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The Living Bread

by David A. DePra

I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:47-51)

Jesus Christ is the Living Bread – The Bread of Life. You will note that His reference to Himself as this Bread of Life extends beyond His time on this earth. He says, "I AM…." In other words, right now, Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. Right now, we can, "eat of this bread."

Jesus also said, "I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven." This is unquestionably one of the times He stated that He was God the Son Incarnate. Why do I say that? Because in addition to clearly making Himself the source of all life – a claim no mere human being could make -- He also said, "I came down from heaven." That demands that He existed before He became a man. None of us came from anywhere to be born into this world. Except Christ. Jesus was born into this world from the outside. He was the only begotten ( Greek, "uniquely begotten") Son of God who became a man.

Now, you will note the contrast in the above passage between the manna given to Israel in the wilderness, and Jesus Christ as the Living Bread come down from heaven. The most important contrast is that Israel ate of manna but died in the wilderness. But if Christ is our bread, then because He is Living Bread, death is not possible. In short, manna was not living bread – it was temporal bread. Christ is the Living Bread.

There is, however, another related distinction. Manna actually did not literally come down from heaven – although it was provision from God. Rather, it was earthly provision that was made by God out of earthly materials. There are clues to this in the OT description of the manna. Manna sort of formed on the ground with the nighttime dew. Thus, manna never actually CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN.

Jesus specifically states that He is the Bread that actually DID come down from heaven. His picture is striking. Just as bread is something you take into yourself from the outside of yourself, so it is that life from above is a life you receive into yourself from the outside of yourself. You aren’t born with it. It doesn’t come from you. It comes from above – and Jesus comes from above. HE is to be our life – HE is the Living Bread.

Jesus said, "I am from above. I have come down from heaven." Now, aside from the fact that this proves He is God become man, it also tells us something about the nature of Christianity. What we are seeing here is that a Christian is someone who has been BORN FROM ABOVE. But this birth from above is not merely some legal classification. It is not something that God DOES TO US. Again, it is the result of receiving FROM ABOVE that which is not of this earth – that which does not find its origin of this earth. The new birth is the result of the One who is FROM ABOVE coming and making Himself one with us in spirit.

Take note: God does not give us a THING called salvation, or the new birth. Rather, God gives us Jesus Christ – in whom there is all life. HE IS that Living Bread that comes down NOW to dwell in us. He IS the life that we receive from above that results in being born from above.

I wonder how many of us have truly grasped the significance of being BORN FROM ABOVE? First of all, to be born from above means that we receive from a location that is outside of us INTO US the Person of Jesus Christ. Note that: We receive what we don’t have by natural birth. We receive INTO ourselves what belongs to, and finds its source from, God ABOVE. In short, Christ is the Bread come down from heaven INTO us from the outside of us.

In this day and age, it is important to get a firm grasp upon this because many are teaching that the new birth is the result of God doing something TO us to bring out the greatness that was already in us. We hear phrases like, "God wants to rebuild the real you." Or, "Jesus died to bring out your greatness." Many think that Christian growth is the result of the Holy Spirit acting upon us to make US like Jesus. All of this is error. The Truth is that everything that makes Christianity possible – everything that Christianity IS – is contained in the Living Bread which comes down from heaven. We are complete ONLY IN HIM. We are broken otherwise.

The life that genders the new creation in Christ is not found, even in part, in natural man. It is not born into us through human parents. Indeed, that is why it is said to be FROM ABOVE. When Jesus Christ comes to dwell in us we are called new creations in Christ Jesus for a reason – we are different creatures than we were before. For now we have Christ AS our life. We have been born again – FROM ABOVE – by virtue of death and resurrection in the One who said, "I am from above."

Someone is liable to ask about what is OUR part in all of this? Well, we get to present ourselves to Him and take our place at the Cross. In other words, we get to RECEIVE what God has to freely give to us in Christ. We get to eat of the Living Bread.

John the Baptist said, "No one possesses anything except he has received it from above." Paul said, "Unless Christ dwell in you, you are a reprobate." Can we see that no part of what speaks of life, light, and Truth is found in a human being through natural birth? That all that is of value is found in Christ? We get to experience Him. We get to manifest Him. But even then, what we manifest is not of US. It remains of Christ, who is IN US.

All of this speaks of grace. All that God has is freely given. It can only be freely received. Anything else is not the Truth.

You mean it is that easy? Well, yes, the Truth is that easy. But we are not that easy. Why? Because we are born of this world in bondage to another life than the life of Christ, completely blind to Christ. Thus, in order to be born from above with HIS LIFE – we have to renounce and relinquish ownership over that life with which we were born of the world. We must come to the Cross and LOSE it in order to FIND His life. We must, as it were, allow ourselves to be transformed into exactly what Jesus Christ is the consummate example of: Unleavened Breaad.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread...Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Ex. 12:17,20)

Jesus Christ is not only the Bread of Life, but He is the UNLEAVENED Bread of Life. He is actually the UNLEAVENED BREAD of purity and Truth. If we partake of Him as the living Bread, we are, "keeping the feast," by, "eating," that unleavened bread of purity and truth. Thus, in Christ is fulfilled all of the spiritual meaning of the OT feast of unleavened bread.

To keep the OT feast of unleavened bread it was necessary to remove all traces of leaven from your dwelling place. You were likewise forbidden to eat any leaven -- most certainly forbidden to eat it as baked into the bread. But notice: Jesus Christ is our Bread. Thus, to keep the feast IN HIM, we must likewise obey this command of God to purge out all leaven. What is that leaven today, in a spiritual sense?

Well, if Jesus is the living bread, then leaven is anything that is added to Him. Leaven puffs up. Thus, spiritual leaven is anything that is mixed in with Christ with what is NOT of Christ, i.e., with that which if of ME; of man. Spiritual leaven makes ME bigger and Christ smaller -- not actually -- but to ME. Or in my testimony to others. Leaven is therefore SELF. It is man. It can be expressed in many ways – through doctrine, conduct, and spirit. But if the Christ is the living bread, then the leaven is anything that is NOT Christ which is added to Him -- and that is always something of the flesh. That is the leaven.

There are a couple of other ways to explain this. The feast of unleavened bread actually stands for SANCTIFICATION in the Christian life. Leaven is purged and what remains is the unleavened bread of sincerity and Truth – that is – the flesh is crucified and what emerges is Jesus Christ.

Sanctification is not a thing God does TO US. Sanctification is Christ – seen in and through us. Paul said so. He said, "God has made Christ to be unto us…..sanctification." (I Cor. 1:30) Yet when have you ever heard that Christ is our sanctification? I do not believe I have ever ONCE heard that taught. We are blind to that because we are blind to, "Christ in us." Instead, we have redefined Christianity to mean something else – usually a religion we practice, or an emotional or soulish experience.

Unfortunately, however, those substitutes for Christ are exactly what LEAVEN means. Jesus said, "Beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." In the passage from I Corinthians above, leaven is said to be malice and wickedness. These are not doctrines, are they? No. They are expressions of SELF. But they can be manifested in doctrine and in religious teaching.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Cor. 5:6-8)

It might seem strange that Paul would address the possibilities of malice and wickedness among Christian people. But you will notice that these are contrasted over and again purity and Truth. In short, if we are not, "keeping the feast," by eating of Christ, and abiding in Him, we are actually inflicting harm, which is malice, and practicing wickedness. Even if we do it religiously.

That might seem extreme. But ultimately it is where leaven will take us. The Pharisees were the most religious people in Israel. And yet when they met God Incarnate they said he had a devil. Jesus said they were dead inside. Hypocrites and evil. The problem there was in their heart. At the root, there is something very wicked about self-righteousness. Most of us don't believe that. But it is the Truth.

This is why, in Galatians, leaven is any form of self-righteousness; any teaching that would suggest that we can be right before God based upon ourselves or our works. We are told in Galatians 5 that if we seek to be justified -- made right for God -- through our works -- we are told that, "Christ is of no effect for us," and that we, "have fallen from grace." We are told that we are actually under, "another gospel." Paul said anyone who teaches such a thing as justification by works is, "accursed." This is serious business.

Self-righteousness is SIN. It is deception. It is unbelief. It is ultimately a denial of Jesus Christ -- because it is a substitute for Him. This is LEAVEN.

You will also note that twice in scripture, once in I Cor. 5:6, and again in Gal. 5:9, we are told that, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." In other words, if Jesus Christ is the living unleavened Bread, and we add leaven to Him, this will ultimately infect and corrupt our entire life in Christ.

Few people even care about this today. In fact, we are all so used to eating the corrupt LEAVENED bread of one kind or another that we think that IT IS the UN-leavened bread of purity and Truth. We are that deceived. Or perhaps we are one who deliberately eats the corrupt bread, and offers it to others, "all in the name of love and tolerance." Well, that kind of love is leaven. We are no one's friend if we offer them, "another Jesus," or, "another gospel."

Natural Man

If Jesus Christ is the Living Bread that is come down from heaven, then obviously, if we try to add or mix in with Him that which is of the earth, we are bringing corruption. But make no question about it, when this is done, it is not called corruption. It will be considered GOOD.

The new birth itself has for the last two thousand years been dragged down into the natural realm and redefined. Instead of receiving from above, people read descriptions in the Bible as to what a Christian is supposed to be, and then try to perform accordingly. We do this, not as the result of being born from above, but in an attempt to act like we are. And we don’t even realize what we are doing.

For example, all if us have a tendency of using our emotions as a substitute for the Spirit of Christ. We still think that the Spirit is something we are supposed to FEEL – emotionally. You hear it all the time, "I feel a strong anointing in the room." And then what is taught under that supposed anointing is terrible heresy. Or we honor God in a worship service with demonstrative tears and raised hands, but perhaps our hearts are far from Him. Many of us, knowing we must have faith, try to generate it with good feelings, or by talking ourselves into some point of faith. This, and much more, is nothing more than natural man substituting some aspect of his makeup for what is supposed to be real in Christ.

I’m not saying that the true spiritual life happens to the disregard of our natural man – no, the natural man does react to Christ in us. But I am saying that it is possible that, rather than react to Christ, we could just bypass Him and make our flesh act the way we think we ought to act.

This isn’t what God wants – He doesn’t want to us merely ACT like Christians. Rather, He wants us to be fully open and honest to Him, and then out of sincerity and Truth, He wants us to BE and LIVE in Christ. I hope I am not misunderstood when I say that God would rather have us stumble and confess it – He would rather have that than for us to put on a big act because we think that this is what He wants from us. A confessed failure is better than a fake success.

Natural man does not have anything in himself that is from above. Thus, only that which is given freely in Christ from above is of any value. The work of the Holy Spirit is therefore to crucify the natural – break the power therein – so that the new life in Christ might emerge.

Our responsibility is to present our natural man to God. The result, as we yield to God, and pick up the Cross He brings to us, is not a script to follow, or an act we must put on -- built out of Bible principles. No. The result is NEW LIFE – Christ in us, formed in us, living through us.

The Cross is the instrument by which God purges the old leaven. What is to be left is the unleavened bread of purity and Truth. That is Christ in us. That is Christ -- not sanctifying us – no, but that is Christ AS our sanctification. He is the Living Bread – the Living Unleavened Bread. He is the Truth.

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