Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doctrines of Grace in the Gospel of John - part 4

by Robert Fraire

For those that are new to this blog, I started a series on the Doctrines of Grace as found in the book of John. I started this after teaching in the Homebuilders class through the book of John and seeing the same themes emerge throughout. (incidentally, it took us over 3 years to teach through John in class)

This is the fourth entry in this series and it brings me to chapter 6. Now chapter 6 is probably the clearest description of God's sovereign call being both effectual (it always accomplishes what God wills) and necessary for salvation.

To set the context we need to understand that Jesus has just fed the 5,000 the day before and then walked across the sea of Galilee to Capernaum. The crowd who had eaten the food the day before searched for and found Jesus. Jesus knew that they did not search for him to learn the spiritual truth of their condition. Actually what they wanted was more food. In fact they wanted to make Jesus king, so he would provide food for them everyday.

In the face of this disbelief, Jesus told them that He was what they really needed not the food. And then starting in verse 35 we read the following:

35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36"But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

Here Jesus, in the face of their unbelief, tells them that the ones chosen by the Father will hear, believe, and come to Jesus. And those who come will always be safe with Him.

It is clear here that Jesus stated this truth "All the Father gives me..." to contrast them with the people to whom he spoke, who saw his miracles, heard his teaching and yet were fixated on what they could get from Jesus (in this case food) instead of who He was.

So, theologically we see that Jesus distinguishes a group that the Father gives, from the group in front of him at that time. It is the sovereign gifting of the Father that is the cause for people to believe and come to Jesus, and the people in front of him were not those. Also explicit in this statement is the truth that those whom the Father chose, will always come to Jesus. "All the Father gives Me will come to Me..." In verse 39 Jesus reinforces this truth:

39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
40"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

I have included verse 40 here in order to explain how the necessity of faith is in harmony with the sovereignty of God and not, as some think, contradictory to it.

Remember that Jesus has already said that those in front of him do not believe, and then explained that the Father does choose some and they come to Jesus. He then states the same truths again when He says "...all that He has given Me I lose nothing...". So twice in the space of 5 verses Jesus said that it is the Father that gives people to the Son and that he keeps all that are given to him. Then verse 40 comes, not to overthrow verses 35-39, no it comes to explain the means by which those who are chosen by the Father will be drawn to the Son! God not only chooses who will be saved, but he also decreed how they would be saved, which is through faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ. It violates the context to try and overthrow what Jesus has already said in order to say verse 40 gives the choice to all men, instead of the choice being the Fathers gift to the Son.

The next part of this chapter I want to point out is verse 44. John has told us of a slight shift in the audience to which Jesus is speaking. Now he is addressing the unbelieving Jewish leaders, referred to throughout the book of John as "The Jews". Here Jesus is again addressing their unbelief and in verse 44 he gives us a clear statement of why they can see his miracles, know the scriptures about him and yet still not have saving faith in him.

44"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

Now if we keep in mind that Jesus is continuing his statements that included verses 35 through 39, we understand that this statement gives us the other side. Earlier we learned that those the Father did choose will always come to Jesus, now here we see that those who are not chosen, are unable to come to Jesus because the Father has not drawn them. So in the context this "draw" is synonymous with the Fathers choosing in verse 37 and I will paraphrase this as: Those whom the Father chose, he draws to faith in Jesus. Those who He did not choose will not be drawn to Jesus and therefore will not call out in faith for salvation.

Once again we see God's complete Sovereignty in Salvation. Glory be to God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,
I love your teaching and it blesses my heart. Thanks for all your study and efforts taken to create this. I plan to share the web address with all my relatives in Louisiana this summer as Dottie and I visit there.
In Christ's love,
Joe Brown