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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Hear ye, Hear ye, ye lovers of loaves.
Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. - John 6:11 [NASB]
You remember the scene.  Jesus took what little food was on hand and multiplied it to feed a crowd of at least five thousand people.  This was a sign, and the crowd concluded that Jesus was the Prophet "like Moses" whom Moses Himself had said would come into the world (c.f. Deuteronomy 18:15).  It was the right conclusion, since the Lord (though Moses) had given the Israelites manna to eat in the wilderness, and Jesus had just given them bread to eat.  They saw the connection - Jesus was indeed the Prophet that Moses had foretold.  Perhaps some even recalled the admonition Moses added in Deuteronomy 18:18-19, "I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in His mouth and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.  It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which He shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him."

The magnitude of this event certainly was lost on some.  This was the fulfillment of a prophesy: the promised Prophet had come; God Himself was not only speaking to them through this same Prophet here and now, but what was being said to them carried this warning: if you don't listen to (i.e. obey) the words of this Prophet, God Himself will require that disobedience of you.  By extension, God will require the same of everyone who hears the words spoken by Christ on that day.
Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. - John 6:26 [NASB]
Okay, so we have a crowd of thousands who through this sign have come to know that Christ is in fact that  Prophet promised by God through Moses long ago that they must personally listen to.  It is significant that the first thing this Prophet says to them is that they aren't following Him because He is the promised Prophet, but that they are following Him because they desire the bread He supplied them with.

Ouch.  

 I mean it is one thing for Johnny-with-an-opinion to say, "Hey, you're not following Jesus because He is the Messiah: you're following Him because you want a free ride!!" Anyone who is sufficiently full of themselves can shake off the opinion of another, even (especially?) if their opinion happens to be is bang-on.  But here is the Man they recognize as the One whom Moses told them they must heed, or else!  Yet the first thing this Man tells them is that their interest in Him was all messed up.

Huh?

He tells them in plain enough language that they were only following Him for the free meal rather than following Him because He was the Prophet - the promised Christ whom God had finally sent.  Incredible as it may seem, in the light of this revelation and their knowledge of it, those five thousand persisted in their unwillingness to be reconciled into the only relationship mankind can have with his Maker: that of an obedient servant whose will is utterly humbled before the one whom he has surrendered entirely to.  Those Israelites were not only were slaves to their own wills and their own desires -they wanted to remain slaves.  They didn't want to be reconciled to God - they were content with, and in fact wanted no more than, the free bread that Jesus could give them.

Only Jesus explained to them that this was not really about bread...
I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. - John 6:51 [NASB]
In describing Himself as the living bread that came down out of heaven, Jesus pulls back the veil on the  object lesson of the loaves.  They wanted to receive the gift, and couldn't care less about the Giver.  This illustrates a spiritual truth when you consider that many desire eternal life, but do not desire Christ.  They were seeking the gifts Christ was giving them, without seeking Christ Himself. They were following Christ to get something from Him that they greedily desired (bread in the physical example, and eternal life in the spiritual example), and having pursued the gift rather than the Giver, they lost both.

Let that sink in. They were willing to follow Jesus in a way that was really using Jesus as a means to an end.  They wanted free food, and were willing to follow Jesus in order to get that food from Him.  Their devotion was self serving - they followed Christ in order to obtain a thing that they wanted for themselves.  Is that the kind of "following" that God accepts?  The clue is found in verse 36 (see below), "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe".  They knew Jesus was the Messiah, they partook of the bread, and yet they did not pursue Him in faith.  To put it plainly: They were willing to follow Christ for the foods sake, but were not willing to follow Christ otherwise.

Picture a marriage of convenience.  Is the mail order bride who marries the "American" (in order to gain through this union an US citizenship) marrying out of love or for selfish reasons?  She is using the American to gain the citizenship she desires.  The fact that the American is willing to be used like this doesn't change make her motives any less self serving.  In the same way, the proverbial young woman who marries the elderly billionaire for his wealth is not marrying out of love, but marrying out of a desire to secure an imminent inheritance.  She is serving her own interests in this marriage, and her motive is greed and not love.  She loves his wealth, and marries him as a way of obtain the only thing that drew her to this man: his wealth.

When Jesus (essentially) told the crowd that by following Him they were seeking the gift and not the Giver, He was giving them enough information to know that God was not fooled by their empty devotion.  He gave them enough to know also that it is a form of self delusion to continue pursuing something you know will never yield up the thing you pursue.  They were pursuing Christ for the bread, but they weren't going to get the bread because they weren't pursuing Christ, they were pursuing the bread.
Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. - John 6:35-36 [NASB]
Why did Jesus present Himself as the bread of life in the first place?  It was because they were pursuing bread that perishes (the gift) rather than the Bread that does not perish (Christ).

Jesus was talking to a crowd who collectively recognized in Him the Prophet that God had foretold through Moses.  These people were following Jesus now and intended to continue to follow Him, even though He gave them enough information to understand that they were not *really* following Him, nor were they truly desiring Him.  They were following the food and in doing so they were making a fundamental error:  They were seeking the gift rather than the Giver.

I want you to think about that.

The young person who marries an elderly billionaire in order to inherit that person's immense wealth is not pursuing the elderly person, but rather the elderly person's fortune.  It isn't the love that provokes the marriage but greed and selfish desire.  The same is true of the mail-order-bride I previously mentioned.  The desire for citizenship made the bride willing to marry the wealthy stranger - it was greed (the desire for personal gain), that motivated the marriage.  It isn't the marriage union that she desires, nor is it a spouse, these are inconveniences which she is willing to endure for the sake of obtaining the object of her desire (the pregnant hope of the kind of affluent life that a US citizenship might provide).

Just as these earthly spouses are not fooled into imagining their new spouses love them for themselves, so our Lord is not fooled by those who come to Him for eternal life, rather than for reconciliation. This was the error of the five thousand, they didn't want Christ for Christ's sake, they wanted what Christ could give them and could care less about being reconciled to Him through surrendering their will to God and accepting His rule in their life.

They understood that He was the Messiah, but refused to come to Him on His own terms.

Are you coming to Christ for Christ's sake - or are you coming to Christ because you want the free bread of eternal life?  Let me put that into an all too common example:  Having understood that the salvation of the Lord is eternal, and having become convinced that you are eternally saved, and cannot be un-saved, do you now find yourself desiring nothing more from Christ?  Are you content or "filled" (as it were) with the knowledge that you're life is secure in Christ?  Has this certainty made you more earnest in your obedience, or having convinced yourself that you've obtained what you came for, have you grown slack in all your devotions, worship, obedience, and witness?

Meditate on this.  A day is coming when the Lord will judge the living and the dead.  If you are trusting that eternal life is yours on the grounds that you have found the right Savior, and prayed the right prayer, and believe to be true the right things that one ought to believe - and yet know that you have no real love for Christ, and that you are not living in surrender and obedience, then let me suggest to you that examine yourself with judgment day honesty.  Are you pursuing the gift of the Giver?  Are you content with the inheritance you presume upon, or are you hungry to know Christ? 

Listen: If you have any concern about these things, that is, if you see in yourself, or suspect in yourself, a heart that isn't truly pursuing Christ, then amend this fault in your faith while it is still called today. 

Don't rest on the conviction that you have "arrived" - even if you have arrived. The only person who can be content with that, is the person who was never pursuing Jesus in the first place.  Consider how Paul the Apostle (who knew fully well that He was eternally secure in Christ) was not lulled into a contented slumber by this knowledge, but pursued Christ as if He hadn't yet attained to life in Christ.  Paul hungered for Christ, to know Him, to love Him more, to obey Him fully, and to please Him in all that he did.  Paul was only able to pursue Christ when he determined to stop pursuing his own agenda - which included pursuing and securing for himself a better after life.  He knew that desire for what it was: self serving greed.  It probably seems remarkable to some of you reading this that a man can so die to his or her own greed, that he is willing to pursue Jesus for no other reason that Jesus is worthy of that pursuit, and that it is good for him to do that for which he was created.

A lot of people think that Christ's last words to the church are found in what many label as the "great commission" - but Christ sent letters (by way of John) to the seven pastors of seven churches many years after he had given the eleven their marching orders.  The message given to most of these churches was that they needed to repent (i.e. they needed to turn away from their own agendas and instead surrender themselves fully and wholly to that obedience to which they were called).  So I repeat this last great message:  if you find yourself pursuing the gift of eternal life rather than the Giver of that life, you must stop that at once.  Commit yourself to the pursuit of Christ, and let Him worry about whether your life is eternal or not.  We pursue Christ by denying our own desires - even the desire to secure for ourselves a life that is eternal, and pursue instead what we know to be the will of Christ as expressed in the scriptures.

Christ's will is not a mystery.  He desires that you love Him, that you draw near to Him in obedience, and that you deny yourself in order that you may surrender your will to Him.  He desires that His life (which is righteous and begets life) be expressed in you rather than your own life which is condemned by your sin and begets only death.  He desires this for your benefit and not for His own.  He desires to rule you because you are not righteous and cannot rule yourself in righteousness - nor can you approach Him in your own unrighteousness.  He desires to rule you because you cannot approach Him otherwise.  In other words His call to obedience is a call for fellowship.  He loves the bride, and serves the bride, and calls the bride to love and serve Him - for the joy that can be found in that union.

posted by Daniel @ 11:14 AM  
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