As I was studying John 6 last week I ran into a passage that grabbed me. I’ve not been able to shake it so I want to go back to it this morning and spend our time taking a look at John 6:45. Let’s read John 6:44-45 together.
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. (John 6:44-45 NIV)
It is the phrase, “They will all be taught by God” that has captivated my heart and caused me to spend so much time thinking during the past two weeks. Before we get to what I’ve been learning about that phrase I want us to spend a few minutes laying the groundwork by looking at verse 44. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” If you are a follower of Jesus I have to ask you a question, “Have you recently considered just how gracious and kind the Lord has been to draw you to Himself? Have you recently meditated on what it means that ‘while we were sinners, Jesus died for you,’ (Romans 5:8) to claim you as His own, to save you from the destructive path you were on, and to give you a new life with Him as your foundation?” Now there’s something to think about. What makes this all the more overwhelming news is the state we were in before we came to know Jesus. We had no interest in Him…we were dead in our sins. Some of you might have been “good” people, according to the standards of the world, but you weren’t God’s man or God’s woman and neither were you “good” according to His definition of “good,” none of us were. I hate to make statements like the ones I’ve just made without sharing God’s Word so that you will know that I’m not being negative, I’m simply restating what God’s Word teaches. Turn with me to Ephesians 2:1-3. Paul wrote,
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV)
We were dead in our sins, unable and unwilling to seek after God, with no desire to live a life for His glory, and yet He came to us. We were, by our very nature, “deserving of wrath.” And then suddenly we matured, became enlightened, and decided, “I’m no longer going to just do what I want to do, I’m going to turn this thing around and live for God.” No, that’s not how it happened. I wish that was our story. I wish that was how things worked for humanity, but that’s not how it works. Paul says,
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV)
The word in verse 6, “powerless,” “weak,” or “without strength” depending on which translation you are reading, is the Greek word, “???????” (asthenes), and it means all of these and more. Paul uses the word in 1 Corinthians 8:7 to describe the “weak conscience” of some people. In verse 9 he uses it to describe those who are “weak in faith.” In 2 Corinthians 10:10, Paul uses the same word to describe how some in the church at Corinth described Paul’s physical presence. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul uses the word by saying, “Help those who are weak.” Are you getting the picture? We were not strong, not capable, not full of potential; we were weak, incapable, and dead in our sins when God came seeking us out. The bottom line is those who are weak do not have what it takes and neither did we, nor do we, but God has not left us in this sad state. He has demonstrated His own love for us by sending Jesus and drawing us to Himself.
I wanted to share this with you to encourage you to meditate on this glorious truth often. We should set aside time, mark it in our calendars, so that we will make it a point to meditate on the grace of God that has been lavished on us who know Jesus. Meditating on, thinking about, the grace of God that He has shown us in our salvation, but also in our daily lives, can totally alter our perspective on life. If God is capable of opening our eyes so that we saw our need for Him, if He is able to breath life into those who were dead in their sins, then don’t you think He is capable…He is able for whatever situation you may find yourself in from day-to-day? I think so.
There is another group among us this morning. There are those who have been drawn to Jesus, surrendered their lives to Jesus, and are walking with Jesus and then there are those who do not know Jesus, but He is drawing you. If you are not a follower of Jesus, but you find yourself seated in this sanctuary this morning then that tells me that the Lord is drawing you. I don’t have to know you to know that He is at work in your life. I pray that this morning you will recognize His work, not just this morning, but how He has quietly been at work throughout your life preparing you for this moment so that you might acknowlege Him as your Lord and Savior before you leave here this morning.
With that said, I want us to spend the rest of our time taking a look at what Jesus said in John 6:45. Take a look at it once again with me.
45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. (John 6:44-45 NIV)
It is the phrase, “They will all be taught by God” that has made such a deep impression on me during the past two weeks. Where does that phrase come from and what does it mean? Well, we can get a hint about where it comes from from our Scripture. Jesus said, “It is written in the Prophets:” That would be a good place to start looking don’t you think? In Isaiah 54:13 we find the same phrase and it is spoken by God to those Jews who had been taken captive by the Babylonians. God reassured His people that He was going to restore them and when He did, He would teach their children, and their peace would be great. Let me read to you from Isaiah 54:11-14.
11 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. 12 I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. 13 All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. 14 In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. (Isaiah 54:11-14 NIV)
God will restore His people. God will teach His people. Jesus must have also been thinking about Jeremiah when He spoke those words to the people in Capernaum. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 we read,
31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, ” declares the LORD. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)
God said the day will come when He will make a new covenant with His people. In that day God will put His “law in their minds and write it on their hearts. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD.”
The new covenant that Jeremiah was speaking about was the covenant Jesus implemented. Don’t you remember the Last Supper? Jesus took the cup and said, “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20) The new covenant has been initiated and you and I, all of those who are followers of Jesus, now have the opportunity to share in the new covenant brought about by Jesus. The writer of Hebrews tells us even more about Jesus and the new covenant by comparing it to the old covenant when he writes,
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:13-15 NIV)
Jesus initiated the new covenant, through His sacrifice on the cross you and I can now enter into the very presence of God because of the reconciling work of Jesus on our behalf.
Once we come to know Jesus as Lord of our life we need to be taught by God about this new life we have been given, but how does God teach us? I have known people through the years who have told me that they didn’t need to go to church, they didn’t need to get involved in a Bible study, or sit under anyone’s teaching because God taught them everything they needed to know. I’m not cynical, it’s just that that’s not biblical. Throughout Scripture we see that people are God’s tools to help mold His men and women, to disciple or train His followers. As it was in bibical times, so it is today, and so it will be until Jesus returns and we no longer need anyone to teach us. Do you remember the final instructions Jesus gave to His followers? You can find it in Matthew 28:18-20. Read along with me.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
Jesus told them to “go and make disciples of all nations…” Not just preaching to the people so that they become followers of Jesus, but also “teaching them to obey” what the Lord has commanded and taught His followers. We are to go and teach. You say, “I don’t know enough to teach.” I say, “Teach what you know.” If you are someone who doesn’t know much about God’s Word, then find someone who knows more than you and ask them to teach you. Throughout history this has been God’s means of teaching His people. Joshua had Moses, Elisha had Elijah, David had Nathan the prophet, Ruth had Noami, Apollos had Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy had Paul, and the list goes on and on and on. You have no idea how God will use you to change another person’s life.
In 1855, Edward Kimball was a middle-aged man who taught Sunday school at Mount Vernon Congregational Church in Boston. He taught teenage boys and they were an unruly bunch, but Edward prayed for those boys and taught them like they were royalty.
One day a new kid, 18 years old, walked into his Sunday school class. Mr. Kimball had no way of knowing it, but the kid had been through some tough times. His dad died when he was just four years old. His mother had five sons and a daughter before her husband died at age 41. Twins were born one month after his death. Mom and the kids lived on a farm and she tried to do the best she could, but it wasn’t enough so she had to send some of her kids off to relatives. Dwight only went to the 5th or 6th grade, but when he was 17 an uncle in Boston told him that he could come and live with him if he would go to work in his shoe store and attend Sunday school and worship on Sunday.
That first Sunday, Dwight walked into Mr. Kimball’s Sunday school class. The lesson was from the Gospel of John. As the boys were opening their Bibles, Dwight was fumbling around in Genesis. Some of the other boys started making snide remarks until Mr. Kimball gave them one of those looks and laid his own Bible, opened to John, in Dwight’s lap. The kid didn’t know one thing about the Bible, but he kept coming. One of the big reasons, other than his uncle making him, was because of how Mr. Kimball treated him.
One Saturday morning Mr. Kimball was preparing his lesson for the boys when he felt the Lord leading him to visit Dwight and tell him about Jesus’ love for him. He hesitated at first because he would have to go to Holton Shoe Store where Dwight worked, but he eventually went. When he got there Dwight was wrapping shoes in the back of the store. The story has been told over and over again. Mr. Kimball later recalled that visit by saying, “I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder,” he said, “and as I leaned over . . . I made a plea, and I feel it was really a weak one . . . I simply told him of Christ’s love for him and the love Christ wanted in return.” There in the back of the store Dwight L. Moody prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Years later, Dwight L. Moody, called one of the greatest evangelists of the 19th century said this,
‘When I was in Boston,’ said he, ‘I used to attend a Sunday school class, and one day I recollect a Sabbath-school teacher came round behind the counter of the shop I used to work in, and put his hand on my shoulder, and talked to me about Christ and my soul. I had not felt I had a soul till then. I said: ‘This is a very strange thing. Here is a man who never saw me until within a few days, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear about them.’ But I understand it now, and know what it is to have a passion for men’s souls and weep over their sins. I don’t remember what he said, but I can feel the power of that man’s hand on my shoulder tonight. Young Christian men, go and lay your hand on your comrade’s shoulder, and point him to Jesus tonight.’
Within two years Dwight had moved to Chicago to work and minister to the people there. Churches didn’t welcome him so he rented an old saloon in “The Sands,” where no church wanted to minister. Dwight started a worship service, Sunday school for kids that other churches wouldn’t have wanted in their building, and God used him in the lives of countless people. Over the next 40 years Dwight L. Moody would preach the Gospel around the world and to hundreds of thousands of people. Where did God’s great work through Dwight L. Moody begin? How was Dwight taught by God? Through an unknown, middle-aged nobody named Edward Kimball who taught those unruly boys like they were Jesus Himself.
God uses people. We are His tools, God’s Word is our curriculum, and His Spirit is our guide as we share life together with those around us. Being taught by God is more than sharing a Bible lesson, it is also sharing life. We are not only to teach the Word of God, but we are to model the life of Christ to those that He leads into our life. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. In Paul’s letter to the folks in Corinth he wrote about all kinds of situations that people were dealing with in their everday life. One of their questions was, “Is it ok to eat meat sacrificed to idols? What if I go to someone’s house and they offer meat that has been sacrificed to idols?” Paul gave them his answer and then he wrote,
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God– 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 NIV)
The bottom line for Paul was, “do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God.” Then he said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” He’s not saying, “Be like me,” but “Follow me as I follow Jesus.” I’ve been taught by God by some great guys who have not only taught me God’s Word, but shown me what it means to follow Jesus. They aren’t perfect guys, don’t even pretend to be, but they are seeking to follow Jesus. What’s really interesting is that those who have been more influential in my life have been the most honest, transparent, guys I’ve ever known about their own struggles and doubts. They’ve taught me to be honest with God and others.
Just as God has used others to teach us, He wants to use us to teach others. He doesn’t just want to use us to teach them Bible lessons, but how to live, how to give, how to love people, how to serve, how to use our time for the things that really matter in life.
Francis Chan tells the story about a man named Vaughn who God used in the lives of others so that they might be “taught by God.” Francis said,
A few years ago, a missionary came to our church and told a beautiful story about sharing the gospel with a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea. At the end of the story this missionary said, ‘I should really give the credit to Vaughn, my former youth pastor who loved me and inspired me to live for Christ and share the gospel with others.’ The next week another guy came to our church and he challenged us to start sponsoring kids living in poverty. The second speaker also concluded by saying, ‘I’m involved in this ministry because of my youth pastor, a guy named Vaughn.’ I found out those guys were from the same youth group! Then the next week another speaker named Dan told us about his ministry at a rescue mission in the inner city of L.A. After Dan’s talk, I casually mentioned, ‘It was so weird: the last two weeks both of our speakers mentioned how much impact their youth pastor, Vaughn, had on them.’ Dan looked surprised and then he told me, ‘I know Vaughn. He’s a pastor in San Diego now, and he takes people into the dumps in Tijuana where kids are picking through the garbage. I was just with Vaughn in Tijuana. We would walk in the city, and these kids would run up to him, and he would show such deep love and affection for them. He’d hug them and have gifts and food for them. He’d figure out how to get them showers. Francis, it was eerie: the whole time I was walking with Vaughn, I kept thinking, ‘If Jesus was on earth, I think this is what it would feel like to walk with him.’ He just loved everyone he ran into, and he would tell them about God. People were just drawn to his love and affection.” And then Dan said this, ‘The day I spent with Vaughn was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.’ (Francis Chan. Think Hard, Stay Humble.)
There may be some who are “taught by God” with no connection to anyone, but I’ll assure you that God’s most basic plan is to use us to teach His Word and His ways. We need to be like Vaughn and invite others to come along on the journey as we crack open God’s Word, as we spend time in prayer, and as we go through this life seeking to serve and minister to others.
How about you? Has God drawn you to Jesus in such a way that you’ve recognized your need for Him? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus as Lord and Savior? If so, then let me ask you another question, “Are you being taught by God?” Have you connected with another person who is sharing God’s Word and their life with you?
There are others here this morning that have never made a commitment to become a follower of Jesus, but this morning you sense that God is drawing you. I want to encourage you to come forward this morning and say, “I want to know Jesus. I want to follow Jesus.” He will come into your heart, forgive you of your sins, begin to mold you and shape you into His image, and lead you through the rest of your days. There will be a lot of questions you will have in the future, but one of them will not be, “Is the Lord with me?” He has promised to never leave or forsake His own. Won’t you invite Him in?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
July 27, 2014