19
Jun
16

Unless the Father Who Has Sent Me Should Draw Him

In John 6: 36-45, there are many important lessons for us to learn about the saving work of the Father and the Son. Jesus has revealed these important truths against the backdrop of a quite telling statement in verse 36 of this chapter. Having revealed himself to his hearers as the bread of life, he has confronted them with their unbelief and that unbelief in the face of full revelation. He said to them, “. . .you have seen me, and have not believed.” They could not plead ignorance or lack of information. They had rejected him in the face of full knowledge. They had enjoyed the blessings but cared nothing for the one who had blessed them. The reality is that though they were quite willing for him to feed and bless them physically and materially, they had no appetite for him as the true bread that came down from God out of heaven. Jesus was not merely describing the condition of these sinners; he was describing the condition of every sinner in a state of sinful nature. Paul wrote, “. . .but the natural man does not welcome the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, neither is he able to know them because they are discerned spiritually.”
The logical question that would occur to any thinking person, in the light of this revelation, concerns the success or failure of Jesus’ earthly mission. It would seem that his best efforts would be destined to fail given the obdurate condition of men’s sinful hearts. Jesus later made it clear that everyone who commits sin is a bond-slave of sin and that such a condition could only be remedied by the Son himself. Only he can make sinners truly free.
It was to answer such a question that Jesus spoke the words we find recorded in verses 37-40; 44-45, of this chapter. He wanted his hearers to understand that his is work would certainly succeed because it did not depend on the fallen will of sinful people but on the sovereign will of an omnipotent God. Paul wrote, “Therefore, it [the bestowal of mercy] is not of him who wills [It is not based on human decision] or of him who runs [It is not based on human exertion], but of God who shows mercy” (Rom. 9:16). In John 6:37-45, Jesus made the following lessons so clear that only a person with an extreme philosophical bias against the truth of God’s sovereign grace would miss them. Please consider the following lessons that are on the face of this passage:
1. The success of Jesus’ redemptive activity has never been in doubt. It was a matter of absolute certainty that he would save and keep for eternity all those the Father had given him in his decreed will and was giving him according to that will. “All that the Father is giving me shall come to me, and he who comes to me, I will never by any means cast out” (John 6:44). It should be clear to anyone who understands the function of verb tenses in any language that the “giving” precedes the “coming.” Though the primary force of the Greek verb concerns the kind of action in view, the time of the action is not unimportant. The simple question one must ask is whether a verb in the present tense [time] precedes or follows the future tense. “Is giving” clearly precedes “shall come.” It is impossible to reason from this syntax that Jesus was saying his Father would give to him [future] those who were coming to him [present]. He was saying precisely the opposite.
2. It is clear that the accomplishment and application of redemption was to be carried out according to the will of God the Father. Jesus not only linked those the Father was giving him (v. 37) with those he had given him (v. 39), but he has also linked both these divine acts with the purpose of God the Father in sending him (v. 39). Additionally, he states this fact as the foundation that undergirded and established the absolutely certainty of the success of his redemptive work. “. . .I will never by any means cast him out, Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. . .” It is not surprising, then, that Paul wrote concerning God’s people that we are “the called ones according to his purpose.” Jesus was talking about those who are the “given ones,” and the “drawn ones” according to the Father’s purpose.
3. These verses help us to understand that Jesus’ work was not intended to turn the Father’s wrathful heart toward sinners by his work of propitiation. Instead, it was the Father who loved a people that he had chosen for himself, given as a love gift to his Son, and sent his Son to be the satisfaction for their sins. John wrote in his first epistle, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10). Jesus came precisely to execute the Father’s desires for his chosen people.
4. Jesus made it clear in the words of verse thirty-seven that it was he who was to secure the eternal redemption of those the Father had given him. Though those given him could not come to him and would not come to him apart from the Father’s drawing (v. 44), it was not the Father who, in drawing them, would secure their eternal redemption. Instead, it was the Son whose work it was and is to secure the salvation of those the Father has given him. His negative phrase “I will never by any means cast out” is intended to strongly emphasize a positive truth. That point is that he, himself, will certainly save and keep all those the Father has give him to redeem. He has emphasized the certainty of the success of his ministry by stating three times in this passage, “And I will raise him up again at the last day.” That is simply another way of saying that his is a “love that will not let me go.” If the Father has loved us and given us to the Son, it is an absolute certainty that he will save completely those who draw near to God by him. If they are his now, they have always been his and will forever be his.
5. Jesus repeated the words “. . .and I will raise him up again at the last day” three times in this passage (vv. 39,40, 44) and in doing so he has identified those mentioned in each of those verses with those mentioned in the other two verses. These groups are co-extensive. Everyone in each of these groups is also in the other two. Those whom the Father has given to Jesus are the same as those who see the Son and believe on him, and those who see the Son and believe on him are the same as those whom the Father has drawn. This being true, the drawing about which Jesus spoke in verse forty-four does not extend beyond those the Father has given to Jesus and who have seen the Son and believed on him. It makes no sense to suppose that those who see the Son and believe on him are somehow different from those the Father has drawn to Jesus. When Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me should draw him, the clear implication that this drawing is always effectual is confirmed by the phrase “and I will raise him [the one drawn] up at the last day, i.e., every person who has been drawn will fully and finally be saved.
Some have attempted to blunt the force of this verse by citing John 12:32 in which Jesus said “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to me.” In this effort to show that everyone is drawn, there are several factors they have overlooked. In John 6 it is the Father who draws; here it is the Son who draws. The context of this verse is one in which certain Greeks were seeking an audience with Jesus. When Jesus learned of their request, he seemed to ignore it. Instead, he began to speak about the necessity of his death if ever there was to be harvest of souls. These Greeks would never be able to approach him on an equal basis with God’s covenant people unless Jesus was lifted up to glory by means of being lifted up on the cross, but if Jesus is lifted up, he will draw all peoples, both Hebrews and Gentiles to himself. If we should insist that the drawings in both these passages have the same referent and that “all” in 12:32 must refer to every individual on the planet, then we are shut up to the conclusion that Jesus will fully and finally save every person without exception, i.e., “raise him [the one drawn] up again at the last day.”
6. The word translated “draw” (ἐλκύω) was not used of gentle persuasion but of such actions as drawing water from a well, dragging a net full of fish to shore, and drawing a sword from its scabbard. That is not to say that the Father’s act of bringing sinners to Jesus involves force. No sinner is forced to bow to Jesus against his will. Instead, Jesus used the word to emphasize the effectual nature of the Father’s drawing.
7. In verse 45, Jesus continued to speak about the Father’s drawing and explains its nature in terms of prophetic revelation. D.A. Carson has written, “When he compels belief, it is not the savage constraint of a rapist, but by the wonderful wooing of a lover. Otherwise put, it is by an insight, a teaching, an illumination implanted within the individual in fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, ‘they will all be taught by God.’” These words are a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:13. Isaiah’s prophesy was about more than occasional and casual instruction; it referred to a person becoming a disciple. The pr.evalent teaching of the prophetic Scriptures was that in the Messianic age, every member of the true Israel of God would become a learner through the internal illumination of the Spirit. This understanding corresponds to the teaching of passages such as Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-26 where God promises to write his law on his people’s hearts, and give them a new heart and spirit. Everyone who becomes God’s disciple, in this sense, comes to Jesus. William Hendricksen has reminded us that in showing how sinners come to Jesus, the Scriptures never merely set predestination and human responsibility side by side without showing a causal relationship between them. On the contrary, it is always shown that it is God who takes the initiative and who is in control from start to finish. I would add that not only does God take the initiative but he does so effectually. Everyone who listens to and is taught by God in this way will come to Jesus

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4 Responses to “Unless the Father Who Has Sent Me Should Draw Him”


  1. June 20, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Excellent work, my brother. We both know that those who think man saves himself will not be convinced unless the Lord of the harvest opens their eyes, as He did those two on the road to Emmaus.

    I am using John 6:44 as the framework for explaining the TULIP in my book 🙂

    • June 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I don’t know of a better passage. What amazes me is that when anyone engages a Synergist in a discussion of this passage, their first impulse is to retreat to other passages they believe support their philosophical presuppositions.

      • June 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm

        I’ve been amazed myself by the mental gymnastics people will through to deflect the conflict their theology demands. God help us to submit to His Word.

      • June 20, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        It is astounding to watch people reading these verses and concluding that God draws people he has foreseen coming to Jesus apart from his drawing.


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