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by Reverend Anthony R. Locke
English Standard Version
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.
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.
I don’t think that Jesus could have been more clear about how people come out of the darkness of sin and into the eternal light of salvation.
No one gets to heaven without Jesus. If you are on a spiritual path to heaven you can only get there by going with Jesus. But what determines if we find Jesus? What makes the difference?
In a word – God. God makes the difference. Jesus can’t be more clear. Verse 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. God plays a role in our salvation.
God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass. This includes election unto salvation.
Look back to verse 37. God’s role in our salvation is in the first part of the verse. Our role in our salvation is in the middle of the verse. Then the role of Jesus is in the last part of the verse. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Lots of Christians reword the last half of that verse and twist it into bumper sticker theology that says, “Once Saved Always Saved.” That is a good logical deduction from the promise of Jesus, but it isn’t what the Bible specifically says.
The Bible teaches the perseverance of the saints. People going to heaven look to Jesus in faith and never stop. Folks who don’t persevere reveal that they weren’t looking to Jesus with saving faith in the first place. They go out from the church for they were never really apart of us.
All Christians affirm the middle section of verse 37. We must come. We must believe.
But if the last part of verse 37 is true, and the middle part of verse 37 is true, then the first part is also true. The Father chooses who will come to Jesus in saving faith. Do you believe this?
Or, do you begrudge God for the role He plays in your salvation? Do you grumble? (vs. 43)
Some people call this doctrine irresistible grace and disregard it as a unique teaching of Calvinism. Based on these verses from the lips of Jesus, we should just call it biblical. Look again at verse 44. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
Stephen preached this truth in Acts 7:51 as the reason the Jews didn’t believe. You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. Their hearts were closed to the Gospel message, and their ears were closed to the Gospel call because their hearts were uncircumcised and left unregenerate by the touch of God’s sovereign hand.
Deuteronomy 30:6 proclaims the same truth. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
God must quickened our hearts, awakened our spirit, and regenerated our souls or we will remain dead in our trespasses and sins. Only God can bring dead people to life. This is God’s role.
Our Westminster Confession of Faith Shorter Catechism Question 31 puts it this way. It asks the question, “What is Effectual Calling?
Answer: effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel.”
Let’s compare that with verse 37. We are dead in our sin; unable to respond in faith. What does God do before we repent? God convinces us of our sin and misery. God enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ. God renews our wills. God persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ.
After God unlocks our soul from the prison of our own sin, we then receive a free will to embrace Jesus as He is offered in the Gospel. Until God works this miracle of regeneration, sometimes called quickening, we are without a free will because of the cords of our sin. God makes all this happen for us while we are still sinners.
Let me ask you a question. Is it o.k. with you that God gets more credit for your salvation than you do? For some unexplainable reason, this Bible truth is not acceptable to some Christians.
Jesus says that we need to stop grumbling about His hard sayings. Verse 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.” Don’t get upset when God reveals deep stuff.
Hear the truth again from verse 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. If God the Father doesn’t draw you to faith then you won’t persevere in faith. Without God’s work of regeneration your faith will only be man made. Only faith initiated by God perseveres to the end.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Faith is literally a gift given to you by God.
Before we place our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit quickens and regenerates our soul which is dead in sin, disarms our innate hostility to God’s holiness, removes our blindness, illumines our mind to the beauty of Jesus, creates spiritual understanding, turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, and enables us to delight in His Word. Then with our renewed affections, we willingly and gladly embrace Christ.
The Prophet Ezekiel inspired by the Holy Spirit asserted, I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
God doesn’t want us to grumble against Him for the role He plays in our salvation. Don’t mumble and grumble against God.
Maybe it will help if we look at it from a different perspective.
God can’t do random things.
A few weeks back my children and I went camping with Cub Scout Den Eight up at Rainey Mountain camp ground. Tyler and Caleb shot a bow and arrow. We lost some of the arrows.
Now the archery instructor could predict with precision exactly where that arrow was going to go. He was a Robin Hood of archery. Every shot went into the red centered bull’s-eye. Now this is not to mean that he couldn’t loose an arrow. He could send an arrow out into the woods. He could shoot one up under the grass. But he always knew what he was doing before he did it.
God is like that. Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty that He never leaves the future to chance. He can’t be ignorant of the results of His action. With God the future is never random.
It is impossible for God to be convicted of involuntary manslaughter. God is never surprised or caught flat footed. God knows all the possibilities and He chooses the outcome. He is God.
If God holds a bow and shoots an arrow into the sky, God knows where the arrow will land. God knows the affect of the winds, the twist of the arrow vanes, the power of the string, the wobble of the shaft and how all this will result in determining the path of the arrow. Th results of God’s actions are known to God before He even holds the arrow and bow in His grasp. He can’t chose to be ignorant. He can’t chose to be unaware of the ultimate consequences of all His actions.
In Genesis 1:1 God picked up the bow of creation and notched on the string His ultimate power. God then pulled back the bow of creation and with unlimited power shot this universe into existence. Every atom within the whole of the creation, from the moment of beginning to the end of time, follows the trajectory that was determined by the master archer.
To us it looks like life is random, but in God’s first action He knew each successive reaction that would follow. God knew the quad-trillions of possible paths the universe could take; and God chose one. God was forced to make a decision about how it would all start, continue and end, before He even started. He couldn’t help it. God can’t be ignorant of his actions. At the moment of His first action God chose each following action all the way to the end.
God can’t sin. God can’t stop being holy. God can’t stop controlling the future. That’s just the way it is with God.
And God predetermined the destination of your destiny. It’s a necessary outcome of His sovereignty.
God was between a rock and a hard place on this. We were all dead in our sin. None of us were going to be saved on our own initiative. We were all justly condemned to Hell. If anyone was going to come to Jesus then God had to act.
Don’t begrudge God’s love which brings people to Jesus. Don’t criticize God’s sovereign mercy which saves His people. Without God we won’t come to faith. God makes the difference. We should thank Him, not criticize His choices. Christians need to stop grumbling about election.
Isaiah 37:26 Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.
Isaiah 46:9-10 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
Verse 44 of our passage. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. If God chooses for you to come to Jesus, then you will come to Jesus. That’s called irresistible grace.
Does God force you to accept Jesus? No. God frees your will to accept Jesus and then God the Father leads you to Christ. God is the great evangelist. He loves you so much. He makes it happen.
Let me illustrate. I want you to think of a red apple. Got that image in your head?
Did I violate your free will by making you think of a red apple? No. I led you into that image. God leads us to see the beauty of Jesus. And everyone who sees Jesus lifted up in His glory is drawn to Him.
Is this the same as fatalism? Doris Day sang a song entitled “Que Sera, Sera.” “What will be, will be.” At first glance the doctrine of election looks like the depressing Islamic theology which resigns itself to ill fate by saying, “It is the will of Allah.”
But election isn’t fatalism.
If you apply to a college and receive a rejection letter, does that mean you stop trying? No! If you ask a girl to marry you, and she says no, you can ask her again. God’s election isn’t a Que Sera, Sera. You don’t fall to the bottom of a set of stairs and say, “oh well, I guess it is God’s will for me to just stay on the floor.”
You can’t submit to God’s sovereign plans. They are secret.
God asks us to submit to His moral will revealed In Christ in the Scripture. He reveals His moral will and calls us to faith and obedience. We should be filled with faith, not fatalism.
God doesn’t tell us His sovereign plans which means, you don’t know who is elect. That isn’t completely true, we can all know at least one elect person. Jesus is the Eternal Elect Son of God. We must hitch our fate to His wagon and ride with Him in resurrection to a new Heaven.
Election shouldn’t steal our joy that God knows our future. God still gets excited when His children come to saving faith. There is dancing in the presence of angels when someone is saved.
Election should steal from you the idea that you saved yourself with an act of faith. You don’t get the glory for being saved. God gets the glory. Your faith doesn’t open the door into Heaven. Your faith is a gift so that no one may boast.
Election doesn’t diminish the “Whosoever will may come!” part of the Bible. Our part is believing. We still have to confess faith in Jesus or we are not obeying the command to believe.
Election doesn’t paint God as cruel by sending people to Hell. Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Jesus weeps over those who do not believe.
Election doesn’t create a small and exclusive club of saved people. Election creates a large inclusive family like the sands in the sea and stars in the night sky.
Why does election save more people than sin damns? Because grace is greater than sin. Sin bruises the heel, grace crushes the head. Sin brings people to hell on a wide path, like a group event, or like a city wide revolt away from God into Hell.
Going to heaven is a narrow path for the few who find it. This means that faith is a one on one encounter with Jesus. Going to Hell is a group event. This does not mean that more people are in Hell than in Heaven. I believe grace will get the upper hand numerically. God’s magnanimous love is proven by election. There will be more people in Heaven than Hell. It is God’s doing.
Let me wrap this up. Don’t begrudge the role God plays in your salvation. Trust God to be good in the use of that mighty power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely . . . for humans, but not God. God has the ability to elect you to salvation without violating your free will.
God wins in the end. God calls us to be buried with Jesus in His death that we might be resurrected into His newness of life. This is what God does.
That’s how salvation works. God transfers us from darkness to light. God transforms our soul so we have a free will to accept Jesus. God removes our blindness so we can see Jesus lifted up.
Verse 40, May we look on the Son and believe in him that we might have eternal life. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.