Those Who Have Eternal Life

by Mike Ratliff

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, 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 feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58 ESV) 

About 26 years ago God intervened in my life with eternal results. He called me to Himself. He regenerated me. He justified me. He sanctified me. He adopted me. He changed me forever. However, I was a baby Christian. I had only a vague concept of what God had done on my behalf. I really did not have a clear understanding of this thing we call Christianity. All I knew was that before that wonderful day I did not care too much for church. My concept of the proper Christian life was one of being religious, but that religion had to meet certain criteria. However, after God saved me, my concept changed radically. I suddenly found that I loved God and His people. I loved hearing Bible centered sermons and being in Bible study classes. I had a deep desire to know God’s will that I may obey Him in all things. However, that earlier concept of the proper Christian life was still with me. That meant that one’s religiosity was what determined one’s right standing before God.

Here I sit 26 years or so later and I am no longer a baby Christian. God took me through many furnaces for purification. He has burned away those religious concepts in me that stood in the way of me knowing my Saviour as He is. While I no longer believe that one’s religiosity is what determines one’s right standing before God, I do know for certain that there is a right way and wrong way for Christians to walk before the face of God, their coram Deo. This right way is found in God’s Word. The wrong way is that which makes people comfortable in their religiosity. Our God is not after pew sitters, those who believe that all God wants from them is an hour or so on Sunday mornings. No, those whom God saves are called to a much higher level of service than that. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (John 6:53-58).

While this language seems quite bizarre to most people, it was a vital part of our Lord’s teaching ministry to His true disciples. However, many did not want to hear it.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:60-66 ESV) 

The exclusivity of the Gospel message is quite offensive to the unregenerate. However, many over the ages have created a form of Christianity that covers over and softens these words of our Lord so that many profess Christ, but they are not genuine believers because their whole profession is of the flesh, which is no help at all. Without the Spirit giving life to those to whom the Father grants accesses to the Son and eternal life there is none. No matter how religious they are. No matter what “right” church they belong to, it does not matter. The reference here to those who “do not believe” is referring to religious Christians who do not have saving faith. Those who are really saved are the ones who eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood (v53). This has nothing to do with “fleshly religiosity.” Our Lord is describing the intimate, personal union between Himself and His people. Without this, there is no salvation. There is no “try Jesus!” No, this is a total commitment to our Lord while dying to self in faith by the grace of God. True salvation is a total rebirth unto eternal life.

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him. (John 6:67-71 ESV) 

Our Lord’s question to the Twelve is a major test. However, Peter’s answer revealed that his heart had indeed been reborn and that while most of those temporary disciples had departed, those whom the Lord had chosen believed and knew that He was their all-in-all. He was their Saviour. Eternal life was available to them from no one and nowhere else and these men knew it, except for Judas Iscariot. This confession by Peter and our Lord’s teaching from John 6:22-71 is a crucial turning point in His ministry. We see the crowds rejecting Christ because He is not a seeker-sensitive preacher. He drove off with hard preaching those who were after having their felt-needs met. These reject Him in unbelief. However, the Twelve, except for Judas Iscariot, deepen their faith in Him. This is how God works in the lives of His people. He causes pressure to come to bear in various ways. Some of this is very hard to bear and it may even seem as if God has forsaken the believer during this. However, He preserves those who are His while many of those who were non-genuine fall away. On the other hand, many false believers like Judas Iscariot, remain, but are still outside of God’s saving grace.

When I look back on my own walk from 1986 until now I am amazed that I have remained. I was in one fire after another at many different levels during that time. I was fleshly. I was immature. I was self-focused. I was bitter. I was depressed. However, I was also very religious during this time. I served as a Deacon in two churches and taught Bible study classes. I was miserable most of the time in my fleshly behavior, yet I knew that God was using me in ministry. It all changed in the last few months of 2003 through August 2004. God drew me from self-focused, religiosity into an obedient, spirit-filled walk that changed me forever. Gone was the bitterness and depression. Gone were all those fleshly addictions. Gone was the concept that God was after my religiosity. I was now one who daily ate the flesh of my Lord and drank His blood by devoting my life to serving Him everyday all day in all things. It was then that I finally understood that genuine believers have eternal life from the moment of rebirth and it is not just that which awaits in eternity. No, each genuine believer is born from above. They are new creations and their calling is to daily die to self, take up their crosses, and follow Christ as His disciple. Those who do this are not “pew sitters,” but are those who persevere to the end as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh, and for those who are convinced that they enter this life via their own free will, think again. If it had been up to my free choice, I would have abandoned it all long ago let alone believed, repented, taken up my cross and followed my Saviour. Oh, there are plenty of religious people out there convinced in their religiosity that that is what pleases God and they will go to into eternity just as lost as the worst unrepentant sinner imaginable while those who are truly His are  drawn or called by the Father and given to the Son who will raise them up on the last day (John 6:44, 45).

Soli Deo Gloria!

18 thoughts on “Those Who Have Eternal Life

  1. Rip it! You tore it up with this one Mike! Super post! There is absolutely no one like Jesus Christ. His Sovereign grace crushes the rebellious, self-willed one and changes them into a new creation wholly, fully, and completely dependent upon Him. To walk with Him each and every day through His Holy Word, through good times and bad, is pure delight. To love Him, honor Him, cherish Him, and bow before our King…the King of Kings…is a joy to the spirit and soul of those who have been called, redeemed, and justified by him from eternity past. The depth of humility and love the regenerate one feels only grows, deepens, and widens every second of every day. It is not a ‘one time a week emotion’ but an everlasting, reality, and relationship that will endure even when time slips into eternity.

  2. Oh, Mike isn’t the Lord Jesus so, so patient with us? He is so kind and walks WITH us through it ALL. All the grime and dirt all the filth and all our failures. He sticks with us even when we are so ugly to him. The GRACE God grants to his children teaches us God’s loving-kindness that HE really loves us because it’s not based on our love or lack of loving him, it’s all
    based on the Lord Jesus Christ–and we fall deeper and deeper in love with Jesus.

    That verse where Peter said “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” –caught my eye one day a few years back. I was so totally desiccated in my walk with the Lord and saw absolutely NOTHING. It was like I was at a dead end. when I read that verse there was this hope that welled up in me and this JOY sprang up in me that I always have JESUS. I cannot explain it really but that verse came alive and lifted me out of the pit and there was no longer a dead end with Jesus. it’s all about Jesus

    thanks for the precious writings that you share

  3. Michael, thank you brother. I wish I could share the motivation here for this post, but not in this public forum. In any case, I am so grateful for God’s grace and that he has patiently taken me through all of these rough areas for nearly 30 years. Am I deserving? Absolutely not, no one is! Those who are truly walking in the light do so by the grace of God, not by our will power or by our own “goodness” or “righteousness.” Jesus said that unless we abide in Him, we can do nothing.

    Thanks for the great comment brother!

  4. Mike – I had a similar experience, in 1994. How wretched is it for those who rely on their flesh! How horrible it will be for those who trust in the words of man. If we are to do good to anyone, we must be Christ-focused. The gospel must be front and center – not our testimony. A pox on those who teach people to witness with their personal testimony rather than the gospel of our precious Lord Jesus.

    Press on!

  5. Amen Mike the Lord always makes something beautiful out of all our sufferings -he makes the bitter taste sweet-
    As someone once said “It’s the defeats that God uses to direct us. Resurrection power always works best in a graveyard”

  6. Free will went corrupt in the garden and is exactly why men hate God. Further, religious men use their corrupted free will to do anything and everything they can to avoid their cross and perform works to earn themselves a defense upon which to stand before the Lord of all judgement day. There will be weaping and gnashing of teeth!

  7. Pingback: The Word of Life « Possessing the Treasure

  8. Well – not that I’m biased, but I think one of my elders is well suited as a modern day Spurgeon. Voddie Baucham is well known, large, and unwilling to back down from the Truth, in the face of other Baptists who believe Finney is right.

  9. I agree Manfred. I have actually debated some of those Finneyites myself and it is like talking to those who are deliberately deaf and blind. But, as you said, we do not back down either. I find it interesting though that in the last several “encounters” I have had they have taken place in settings in which it was not feasible to do anything, but “turn the other cheek” and move on without agreeing with them of course. I think that was a deliberate move on their part though because a real doctrinal debate using scripture is one they cannot win using solid scriptural exegesis and they know this. However, in their blindness, like the Pharisees, they cannot see the truth because they are refuse to see it and so, because of their idolatry of the heart, God has blinded them to be able to see it. That is judgment and only God can break through that.

  10. Finney, Darby, Scofield… Many run to build their defense around their ilk…Free will-ows bending to every wind of man centered doctrine. The fastest way to their doctrine? Ask them, “Have you read any good books lately.” They will list a hundred the’ve read…Everything but the Gospel!

  11. Mickey, that Free Will stuff is so popular with the majority of people because they are in rebellion against the Sovereignty of God and are basically ignorant of the genuine Gospel because those who should be preaching it aren’t. Why not? It offends and no one wants to offend anyone.

  12. Oh, there is quite a list of offended in this neck of the woods. They are certain I am insane, particularly giving up all the benefits of membership! LOL
    I felt like Nicolson when he was in the institution! And many of them look like the “doctors” on the fishing charter to me!
    (all pg and r rated scenes aside)

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