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Will Ye Also Go Away?

by Elder Steve Perrigo

There are many people today who claim to be followers of God and Jesus Christ, His Son. However, there is a distinctive character that separates the true follower from the false or superficial professor of Christ. Just as it was during the time when Jesus walked upon this earth in the body of his flesh, so it is today. There are those who remain and those who fall away. Jesus is still asking this question today, "Will ye also go away?" Do you know how you will respond and why?

The scriptural background is found in John chapter six, verses 22-71. Jesus had just performed the marvelous miracle of feeding five thousand people with only five barley loaves and two small fishes. This great number of people was following Jesus "because they saw his miracles that he did on them that were diseased." (John 6:2) These people could therefore be characterized as "followers" of Jesus. Unfortunately, people are followers of Jesus after the same manner today. They follow as long as it stimulates their carnal, superficial desires. Even though their motives were not perfect, Jesus had compassion upon them because of the pressing , immediate need. Therefore, he fed them so they would not leave hungry using the food he had available. Upon recognition of this event as a miracle, there was a revelation of truth and a declaration by the men whom Jesus fed saying, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." Jesus, though, knew they thought of him as the fulfillment of prophecy, which he was, yet their theology was in error. Their intent was to take Jesus immediately to Jerusalem and make him King thereby causing a great political upheaval and, no doubt, chaos. Jesus was indeed a king, but not after the manner of this world. Jesus then removed himself from their presence to be alone. These events troubled our Lord. This separation from everyone was in order to pray to the Father on behalf of the people and their ignorance. Jesus' hope was, and is today, that people would receive him as the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the hope of eternal life. People did not discern the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. They knew of the marvelous power they had seen yet nothing of the truth and the power of endless life. In their folly, they pursued, or sought after Jesus. When they found him, Jesus began the work of sanctifying, separating the true believer from the false. Jesus began to teach by addressing their motives.

Jesus tells these people about themselves. Normally, people enjoy hearing someone say things about themselves if it esteems them or elevates their egos, but not necessarily the truth. By telling them about themselves, Jesus introduces the subject of everlasting life. "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." John 6:27

Associated with this subject is the idea of work. Those of us who are saved already know about grace. But, as it is with many people today, the unmerited favor of God is hidden to the unbelieving, self-righteous soul. Jesus proceeded in this manner to establish the truth concerning his work and correct the errors taught them by the religious establishment through vain traditions. Jesus, speaking to them by way of an allegory, wants them to have a deeper understanding of God's purposes for life. Life is beyond this mortality. Life is more than the mundane existence many people are toiling for. Jesus wants us to have "abundant" life. He wants us to see him as a true deliverer. He wants us to have the fullness of life as it exists in God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. John's gospel declares these concepts in his introduction by the appellation of "the Word".

" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Joh 1:1

The name John uses in reference to Jesus, the Son of God, "Word", denotes also life as coming from the "Word";"In him was life;" John 1:4 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Joh 1:14

This Jesus, in whom the Fullness of God dwells, full of grace, life and truth, introduces himself at this point to people who only see him as a great man who can do wonderful things. However, they do not see him as the giver of life. In fact, the allegorical expressions he made concerning himself as "the bread of life" became the focal point of a division, a falling away. Their comprehension, being only of the flesh, carnal, did not understand the spiritual applications Jesus meant when he spoke of himself as the "bread of life". As it was then, so it is today even over these same words written by John.

Jesus knew he spoke of things that were not easily understood. Anytime God's word is proclaimed with the help of the Holy Spirit, expect one of two reactions, receiving God's word as truth, the other, to reject both the word and the teacher. The power of God's word causes division along these lines, belief of the truth or rejection of the truth. Many people question these causes of division due to weakness in spiritual knowledge of God's word. Jesus himself spoke on this: " For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." Matt. 10:35

The word "variance" literally means to divide in two. Therefore Jesus knew his work in this world would have a dividing effect among groups of people. Sanctification itself is a division, a separation or setting apart. This is the effect of the gospel message. Some people are ashamed of the gospel because of this one thing. However, the Apostle Paul says,....

" For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Ro 1:16 Not only was Paul not ashamed, but he recognized the power of the gospel. In the Hebrew letter the word of God is shown in its powerful character as "dividing asunder". " For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb 4:12

If these things be known, why, then, do we still have the same problems today as it was while Jesus was still in this world? Those people referred to Jesus' word by saying, " This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" Jesus' disciples even murmured at what he taught. Some fell away. " From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." John 6:66 The next verse, the title to this message, Jesus still asks today. " Will ye also go away?"

What is the real reason some people fall away? Why is it some stay with Jesus even though they don't completely understand his teachings? The reason is unbelief. Jesus spoke of this when he said;

" But there are some of you that believe not...., Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." John 6:64,65

The largest obstacle anyone must overcome in this life is unbelief. By his own will a man cannot overcome the "mountain" of sin that exist in unbelief. Some people claim to believe in Jesus yet do not believe his words or his commandments. They remain only as long as it does not offend them; only as long as it pleases them or doesn't interfere with their schedule. Their actions, or works, declare who they are for the Lord Jesus Christ does not rule in their life. They are selfish. The parable of the sower and the seed perfectly describes the major cause of falling away. " And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended." Mark 4:16,17 The key word in this verse is "endure". Without Jesus, who is the root and the vine, there is no staying power. It becomes clear that later on their belief was only in their mind and not of the heart. Paul states in the Roman letter,..." For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." Rom.10:10,11 Jesus himself connects the nature of the heart being revealed to the words from the mouth. " ...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matt. 12:24

Therefore, when words proceed from the mouth stating unbelief, it reveals a condition of the heart.

Still others fall away because they stumble at the "Word". In reality, they do not believe and stumble because of Jesus Christ. They do not endure because they have not eternal life. Jesus says in John 6:27,....

" Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."

There is an enduring quality to the true believer. To the true believer the Word is precious, the Word is Jesus Christ and he is the "Rock of their salvation, a mighty fortress, a sure foundation, their place of refuge. The eleventh article of faith found in Pendleton's "Church Manual" states;

"We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special providence watches over their welfare, and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."

The distinction of the true believer is his attachment, his relationship with Christ.