17] And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And ONLY THE PRE-SAVED will, let him take the water of life freely.
Calvinism is "another gospel". Calvinists say man is unable to respond to God. In God's Word, God pleads with people to turn to him and calls them to believe upon Jesus. Calvinists say people were condemned or saved before they were born. The Bible says we must believe and repent to be saved. Calvinists say the atonement applies only to those who were saved before they were born. God's Word says Christ died for all of mankind and the atonement applies to all who will believe. Calvinists say the saved will persevere. God's Word says God will secure them unto salvation if they believe upon Christ. Calvinists say God condemned or saved everyone before they were born. God's Word says the sins we commit in our life on this earth is what we are condemned for. Calvinism is another gospel altogether.
Calvinist doctrines are created by a false interpretation of the passages which refer to predestination, which refer to Israel, a people unto God, and the drawing of the gentiles into God's kingdom through Irsael, and not to the individual. Calvinism is an evil herecy that must be stomped out. It makes God into the author of and participant in ever single sin and insults his holy character.

The Westminster Confession of Faith ( a Calvinist doctrine explained)
Chapter III section V states God did not look down the corridors of time to see what a person will or will not do or believe in making his choice of whom to save, that God chose completely arbitrarily whom he would save:
"V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace."

Calvinists proclaim "compatiblist free will. They see no contradiction between complete determinism and free will. John Feinberg, Calvinist philosopher, points out that Calvinists must accept compatablism to be consistent: "Calvinists as determinists must either reject freedom altogether or accept compatiblism."

The implication "compatablist free will" creates is explained by Calvinist philosopher Paul Helm, "If we suppose some form of compatiblism, then God could have created men and women who freely (in a sense compatable with determinism) did only what was morally right."

This implies that God could have created all men and women so that all would freely chose God had he wanted to, but has not done so. The implication here is that God has intentionally created people to suffer the torment of hell though he could have made all come to him. Calvinists argue that the Armenian, or anyone who does not believe Calvinism, has the same problem, in that God has drawn some but not all to the Son. This is not so however, for as in the non-Calvinist view, as expressed by so many passages which state that any who chose God and come to Christ will be saved, man can chose freely without God predetermining his choice because while they are drawn to Christ, they are not forced to accept Christ. The problem here is that Calvinists believe that because of the changes God makes in someone, they will chose God.

A condition of a free action according to Calvinists:
1. a free action is not caused or compelled by anything external to the agent who performs it
2. It is however caused by something internal to the agent, namely, a psychological state of affairs such as a belief, desire, or some combination of these two
3. the agent performing the act could have done differently had he wanted to

For Calvinism to be consistent, it requires a compatablist view of free will.

If God predestined everything, then God ordains sin.

If God predestined everything, Every evil that happens is ordained by God and not man's fallen nature.

If God has already elected those who are going to heaven, then why evangelize, seek to be saved, or even follow God's path?

If God predestined everything, then there is no use in praying for your friends or family.

If man is totally incapable of good, then man cannot truly be remorseful or repentant.

If man is totally incapable of good, then man cannot be faulted for his sins.

If God predestined everything, then there is no such thing as randomness.

If God predestined everything, then why eternally condemn the non-elect? After all, it is not their fault.. they were predestined to be damned!

Jesus died for everyone, not just the elect.

Calvinists claim God has ordered all things. God has ordered all things. Scripture refutes this heresy: Did God order Moses to disobey him when he struck the rock with his staff instead of speaking to it as God commanded him?

Calvinists claim God has ordered all things. Scripture refutes this heresy: Hosea 8[4] They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.

Calvinists claim God has ordered all things. Scripture refutes this heresy: Jeremiah 19[5] They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Calvinists claim God has ordered all things. Scripture refutes this heresy: Jeremiah 32[35] And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Romans10[4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Luke 14: 11 : For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

We cannot ignore these verses which states that it's in God's will for all to be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Corinthians 5:15 "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." We should always pray for God's will to be done in our lives, as Jesus taught us to pray in the 'Our Father' prayer.

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