We’re on the backside of September already! I was in Grand Rapids, MN this weekend. The leaves are really turning up they. We are beginning to see it in central Minnesota.
It appears that all this talk on predestination is getting some attention. I’m finding that people are reading these emails. That’s good to know. It is clear that this doctrine does not settle well with what folks have come to understand salvation to mean. That’s OK. We’re all working out our salvation, meaning we are learning more about it. I would like to clarify one thing. I’m not particularly fond of the term Calvinist. I don’t know anything in particular about his teachings other than that he is commonly given credit to the term “predestination.” We shall see that he certainly isn’t the first person to espouse this strange topic. In fact, Martin Luther was a big proponent as was Augustine before that. And, as we shall see, Apostles Paul and John wrote about it. Jesus, himself, spoke of it.
It is safe to say that this group is in agreement that salvation is possible only through faith in Jesus. Questions naturally arise as to the nature of this saving faith. How does it come to be? When does it happen? Now, I don’t see that making much of a different in that changing one’s view does not reverse his or her salvation, but it does matter in terms of how one views the approach to evangelism. It is particularly important if we are serious about the question, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus?” Could it be that I, personally, am smarter that most people and was thus able to reason my way into salvation? Or could it be that my heart was less wicked, that original sin wasn’t as deep in me as most of my family and friends? Could it be that I was more good than most others? Or, could it be something I don’t want to admit about myself?
So, let’s look at some important text. First, let’s read the words of Jesus, in particular John 6, in which he spoke to the crowds then his disciples regarding His role as the “Bread of Life.” This came on the heels after he fed the five thousand and he accused them of following him simply because he fed them. Jesus then told them about himself being the true, spiritual bread of heaven and that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have life. Remember this strange teaching? Well, there are several verses pertaining to our discussion.
John 6:37,39 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
We often think of God enticing the sinner, wooing him if you will. We attribute this to the work of the Holy Spirit. That seems to jive with verse 44 with the word “draws.” However, this word isn’t meant as a synonym to “court” or “flirt”, at least in all the other times that it is used in the original language. Let’s look at these in the ESV translation:
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
John 18:10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear….
John 21:6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
John 21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net to ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many fish, the net was not torn.
Acts 16:19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
Acts 21:30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut.
James 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
Indeed, the word is defined by Strong’s as to drag, literally and figuratively. To impel, as with force.
So, we see in John 6:37 and 39 that God the Father gives to the Son. In verse 44, God drags or impels us to Jesus. And, finally, in verse 65, God grants all this.
Does this change the picture in our minds about how all this works? But, let’s not take John’s representation of Jesus’ words for it. Tomorrow, we’ll look at what some others had to say.
Father, teach us so that we may understand. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers