Sermon: Whoever Believes Has Eternal Life John 6:41–47

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Whoever Believes Has Eternal Life

John 6:41–47

Primary Truth Taught- When the dead sinner is brought to life, he/she will come to Christ.


There is a shift in scenery here in this passage but the same message. Now Jesus is no longer on the shore teaching but has made His way to the synagogue in the City of Capernaum. The large crowd, of some ten thousand plus, was still following Jesus. Now their demeanor begins to change as much as the scenery does. They begin to understand that Jesus isn’t the Messiah they thought He was. They are no longer wanting to take Him by force and make Him king but are disappointed in Him because while they thought Jesus was the One to free them from Roman rule and set up a kingdom of peace and prosperity, they’re learning that Jesus has something else in mind altogether.

Human Need Met

We must see today that Jesus’ purpose in coming to us was not to make us rich and prosperous. His purpose was not comfort, peace, prosperity or any other earthly reason. Jesus came to us to forgive our sin and in order to do that He had to die on the cross. When the Bible promises an abundant life it means a life free from the slavery to sin not abundance of possessions. To be freed from sin’s grip is why Jesus came.

Our deepest need is met in Jesus Christ not our deepest want. This passage reminds us of this truth.

John 6:41–47 (ESV)

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

  1. Unbelief Shown in Discontent

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.

We see here the stages of discontent. The crowd all along had the wrong idea about Jesus. They saw in Him a miracle worker and one who could feed them. When they are shown the fact that, as great as these things are, this is not Jesus’ purpose, grumbling begins to take place.

We see here the reason the grumbling began; Jesus told them that they were mistaken about the bread; actually He is the real bread. Those who believe in Him are those who taste of Him and drink of Him. We’ll see these symbolic references in a minute.

This grumbling crowd of 10-20 thousand people was showing that they were lost. Here’s how grumbling works and here’s how grumbling is the outward expression of an inward condition of unbelief.

If we were to dissect grumbling like we would something in a biology class here’s what we would discover…we would find that grumbling sees nothing of value in past provisions, future promises for the present pain.[1]

For the believer, there are two means of grace for us to be thankful rather than resort to grumbling. However, lost people do not have these. They see no meaning in their present pain; they see no value in past provisions or in future promises.

Past Provision

Future Promises

The past provision was the bread they ate. Do you remember? They ate as much as they wanted. The bread they ate as Jesus taught them was a manifestation of God’s grace given to them to sustain them for something greater, namely hearing the Word of God from the Son of God. Now they are hungry. That past provision had no bearing on their present pain. They forgot about God’s grace.

Beloved, we must never forget God’s past provisions but instead be thankful to God for all the times He has shown us grace in tangible ways. Remind yourself of the times when God delivered and how it came at just the right time. God’s past provisions have a definite impact on our present pain and suffering. They show us that God is faithful and if He did it then, He can do it now. God is able and God is sovereign and if there is present pain then we must never grumble and complain, because grumbling is what lost people do because they do not know Christ.

Philippians 2:12–18 (ESV)

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Past provisions have a bearing on present pain because we are reminded of God’s past grace.

Future promises also have a bearing on present pain and suffering because they allow us to exercise faith in God. One of the things that bring God glory is when a believer is suffering and rather than complain and grumble looks to God with the attitude of dependence and trust.

The reality was that with this crowd of lost people, they could not see any meaning in God’s past provisions…We are hungry now!!! Or any meaning in the future promise, I am the bread of life. Jesus’ words of eternal significance mean nothing to them because they only wanted more bread to eat for today.

Much like Esau trading in his birthright for a bowl of soup they traded eternal life for a loaf of bread.

Do you see how dangerous and sinful complaining and grumbling is? To these people it marked them as lost and as unbelievers.

When we grumble and complain we are showing God that we are discontent with Him and for that moment, at least, we do not believe. This is sin in the life of a believer. If this is sin is persistent, it may show a deeper more serious condition. Grumbling continually can be unbelief showing up in one who does not know the Lord just like with these in our text.

  1. Unbelief Cannot Come to Christ

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Jesus wants to show these grumblers the reality. The Gospel has not failed nor is He discouraged because of their lack of spiritual interest. They can’t come to Him because His Father is not drawing them to Him.

We spoke last week about God’s divine grace in salvation. Jesus mentions it again here, so we too must look at it. Our Lord takes things even a step further as He shows us what is involved in someone coming to Him.

John 6:37 (ESV)

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Now He moves further to explain that no one can come to Him unless His Father draws him. We learned last time that coming to Christ is believing in Christ and all that He is and said. Unbelief cannot believe…I know that sounds odd. Coming to Christ is, as we learned last week, a divine work within the human heart to awaken the person from spiritual death to see in Christ all that God has for them.

I want to show you this morning that God drawing the sinner to Jesus is the way in which God is most glorified.

If we are to see the reality here in this verse we must understand the meaning of the word, draw.

ἑλκύσῃ- ELCASAY which is used in other verses.

John 21:10–11 (ESV)

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Acts 16:19 (ESV)

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.

To draw has the meaning of being dragged. This is consistent with other verses too.

Our human condition before we believed in Christ was that we were slaves to sin and dead in sin. The Father must draw us, drag us, haul us to Jesus like a net full of fish. But once we arrive and Jesus awakens our dead hearts, we see Christ as all glorious and priceless.

Ephesians 2:1 (ESV)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

Romans 8:5–8 (ESV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

So, the Bible is very clear there are many passages that explain these things. In our natural state (before God works) we are dead in sin we are living only for the flesh (for sin) and we are hostile toward God.

Because of our sin nature we are saturated with sin, the effects of sin and the consequences of sin.

John 8:34 (ESV)

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

We are slaves to sin and saturated with sin… Jesus came into the world to save people from their sin. So in a real sense Jesus’ enemy is not Satan, the Jewish leaders, or even the Romans. His enemy is sin.

I want to show you an OT account this morning of the power of God. I think it is a very good picture of how God can take a person saturated with sin and create one who does not live for the flesh and does not love sin any longer but serves Him, walks in His ways and lives by the Spirit.

Let’s look at this OT illustration.

You remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal right?

1 Kings 18:30–39 (ESV)

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

The sacrifice had been saturated with water to the point that water even filled the trench around the sacrifice. God’s power shown in fire that day so overcame the water that it is written the fired licked up the water. The result was that the people fell on their faces in worship and praised… The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.

When God’s power can overcome a dead sinner saturated with sin, drag that person, as it were, to Jesus and the Lord forgive sin and bring to life a dead sinner then God receives all the glory and praise… The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God

  1. Only Belief Can Be Taught By God

45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life.

In order to understand what Jesus is teaching here, we must be believers. In order to understand Christ God must first awaken and bring us to life. A born again believer has had God open their hearts and minds to believe and to understand.

Isaiah 54:13 (ESV)

13    All your children shall be taught by the Lord,

and great shall be the peace of your children.

All who are given to Jesus by God come to Him. Here Jesus explains it in the realm of learning truth. All who are taught by God come as well. When God opens or makes the human mind alive to spiritual truth, all these people come to Christ.

This knowledge is not so much a factual knowledge but a personal knowing. The one made alive by the Spirit of God believes. When we are reading God’s Word and read something we don’t understand, we should not begin to doubt our salvation. Jesus, here, refers to a mind that sees the truth and believes it. We may not know everything that’s contained in the Bible, but what we do know, we believe.

Jesus makes the point that we have not seen the Father so the question may be asked then, how can we learn from the Father if we’ve never seen Him. Notice what our Lord tells us…
45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

Here’s an amazing truth and another way Jesus is seen as a greater Moses. Moses, if you remember, was up on Mt Sinai and asked God to show Himself to him. God places Moses in the cleft of the rock and hides Moses so that all Moses can see is God’s glory after He passed by. But look at what Jesus tells us here, 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

The conclusion Jesus is getting at is that we have not seen God. Moses really didn’t either. Jesus is a greater Moses because He gives a greater teaching. He has seen God in fact, He came from the place where God is enthroned. He is God. His teaching is the same exact teaching as God the Father. So when we read what Jesus tells us we are “hearing God’s Words and God’s teaching.

The great promise given to us by Isaiah comes true every time Someone is born again and believes…they will be taught by God and they all will believe. Notice at what happens when we believe like that…

47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.


I want us to think through these last two messages at the point of coming to Christ. We live in a day when there is rampant man-centeredness in the churches. As a result there are, no doubt, many false conversions. In other words, there are no doubt many people today who think they are saved because of something they did but may very well be lost.

Jesus tells us Himself, that no one comes to Him unless His Father draws him. Again, Jesus tells us that unless His Father works, no one can come to Him…Now, if we really believe what Jesus tells us, then it should logically stand that since God brings the sinner to Jesus and makes the sinner alive to Christ then we must be careful to only employ methods that are commanded by God and that alone have power to bring spiritual life. Follow me closely…God says His Word brings forth life.

1 Peter 1:23 (ESV)

23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

So then we must focus our attention on His Word because if there is someone whom He is to give to His Son, He will do so by means of His Word.

We can’t employ man-centered programs and think that somehow people will be saved through our efforts. Since God saves we must practice the things God commands.

We have another OT illustration of what this looks like: In Ezekiel 36 God promises to give new hearts to His people. These are hearts that can believe in Him.

Chapter 37 shows us how God does it. He awakens dead sinners through the power of His Word.

Ezekiel 37:1–10 (ESV)

37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

I believe God’s Word brings sinners to life. I believe that if our church is going to remain true we must focus on the Word of God which reveals the Son of God to the Glory of God the Father.

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

[1] Sermon on Grumbling by Kevin DeYoung

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