John 6:67
So Jesus asked the Twelve, "Do you want to leave too?"
Sermons
Apostasy from JesusD. Young John 6:67
A Backslider's EndLuther.John 6:66-69
A Backslider's MiseryJohn 6:66-69
A Brave MartyrJohn 6:66-69
A Critical HourE. Bersier, D. D.John 6:66-69
A Home Question and a Right AnswerC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:66-69
A Mournful DefectionC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:66-69
ApostasyN. W. Taylor, D. D.John 6:66-69
Departing from JesusR. S. Barrett.John 6:66-69
Desertion and AdhesionJ.R. Thomson John 6:66-69
Experience and Hope Conservative of FaithT. Binney.John 6:66-69
Going and StayingD. Wilcox.John 6:66-69
Reasons for BackslidingJohn 6:66-69
Temporary DiscipleshipW. A. Griffiths.John 6:66-69
The Dividing PointE. E. Jenkins.John 6:66-69
The Effects of Backsliding on the SteadfastE. Bersier, D. D.John 6:66-69
The Physiology of BackslidingProf. Drummond.John 6:66-69
The Touching AppealAnon.John 6:66-69
The Uses to be Made of the Falls of ChristiansS. Green, D. D.John 6:66-69
Where Backsliding BeginsJohn 6:66-69
A Reason Against Turning BackC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:67-69
Christ Alone Can Satisfy the SoulLamartine., Luther.John 6:67-69
Christ Himself the Sole Protection Against the Assaults OBp. S. Wilberforce.John 6:67-69
Christ Only is Worth ServingDr. Guthrie.John 6:67-69
Christ the Centre of UnityW. Hay-Aitken, M. A.John 6:67-69
Christ the Only Source of Religious RifePrincipal Tulloch.John 6:67-69
Human Destiny and its Attainment Through ChristW. M. Punshon, LL. D.John 6:67-69
If not to Christ Then to WhomW. M. Taylor, D. D.John 6:67-69
Jesus Christ the Only Source of Rest and HappinessW. L. Johnson.John 6:67-69
Man's Need of a SaviourDean Vaughan.John 6:67-69
No RetreatH. O. Mackey.John 6:67-69
Personal Affiance in Christ the Soul's SafeguardBp. S. Wilberforce.John 6:67-69
Reasons for Continuance with JesusW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 6:67-69
Revealed Religion the Only Source of True HappinessW. B. Sprague, D. D.John 6:67-69
The Departure of the Many Consolidating the FewB. Thomas John 6:67-69
The Difficulties of DisbeliefJ. Parker, D. D.John 6:67-69
The Disciples' Reasons for Cleaving to JesusIsaac Jennings.John 6:67-69
The Hopelessness of Humanity Away from ChristW. M. Punshon, LL. D.John 6:67-69
The World Cannot Confer HappinessBoswell.John 6:67-69
Two Stages of Spiritual LifeE. L. Hull, B. A.John 6:67-69
Whence the Words of Eternal LifeS. A. Ort, D. D.John 6:67-69
Words of Eternal LifeD. Merson, M. A.John 6:67-69
Words of Eternal LifeD. Merson, M. A.John 6:67-69
Notice -

I. JESUS" QUESTION. "Will ye also," etc.? This implies:

1. His regard for the freedom of the will. Christ does not destroy, nor even interfere with, the freedom of the human will, but ever preserves and respects it. He ever acknowledges the sovereignty of the human soul and will.

2. That it was his wish that each disciple should decide for himself. "Will ye," etc.?

(1) The personality of religious decision. Religion is personal. Every religious act must be personal, and is ever judged as such.

(2) The importance of religious decision, "Will ye," etc.? A most important question to them in its immediate and remote issues. Their destiny hangs upon it.

(3) The urgency of immediate decision. If they had a wish to leave him, the sooner the better. The question of our relationship to Christ cannot be settled too soon. It demands immediate consideration.

3. That it was not his wish to retain them against their will.

(1) This would be against the principle of his own life.

(2) It would be against the principle of all spiritual life.

(3) And against the great principle of his kingdom, which is willing obedience and voluntary service. Whatever is done to him against the will, or without its hearty concurrence, has no virtue, no spiritual value. All his true soldiers are volunteers. Unwilling service must lead to separation sooner or later.

4. His independency of them.

(1) He is not disheartened by the great departure. Many went back. He was doubtless grieved with this, with their want of faith and gratitude, but was not disheartened.

(2) He is independent of even his most intimate followers. "Will ye," etc.? If even they had the will to go away, he could afford it. One might think that he could ill afford to ask this question after the great departure from him. He had apparently now only twelve, and to these he asks, "Will ye also," etc.? He is not dependent upon his disciples. If these were silent, the very stones would speak; if the children of the kingdom reject him, "many shall come from the east," etc.

5. His affectionate care for them. "Will ye also," etc.? In this question we hear:

(1) The sound of tender solicitude. There is the note of independency and test of character; but not less distinctly is heard the note of affectionate solicitude for their spiritual safety. He did not ask the question of those who went away.

(2) The sound of danger. Even the twelve were not out of danger. Although they were in one of the inner circles of his attraction, they were in danger of being carried away with the flood.

(3) The sound of tender warning. "Will ye also," etc.? You are in danger. And their danger was greater and more serious than that of those who left; they were more advanced, and could not go away without committing a greater sin.

(4) The sound of confidence. The question does not seem to anticipate an affirmative reply. With regard to all, with the exception of one, he was confident of their allegiance.

II. THE DISCIPLES ANSWER. Simon Peter was the mouthpiece of all. The answer implies:

1. A right discernment of their chief good. "Eternal life." This, they thought, was their greatest need, and to obtain it was the chief aim of their life and energy; and in this they were right.

2. A right discernment of Jesus as their only Helper to obtain it. Little as they understood of the real meaning of his life, and less still of his death, they discerned him

(1) as the only Source of eternal life;

(2) as the only Revealer of eternal life;

(3) as the only Giver of eternal life. "With thee are the words," etc.

3. Implicit faith in his Divine character. "We believe and know," etc. They had faith in him, not as their national, but as their personal and spiritual Deliverer - the Saviour of the soul. and the Possessor and Giver of eternal life.

4. A determination to cling to him.

(1) This determination is warmly prompt. It is not the fruit of study, but the warm and natural outburst of the heart and soul.

(2) It is wise. "To whom shall we go?" They saw no other one to go to. To the Pharisees or heathen philosophers? They could see no hope of eternal life from either. To Moses? He would only send them back to Christ. It would be well for all who are inclined to go away from Christ to ask first, "To whom shall we go?"

(3) It is independent. They are determined to cling to Christ, although many left him. They manifest great individuality of character, independency of conduct, and spirituality and firmness of faith.

(4) It is very strong.

(a) The strength of satisfaction. Believing that Christ had the words of eternal life, what more could they need or desire?

(b) The strength of thorough conviction. They not only believe, but also know. They have the inward testimony of faith and experience. True faith has a tight grasp. Strong conviction has a tenacious hold.

(c) The strength of willing loyalty. "Lord, to whom," etc.? "Thou art our Lord and our King, and we are thy loyal subjects." Their will was on the side of Christ, and their determination to cling to him was consequently strong.

(d) The strength of loving attachment. The answer is not only the language of their reason, but also the language of their affection. Their heart was with Jesus. They could not only see no way to go from him, but they had no wish.

(e) The strength of a double hold. The Divine and the human. The hold of Jesus on them, and their hold on him. They had felt the Divine drawing, and they were within the irresistible attraction of Jesus. They were all, with one notorious exception, by faith safely in his hand.

LESSONS.

1. Loving faith in the Saviour is strengthened by trials. It stands the test of adverse circumstances. In spite of forces which have a tendency to draw away from Christ, it clings all the more to him.

2. The success of the ministry must not always be judged by additions. Subtractions are sometimes inevitable and beneficial. The sincerity of the following should be regarded even more than the number of the followers.

3. It is afar greater loss for us to lose Jesus than for Jesus to lose us. He can do without us, but we cannot do without him. He can go elsewhere for disciples; but "to whom shall we go?" B.T.







Will ye also go away?... To whom should we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.
I. GOD HAS SET BEFORE US A DESTINY. "Eternal life."

1. The idea of a future world in the abstract is probably present to every man.

2. It is impossible for any one to entertain this idea without being haunted by the tremendous possibilities of its truth. A man may lose sight of it, or rush to escape it, but let it once have a lodgment within, and he cannot refuse it acknowledgment.

3. It does not require any argument to prove a future world — you know that there is one.

4. It is equally impressed upon the human consciousness that this future life

(1)is one of conscious immortal existence;

(2)has a retributive connection with the doings of the present life.

II. HE HAS REVEALED TO US THE METHOD BY WHICH THIS DESTINY MAY BE ACHIEVED AND REALIZED.

1. The revelation of God's mercy in the gospel proceeds on the assumption of this conscious immortal existence, and has furnished appliances by which the happiest conditions of that existence may be brought within the reach of all. It is not merely a manual of precept for this world; it is a treasury of hope and comfort for the world to come. Point- ing to the Saviour, whose suretyship it announces, and from whose death it receives its validity and power, it says, "This is the true God and eternal life," and it proclaims to the troubled spirit that in Christ's possession are the words of eternal life.

2. Those words were never spoken in their fulness till Christ came. There were broken utterances about it, but He brought life and immortality to light.

III. HE HAS LIMITED AN EXCLUSIVE SAVIOUR. "Neither is there salvation in any other."

1. To have allowed a plurality of Saviours would have indicated a falter- ing confidence or an unsatisfied claim.

2. There needs no other Saviour, so there is no other.

3. This conviction will force itself on all some day.

4. The experience of the past proves that none other has the words of eternal life. All ancient religion and philosophy are empty of information on eternal life.

5. The re. searches of the present can find no other Saviour.

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

(Text in conjunction with Luke 5:8).

I. THE FIRST STAGE MARKED BY FEAR AT THE REVELATION OF DIVINE GLORY. It was not merely the wonder that produced the cry. This was not the first time that Peter had seen the power of Christ, and others had seen it who had not been affected. He saw in Christ the Holy one, and then came a sense of the chasm between Himself and Jesus.

1. Such a revelation does awaken the feelings of fear and awe. Before Christ came men had heard of holiness, but its awful presence was never fully felt until He crossed the path of the world. By Him the "thoughts of many hearts were revealed." Before the light of His holiness all lying hypocrisies quailed. And for eighteen centuries the world has been convinced of sin by the presence of the Holy One. When a man realizes a sense of the presence of this holiness his cry is that of Peter's.

2. Every one must have this feeling before He can cast himself utterly on Christ.

II. THE SECOND STAGE — CONFESSION OF DEVOTION TO CHRIST OUR LIFE. This was a testing time for the disciples — a time when they were driven to feel that Christ was their life. And in Christian experience there are similar periods, and then we feel that everything but the perfect reception of Him fails to satisfy the heart. Our spiritual nature craves three things.

1. A knowledge of God the Eternal Truth. Christ has revealed the Father.

2. Reconciliation with God the Eternal Righteousness. Christ is life for the conscience. 3.A knowledge of God the Eternal Love. Christ brought God close to man's heart.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

I. NO OTHER CHRIST WILL COME.

II. NO ONE WILL BRING A BETTER WORD.

III. THERE REMAINS NO OTHER FAITH.

IV. THERE IS NO BRIGHTER KNOWLEDGE.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

? —

1. "To whom shall we go?" is his first question when a man awakens to moral consciousness, and feels within him those inarticulate longings which reveal that he is not what he ought to be. Plato accounted these yearnings the reminiscences of a former state in which the soul had seen the perfect ideas of things now lost — a near approach to the Bible doctrine of the Fall. The soul feels that it is not what it once was, and that it cannot make itself so; but it recognizes its forgotten greatness when it sees it again. It is not to be deceived. It says when one specimen is offered, "This is not what I seek;" but when it finds Christ it identifies its long lost manhood in Him.

2. Besides these longings there is within us a sense of guilt, and the spirit groans, "Who will help me? " As when the sick cry for a physician. Man must go somewhere. The Jews were confronted with four rival systems. Sadduceeism, Pharisaism, Essenism, Christianity, and these virtually confront the seeker to-day.

I. Shall we go to SCEPTICISM?

1. That seeks to cure the soul's malady by denying it. That gives the same satisfaction as persuading a starving man that there is no reality in his hunger. How much more rational to accept the bread God has provided. Reject revelation and the same difficulties emerge in philosophy — so you only get rid of their only possible solution — just as sick men refused the doctor only throw away the chances of getting well.

2. The service of infidelity to man is well seen in the French Revolution.

II. Shall we go to RITUALISM? To improve our spiritual nature by ceremonial means is to begin at the wrong end, for it is the character of the soul that gives quality to the rite. The root of the evil is in the soul, which no ceremony can touch. Witness the Pharisees who would not go into Pilate's Hall for fear of defilement, and yet could plot for murder. Witness the Italian brigand who gives thanks for a successful robbery. Witness the multitudes of formal worshippers on Sunday who take advantage of their neighbours on Monday. Formalism only substitutes hypocrisy for religion.

III. Shall we go to ASCETICISM?

1. It is useless in practice, because the heart can. not escape from itself, and no walls can exclude temptation.

2. The whole system is cowardly.

3. It is a negative thing.

IV. Shall we go to JESUS? What are His qualifications?

1. He has the words of eternal life. By words man was lured to his destruction, and now by words he is to be saved.

2. What are His words. Their substance is, "God so loved the world," etc. Faith in these words gives certainty where before was doubt, and peace where formerly was despair.

3. See what they have done in the case of the apostles, heathens, drunkards, sinners of every age and degree. All that is noble and elevating in our modern civilization have come from Christ.Conclusion: When our modern prophets ask us to leave Him, we reply —

1. Find us a better answer to the questioning of our spirits than He has furnished.

2. Show us a better ideal of manhood than He has given.

3. Bring us brighter light in the life beyond than He has thrown.

4. In a word, give us something better than Christ.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

1. There is here one great assumption which, being removed, the whole drops to pieces. It is that man must have some one to go to. He cannot live without a master, a guide, a comforter. The soul cannot live alone or grope its own way. St. Peter's question evidently implies, "We cannot leave Thee till we have found another who shall outbid Thee in Thy offers, and outshine Thee in Thy revelations."

2. This is what we may call the argument from want. Man wants someone, and therefore God has someone for him. To whom is the only question, not whether we shall go. Was Peter right, or was he rash and wrong?(1) There are some suppositions which would be fatal to this argument. Supposing there be no God, or, at most, a God unconcerned about His creatures, then to say that man's spiritual thirst is any proof that God has provided spiritual water is a fallacy; it only proves that to want and to have not is man's pitiless destiny. But if there be a God such a conception is revolting to our best instincts, and dishonouring to God Himself. Far worthier is that of One touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and if this be true, then provision is sure.(2) This argument is not weakened by sin's entrance. The fact that man was spared after he had sinned, and that he now needs God's care and love more than ever, strengthens the argument. What Peter wanted, and what we want is —

I. SOME ONE WHO CAN RAISE US ABOVE CIRCUMSTANCES. How many of our race suffer from poverty, anxiety, sickness, disappointment, the sense of inferiority, and the dullness of life's routine, etc. God designs that such should have independence, earth's giving or refusing: and there is only one person who goes to the root of the trouble, for He can say to us, "I came to you from heaven, and there we know of no such distinctions; there the only honour is humility, the only office self-sacrifice, the only distinction, the being nearest to and likest God. Cultivate these things over which tyranny has no power, and I will guide you by my counsel and afterward receive you to glory."

II. SOME PERSONAL HELP TO LIFT US ABOVE SIN. Sin is an established fact, explain it, disguise it, extenuate it how we may. Christ's mission was to teach us the nature and guilt of sin. When this is brought home to the soul then indeed it cries, "To whom shall I go? Surely God must have some one for me? " He is in that sinless one who came into the world to save sinners. If we accept not Christ the voice of centuries tells us that there is no other.

III. SOME ONE WHO SHALL RAISE US ABOVE DEATH ITSELF. This we find in Him who confronted death and conquered, and who is "The resurrection and the life." Has any one else, not the words, but even the hope and promise of eternal life?

(Dean Vaughan.)

1. There is a time when our religious thoughts and feelings undergo a strain. It may be in youth, when the world first lays hold of us: or in passing into manhood, when the intellect recoils from in- herited thought; or under some terrible temptation. Then it seems doubtful whether we shall stay in the old house or "go away."

2. When this time comes, we must have an answer in our hearts why we should stay with Christ, or else we shall certainly go.

3. The idea of all religion is that of the higher "eternal" life of our text. "Let us eat and drink," etc., is common enough in practice, but no school advocates it. All schools maintain that there is a life of unselfishness which has as its vital principle the happiness of others.

4. The question, then, is not as to the need. but the sources of this higher life. The religion of Christ is said to be no longer effectual. Science, the religion of humanity, art, and culture, make their claims more or less to the exclusion of Christ.

5. How, then, can it be shown that in Christ alone is the true source of the higher life for man. By —

I. THE POWER OF CHRIST'S PERSONALITY. It was not a question of opinion as to whether the doctrines of Christ could be abandoned, an alternative between those of Christ and the Pharisees. The issue here, as ever, was a purely personal matter.

1. This assertion of authoritative personality is characteristic of Christ as a religious teacher. "I am the Way," etc. The words would have been profane boasting on any other lips. But when we see in Him what Peter saw in Him, we at once own the power and blessing of His words.

2. The consciousness of a Divine character in Christ is the most powerful root of the Divine life. We are moved by character as by nothing else. Truth on its intellectual side is hard to find, and may easily be eluded. It is this which makes the essential weakness of many modern schemes of religion. They are schemes of intellectualism, and, to the majority, are useless. They are incapable of being moved by science and art, because the motive power of life does not work in the main through the intellect or the taste. The higher life may be helped by them, but they do not give or quicken it.

3. But let the personal life in us be brought in contact with a higher personal life, and the springs of our higher life are at once touched. Place a noble human being amongst others, and how powerfully does his influence work! It is intelligible to all minds, and steals into all hearts. It was such a power as this, in a super-eminent degree, that Christ was felt to be. Behind all His kindness, there lay a depth of Divine personality.

4. All this Christ is still, and the higher life is realized by us when our character is moulded by His, and His mind is formed in us.

II. THE DIRECT REVELATION OF THE HIGHER LIFE THROUGH HIS WORDS. The idea of Divine personality carries with it the idea of revelation. If the power behind the world is a personal power, it cannot but make itself known; and eternal life can only be known to us through its expressions in such a one as Christ. If we cannot find it here, we can find it nowhere. All Christ said or did was a revelation of it. Here is strength to resist evil and to make habitual in us the instincts of a higher life, and nowhere else. And if we have failed, our hearts tell us it is because we have gone back from Christ.

(Principal Tulloch.)

1. Suppose we give up the Christian faith, what shall we have instead? Wise men are bound to look at consequences. If you were asked to leave your house, would you not inquire where yon were to go? And are we to concern ourselves more about shelter for the body than a home for the soul?

2. It is easier to pull down than to build up, to spoil a picture than to paint one, to tempt a man than to save one, to ruin life than to train it for heaven. Infidels are doing this easy work, and to them we must put the practical question, Give up religion, and what then?

I. GIVE UP THE IDEA OF GOD, AND WHAT THEN? You would refuse to throw away the poorest covering till you knew what you were to have in return. Will you, then, recklessly give up the idea of the living, loving, personal God at the bidding of any man? Remember that you can put away the mystery of God, and you get in return the greater mystery of godlessness. The wax flower on your table was made, but the roses in your garden grew by chance, forsooth.

II. GIVE UP THE IDEA OF THE FUTURE, AND WHAT THEN? If a man asked you to throw away a telescope, would you not inquire what you were to have in return? Will you, then, throw away the faith-glass through which you read the solemn and wondrous future. Christian revelation tells us that death is abolished, and heaven the goal of human spirits. Renounce this, and what can the sceptic give?

III. SHUT YOUR BIBLE, AND WHAT THEN? The .Bible says, "The Lord is my Shepherd," etc.; the tempter says, "Be you that shepherd." It says, "He, every one that thirsteth," etc.; he says, "You have no thirst that you cannot slake at the muddy pool at your feet." It says, "God is a present help in time of trouble"; he says, "Dry your tears, and snap your fingers in the face of the universe." It proclaims the forgiveness of sins; he says, "You have never sinned." It says, "In My Father's house are many mansions"; he says "Your mansion is the grave; get into it, and rot away." Conclusion:

1. Keep this question straight before you.

2. Inquire of the tempter his power to provide an alternative.

3. Be sure that the alternative is worth having. And you will find —

4. That if you leave the Divine life and aspect of things, there is nothing but outer darkness.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. Let us glance at THOSE SYSTEMS FOR WHICH WE ARE TEMPTED TO FORSAKE CHRIST.

1. Romanism.

2. Spiritualism.

3. Pantheism.

4. Secularism.

5. The world.

II. Let us examine CHRIST'S SUPERIOR CLAIMS ON OUR AFFECTION AND FAITH.

1. He is a Divine Teacher.

2. An all-sufficient Saviour.

3. An Almighty Protector.

4. A Sovereign Lord.

5. The Rest of the weary soul.Conclusion:

1. Christ is infinitely worthy of our confidence and love.

2. Make yourselves better acquainted with Him, and your faith and lore will be confirmed.

(Isaac Jennings.)

(Sermon to Young Men): —

1. We can scarcely conceive of any one but Peter speaking these words. They would not have been the first answer of the critical Thomas or the more philosophical John. The truth they contain would at last have aroused the faith of Thomas, and have been the resting-place of the love of John. Their sudden, unqualified utterance could only have broken from the lips of Peter. At the bare mention of the possibility of departure from Christ, St. Peter's soul was on fire, and the utterance of his heart outran the slower processes of the intellect, and he spoke with the voice of one who had experienced the power of the words of eternal life.

2. Young men are specially tempted to go away. The distinctive feature of your age is that it abounds in temptations. There is —

I. THE TEMPTATION TO A LIFE OF IDLE SELF-INDULGENCE.

1. With health strong, spirits high, and companionship abundant, the pleasure of merely living is so very great as for the time to seem almost satisfying. The facilities for easy living increases this temptation; but to yield to it is to kill the heart of your truest life. Though there may be nothing positively sinful in the separate acts of such a life, it is as a whole most sinful. You are guilty of the sin of omission, and rendering yourself unfit for the work of the future when it comes. For in such a life the seeds of all future evil are sown — softness, slothfulness, selfishness, etc.

2. This temptation is not to be overcome by the dull aphorisms of morality, nor by the festering pricks of ambition — the one all powerless against the other, as dangerous as the evil. What you need is to know Christ for yourself, so that love for Him becomes a real passion in your heart. Personal affiance brings you into His presence; and to be in His presence is to love Him, and love makes all labour easy. There is no limit to the height to which this may not exalt the most common-place life.

II. THE TEMPTATION TO IMMORAL PLEASURES.

1. To attempt to restrain young men of strong passions by stoical philosophy or prudential maxims, is like throwing a little water on a great fire, which, hissing out its own feebleness, does but quicken the burning.

2. There is but one sufficient remedy: that which has turned the martyrs' flames into a pleasant whistling wind, and subdued the flesh in all the triumph of its strength — the love of Christ. Bring Christ by the cry of faith into thy life; set thy struggles against corruption in the light of His cross, and pardon, and purity, and power will come from the pierced hand.

III. THE TEMPTATION TO SENSUOUS RELIGIOUSNESS.

1. Our worship may easily be smothered by the weight of its external adorning till it sinks into the death of mere formality, or is sentimentalized into the languid feebleness of an unmanly emotion.

2. The charm of such a temptation can only be broken by the knowledge of Christ on the cross dying for our sin, awakening by His word the sense of guilt, bringing the message of forgiveness, and holding communion with the reconciled spirit. When this mighty revelation comes, the soul cannot rest in outer things, nor allow the most beautiful symbol to intercept one ray of His countenance, who is fairer than the children of men. You cannot starve the busy, intrusive fancy into a heavenly affection. The love of Christ must so elevate the spirit, that it shall rest in no form, but in every form seek Him supremely.

IV. THE TEMPTATION TO FREE-THINKING, AND THE LOSS OF ALL REALLY FIXED BELIEF IN CHRISTIANITY.

1. Ages have their own temper, and there is much that is noble in that of our own. It contrasts most favourably with sensual, dull, and easy-living times. Labour, conflict, victory, are its watch-words. But its victories breed in it a certain audacity, to which the authority and genius of the Christian revelation oppose themselves.

2. Safety is not to be found in sleepily disregarding what is passing around us, nor in setting ourselves against the temper of the day, or in inventing a concordat between it and revelation, nor in forbidding criticism and turning away from discoveries. The rock, whose rugged breast affronts the torrent, cannot stay, but can only chafe the troubled waters.

3. If there are hard sayings discovered in the Christian record, and many turn back because of them, this is but a sifting of the inner willingness of hearts to go away. What else do the many voices around us proclaim but that, more than ever, we need a personal knowledge of Christ to keep us safe amidst the strife of tongues?

4. The real talisman against unbelief is not in hard, narrow, exclusive views, but in personal love to Christ. This love will sweep away a thousand doubts and speculative difficulties, and supply a whole life of resistance which is quickened into action by the mere touch of what might harm the spirit.

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)

I. THE ANSWER OF SCIENCE. By education, by learning the laws of nature and training oneself to obey them, Professor Huxley likens life to a game at chess. The board is the world; the pieces the phenomena of the universe; the rules its laws. The player on the other side is hidden. His play is always fair, but he never overlooks a mistake. To the man who plays well the highest stakes are paid. The one who plays iii is checkmated without remorse. Education is learning the rules of this game.

1. This representation ignores the spiritual nature. That there is a spiritual nature and spiritual fact is attested by the consciousness and history of our race.

2. The God of Science is unknowable, without sympathy for the weak and erring, and compassion for the suffering. If this be all the God there is, how foolish to concern ourselves about the words of eternal life!

3. This theory of the highest living leaves out of the account the most startling fact of human life — sin.

4. This answer has been tested. Give us culture, say the scientists, and we will save the race, and usher in the long-looked-for Golden Age. Ah, yes, culture I that is what Athens had, and perished. That is what Paris has, and, as Carlyle says, is crazy. That is what Germany has, and still is full of the worst ills. That is what England has, and yet England is neither satisfied nor happy. That is what we have, and still these spirits of ours crave something higher, stronger, purer, better. That is what this age of ours has, and withal is blind and weak, and restless as the storm-tossed sea. Science may educate, but still sin remains, and conscience is not quieted.

II. PETER'S ANSWER. What a mighty contrast between Christ and science..

1. Go to Jacob's well. "Whence has thou the living water?" The scientist would reply, "Out of the great well of nature. Study the laws of the universe." Would the woman's heart have been touched, and would she have obeyed?

2. Suppose it had been the scientist who had been dining at Simon's table; he would have said, "Woman, it is not scientific to weep. Be calm. Life is a game at chess; you have been checkmated because you didn't understand the rules of the game." Would she have gone away as she did disburdened and satisfied?

3. What would the scientist have done at the grave of Lazarus?

4. Where has science given us a parable of the prodigal son?

(S. A. Ort, D. D.)

I. In this reply of the apostle's is implied A CONVICTION OF THE INSUFFIENCY OF ALL HUMAN MEANS FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF SALVATION. "Lord, to whom shall we go?" Shall we apply to the scribes and Pharisees? Shall we inquire of the ceremonial or moral law? Shall we submit to the decisions of reason?

1. The scribes and Pharisees, and other doctors of the law among the Jews, at that period were blind leaders of the blind. Their corruptions had darkened their minds, and thrown a veil over the sacred writings; so that the plainest prophecies were misunderstood, and the most important doctrines perverted by them.

2. The apostles were equally convinced that life and salvation could not be obtained from an observance of the ceremonial or moral law.(1) With respect to the former — they knew that the tabernacle service was chiefly typical, shadowing forth good things to come.(2) With respect to the latter — even if they could not recollect that they had been guilty of any gross immorality, yet they knew that they were far from that perfection which the law demands.

3. They were also persuaded of the entire insufficiency of reason to point out to them the path of life. Untaught by revelation, what knowledge can we obtain respecting the salvation of a sinner?

II. The text implies that they had A FIRM BELIEF IN CHRIST'S PERFECTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS AS A SAVIOUR, "Thou hast the words of eternal life."

1. This is the language of faith, and expresses the sentiments and exercises of every soul that flees to the Saviour for refuge.

2. In this confession they acknowledge, also, a belief in His ability to instruct men in the way of life.

3. It also implies faith in Him as the only atoning sacrifice.

4. To be a perfect Saviour, He must be able, also, to ensure everlasting life to those whose sins He expiated; and, therefore, He must be possessed of power to apply His purchased salvation to the souls of His people.

III. From such a view of His offices, and a complete satisfaction in His undertaking and character, arises an unconquerable desire for the blessings which He has to bestow; and hence the words of the text are to be considered as expressing A FIRM RESOLUTION TO ADHERE TO HIM AS THEIR SAVIOUR AND LORD. "To whom shall we go," say the disciples, "but unto Thee."

1. United to Him they see safety; separated from Him they behold inevitable death.

2. This holy resolution is formed, not merely from necessity, but from a conviction of the honour, delight, and immortal glory which await the followers of the Lamb.

(W. L. Johnson.)

I. A SEARCHING QUESTION PUT AT A CRITICAL TIME.

1. It is a question put at a time when there was a great falling off from the number of Christ's followers. Now was the time to show their colours — now or never. The chaff was driven away. The wheat remained. Times of apostasy are sifting seasons for God's people, giving a renewed call to every soldier of the Cross to rally round the deserted banner. The example of others is no safe guide. Public opinion is often a feeble indicator of duty. There is one example, and only one, that we are safe to follow — the example of Christ. There is one standard, and only one, that never varies — the Word of God. Keep the infallible standard in your eye, and that will help to steady you amid the changes of men and time.

2. This question was put at a time when there was a fresh demand made on the faith of Christ's followers. It is obvious that our Lord's design was to lead His followers to a knowledge of the hidden mysteries of His kingdom; to set before them some of the deeper truths of revelation. Progressiveness marked all His teaching. Faith has often to surmount barriers which are impassable by the natural understanding. Duty is ever making fresh demands upon us, and as we advance we are ever finding out depths that we have not yet sounded, and heights of holiness we have not yet scaled. There are speculative difficulties that try our faith, and perplexing things in God's word that we cannot explain. In the face of such perplexities it will be our wisdom to hold fast what we can accept. "What we know not now, we shall know hereafter."

3. This question was put at a time when higher devotion was required in the life of Christ's followers. When God reveals Himself to His people, as He has been doing with increasing clearness at different stages in the world's history, it is in order to enable them to be more devoted witnesses for Him among men. All our knowledge ought to help us to live holier and nobler lives; otherwise it profits nothing.

II. A NOBLER REPLY FOUNDED ON WEIGHTY REASON.

1. Christ the highest of all teachers. We have many professing guides, but they all save One lead astray. Shall we follow our modern Pharisees and adopt the creed of the formalist? No, that will not satisfy the soul that longs for life. Shall we follow our modern Sadducees and adopt the creed of the atheist? No, that will not satisfy the soul that longs for God. Are we perplexed in our search for truth, and know not whose teaching to trust amid conflicting opinions? Let us learn to distrust, in matters of eternal moment, all human guides, and look to that Name beside which there is none other under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Then we shall have a Teacher to instruct us wiser than man, a Light brighter than the sun to shine on our path.

2. Eternal life the best of all possessions. Christ has something to bestow which no other claimant can boast of. He offers an inheritance that will outlast the sun, and live as long as God Himself.

(D. Merson, M. A.)

What are any of these life-giving words? Here are a few. "I am the Resurrection and the Life," etc. "Seek ye Me, and your soul shall live." "Whoso eateth My flesh," etc. "God so loved the world," etc. What "potential energy" slumbers in those wonderful words! They carry within them to the guilty and the dying a Divine message fraught with saving and life-giving power. They are simple that a child may read them, but they hold, as it were in solution, the deepest thoughts of God. The mere words are often compared to the casket containing the gem. To find the gem you have to open the casket. Even so, to get at the meaning of Christ's life-giving words, you need the spiritual discernment, the key that will unlock the gospel casket. The application of its contents to the heart will result in life eternal. Or take another similitude: The words are like the title-deeds of an inheritance. The possession of the title-deeds settles the ownership of the property. So the man who appropriates by faith the truths of the gospel makes good his claim to the inheritance which the gospel promises. Accept these truths, hold fast the title-deeds, and the inheritance is yours — not simply will be yours at some future time, but is yours now. The moment you receive the words of Christ you become possessor of the life of Christ. And this is what is here called "Eternal Life," which has been defined to be not simply endless being, but a life of perfect harmony with its environment, not subject to the changes and imperfections of this finite world. To be in harmony with Christ, otherwise called reconciliation with God — this is the aim of man's being, the noblest heritage of fallen humanity. Christ makes the offer of it to all His followers. In Him it is to be found, and those who are in Him have already entered into possession. But, so long as they are in this finite world, they are like the sons of Jacob in their possession of Canaan, surrounded by foes and exposed to changes, so that the circumstances are not favourable to undisturbed possession, the external harmony or environment not being perfect, but the time is coming when the harmony thus incomplete will be consummated in fairer worlds amid perfect and purer surroundings.

(D. Merson, M. A.)

Taking the gospel just as we find it, I shall show that all men's desires are to be met in it and in nothing else. If we reject it, whither shall we go for the fruition of oar desires? Take —

I. THE DESIRE OF CONTINUED EXISTENCE. That this is deeply seated in the soul is evident from the horror which annihilation awakens. Where shall we, then, find the evidence that the desire is to be gratified?

1. The senses only inform us that we shall die, and no disembodied spirit appears to contradict it.

2. Reason only speculates upon it as a probability, and those philosophers who most cleverly argued it our disbelieved their own reasonings.

3. But faith looks through the darkness and beholds in Christ "life and immortality brought to light."

II. THE DESIRE OF ACTION. The gospel, and that only —

1. Gives a right direction to the human faculties. Those faculties have acquired a wrong direction which reason, working through the highest civilization, could not correct; but just in proportion as the gospel has prevailed the standard of morality has been elevated.

2. Opens a noble field for their exercise. When the gospel is not known the social duties are but little understood or performed; but Christianity enjoins the doing of good to our fellow-creatures, not only as beings who are to live here, but for ever.

3. Enjoins employments which are fitted to improve man's faculties, and thus render him capable of some vigorous and successful action.

III. THE DESIRE OF KNOWLEDGE. True, man may advance with no other light but the light of nature. But in that department which respects the character of God and man's eternal relations human reason is at best an inadequate instructor. The knowledge derived from the Bible is —

1. Most practical, adapted to influence the affections, and through them the life.

2. Sublime. Its revelations are stamped with moral grandeur — God, creation, the soul, redemption, immortality, etc.

3. For ever progressive. The treasures of the Bible are inexhaustible, and he who walks by it here will walk in the brighter light of heaven hereafter.

IV. THE DESIRE OF THE APPROBATION OF OTHER BEINGS.

1. Wherever the gospel has not existed, malice, hatred, envy, revenge, etc., have held the soul in dominion in spite of all that reason could do to redeem it. But the gospel brings into exercise the spirit of forgiveness and benevolence, and makes man a brother, instead of an enemy, to his fellowman.

2. But this desire has respect to the favourable regard of God, and is met

(1)By the gospel proclamation of forgiveness;

(2)The impartation of a character which renders man the object of Divine complacency.

V. THE DESIRE FOR SOCIETY. There is an impression abroad that Christianity is unfriendly to social enjoyment. But monkery is a perversion of Christianity. Christianity is in its very nature social, for —

1. A large part of its duties are social.

2. Its tendency is to refine and exalt the social affections.

3. It has established a society — the Church.

4. It meets this desire through every period of existence.Conclusion:

1. Does not this furnish a conclusive argument for the Divinity of the gospel?

2. How malignant the spirit of infidelity.

(1)Even on the theory that Christianity is false, it can supply nothing in its place.

(2)But on the theory that Christianity is true, it stands chargeable with opposing man's best interests in time and eternity.

3. How blessed the employment of extending the gospel!

(W. B. Sprague, D. D.)

An old Greek sage had a theory, and it must be admitted that there was a great deal of truth in his speculations. He had a notion that the history of the universe was composed of alternate cycles, covering vast periods of time — the cycle of love and the cycle of hate. Under the influence of love, when this cycle was being fulfilled which he supposed all came under, the mighty force and tendency of each was towards unity. Then came the cycle of hate when the centrifugal forces produced universal disintegration; parts flew off from the whole, from their proper centre, and from their proper relations to each other; and the various objects of beauty also began to disappear. This was a curious conception, but was there not a great deal of truth in it? May we not say that there are two laws in the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ? First, the love law, having for its centre God, who pervades the universe and tends to promote harmony and beauty and every other comeliness. The second, the law of hatred or self-assertion, by which the individual, breaking away from God, sets himself up as his god; from which will of necessity result the disintegration of society, confusion, anarchy, and the ruin of the universe. These two great laws are operating in our midst.

(W. Hay-Aitken, M. A.)

f unbelief: — It is not by limiting the intellectual side of our religion, but by exalting its spiritual side, that we can be safe and keep others safe. It is not by striving to repress intellectual activity, nor by jealously warning it off the precincts of revealed religion; it is by lifting up before men's eyes the Cross of Christ, and teaching them personal affiance in Him, that we shall keep uninjured the great deposit of the truth. And this is the only talisman: without it all speculations upon the mystery of life and of God are full of danger; for though such peril is preeminently present in studies and inquiries which tend to shake received belief as to things sacred, it is not with them only that it is present. It is almost as easy for controversial orthodoxy, as for adverse speculative criticism, to land the spirit in the valley of the shadow of death. Nothing can more endanger the true life of the spirit than the cold charnel-house breath of a mere reasoning, unloving, uncharitable orthodoxy. Alas, the pathway of the Church, through times of great controversy, is marked by the mouldering corpses of such combatants for truth. This, and this only, can keep us safe amongst our own perils — to have known ourselves the love bred within the soul by a true belief in Christ's atoning blood, in Christ's perpetual presence, in Christ's abiding love. And of this we may be sure no speculative difficulties can endanger one soul, which has been taught by experimental knowledge to say in times of darkness, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)

When Christian, in the "Pilgrim's Progress," thought about going back, he recollected that he had no armour for his back. Look at that fact whenever you are tempted.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Timour the Tartar desired universal dominion, saying the earth was too small for more than one master. "It is too small to satisfy the ambition of a great soul." "The ambition of a great soul," said the Sheik of Samarcand to him one day, "is not to be satisfied by the possession of a morsel of earth added to another, but by the possession of God alone sufficiently great to fill up an infinite thought."

(Lamartine.)I have received from Taubenheim one hundred pieces of gold, and fifty pieces of silver from Schart, so that I begin to fear lest God be giving me my portion here below. But I solemnly declare that nothing can make me happy except God.

(Luther.)

"One should think," said I, "that the proprieter of all this (Keddlestone, the seat of Lord Scarsfield) must be happy." "Nay, sir," said Johnson; "all this excludes but one evil — poverty."

(Boswell.)

A great statesman, abandoned in his old age by his sovereign, lay dying one day in England; and it is recorded of. him that he said," If I had served my God as faithfully as I have served my king, He had not cast me off now." How true! Blessed God! Thou will never abandon any who put their trust in Thee.

(Dr. Guthrie.)

"To whom shall we go?" Poor humanity, distracted by many perplexities, bleeding from many wounds, weeping over many griefs, must go somewhere: she cannot eat out her own heart with grief and consume her own life with sighing. Whither shall we go? Where shall the great mystery of our existence be unveiled to us? Is Nature to be the temple of our worship, with its skies, now bright and now cloudy, arching over us in alternate loveliness and terror? Ah, there is no gospel in her sighing wind, and all her resurrections die again, and all her waves break upon a strand that is unknown and far. Can infidelity reassure us? Is there safety in the everlasting "No?" Can we vanquish the danger by denying it? Can we overcome the peril by putting it far away? Men try this sometimes, but it is a sombre region to dwell in where dead leaves crackle under foot. Ah, no! there is a shuddering and sickly air, as of some ghost-haunted wood or precincts stern and savage; and it is useless, for Death will come, although society join us in the conspiracy to cheat him, and although friends forbear kindly to inquire about our age, and although decay can go and rouge over its wrinkles, and compliment itself into youth again, Death will come; and there is something in all of us that will keep on asking, "What then? what then?" "What after death for me remains?" Oh, it is wiser surely even with the Egyptian to shape the coffin in the lifetime, or with the Jew to build the sepulchre in the garden. Speaking of Jews, would Judaism serve to shelter us? It has glorious types — a wonderful history, many lighted windows of worship. Shall we enter the door? Nay, don't exhume it: it has been in the sarcophagus, a corpse, now for more than a thousand years. Christ would have been the soul of it once, but it rejected Him, and struck its own suicide in a mistaken chivalry which preferred death to what it deemed to be dishonour. Judaism can do nothing for us. Then shall reason light us down the vale, or morality put a staff in our hand, or superstition torture us into safety, or formalism ferry us over the swellings of Jordan? Alas! they are all miserable comforters; they lift no cloud; there it hangs, mysterious and solemn, over the passage into eternal life. Jesus of Nazareth, Divine human Saviour! we come to Thee: we pray to Thee. In Thee is all the beauty which the Greek worshipped: in Thee is all the law which the stern Roman loved. Thou art Nature's great interpreter; and infidelity shrinks away from Thy presence; and Judaism is fulfilled in Thee; and superstition becomes reverence as Thou speakest; and formality gets an inner spirit; and faith in Thee is the highest reason; and love to Thee is the grandest morality.

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

When Garibaldi sailed from Genoa in 1860 he took with him a thousand volunteers. They landed at Marsala almost in the face of the Neapolitan fleet. When the commander of Marsala, returning to the port, saw the steamers, he gave orders to destroy them. Garibaldi having landed his men, looked with indifference, almost with pleasure on the work of destruction. "Our retreat is cut off," he said, exultingly; "we have no hope but in going forward: it is to death or victory."

(H. O. Mackey.)

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