The True Christian Diet
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.” (John 6:53-55)
It is often said that “you are what you eat.” Furthermore, on the physical plane, “without nourishing food, life cannot continue to properly exist.” As these two truisms apply to the physical, secular aspect of existence, they also apply to its spiritual phase. And this truth is vividly expressed by Jesus Christ in the sixth chapter of the book of John.
The subject of food and its necessity became an issue in the early days of Christ when, near the Sea of Galilee “a great multitude [“the men . . . in number about five thousand” (vs. 10)] followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased (John 6:2).” It was a time near the feast of the Passover, while sitting with His disciples on a mountain, that Jesus saw the “multitude coming toward Him” (John6:4, 5). A discussion with Philip concerning the availability of food resulted in the admission that his disciples had only enough money to feed just a few within the gathering crowd.
Christians generally know the “rest of the story.” Christ took a lad’s “five small barley loaves and two small fish” (vs. 9) and miraculously turned this trivial sustenance into an abundant feast for the many thousands who were seated on the grass before Him. When finished, as for the fragments of food that remained, the disciples “gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten” (vss. 12, 13).
The following day the multitude sought Christ who had the night before traveled to Capernaum. Upon finding Him and asking Him why He had come to “the other side of the sea” (vs. 25), Christ declared to them:
Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him. (John 6:26b, 27)
Knowing the multitude’s true concern, Christ not only made a clear distinction between the secular and spiritual aspects of nourishment, but He also most clearly placed emphasis on the spiritual side of the issue.
(Here it should be noted that when Christ mentioned “life” in His ministry, and it is characterized as “eternal” or “everlasting,” on most occasions He is referring to an “age” that will last for “a long period of time.” Neither the Hebrew of the Old Testament nor the Greek of the New Testament contains a word for “eternal.” Context is all important in order to ascertain the length of time in view when these words are used. Aion and aionios are usually thought of and used numerous times in the New Testament in the sense of “an age.” And a usage of this nature is even brought over into English. For example, the English word “aeon [or ‘eon’]” is derived from the Greek word aion. The only way in which the Greek text can express “eternal” apart from textual considerations is through a use of aion in the plural [e.g., Luke 1:33; Hebrews 13:8, referring to “the ages,” i.e., ages without end, which would comprise eternity] or a double use of aion, in the plural and articular both times [e.g., Revelation 1:6; 4:9, 10, referring to “the ages of the ages,” again, ages without end].)
Still, members of the multitude endeavored to shift the discussion back to the secular (self-administering) side of serving God by focusing only on the word “labor” [Gk: ergazomai], which Christ used in His statement. They ask, “What shall we do, that we may work [Gk: ergazomai] the works of God (vs. 28)?” To this, Christ answered by placing the emphasis back on the spiritual, indicating that the method of obtaining proper nourishment and the nourishment itself all centered on Christ alone, with the following:
This is the work of God that you believe in Him [Christ] whom He [the Father] sent. (John 6:29)
But not understanding the spiritual implication of Christ’s answer, and definitely not wishing to abandon their physical needs, the crowd focused on what kind of food Christ could provide to them for their support. In doing this they pointed to the manna, which God provided for the children of Israel in the desert upon their escape from Egypt, by stating “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat (vs. 31).’” Relentlessly, the crowd could only understand their physical needs by concentrating solely on physical nourishment.
Once again, Christ endeavored to clarify the issue by stating quite clearly that it was Himself alone who was the nourishment from God, by saying:
Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . . I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. (vss.32, 33, 35, 36)
Yet, they could not grasp the spiritual meaning of His message and the result of this exchange only brought forth irritable complaints from the crowd. And this is the context surrounding the very dramatic statements pertaining to the only Christian diet available to Christians then, or today, which can proceed only from Jesus Christ.
(The contrast between the crowd’s focus and that which Christ endeavored to reveal to them is also seen within the framework of the various signs Christ gave to the people of Israel, who required a sign [1 Corinthians 1:22], in order to convince them that He was indeed the promised Messiah, the One who was to rule and reign, the Son of God [God’s Firstborn Son, the One whom God recognized as possessing the rights of primogeniture], and by believing this they would have life (not eternal life – which they already possessed – but life in keeping with that to which the signs pointed, life in the kingdom). This framework of signs and their purpose relative to the people of Israel is vividly presented in the book, Signs in John’s Gospel by Arlen L. Chitwood, which may be accessed by clicking on http://bibleone.net/SiJG.htm.)
Whereas those within the multitude were only concerned with physical food, Christ utilized what appears to be shocking language to reveal what spiritual nourishment is absolutely necessary for followers of Christ to experience the spiritual life God intended for them. To this end Jesus declared in verses 48 to 51 of John chapter 6:
(48) I am the bread of life.
(49) Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
(50) This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die.
(51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
The revelation that Christ was “the living bread which came down from heaven” as being His “flesh,” which they were to eat in order to have life, resulted in even more quarreling among the Jews (vs. 52). To this, Christ doubled-down by stating:
Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. This is the bread which came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:53-58)
Without wavering, Christ mandated that spiritual (not temporal) life was wholly dependent upon one’s diet, a diet that was exclusive, a diet that was and is centered solely on Him, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. But since the multitude apparently only understood physical food, He expressed this fact in vivid, shocking, and descriptive terms. He declared that only by ingesting Him, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, could any person (1) have life and (2) abide [Gk: meno, maintain a shared union] in Him.
So, the question then and now is: How does one eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ in order to possess spiritual life (who is that life [John 14:6]) and abide in Him. The answer, frankly, had already been revealed by Christ within His discourse when He repeatedly expressed that the one and only ingredient necessary for a person to have spiritual life would be to have faith (believe in) in Him, as seen in the following:
This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. (John 6:29)
He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47)
Without reservation, without doubt, without confusion of any kind, the only means in which a person may participate in the true Christian diet, that which will encompass all aspects of spiritual life – the initial procurement of it and to continue to abide (maintain a shared union) within it – is by (1) the conscious decision of faith (belief, trust) in Jesus Christ as the Son of God sent by God for the salvation of all mankind and then (2) to faithfully continue by/in faith to consume the Word (the revealed written expression of God who was made flesh [John 1:1]).
The true Christian diet is experienced in two distinct protocols, the first available only to the spiritually lost, individuals who are “dead in trespasses and sins,” and the second available only to the spiritually saved, those who have placed their faith in Christ for their eternal salvation.
These are seen as follows:
1. An introduction/acquisition. For those without Christ, the lost, it not only secures for the individual the (eternal) salvation of the spirit, i.e., the instantaneous spiritual transformation (“birth from above”) of being “made alive” from being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), which takes place instantly upon a person’s decision to place faith in Christ (John 3:3, 6, 7, 14-18; 20:31; Acts 16: Acts 16:30, 31; Ephesians 2:8, 9), but it also, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, placing the individual into the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27a) and makes him “one with/in Christ” (John 17:11, 20-23; Romans 12:5; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-16; 4:4; Colossians 3:11). This represents a one-time, permanent event in a person’s life.
2. A volitional maturing process. For those in Christ, the saved, it provides for the salvation of the soul, i.e., the progression from being an immature (“babe”), carnal Christian to a mature, spiritual Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1; Hebrews 5:13; 14:20; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Peter 2:2), who is able to understand “the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens” (Matthew 13:11) – “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19) – by which they eagerly look forward to the return of Christ, their ultimate hope. This represents a process in which Christians have a choice and in which has positive or negative consequences relative to the Messianic Era, the thousand year reign of Christ soon to come. It is wholly dependent upon a Christian’s growth in the comprehension of the Word of God, which will transform the Christian through ever increasing levels of spiritual maturity.
In other words, the true Christian diet is the faithful consumption of Christ through His revealed Word. Both protocols are seen in Colossians 2:6:
As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord [i.e., by faith], so [in the same manner, by faith] walk in Him.
Nothing is more important for the Christian, a continuing process anchored in the Word, which alone is able to bring spiritual maturity in the Christian’s life. Arlen L. Chitwood, in chapter 13 of his book, Signs in John’s Gospel, which may be accessed at http://bibleone.net/SiJG.htm, has the following to say pertaining to Christ’s remarks regarding the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood:
The previous multiplication of the loaves and fish foreshadowed partaking of Christ Himself, as the provided bread during Moses’ day had foreshadowed as well – eating of the Bread of Life, eating His flesh, drinking His blood.
But how can this be the case? How can one partake of Christ Himself in such a manner? The answer is simple, and it was given in the introductory verses of John’s gospel.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . . (John 1:14a; cf. vv. 1, 2).
The Old Testament Scriptures – which, in their entirety, are about the person and work of Christ, revealing the Son – became flesh (cf. Luke 24:25-27, 39-44). The written Word, which is alive (Hebrews 4:12), became flesh, in the Person of the Son, the living Word. And the Two are so inseparably related that partaking of One is synonymous with partaking of the Other.
Thus, one eats of the Bread of Life, partakes of Christ’s flesh and blood, by partaking of the written Word. And Christians must partake of Christ today, in this manner, if they are to have a part with Him in His kingdom (ref. chapter 4 of this book, “The Word Made Flesh”).
In brief, nothing is more important for a proper Christian life than for Christians to consume (study and comprehend) the written Word of God. To do so is indeed “eating the flesh” and “drinking the blood” of the living Word of God. And the following principles are to be followed for a successful completion of this process:
Key Principles of Biblical Interpretation
Principle Number One
The core (primary) principle that one should understand pertaining to correct Biblical interpretation is actually a composite, a union of three essential components revealed in the Word pertaining to the reception and comprehension of ultimate Truth.
It must be recognized that all Scripture is God-breathed. The manner in which God revealed Himself, His plans, and His purposes in His Word (a God-breathed revelation, penned as the Spirit moved men to write) is what makes Scripture different from all other writings.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (Gk: theopneustos, God-breathed), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
(2 Timothy 3:16)
Knowing this first that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21; cf. Luke 1:70; Acts 3:18)
There is and can only be one true Guide & Teacher of Bible doctrine, which was revealed by Christ while in “Bethany” with His disciples just “before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father” (John 12:1; 13:1), as follows:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13)
And this was reiterated by the apostle John, as follows:
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. . . . But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 John 2:20, 27)
When studying the Word of God, a Christian must understand that the Holy Spirit and He alone can properly and completely reveal the correct interpretation of any passage of Scripture. No human being, including the author of this document, is infallible. This being the case, each student of God’s Word should sincerely and totally recognize and look only to the Helper (lit: Comforter), the Spirit of God, for the correct understanding of Holy Writ.
This is not to say that the Spirit does not utilize man (ministers or their networks) in the distribution of the truth, but it is to say that one’s dependence must solely be directed toward God the Spirit in order to be able to truly ascertain fact from falsehood.
The primary quality that man may possess according to God’s Word is faith, the ability to take God at His Word, to simply and utterly believe what God has to say about any matter. In other words, God expects man to trust Him; failure to trust (to believe) Him was in essence the first sin by man (Genesis 3:1-7). Scripture is replete with the concept of faith as it pertains to the relationship between God and man, and it is the only means in which one may activate and receive the instruction from the Spirit of God.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
Principle Number Two
One must understand that all of the Bible, both Testaments, are about one Person, the Word of God, God manifest in the flesh, Jesus the Christ, and His relationship, His connection to man. Such is expressed appropriately by Arlen L. Chitwood in the Foreword to his book, The Study of Scripture, as follows:
When studying the Scriptures – whether the Old or New Testament – one is studying about Jesus the Christ, whom God has “appointed Heir of all things” (Luke 24:25-27; Hebrews 1:2). There is nothing in the New Testament that is not seen after some fashion in the Old. The New Testament is simply a revealing, an unveiling, of God’s Son, as previously introduced in the Old Testament Scriptures.
“Jesus” is the Word made “flesh,” referring, in an inseparable sense, to both the Old Testament Scriptures and to God becoming “flesh” in the person of His Son. “Jesus” is not only God manifested in the flesh but the Old Testament Scriptures manifested in the flesh as well.
There is “the written Word,” inseparably identified with “God,” and there is this same Word manifested in the form of “flesh,” with life and inseparability seen throughout.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. . . .
And the Word became 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.
(John 1:1, 2, 14)
Thus, “studying Scripture,” one is simply studying about God’s Son. And note that the Word became “flesh” after all of the Old Testament had been penned but before a single word of the New Testament had been penned. In that respect, one would have to conclude that there is nothing in the New that is not seen after some fashion in the Old, else God’s Son, the Word becoming “flesh,” would have been incomplete at the time of His incarnation.
Then, in John 1:14, the Word becoming “flesh” is seen in connection with two things:
1) Christ’s Glory.
2) Christ’s Sonship, God’s Firstborn (“sonship” implies rulership, and it is firstborn sons who rule in the human realm).
All of this can only take one back to the beginning of God’s revelation of His Son, back to the opening verses of Genesis. That which God desires man to know about His plans and purposes, which He will bring to pass through His Son, begins at this point.
And everything from this point forward is regal. Everything has to do with God’s Son, God’s Firstborn, who has been “appointed Heir of all things.” And everything moves toward that day when God’s Son will come forth in all His Glory and realize this inheritance.
(The Study of Scripture by Arlen L. Chitwood may be accessed in its entirety by clicking on the following link: http://bibleone.net/SS.htm.)
Principle Number Three
One must understand that God presented His Word after a particular fashion, one in which the various truths of His Word are revealed and clarified by various examples (types) throughout His Word. Again, in his book, The Study of Scripture, Arlen addresses this subject, as follows:
Then, it must be recognized that God structured His revelation to man after a particular fashion, alluded to in Luke 24:25-27, 44 and stated in so many words in 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11. Scripture not only deals with a completely accurate history of certain events surrounding God’s dealings with the earth, angels, and man, but biblical history has been recorded after such a fashion that it is highly typical as well. God has established His primary means of teaching, not through history per se, but through inherent types seen in history, pointing to antitypes seen in later history and/or prophecy.
The manner in which God revealed Himself to man is as stated in 1 Corinthians 10:11a,
Now all these things happened to them as examples [Greek, tupos, types; “Now all these things happened to them for types”] . . . .
The reference is to events during Moses’ day, drawing from the wilderness journey of the Israelites. But the reference would, of necessity, have to go far beyond simply the specific events listed in verses one through ten, preceding the statement in verse eleven. In the light of other Scripture, as becomes increasingly evident when one views all of Scripture, the reference would have to be enlarged to encompass not only all biblical history during Moses’ day but all biblical history beginning with Genesis 1:1.
That would be to say, God has structured His revelation to man after a fashion in which not only true, correct history is presented but this history is presented in such a manner that it is highly typical in nature. And Scripture, within this highly typical structure, is jam-packed with spiritual significance and meaning.
God, within His sovereign control of all things, brought matters to pass after such a fashion (within the history of the earth, angels, and man) that He could, at a later time, have these events to draw upon in order to teach His people the deep things surrounding Himself, His plans, and His purposes. And this would be accomplished mainly through types and corresponding antitypes.
Thus, God draws not so much from history per se as He does from the spiritual content set forth in the historic accounts – the great spiritual lessons, taught mainly from types pointing to corresponding antitypes.
Anyone can understand facts within revealed biblical history (saved or unsaved man). This would pertain more to the letter of the matter. But only saved man can go beyond the letter to the spirit of the matter (2 Corinthians 3:6-16). Only the saved can understand the spiritual lessons drawn from history. Only the saved can look within biblical history and see spiritual content (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
For the unsaved, things beyond the simple, historical facts are completely meaningless. They can neither see these things nor know them. Spiritually, they are dead; and these things are “spiritually discerned.” They can view Scripture only from a “natural [‘soulical’]” standpoint (1 Corinthians 2:14).
But for the saved, the matter is entirely different. They, by/through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, have been made spiritually alive. The Spirit has breathed life into the one having no life; they have “passed from death to life.”
And they have this same Spirit – the One who gave the Word to man through man — indwelling them to lead them “into all truth” (John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, 20; 1 John 3:24). Accordingly, the saved possess the ability to see beyond the facts of history and view the spiritual lessons inherent therein.
This is what is meant by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” It is within this facet of Scripture that man can see the things that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . . .” It is within this facet of Scripture that “God has revealed them to us by his Spirit.”
But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-13)
And it is within this complete, overall thought, as previously stated, that one finds all of biblical history forming types that are fraught with spiritual significance and meaning.
This is the manner in which God has structured His Word. It has been given to man after this fashion, and if man would properly understand that which God has revealed in His Word, he must study it after the fashion in which it was given and recorded.
Principle Number Four
In addition to all of the above, when studying a particular doctrine within the Word, one must always consider the context of (that which surrounds and is relative to) the passage under consideration.
Christendom today is composed of voluminous, diverse and often quite dissimilar denominations and doctrinal teachings, all reportedly based on God’s Holy Word. Considering this, there is little wonder that the non-Christian and the Christian often are simply confused over what is ultimately right and wrong. Faced with multiple ministries, many given to outward appearance and show, and opposing doctrines relative to God, creation, man’s destiny and salvation, it is little wonder that the world is in such corrupted shape and so many have grave difficulty in finding their way to the Living God.
Foundational to this condition is the fact that most Christians from their spiritual birth and throughout their spiritual lives never come to an understanding of or utilize the true Christian diet, which is to faithfully study God’s Word under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. This, a condition available to those Christians who daily deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-26), is the only way to the salvation of their souls, a progression directly related to the effective absorption of the “implanted Word.”
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)