20 Sep Quarter Two Lesson Eleven
Words of Life
Possibly you have been the recipient of hurtful words used against you, or maybe you’ve put others down by speaking wrongly to them. This kind of speaking, putting people down with our words, is an immature and childish form of communicating. Fortunately, we can grow out of this manner of communicating as we learn to only say things which build others up and not tear them down.
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” so we know that what we say holds power. Ephesians 4:29 carries the thought further and tells us to only speak that which builds up and gives grace to our listener(s):
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In this lesson we will search out and equip ourselves with these words of life which can give life and build up all with whom we come in contact.
Question 1. According to Ephesians 4: 29, how should we speak to those around us? How are you doing in this area currently?
One time that we often respond wrongly with our words is when we are hurt. When someone says something or does something that hurts us, it is common to want to hurt them back or in some other way be unkind to them. In our pain or frustration, we might speak unkind and unloving words which tear at and wound the other person. This is common. But God is merciful. His love and the blood of Jesus covers over a multitude of sins. We can repent of corrupting talk, and God’s grace can teach us a new way of communicating (Titus 2:12) that is both loving and restorative. And while speaking “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) certainly does not come naturally, God has given us all we need to learn this important skill (2 Peter 1:3) and thereby enabling us to mature in our communication. We can learn to speak words of life to people, even when we’ve been hurt or wronged.
But before we can understand how to speak words of life, we must first know what these words of life are. Please read through the following section of John 6:48-63,
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 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.54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 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. 58 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.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 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.
Question 2. According to John 6:63, what type of words did Jesus speak?
Jesus spoke words of spirit and of life. We too want to speak words of life inspired by the Holy Spirit. So let’s see exactly what these “words of life” are, so that we might know how to speak them to others. Let’s work through this passage together, and the “words of life” will become very clear:
John 6: 48-51, “I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Question 3. According to verses 48-51, what did Jesus say He is and to what does He compare Himself?
Jesus said that He was “the Bread of Life”, and compared Himself to the manna that God gave to the Jews when they were in the wilderness. Here is the passage to which Jesus referred. Please read the following and answer the questions below:
“They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness,3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord.” Exodus 16: 1-7
Question 4. According to Exodus 16, where were the people of Israel and what were they doing? How did God respond?
The Israelites were grumbling and complaining in the wilderness of Sin, and in an extraordinary act of grace and love, God provided bread from Heaven to sustain them.
Question 5. How does this account of the Israelites receiving manna from Heaven relate to Jesus’ statements in John 6?
Here is how Exodus 16 and John 6 relate to us today: we (every human being ever born) were wandering in our own wilderness of sin, complaining and murmuring, going our own way and doing our own thing. We were spiritually dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-4).
This experience can evidence itself in a real lack of faith in God, living life on our own terms. We belittle others, speak accusing and condemning words to them while justifying and defending ourselves. We can be unkind, judgmental and destructive while living in “a wilderness of sin.”
Question 6. Think for just a moment, and consider what your life was like while “wandering in the wilderness of sin.” Especially make this applicable to how you have spoken to others. How have you treated people? What words have you spoken? Please describe your thoughts here.
We know how difficult it is to be confronted with our own wrongs when we are hurting from other’s sin against us; but remember that just like in Exodus 16, God showed His love for us by sending Jesus from Heaven as the Bread of Life and means for our salvation and our growth in Christ. Part of growing and maturing in our faith is admitting our wrongs, turning from them and learning the new way of Christ.
Let’s continue in our study by considering Romans 5: 6-8 which is like a New Testament version of the giving of the manna. We need sustenance in order to live and grow strong, and Romans 5 tells us how God provided for us:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We sin, but God saves through His beloved Son Jesus. Is this good news? Yes! These are truly wonderful words of life.
But not everyone accepts or understands the importance and power of the gospel.
Question 7. According to John 6:52-58 above, how did the Jews respond to Jesus’ explanation that He is the Bread of Life?
Many of the Jews disliked Jesus’ teaching. They didn’t understand how they could eat Jesus’ flesh or drink His blood. In other words, they interpreted His words literally, rather than spiritually. Even though Jesus said, “these words of mine, they are spirit, and they are life” they simply could not understand them in any other way than literal.
It is important that we don’t make the same mistake. Some people think that speaking words of life only means speaking kindly, respectfully, and positively to people, which is good but too literal. True words of life are centered in the gospel. When our hearts are focused on Christ then our speech is edifying; but when our hearts are centered on ourselves then our speech will be selfish and often unkind.
Question 8. How about you? Can you see the importance of having our conversation being Christ centered? Please explain.
Question 9. In verse 59, Jesus said, “whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” What do you think it means to feed on Jesus?
For a better understanding of what it means to feed on Jesus, consider Jesus’ words in Mark 14: 22-24:
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
The broken bread represented Jesus’ death on the cross. To feed on Jesus is to believe in His death and resurrection as the way of salvation. To feed on Jesus means to find your life, hope, joy for the present and future in the gospel. Just as we would receive nourishment from the physical food we eat, so too we must receive nourishment for our souls by believing the good news. We have to see that we are forgiven through His death, reconciled to God by His blood, saved from God’s wrath through Christ, given eternal life at the cross. That is, we must derive benefit from believing the good news.
Question 10. Are you feeding on Jesus? If so, please describe the benefits that you are receiving by believing in Him.
We live in a fallen world and sadly this means that we will have to witness suffering and endure it ourselves. We will sin, and others will sin against us; but if we look to Christ—His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection—we will find Life and hope for our situation as well. If we seek Jesus through prayer, reading the Bible, worship music, corporate worship at church, Bible studies, etc. then we will find Him as satisfaction for our souls plus so much more.
Jesus spoke words of life to the people in John 6 by explaining to them that He was the Bread of Life. Just as Jesus had broken the bread and fed the 5,000 so too He would give His body up to be broken on the cross so that a lost and starving world might be saved from eternal death and be satisfied in Him. To be clear and simple, the words of life are the gospel! The good news that Jesus died to give us life!
We can speak words of life to our spouse by encouraging them with gospel truth. We can speak words of life to our children, co-workers, friends and acquaintances, encouraging them with the truth of the gospel: our God is mighty to save (Isa 63:1)! There is no sin so great that it cannot be forgiven (Psalm 51). Jesus overcame death and hell, and if we believe in Him, His Spirit lives within us; and if Christ’s Spirit indwells us then we can overcome our flesh (Romans 8:7-38) by looking to and fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12: 1-3). This will enable us to turn from speaking evil, from demeaning others with our words, from belittling them with our speech and to instead begin building them up, encouraging them, speaking words of life to them.
We pray that you will not only speak words of life to others, but also to your own heart, dear friend. We need the good news of hope found at the cross, an abundant life through Jesus’ death (John 10:10), and eternal life through Jesus’ sacrifice (John 3:16).
In closing today, I hope you will be inspired with this simple hymn written by Phillip Bliss:
Christ, the blessed One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner, listen to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.