NOTE ADDED: HERE IS A PODCAST response to Dr. James White’s very short-sighted critique of this article on his Dividing Line program. And for those wanting to read a response against his repeated errors, it has already been written the last time he did the exact same thing to another scholar: CLICK HERE
I remember my hermeneutics professor saying at the beginning of every class:
“Text without context is a pretext for proof-text.”
Context tells us the history, the setting, the audience and thus helps understand the intention of the author. The grammar can inform us of what interpretations are allowed, but the author’s intent is best discovered in the overall context.
The sixth chapter of John is one of the top three most contested passages in all of scripture regarding the doctrine of salvation (along with Rom. 9 and Eph. 1). So, as students of scripture lets put our hermeneutical training to work and answer the major questions about the context of this hotly contested chapter:
1. What is the context? Who is the audience? What is going on at this time?
The audience is a bunch of unbelieving Israelites looking for free food (vs. 25-31) and the twelve apostles (vs. 70). What do we know about the Israelites of this day?
a. They have “become calloused…Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Acts 28:27). They were not born calloused, but over time they had grown hardened in their religious self-righteousness which prevented them from hearing, seeing and responding to the revelation of God.
b. They are being ‘judicially hardened’ (or ‘cut off’ or ‘sent a spirit of stupor’) so as to seal them in their calloused condition. Why? To accomplish a greater redemptive purpose through their rebellion (crucifixion, ingrafting Gentiles into the church — Rom. 9-11).
c. Jesus is not attempting to “win them over” or have them come to faith in great numbers as we see in Acts 2 when Peter preaches. In fact, in support of God’s judicial hardening of Israel, we see Jesus actively instructing his apostles to not tell others who he is yet (Mt. 16:20). Jesus purposefully speaks in parables in order to prevent their coming to faith and repentance (Mark 4:11-13; Matt. 13:11-15). If anything, Jesus is actively provoking the Jews with very difficult teachings. In this chapter he tells them to eat his flesh and drink his blood without explanation (vs. 51-52). Clearly He is not attempting to persuade this audience to stick around. He is provoking them purposefully.
Is this contextual information relevant when attempting to understand the author’s intention with regard to the natural inability of mankind from birth? I certainly would think so given he is addressing a large group of people nicknamed “the elect of God” who are being actively blinded by God from seeing the truth.
Notice, the judicially hardened Jews are not the only ones present when Jesus is speaking in John 6. The twelve apostles are also in the audience and in fact they are the only ones who stick around after Jesus is done provoking the crowd with his “pro-cannibalistic” sounding sermon (vs. 66-67).
Why didn’t the twelve leave too? It is almost as if they were “drawn to him” through persuasive teachings and miraculous signs. Remember, unlike the other Israelites in the audience, they had watched Jesus walk on water, control the weather, heal the blind, feed the masses and had personally explained to them the meaning of the mysteries that the world had not yet been given (Eph. 3: 1-13). [Note: nothing is mentioned in the text of God using an inward, irresistible calling or work of regeneration to convince his apostles. Thomas is shown the scars in order to be persuaded. Jesus clearly indicates his signs are meant to help their unbelief.]
Those Jesus are entrusting with the truth from Israel are only a select few* at this time (while He is on earth). The rest are being hardened in their already calloused self-righteous stubborn condition…NOT a condition from birth due to the Fall (as Calvinists impose onto this text), but a condition of their own doing. A condition God is using to accomplish a greater redemptive good for all.
[*Note: In the context of John 6 only the twelve are mentioned, so that is who I focused upon, but clearly there are others close to the apostles who did believe in Christ. But, apostolic authority is only entrusted to a few from among the believing Israelites. In general, the Israelites are being “given over” or “blinded” in their already calloused self righteous stubbornness.]
With that historical context in mind let us look at the text:
35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty. 36 Now, I told you that you have seen me but will not believe. 37 Everyone whom my Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me, 38 because I have come down from heaven to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And it is the will of him who sent me that I should not lose any of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them all to life on the last day. 40 For what my Father wants is that all who see the Son and believe in him should have eternal life. And I will raise them to life on the last day.”
41 The people started grumbling about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 So they said, “This man is Jesus son of Joseph, isn’t he? We know his father and mother. How, then, does he now say he came down from heaven?”
43 Jesus answered, “Stop grumbling among yourselves. 44 People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me; and I will raise them to life on the last day. (John 6:35-43)
Calvinistic believers often emphasize verse 37 as it relates to verse 39 to prove that the author intends to teach Calvinistic doctrine (i.e. that God has preselected a particular number of people to irresistibly draw to faith while leaving all others without the ability to respond to the revelation of God). However, I’d like to draw our attention to the CONTEXT clue given in verse 38.
Everyone whom my Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me, 38 because I have come down from heaven to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And it is the will of him who sent me that I should not lose any of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them all to life on the last day. (John 6:37-39, emphasis added)
Jesus is clearly speaking contextually of what is happening while he is “down from heaven.” While on earth God has clearly sent Christ to accomplish a specific part of His redemptive will. Is that will to be a great evangelist, like Peter in Acts 2, and win thousands to faith? Clearly not. God’s will is for Jesus to come “down from heaven” and train a group of pre-selected Israelites (those given to Him to be apostles) to carry the gospel to the rest of the world and establish His Church after He is raised up (John 12:32; Mt. 28:19).
Calvinists are taking something Jesus is addressing in his actual first century context and applying it to their holistic systematic view of salvation for all God’s elect throughout all of time. This is an example of proof texting.
What Calvinists unintentionally fail to see is that Jesus, while here on earth in the flesh, is actively and judicially blinding Israel by means of parables, a spirit of stupor, and provoking language, while only drawing to himself (while on earth) a remnant of preselected Israelite messengers (to carry out the purpose for which Israel was elected from the beginning: to bring the light to the rest of the world – Gen. 12:3; Rom. 3:2).
In other words, Jesus’ audience in John 6 is made up of his preselected apostles from Israel and the already calloused Israelites who are being judicially blinded by God from seeing the truth (John 12:39-41; Acts 28:27-27; Mark 4; Matt. 13; Romans 11).
The reason his audience walks away is not because God rejected them from before the foundation of the earth, as Calvinism presumes. By no means! God has consistently expressed his desire for the repentance and faith of the Israelite people (Mt. 23:37; Rom. 10:31; Ezk 18:30-31; 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:4, etc). They are walking away because God has sealed them over in their already rebellious condition for a time in order to accomplish His redemptive plan, as was prophesied (Acts 2:23). Israel is not rejecting God because God rejected them! Quite the opposite. God is temporarily hardening those in their rebellious, calloused condition in order to accomplish redemption for all, including them (Rm. 11:32).
So, what is the intent of John 6? Is it as the Calvinist teaches — that God has condemned all men over to a totally disabled condition from birth due to the sin of Adam and only irresistibly draws out a pre-selected number of people for salvation leaving the rest without any hope of response to His own appeals for reconciliation?
OR…Is the intent of John 6 to tell us the narrative of Jesus’ provoking Israel in their hardened unbelief while drawing out for himself a remnant of divinely appoint messengers to take the gospel into all the world, drawing all to himself, after he is raised up?
When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me. – John 12:32
Also, for more study on God’s calling out of his apostles, and anticipated objections to this interpretation: PLEASE READ: “Have you been given to Christ by the Father?
For more clarity on the doctrine of divine election, especially as it relates to the distinction between God’s appointment of servants to carry his message and his choice of those who believe that message: PLEASE CLICK HERE.
100 thoughts on “John 6 – “Down from Heaven” : Why Context kills Calvinism”
I know this question is off topic but I don’t know a way to ask you in another place because there is no contact form on this site. How do we address the issue of people who die without ever hearing the gospel? I know that Calvinists basically say that God didn’t choose them and they received due justice for sins. Do we say the same thing? Do we say something like, “well the gospel didn’t reach them and they died without ever having a chance to repent? Or does God using other means to warn men and compel them to pray for revelation and then He sends a messenger as with Peter and Cornelius in Acts? It seems that both views can reach a point in which sinners are being condemned with no chance of repentance, in Calvinism its predetermined, in other views its just a failure on our part in not getting the gospel to them. Please direct me to some resources you know of so I can have a better grasp on this. God bless.
I have been working on an article to address that very question. Hang in there a little longer and I’ll have that done. Thanks for the question
Looking forward to your teaching on this one Leighton! I was wondering when it was coming up. Thanks Kyle for asking. I think you have partially answered your question yourself – “Or does God using other means to warn men and compel them to pray for revelation.” God is using creation (Rom 1) and conscience (Rom 2) so that everyone is without excuse… I think even enabled to call out for mercy to the creator and begin their search. When you read Rom 10:13-17, don’t stop at 17 but read verse 18 also where Paul harkens back to Rom. 1.
Brian…I’m swamped.. why don’t you write this one for me and I’ll post it! 🙂
I’ll try to send you some thoughts. But the swamp is pretty deep here in VA also! 🙂
looking forward to your blog Leighton! Maybe I will write one on the topic also. Thanks for the email btw Brian, the material was great.
I understand my brother why so many in our day are “drawn” to Calvinism because I was too. There are far too few men who seriously love God’s Word like you obviously do who are willing to stand against the flow of a tide that hast two waves. One tide is that the Bible is secondary to new revelation and the other one is to use our intellect to figure out God and do away with mystery for the most part. The first looks plain silly and drives some of us towards the second and much more studious approach. Theology should have rigor to it. But whenever we drift away from the fulfillment of revelation that is the love of God manifested in Jeaus Christ then we will enter the dark side of our own speculations. The first wave may be more dangerous because of the sensuality involved but the second one that is so subtle leaves a man much more liable to be arrogant.
It puffs up because it is at heart a man made knowledge and veers away from love. I see no “kind intention of His will” at all in a doctrine of determinism. It sets a born again man against himself. He doesn’t ever preach the gospel as a Calvinist or at least I have not seen it. You have to forget the doctrine unless you are preaching to the choir.
What won me over at age eight is the same thing that won me to full time ministry at age 50, the appeal of a God who is defined by love – where mercy triumphs over judgment and my heart was enraptured and conquered by that love. Indeed my heart soars with my mind as I exclaim, ” the love of God, how rich and pure!”
I commend your loving and scholarly attempt to plainly search the Scriptures and to communicate them because the light of the glorious grace of the gospel in our day is the only hope for mankind. You are wonderfully adorning the gospel and though we may never meet I sense a deep love for the body of Christ and a passion for the lost that spurs me on to love and good works! Thank you brother so much! Grace and His peace be astounding to you!!
Honored and blessed. Thank you brother!! You made my day.
If I may say… I would like to add that not all of the remnant who were drawn to Jesus in this context actually were saved, even though it was the Father’s will that they be! Correct me if I am wrong, but the actions of Judas clearly tell us that he was not regenerated. Yet, he was one of the 12 here. He witnessed the miracles and the signs, and God’s truths were revealed to him, throughout Jesus’ ministry. Yet, he ended up betraying Jesus. That doesn’t sound like a regenerate man to me. That seems to support your points above even more. 🙂
v38-39 “I have come down from heaven to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And it is the will of him who sent me that I should not lose any of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them all to life on the last day.
Calvinists draw the following conclusions from this:
1. Jesus came down from heaven not to do His own will but the will of God who sent Him.
2. It was the will of God that Jesus should not lose any of all those God gave Him.
3. It was the will of God that Jesus raise them all to life on the last day.
Calvinists claim that Jesus carried out (or will carry out with respect to (3)) God’s will perfectly.
So you agree Rhutchin with the context as Leighton has accurately understood it! Those who had been given to Jesus during His earthly ministry when the Father saw their personal faith in His Son, were saved and will be resurrected on the last day!
Now the only question is why some exercised personal faith in Christ while others did not. Could it be that those God gave to Christ then exercised faith in Him and those not given could not exercise such faith?
Could it be that they weren’t given to Christ till after they exercised faith as Scripture continually bears out?
brianwagner writes “Could it be that they weren’t given to Christ till after they exercised faith as Scripture continually bears out?”
What you are saying is that God’s knowledge of their situation is predicated on learning how they exercise faith. That’s your open theist bias.
I am not talking about God’s knowledge, but about the normal Scriptures’ teaching that faith precedes God’s fulfillment of His promise of salvation which includes regeneration and the imputation of God’s righteousness!
brianwagner writes, “I am not talking about God’s knowledge, but about the normal Scriptures’ teaching that faith precedes God’s fulfillment of His promise of salvation which includes regeneration and the imputation of God’s righteousness!”
Where in the Scriptures are you reading about this?
Here are some clear Scripture statements, Rhutchin, to consider, many based on the use of the Aorist Indicative (or Aorist Infinitive or Participle in relationship with the time of the Indicative of the main verb) where believing clearly PRECEDES works of salvation
(Acts 11:17) “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
(Rom 4:3) For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
(Gal 3:6) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
(Jas 2:23) And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
(Gal 2:16) knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
(Eph 1:13) In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
(Heb 4:3) For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
(Rom 10:10) For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(Rom 10:14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
(1Cor 15:2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
(Luke 8:12) “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
(Mark 16:16) “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
(Acts 16:31) So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
It is clear from these verses that believing starts before the works of salvation. It even starts before coming to God!
(Heb 11:6) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Calvin confused the biblical terms illumination and regeneration and made them equal. In Scripture, illumination is for everyone (John 1:9), and regeneration is for those who put their trust in the person and message of that illumination. Regeneration follows that commitment of trust, it does not precede it. Regeneration is salvation, including the life of Christ, His Spirit, and His righteousness, and these all follow that commitment of trust. There are not two “new births” in the Scriptures, one without the life of Christ and one with it.
brianwagner writes, “Regeneration follows that commitment of trust, it does not precede it.”
This was the focus of my question. Where in the Scriptures are you reading about this?
I am sorry Rhutchin, that you do not see the order of salvation in the verses that I listed for you. May the Lord reveal these things to you as you meditate further on those verses. Active faith in the heart before life from God is imparted = faith before regeneration, not after.
brianwagner writes, “I am sorry Rhutchin, that you do not see the order of salvation in the verses that I listed for you.”
The troublesome issue is regeneration. Can you cite the Scriptures that establish the role of regeneration in the order of salvation? You wrote, “…the normal Scriptures’ teaching that faith precedes God’s fulfillment of His promise of salvation which includes regeneration…” Can you provide the Scriptures that led you to this conclusion (or did you just work in out using Webster’s Dictionary)?
The term “regeneration” from παλινγγενεσια, Rutchin, as I am sure you are aware, is only in the NT two times. In Matt. 19:28 it is a term for the Millennium yet to come. In Titus 3:5 it is identical with the moment of individual salvation, linked directly to “washing” which here means forgiveness. The preposition δια, with the genitive case, means “through” and thus confirms the contemporary idea. I concede that the emphasis in this context is only on God’s part in salvation and the context does mention personal faith. But it indicates at least that regeneration is not before forgiveness.
The verb “to regenerate” is not found from the same Greek stem as the noun above. But there are verses about being born spiritually, of which I am sure you are aware, and they describe a second birth, thus “regeneration”. There is a verb ἀναγενναω, used only twice in the NT, which means “born again”. In 1Peter 1:3 it is not associated with faith in that context, but in verse 23 it is associated with the personal action of obeying the truth (vs. 22), which is associated with a prior hearing of the gospel (vs. 25). This parallels well with the hearing the gospel, then actively trusting, and then getting sealed by the Spirit in Christ as outlined in Eph. 1:12-14.
Have you accepted the unbiblical definition of regeneration that makes it an action prior to receiving the life of Christ, limited to mean making the will active and unable to resist the grace of salvation?
brianwagner writes, “The term “regeneration” from παλινγγενεσια,… is only in the NT two times. ”
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
Titus 3:5 is interesting in that the word, “regeneration,” appears twice in the NT and the word, “washing,” also appears twice (the Greek words).
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28)
“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
One issue in Matthew 19 is whether a comma should be placed after “followed me.” If yes, then Jesus speaks of a regeneration that is to come (perhaps the new heavens and the new earth). If no, then Christ speaks of that regeneration He has ushered in by preaching, “the kingdom of God is ay hand.” In each sense, the term, “regeneration,” refers to a change from the current situation. Thus, when Paul writes, “…God saved us, by the washing of regeneration…,” we take Paul to mean that God saves us by changing is in some manner. If “washing” means forgiveness of sins, then that is not a change in the person – it is only a change in how God views the person – and Paul seems to be speaking of a change in the person.
So, to what does “washing” refer? Paul uses “washing” in Ephesians 5 as the means whereby the church is sanctified and cleansed so that it is without spot or wrinkle. This is a washing “of water by the word” and not a washing “of blood.” It is the washing of blood that is identified with forgiveness – “…we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” So, I don’t see where “forgiveness” is in view.
Instead, we have a washing “by the word,” – presumably the word of God. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We can see one change (regeneration) in this verse. The word of God is the source of “hearing” to those who cannot “hear.” After this change (regeneration), the person who is now hearing can then exercise faith by that ability to hear.
You ask, “Have you accepted the unbiblical definition of regeneration that makes it an action prior to receiving the life of Christ, limited to mean making the will active and unable to resist the grace of salvation?” I have done this, but I maintain that it is Biblical and not arbitrarily so. In your case, you offer your opinion that “washing” means “forgiveness.” Where does that come from? As far as I can tell, you just made it up in order to promote your philosophy.
I am sorry Rhutchin that you feel you must continue to twist even the normal meanings of passages that Calvinists like John Gill even did not twist. I do think Calvin got the word λουτρον, “washing” (or bath) in Titus 3:5 and Eph 5:26 mixed up with the ordinance of baptism. Gill however saw the normal meaning of “washing” as one of cleansing from sin. You were correct to see the connection with the Word of God as the figure in this washing, but that does not disconnect this passage from forgiveness or the blood of Christ, which are the main ingredients of Gospel message, the Word that does the washing through faith.
But you ignored the normal meaning of “washing”, and did not identify what Paul was saying that regeneration washes away according to Titus 3:5. You also rejected the normal meaning of “regeneration” to support your idea of the theological “change” you wish to maintain. From this word “regeneration” there must be a “birth” not just a change of the will. Where there is a birth there is life! In regeneration a believer, after a commitment of his will, not only receives a change in his will, he also receives at the same moment the life of Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, and the righteousness of Christ. There are not two spiritual births taught in Scripture, one of the will (whatever that means) and one afterwards of Christ’s life within the believer.
And please don’t force your false meaning of “regeneration” into Rom 10:17. The whole context (10:8-18) is the preaching of the word then hearing with comprehension then active believing with one’s heart then calling on the Lord. Answer the question Rhutchin that Paul asks and answers in 10:18 about those, especially from Israel that have rejected the gospel as well as those in lands without a preacher – “Have they not heard?” He is not talking about a special “hearing” that only the Calvinist notion of the elect hears, but of God’s universal enlightenment and conviction that many in Israel have individually heard but rejected, and others with only creation and conscience have also heard but rejected.
brianwagner writes, “The whole context (10:8-18) is the preaching of the word then hearing with comprehension then active believing with one’s heart then calling on the Lord.”
Romans 10 establishes an orderly progression. The preaching of the gospel precedes the hearing (understanding) of the gospel and this precedes the exercise of faith by the hearer. You seem to understand this.
The issue is to account for two people hearing the gospel preached but only one “hears” and believes while the other does not hear (as he never did) and does not believe. Something happened to the one who now believes.
You say, “…please don’t force your false meaning of “regeneration” into Rom 10:17.” That’s fine. So, you explain how one person comes to belief while the other does not? What term do you use to describe what happened to the person who now hears and believes?
You don’t like what I draw from the scriptures, but you offer only complaint and nothing constructive. Why?
brianwagner writes, “But you ignored the normal meaning of “washing”, and did not identify what Paul was saying that regeneration washes away according to Titus 3:5.”
Normal meaning of “washing”! From Ephesians 5:26, we can conclude that this washing is by the word. Is there another meaning that you want to draw from this verse?
Can we not also conclude that it is the preaching of that same word – the means of washing – that then leads to hearing by some who then exercise faith? So, what is washing? What did Christ mean in John 15 when He said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” In Titus 1, Paul writes, “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Can we not conclude that Paul refers to the “washing of regeneration” as the means to take the one who is “being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate,” and making them clean (pure) resulting in their exercise of faith?
You then write, “You also rejected the normal meaning of “regeneration” to support your idea of the theological “change” you wish to maintain.”
Normal meaning of “regeneration”! What is normal about a work that appears here and in Matthew 19? If Paul describes regeneration as “washing,” what prevents us concluding that something changes (someone is changed) by virtue of this “washing of regeneration”? Then, you want to identify this regeneration as the new birth. That’s fine. As Peter tells us that we are, “born again…by the word of God…” Thus, the word of God is the vehicle for the new birth and the subsequent exercise of faith.
So, the order we see is this: the preaching of the word leads to the new birth (the washing of regeneration) and it is this new birth that gives a person the ability to “hear,” and this hearing leads to the exercise of faith.
But you can put it in a different order. Give it a shot.
I was wondering if I can save this and other articles of yours for possible future study?
I don’t see why not
Thanks. God Bless you!
@Soteriology101 I keep hearing you talk about the judicial hardening of Israel. My question is were the disciples (save Judas) the only jews saved at the time? because if that is the case it dismantles your whole argument particularly because even before Pentacost there were more believers than just 11 disciples and just a comment, you have always said many things about the dismissiveness and uncharitableness of Calvinists. Listening to the podcast responding to James White, I felt you were doing the very same things, many comments that were dismissive and attacking the man. Just my view.
I apologize if I came across as dismissive. But your question alone proves why his misrepresentation of my view is so far off base. Of course he didn’t only save the 11. I address that in my rebuttal.
Jesus didn’t save anyone before the cross and resurrection. That IS THE GOSPEL and was yet to be fulfilled. He was preparing or discipling his messengers from Israel while on earth. Many were God fearing and faithful to God at this time but none of them had redemption apart from the cross. And there were obviously others apart of Jesus following but only a select few were entrusted to him as their “rabbi”
I will work to be more respectful toward Dr White but when you misrepresent someone that badly you have to expect a strong rebuttal of that view (not the person- and I don’t believe I ever said anything personal- correct me if I’m wrong and be specific)
Pastor Flowers writes, “Jesus didn’t save anyone before the cross and resurrection.”
As a technical issue, aren’t people “saved” on judgment day – “saved from judgment for their sins” – even though we speak of “being saved” prior to that time.
pretty much didn’t read after the underlined phrase “they weren’t born calloused”. actually they are. it’s the default position for all of mankind who are in adam which is why we must be born again in Christ and be made a new creation through the supernatural power of God.
the whole point of this article is based on a misunderstanding of mans condition as a fallen creature.
So you reject Paul’s words in favor of your systematic or do you have a text that explicitly teaches we are born totally calloused?
i’ll state them again. ps 51:5, ps 58:3 and romans 5, psalm 14, romans 8:7-8.
through adams fall we received our sin nature and because of this no one does righteous because their broken nature does not allow them to. in christ we are given a new nature which allows us to be beholden to the law of God in our lives, but that’s only for those who are actually in Christ, not for those who are still in adam. judas was not in Christ. king herod was not in Christ, caesar was not in Christ.
does God further our hardness as judgement upon us(romans 1:24-32)? yes He does. the point you seem to be missing is that we by default because of our fallen nature hate God and despise His law and continue in this way until God acts upon our hearts and minds(eze 11:19-20, jer 31:33).
Before I respond to this article, are you saying Mr. Flowers that the scope of John 6:44,45 is only limited to national Isreal and the initial 12 apostles? If so, than why does Jesus make reference to an Old Testament passage that clearly has, as its context, those outside of Israel “shall all be taught by God”? Although the audience here are the original apostles and the Jews who are under Jesus’ hearing, the scope of His message is the entire human race. Christ is clearly using Israel’s blindness as a means of teaching how He is the “Bread of Life” (v.41) that provides salvation for all who the Father draws to Him. To intimate that the scope includes “drawing messengers” from hardened Israel for the spreading of the Gospel is NOT what Christ means when He says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me..” He’s clearly referencing individual salvation for those who are drawn to Him by the Father; not just messengers of the Gospel. We can be certain of this by the statement, “..and I will raise him up at the last day.” Christ is teaching His method of salvation for the whole world through the blindness of national Israel and that method involves a supernatural drawing by the Father to the Son and all those drawn to the Son He will resurrect at the last day.
Just a thought Troy… Logically the result of being raised up in this verse can only be tied to the prerequisite of coming. The prerequisite of being drawn is tied to coming, but is not logically limited to all who come, nor is it logically the only prerequisite for coming, based on the wording of this one verse.
This verse logically allows for drawing to be experienced by more than those who eventually come. And Scripture confirms all are drawn (John 12:32). And this verse, and context, require belief as another prerequisite for coming. No one can come unless drawn and accepting by faith the truth revealed to them during the drawing. If they accept, they truly come. And if they come they will be raised up on the last day.
The Calvinist makes a logical fallacy by making the category of the drawn as undistributed as the category of the ones who come. Ask anyone who teaches logic. I hope this helps.
Firstly, “coming” and “believing” are synonomous here, thus, believing can’t be a prerequisite to coming. Verse 35 demonstrates that “coming to Christ” and “believing in Christ” are the same concept? Therefore, we can deduce logically that one can’t believe unless the Father initiates the process by supernaturally and unconditionally drawing the person to Christ, who then raises him/her up at the last day.
Secondly, in light of the particular (limited) nature of “drawing”, as it’s applied here in John 6, we can interpret “draw” in John 12:32 to be particular in nature, because all who are drawn to Christ WILL be lifted up at the last day. Also, “all men” MUST be interpreted in the context of ALL of Scripture. In other words, all the verses pertaining to “all men”, “world”, etc, must be understood in light of all the other verses that speak on the same subject.
You are right Troy that believing is equated with coming in vs. 35. You are also right that God must initiate the enlightenment and conviction presented to the unbeliever’s mind, will, and emotion enabling, but not forcing them to believe. When they do make their faith commitment, they have come to the Lord, and He fulfills His promise of salvation.
You do need to ask someone who knows logic to explain further how drawing in v. 45 is not necessarily connected to being raised up.
brianwagner writes, “…believing is equated with coming in vs. 35. You are also right that God must initiate the enlightenment and conviction presented to the unbeliever’s mind, will, and emotion enabling, but not forcing them to believe. When they do make their faith commitment, they have come to the Lord, and He fulfills His promise of salvation.”
From v35, “coming” to Christ is equated with “believing” in Christ. Taking this into v44, we get, ““No-one can [believe in] me unless the Father who sent me draws him,…” Then the certainty of salvation to those God draws to Christ, “I will raise him up at the last day.”
The “all” of v45 would then be those drawn by God, “Everyone who [is drawn by God] listens to the Father and learns from him [believes in] me.”
Thus, when you say, “When they do make their faith commitment,…” we understand that there is no doubt in this outcome; it is the foregone conclusion that those whom God draws – not each and every person but only a select few – will listen to God and learn from Him and thereby believe in Christ with certainty as Christ raises that person at the last day.
In John 6, we read of God’s action to draw His elect to Christ. In John 12, we read of Christ’s death drawing “all” to Him and here “all” refers to Jews and gentiles. One great theme of John is that salvation is not just for the Jews; it is for the gentiles also. John 6 and 12 speak to two different issues.
Agree 1000% with your exegesis rhutchin
Hey Roger, it’s pretty convenient, isn’t it, for a Calvinist to say the “all” in 6:45 is universal, but the one in 12:32 is distributive? Why not reverse them? Anyway, the heard and learned in vs. 45 are not logically necessary to be equated to every aspect of what drawing means, nor do those completed states, which are truly a part of coming, necessarily make impossible the reality of conditional, resistible aspects of God’s grace that lead to salvation.
The Calvinist, as usual, tries to prove too much from these verses, and ends up twisting other clear verses away from their normal meanings.
Brianwagner writes, “…it’s pretty convenient, isn’t it,…”
Convenience has nothing to do with it. What is the basic rule of exegesis? CONTEXT!
John 6 says “…my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life,…” What does Jesus promise regarding these, “I will raise him up at the last day.” This speaks of the certainty of salvation. I think we both agree that “everyone” could be anyone. All are not saved so all do not believe. But then neither one of us is Universalist.
Who then believes? Is it not those the Father draws to Christ (v44). Again the certainty of their salvation, “I will raise him up at the last day.” So it goes through John 6. “All’ in John 6 is universal with regard to God’s elect – those God chooses to draw to Christ. Do you have an argument against treating the phrase, “I will raise him up at the last day,” to apply to those that God draws and that they must be His elect. If you do, please share.
John 12 is about Christ’s death on the cross. Of this, Christ says, ” I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” So, does the cross draw each and every person to Christ. It doesn’t. does it. In context, Christ is speaking to the Jews. John quotes Isaiah to explain why the Jews would not believe. We have no basis to limit “all men” to just the Jews. However, we do have a basis for concluding that Jesus was referring to gentiles also. He had referred to the gentiles in John 10, when he said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.” Also, in John 3, “God so loved the world.” We are on solid ground to conclude that one major theme of John is that salvation is not just for the Jew; it is for the gentile also. Context in John 12 does not allow for an universal “all.” If you have an argument for it to be universal, please share that with us also.
Already shared… Roger. Read my earlier posts to Troy. Drawing is not logically connected as necessary to being raised up in vs. 44., but limited in this context anywhere to a select group. Sorry, my friend… I am going to stick with the interpretation that honors the normal reading of Scripture and the mercy of God the most!
Brian I must say that I find it totally illogical to accept the view that the first “him” in v.44 is different from the second “him”. Jesus is speaking plainly here and making a statement of fact. There’s no room for conjecture because the language is clear AND it’s logical.
brianwagner writes, “Already shared… Roger. Read my earlier posts to Troy. Drawing is not logically connected as necessary to being raised up in vs. 44., but limited in this context anywhere to a select group. Sorry, my friend… I am going to stick with the interpretation..”
However, you never really offer an interpretation of the verse. You only offer your opinion e.g., writing “Logically the result of being raised up in this verse can only be tied to the prerequisite of coming. The prerequisite of being drawn is tied to coming, but is not logically limited to all who come, nor is it logically the only prerequisite for coming, based on the wording of this one verse.” That is nice opinion but requires a sound explanation to show it to be true.
You also say, “You do need to ask someone who knows logic to explain further how drawing in v. 45 [I think you meant v44] is not necessarily connected to being raised up.” As you know logic, you are able to explain it – but you chose not to do so. Shouldn’t we be suspicious that you dug a hole that you cannot get out? If you could actually argue logically that the “drawing in v. 45 (sic) is not necessarily connected to being raised up,” you should be able to do so in a brief paragraph. I don’t think you have that brief paragraph.
You are deflecting on the issue and I think it is because you cannot substantiate your opinions with sound arguments – you never really offer an interpretation of v44 to counter that which Troy and I have offered.
You can always discern when you’re talking to a staunch Calvinist..they’re very meticulous and systematic in there exegesis. This is because, for the most part, they “study to show themselves approved..” Once again, I believe rhuchin is right on point in his explanation of the terms and conditions of God’s amazing salvation plan. And the beautiful thing about Jesus’ proclamation that “I will raise him up at the last day” is the certainty of both His will and the perseverence of the saints. All that the Father draws WILL persevere until the end. Why? Because Christ supernaturally enables us and sustains us through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. You see folks, as James White loves to repeat, THEOLOGY MATTERS!!!
Troy, All who are born into God’s family have everlasting life! They will never perish! My exegesis is sound. Drawing is a pre-salvation work of our Gracious God, in everyone’s life. It does not guarantee being born again. Theology does matter!
You may think God plays favorites when it comes to personal salvation, choosing some to have an opportunity to be able to receive His grace and damming the rest, making site they are unable to receive that opportunity! You are free to have that unbiblical view of our merciful and gracious God! But I am praying that you will let God’s Word in context and not proud men’s theological inferences brought to a context convince you of the truth.
Brian, oh how we love to share the wondrous love and mercy of God and downplay His justice and holiness. God doesn’t owe any of His creatures even the opportunity of salvation, let alone salvation itself. Therefore, I’m afraid that we (the creature) impose our terms and conditions on how God should show His love, mercy, justice, and holiness towards His creation. We must allow ALL of Scripture (old/new testaments) to define who God really is and how He chooses to demonstrate His attributes/qualities. The angry, vengeful, jealous God of the Old Testament is the same loving, merciful God of the New Testament (although His justice and wrath are made mention in the NT too). We see all of his attributes in the whole of Scripture, but we find comfort in just relishing in His love and mercy. The hardcore reality though Brian is, just as God chose and favored Israel at the exclusion of all other nations in the Old Testament as a physical representation of His elect people, He is now choosing a spiritual Israel at the exclusion of all others.
Here’s something else to consider Brian..according to your theological construct (which I believe to be arminian), every person is given physical life by God’s choice. This means that God chooses to create those whom He knows will never choose Him. According to YOUR view of God’s mercy, is that merciful?
Hi Troy, I am not sure why you think my accusation that the Calvinist position misrepresents God’s mercy means I do not believe that God is just when displaying His wrath.
God knows all of His plan, and He never planned anyone to perish, but that all should have an opportunity of repentance. That He chose and favored Israel did not guarantee salvation to each individual in Israel, but each individual in Israel got an opportunist for salvation. In fact God was favoring every nation by each of His plans for them so that all could seek and find Him (Acts 17:26-27).
Even Israel was designed as blessing and a light for the nations to help the nations seek and find God’s salvation. And I would agree that with the good message of God’s mercy should always follow the warning. That’s why I like Hebrews 3:7-8, Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart! This verse overturns Calvinism. It can’t be for their elect, for when they hear they can’t harden their heart, and it can’t be for their reprobate, for they can’t hear because of their divinely hardened heart because of someone else’s sin and God would not lie to them as if they needed that warning.
I hope this helps.
Troy, If All of A is B, B is an distributed term and A is an undistributed term according to the rules of logic. All faculty at Westminster Seminary are Calvinists. “Faculty” is the undistributed term and “Calvinist” is the distributed term. In no way does this statement mean that there are no other Calvinists in the world except the faculty members of Westminster. So using these two terms and adding another distributed term in a sentence may help you see the logic of John 6:44. No faculty of Westminster Seminary are hired unless they are Calvinist and they will all teach the eternal security of the saints. Do you see how this is similar to – No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws them and Christ will raise them up on the last day? Since “draw” and “raise up” are distributed terms, they can include others that do not come to Christ. In fact, resurrection is guaranteed to all (John 5:28-29) and so is drawing guaranteed to all (John 12:32). I hope this helps.
By the way… there are non-Calvinists that teach the eternal security of the saints! I am one. 🙂
This is a prime example of why we CAN’T use human logic to interpret Scripture. Instead we MUST use the hermeneutical method that Scripture provides which demands that we compare “spiritual with spiritual”. Having said that, John 6:44 is too plain in its teaching for us to impune a complicated system of logic to interpret it. The Bible is it’s own dictionary, commentary, and system of logic.
Furthermore, we know that Christ has the entire human race in mind when using the pronoun “him” as the recipient of the “drawing” and “raising up” because he says “no one” can come/believe to/in Jesus. That “no one” is all inclusive because all have sinned and come short of His glory. The Bible is more than able to interpret itself without man’s puny laws of logic. After all, we are studying the very mind of Almighty God.
Troy, There is nothing but postmodern deconstructionism in what you just said. You must test every premise stated by the rules of logic if there is to be truth to believe! You are free to believe whatever you like, even nonsensical things, and say whatever you like, even nonsensical things, but you can not prove anything you say as being true without the rules of logic!
I hope you will take the time to read what some of your Calvinist friends have written on the subject of logic. Gordon Clark’s book on Logic is a good place to start. Blessings, my friend!
Let’s rephrase the statement to fit your illustration:
All the elect are drawn by God and raised by Christ. As you argue, such an arrangement allows that there are those who are not elect who can also be drawn by God and raised by Christ. Or we could say, “All whom God loves” are drawn/raised which still allows for “All whom God does not love” to be drawn/raised.
In order to avoid unwanted expansion of the argument, the negative is used. In this case – No one comes to Christ. That statement is complete; it actually includes zero people. Now, the exception is employed – unless.
No person comes to Westminister Seminary unless he is a Calvinist – it is these who are hired.
No one comes to Christ unless he is drawn by God – it is these who are raised.
The logic the Calvinist uses to understand John 6:44 is sound. You had to take liberties with the verse to make your argument work – in ignoring the use of the negative – and end up arguing a position that is foreign to the context.
Roger, I’m sorry you can’t see the logic, I must not be explaining it well enough. But in your example you would have to agree not all the Calvinists in the world come to Westminster, so there remains some who don’t come but are truly Calvinists. The same is true of those drawn. Some are drawn who don’t come. The logic is sound.
Brian your example of Westminster Seminary is irrelevant to this argument bcus it does not represent the whole world in your scenario; whereas, Christ has the whole world of sinners in view when He’s talking about drawing and raising up all believers. Christ Himself is limiting the scope of the “drawing” to those who are “raised up”. And He says “ALL that the Father gives to me WILL come to me..” Logically speaking, all the drawn are also all that are given by the Father, and that same “all” will be raised up by Christ. Please Brian, let the Bible speak. I see a man who’s desperately trying to cling to a belief without being true to the text and context of this passage. This passage is NOT obscure and it’s quite plain in its teaching.
Thank you Troy for your words of encouragement. The context of all these stories from Jesus life, and purpose, is 20:30-31. No one can be saved unless they believe what they read about Jesus. Many will read but not believe, just like many will be drawn but will refuse to come. But they can’t come unless they are drawn. You and I both agree on that.
brianwagner writes, “in your example you would have to agree not all the Calvinists in the world come to Westminster, so there remains some who don’t come but are truly Calvinists. The same is true of those drawn. Some are drawn who don’t come. The logic is sound.”
One of the problems people have in developing a logical argument is in accurately specifying the propositions that lead to, or support, the conclusion. The use of a negative proposition gives some people fits – and it is obvious that the “negative” in John 6 is making it difficult for you to follow the argument.
I had written, “No person comes to Westminister Seminary unless he is a Calvinist.” My statement had nothing to do with the numbers of people coming to Westminster – whether all or some (and while I would agree that some Calvinists don’t come to Westminster, that fact has nothing to do with the argument presented) – but a characteristic of those allowed to come. You then apply your misunderstanding to John 6:44. John 6:44 does not delineate whether all or some come to Christ but identifies a characteristic of those who do come – they are drawn by God.
However, you then write, “Some are drawn who don’t come.” John 6 does not tell us this. It tells us about those who do come, not those who do not come. It may be true that a person can be drawn by God to Christ and choose not to come, but John 6:44 does not tell us that such does happen – John 6:44 states that those who come to Christ are those drawn by God. If a person is not drawn by God, he does not come to Christ.
The most you can argue is that Christ raises the person who meets to conditions – (1) he is drawn by God, and (2) he comes to Christ. After that, we then deal with the question argued between Calvinists and Arminians – what explains why one person comes to Christ and another does not (with the Calvinists arguing that ALL whom God draws actually do come to Christ).
Roger, I am glad you finally see the logic, that the verse allows for some to be drawn who do not come. This agrees with 12:32, which confirms, along with 1:9, that all are drawn.
We can make the following logical conclusions based on the immediate and comprehensive context of Scripture concerning John 6:44:
A) God the father supernaturally draws some but not others
B) The supernatural drawing only applies to those whom the Father chooses to give to the Son
C) The Son will raise up only those who are supernaturally drawn to Him by the Father
D) Drawing = Salvation
Hi Troy –
A) God supernaturally draws all to make them response-able to His grace, but not irresistibly. Praise Him!
B) God chooses those who accept His drawing after that enablement and places them in the Son He had chosen before creation. Praise His name!
C) The Son will raise up those drawn by the Father but only those who accepted His drawing. Praise His mercy and grace!
D) Drawing accepted=Salvation! Praise Jesus! 🙂
Bless you brother Brian!
We can agree to disagree and still love each other as brothers in Christ thankfully!
However, I’m sure that you can logically deduce from my language that supernatural implies that God initiates the salvation process WITHOUT human choice. Man will only choose God AFTER God has already chosen him and initiated regeneration. God does not have a “general drawing” (or prevenient grace) as you say. Whenever God draws, it results in salvation infallibly. In other words, He does not “draw” without “raising up”. John 6:44 is clear and logical!! But you’re still my brother Brian!
So Troy, are you saying that “gave” in 17:12, means something different than it means in chapter 6 ?
Of course it is!!! The “gave” in 17:12 is speaking specifically to the original 12 apostles, not to those who are given to Christ throughout all time as spoken of in John 6. Context! Context! Context! Also, Judas was decreed/predestined to face damnation (“..that the scripture might be fulfilled”). The “gave” in 17:12 is restricted to only the original 12 apostles; whereas, the “given” in 6:44 refers to all that are “raised up” throughout time.
By the way brother Brian, the Bible NEVER associates Judas Iscariot with the supernatural drawing of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly enough, I believe Judas is representative of all those who appear to be Christian outwardly, but are pseudo-Christians in reality.
Oh… and by the way… don’t forget to factor into your nice system that the Father “gave” Judas to Christ (John 17:12). I guess that makes Judas ultimately one of the elect according to your “logic”. 🙂
Judas was chosen for the unique role assigned to him, “None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.”
Believe it if you must.
That stills leaves us with the unanswered question – If all are drawn, why is it that some come to Christ and some do not. Something more is going on.
brianwagner writes, “Anyway, the heard and learned in vs. 45 are not logically necessary to be equated to every aspect of what drawing means, nor do those completed states, which are truly a part of coming, necessarily make impossible the reality of conditional, resistible aspects of God’s grace that lead to salvation.”
By itself, without further clarification, this does not convey much. We might agree that “heard and learned…are not logically necessary to be equated to every aspect of what drawing means…” Drawing entails “heard and learned” but it may include, and require, other actions by God to be “drawing.” Then, coming to Christ may entail more than just just drawing and one might conclude that a person might still resist coming to Christ. However, is that what context leads us to conclude/
Prior to this, Jesus says, “my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Jews start grumbling and Jesus says, “Stop grumbling among yourselves…” and then v44-45. Thus, the Jews are resisting that which Jesus is telling them and v44-45 respond to that resistance.
Jesus tells the Jews that they cannot come to Him unless God draws them and they are grumbling – resisting – because God is not drawing them. Were God to draw them, Christ states that He would raise them at the last day. To emphasize the point, Christ cites the OT. Those that God draws are those who are taught by Him.
If nothing else, these verses emphasize the Total Depravity of people such that none can come to Christ unless God draws them.
These verses also tell us that it is God who draws a person to Christ – a person who is otherwise resisting Christ as the Jews were doing – and if a person should continue to resist, it can only be because God either is not drawing them or does not draw sufficiently. It is God who must draw sufficiently to override any resistance or who can draw such as to allow resistance to continue. God determines the final outcome by the strength of His drawing. Thus, salvation is not conditional on the person resisting as the verses make clear that the original state is that all are resisting but conditional on the strength of God’s drawing.
The Calvinist takes these verses to mean that God draws people to Christ and no person can be saved except God draw them to Christ. The quibble by brianwagner is that God can vary that drawing such that some people come to Christ and others continue to resist. That doesn’t change the situation so why clutter up the exegesis with it? By grace – the grace of drawing – a person is saved.
The context is truly God using the previous miracles of Jesus and Jesus’ sound teaching as to the purpose of the miracles to offer each individual in that crowd to come and be saved.
Jesus was pointing to the Father and to Himself since a relationship with Jesus was the Father’s intent behind the miracles. Jesus used parabolic, hard language, eating and drinking His flesh and blood, to separate from the crowd those who wanted the relationship and the words of life from those who just wanted more loaves and fish.
Jesus gives information about the workings of individual salvation, but no where is He affirming in this call for true disciples that salvation is limited to a predetermined few.
The “no-one comes unless the Father draws” is a plea to the crowd, not a condemnation. It is as if Jesus was saying to them, “My feeding of the 5000 was the father’s drawing you to an opportunity of salvation for it was an opportunity to believe in Me as the true Bread of Life. What will you do with that opportunity?”
The reader of John was now being faced with the same choice, having read about that sign Jesus did and the words Jesus said in explanation. Will they believe and follow like Peter did, or will they walk away?
brianwagner writes, The “no-one comes unless the Father draws” is a plea to the crowd, not a condemnation. It is as if Jesus was saying to them, “My feeding of the 5000 was the father’s drawing you to an opportunity of salvation for it was an opportunity to believe in Me as the true Bread of Life. What will you do with that opportunity?”
It’s a nice story but it ignores the context.
Jesus fed the 5,000. It is now the next day and the crowds follow Christ across the sea. We have this exchange, “…they asked Christ, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.””
Then Christ says plainly, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” At this the Jews begin to grumble. It is this grumbling that Jesus addresses when He says, “No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus does not direct us back to the feeding of the 5,000 on the previous day. He has spoken plainly to the Jews telling them that they must believe on Him. They will not believe – thus God must draw them to Christ. The miracle of feeding the 5,000 is not in view as the “drawing” of God to which Christ speaks. That feeding serves as an introduction to Christ explaining that He is the bread from heaven but there is no indication from what Christ says that we should see the feeding as the drawing of God to which Christ refers.
So, you have a nice story. Nice stories are not enough. You need to explain how your story is supported by the context – which you don’t do (at least not here but you also don’t refer to another source for explanation so what are people to think).
It is a very nice true story! Roger, you may need to read John again and remember the book’s purpose and what Jesus taught was the purpose of His miracles. Thanks for the discussion.
Deflecting again. Hasn’t anyone out there exegeted John 6 in support of your story – surely you have? Apparently not.
The commanding language of today’s Calvinists are indeed drawing many people into a camp but is it drawing them to the precious truth that we are promised via the Holy Spirit being poured out into us? John Piper, whose teaching I continue to benefit from said in the link below – in fact he wrote it out longhand – that we have no freedom of will to choose salvation. He deduces this from his study of Romans 9. He came to it so easily that it just lacks the rigor I have seen from him in unrelated passages. But whenever it has to do with our ability to self identify with the truth revealed graciously by the gospel of power, he fumbles by ignoring clear truths within the very same chapter of the passage he is drawing his hasty conclusions from. In order to clear up the nagging mysteries that God has mercifully left for us to ponder with, many try to spell things out that they have no business saying and of which they simply will not take the time to consider that they may be dead wrong and keeping reading for greater contextual clues as to the truth being revealed in Scripture. They do as Peter warned about…twist the scripture that contains the hard things that Paul said. There are many “twistings” today and I have stumbled as much as many I know. If we are here in part to sharpen each other…it would be helpful if the spotlight preachers took a few more minutes and listen to someone so meek as brother Leighton and allow the Holy Spirit to retool when needed.
Here is the link…now think!
Rod Page writes, “The commanding language of today’s Calvinists are indeed drawing many people into a camp but is it drawing them to the precious truth that we are promised via the Holy Spirit being poured out into us?”
Is what you say really true? Is it the language of the Calvinists that is drawing people to their camp? Or is it that people are studying the Scriptures and discovering that the Calvnists are saying the same things that they are reading in the Scriptures.
Is it true that Piper, “…fumbles by ignoring clear truths within the very same chapter of the passage he is drawing his hasty conclusions from”? Or is that just one man’s opinion? Rod Page has written an opinion piece, and it is his opinion.
Hello brother, yes it is my opinion and the Lord Aline’s knows fully if it is according to the truth but we can have an opinion based on revealed truth which I am sure you will agree. The crescendo of Romans 9 seems clear from the text “30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith;
31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.
32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,
33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” I am one who “believes” that to impose on this gospel any preconditions of man is not called for. Does this take from God’s glory that He has “planned” a gospel truly free to any one who calls upon the name of the Lord? Do we have to apply His sovereignty to issues of personal repentance and belief that the powerful Gospel makes possible all by itself because of its inherent power? We don’t need to because the powerful gospel and His image that though marred by sin is all part of His plan to offer salvation as a gift. I have offered many gifts to my own children and some they have received and some they have not. I never made them take them….it never occurred to me to do so. God certainly and sovereignty intervenes all the time every day in our affairs but He is so wise and so awesome and so unafraid that He alone would ever think of creating a people who had the possibility of defying Him, and knowing it ahead of time planned a way back at the same time. We must leave this mystery to Him.
Of course salvation is all off God. Without the general drawing of the love of God in the offer none would be wooed to come in repentance and belief to receive the free gift. Exactly how he intervenes and how He draws has not been spelled out despite my dear Calvinistic friends attempts to explain it by way of meticulous determination or any other man made idea.
What you don’t know about me is I hung out in the OPC and then in another church with similar thinking as you do. I was “drawn” by them because of their sincerity for the Word. At the same time I had to withdraw because I came to see they had over applied what is a truth…”God is Sovereign” and under applied another, man is response-able.
God bless you in your devotedness to sound doctrine. It is sadly so lacking in so much of Christendom.
..in response to my brother Rod,
God doesn’t “force” us to believe in/on Him. The fact is, by nature, we all hate God and His law. Yes, it is correct that by nature WE HATE GOD! Why do we hate God? Because we reject His holiness and realize that we can not live up to His expectations of us. We also hate Him because we LOVE our sin and don’t really want to turn from it. Having said thus, we are dead in trespasses and sins bcus our nature knows nothing else. Therefore, it takes a supernatural power to rescue us from a nature hell-bent on rejecting God and His law. This is why Christ told Nicodemus, “you must be born again (from above)”. Just as it requires a supernatural event to occur for physical birth (God’s Spirit brings life to the egg and sperm union), likewise, a second supernatural birth (God’s spirit regenerating man’s heart of stone and giving him a heart of flesh) MUST occur before we’re saved. Then we FREELY choose God bcus our natures have been changed. Now we can truly say that “SALVATION IS OF THE LORD”!!! Praise be to the Potter!!
Aline sb alone
Troy, so after the preregeneration how is one freely choosing if it all is determined (by your understanding of) God’s eternal decree? There is no freedom unless God decreed instead, a real freedom that mysteriously is contained within His overall Sovereign knowledge. It seems to me that love finds a way to make freedom a reality, in the case of salvation the reality is irresistible love poured out on a cross that is still possible to resist as the Jews did in Acts and which our ancestral Gentile family did believe! Acts 7:51 Jews resist – Acts 28:28 Gentiles listen
Mankind has no other choice but to resist God’s drawing bcus, without His drawing, they will not desire His love and pardon because mankind, apart from God’s divine intervention, hates Him and is the enemy of God. This is why God’s grace is so magnificent and wonderful, because “while we were yet sinners [God-haters], Christ died for us..”. He died for a people who actually hates Him. This is all the more reason why John 6:44 is so jammed-packed with God’s grace and mercy because He’s drawing and raising up a people who otherwise hate and resent Him.
Rod Page writes, “…after the preregeneration how is one freely choosing if it all is determined (by your understanding of) God’s eternal decree?”
That God has determined an end does not require that God cause the end. When Stephan was stoned, God had the ability and power to intervene to prevent his death. God chose not to stop the Jews from stoning Stephan. By that decision, God determined the outcome. In the case of salvation, God regenerates the person giving that person what is called libertarian free will – the ability to chose otherwise or contra-causal freedom. Given this freedom of will, a person freely chooses salvation. God determined the choice by granting the person freedom of will; the person then exercising his new freedom to freely choose salvation.
Rod Page writes, “There is no freedom unless God decreed instead, a real freedom that mysteriously is contained within His overall Sovereign knowledge. It seems to me that love finds a way to make freedom a reality, in the case of salvation the reality is irresistible love poured out on a cross that is still possible to resist as the Jews did in Acts and which our ancestral Gentile family did believe! Acts 7:51 Jews resist – Acts 28:28 Gentiles listen.”
The initial condition is that people resist the gospel. Love does find a way to make freedom a reality – thereby God’s elect are brought to salvation. Why are not all saved? Some are passed over and continue to resist as they had always done. The gentiles do listen but not each and every one of them – not all hear the gospel preached. Even among those who are able to listen, some accept salvation; some continue resisting telling us that there is more involved than just listening.
Troy wrote: “without His drawing, they will not desire His love and pardon because mankind, apart from God’s divine intervention, hates Him and is the enemy of God.”
Agreed brother…and that goes to the ultimate plan that moves from choosing of messengers to the “lifting up” drawing for the whole world six chapters later in John 12:32. This drawing makes possible Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 that fulfilled Joel’s prophecy that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” If the Spirit meant to say only the elect could be saved, He sure could have written something way different than that don’t you think?
Rather than continue to discuss this adinfinitum we must turn towards loving each other and affirming that despite our differences we would all agree that this Jesus is both Lord and Christ and that The Gospel of grace must be lived by us believers in love for one another so people will identify us as His disciples. That we must walk in a way that is proper before the world and reflects the new life He has created in those who believe. Lastly we must proclaim the gospel we all know is powerful unto salvation and pray for God’s mercy to cover our differences in the mean time.
I wish you more of His grace and peace as together we seek Him first!
As we draw near to Him He promises to draw near to us and as we stay humble before Him He will give more grace and in these days we certainly need it!!
Yes Rod! Now I concur with that statement!!
Rod Page writes, “If the Spirit meant to say only the elect could be saved, He sure could have written something way different than that don’t you think?”
Yet, God is omniscient and before the foundation of the world, He knew those who would be saved (regardless whether they would come to be saved as the Calvinists say or the non-Calvinists) and these are called God’s elect.
So, why does the Holy Spirit say, ““everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”? Earlier, Jesus had commanded, repent and believe the gospel. We might conclude that the Holy Spirit does not want anyone to be ignorant of where they stand with God. The command is clear; call on the name of the Lord and be saved; refuse to call and be lost. The rational/logical choice for a person to make is to call on the name of the Lord. How can it be that a person would refuse to call on the Lord. In seeking an answer to that question, Calvinism was born. It begins with the depraved condition of people.
So you say that Jesus is saying that He will lose none of those that the Father has given Him (the apostles), yet He lost Judas. So He lied? Or was mistaken? Clarify please.
He clearly makes that exception (John 6:70-71; John 17:12), which goes to strengthen my case that those being described as being “given by God to Christ” is specifically referring to his apostles and not a general soteriological statement.
I think these verses taken together establish an order for regeneration and hearing (v 25) and the role of belief in regeneration (v 24). However, when I share them, no one else ever seems to think so! I think they do, so I’m sharing them again.
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
I wish that verse 25 mentioned believing, but Jesus just spoke of it in verse 24, just one statement away, and it is clearly part of the process He is describing in v 25. But in v 25, Jesus says that the _dead_ shall hear the voice of the Son of God–they aren’t regenerated when they hear Him; they are spiritually _dead_, yet _able_ to hear Him because it is the Son of God who is speaking. In other words, they can hear, not because they are alive, but because it is God’s Son who is speaking. It is by the power of God that they hear. And they that hear _shall_ live. Jesus iterates that they have yet to be alive spiritually when they hear: they that hear _shall_ live.
Verse 24 establishes, through word order that hearing comes first, then believing, and at the end of the process, the hearer has passed from death to life.
However, this is not my first Calvinist rodeo, and I know that they can simply use the tense of “IS passed from death to life” to claim that they already were alive, somewhere prior to belief. But I do believe that, while that is left open by the tense, if you ignore the usual role word order has upon meaning, v 25 does not allow it to be said that regeneration comes before hearing. I’ve heard several versions of when this prior regeneration is supposed to come, and I’m sure that these verses eliminate some of those theories. If regeneration comes before belief, it cannot come before hearing, since Jesus says it is the dead who hear the voice of the Son of God.
Let’s expand the context of the verses you cite:
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…
24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
29 and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
The Calvinist first pays attention to, “the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” This suggests that it is Christ who decides from among many people to give life to one while passing over another. It’s a nice Calvinist statement.
How are we to understand this with regard to v24? Does v24 identify a condition that a person must meet – Christ is pleased to give life to those who hear and believe? Or does Christ give life to a person enabling the person can hear and believe and thereby they manifest the life He has given them?
Christ is pleased in v24 to give life to “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me,” and in v28-29, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” I think you are correct to say that Christ speaks of the spiritually dead in v24. v28-29 then provides a contrast: Don’t be amazed at spiritually dead people being made alive; even physically dead people will be made alive.”
I think there is the implicit sense that a physically dead person must be enabled to hear Christ’s voice in order to come out of the grave, so a spiritually dead person must also be enabled to hear Christ’s voice in order to believe. If a dead person, whether spiritually or physically dead must be “enabled” to hear prior to hearing and believing or hearing and coming out of the grave, then we have an implicit reference to the need to be regenerated,
If it is not regeneration that distinguishes the one who hears and believes from the one who does not hear and believe, then another explanation is needed to explain this difference. Why is it that two people can physically hear the gospel and one “hears” and believes while another does not “hear” and does not believe? Can something else accomplish this other than regeneration that the Calvinists concluded?
Enlightenment… Roger… enlightenment does the work of hearing God’s voice nicely, which happens before belief and salvation life. And those who hear God’s voice in such enlightenment, which everyone receives at least a few times (John 1:9, Job 33:26-30), are warned to receive it and not to harden their hearts against it (Heb 3:7-8).
It is important not to confuse when this passage in John 5 is talking about resurrection life with when it is discussing regeneration life. And of course it is important to remember that the Calvinist’s two-spiritual life view in the ordus salutis is unbiblical. There is no born again life then hearing, then believing, then everlasting life found in Scripture. A spiritually born person is at that moment of spiritual birth a child of God, and as a child of God he has also everlasting life. It’s the same life! The one who receives that right to such life, such a birth, is the one who previously received Christ by faith (John 1:12-13) and who did not harden his heart against what he heard.
It makes no sense for the Calvinist to believe that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus about his need to be born again (Jn 3). If Nicodemus was not yet regenerated, he wouldn’t even be able to seek to understand what Jesus was talking about, and if he was already born again, in Calvinistic terms, Jesus would not be foolishly inviting him to see his need for it.
brianwagner writes, “Enlightenment… Roger… enlightenment does the work of hearing God’s voice nicely, …”
Enlightenment is no different than regeneration except that you add that all receive it. So, we can conclude that God needs to do something to enable people to hear the gospel. On that point, you agree with the Calvinists, regardless how you see God working. Whether each and every person is enlightened is speculative. We know of some who are enlightened because they accept the gospel. Can we presume that those who continue to reject the gospel were similarly enlightened? You can speculate that they were but cannot go beyond that. Can you?
Other than that, the issue concerns the extent to which God must be involved in a person’s life to bring them to the point where they confess Christ as Lord. You speak of enlightenment being necessary. There is also the need for faith that is conveyed to a person who has been enlightened. Whatever we call, “regeneration,” would include both those parts. Because “being born again” is necessary for a person to see the kingdom of God, we must then determine whether a person must see the kingdom of God before he can confess Christ as Lord. You apparently see a confession of Christ as coming before, and enabling(?), a person seeing the kingdom of God.
Nonetheless, you acknowledge the need for enlightenment so you are on the same track as the Calvinists.
And God gives that enlightenment, Roger, to everyone at least a few times (John 1:9, Job 33:29-30)! This is not speculation but is clearly stated in those Scriptures. And some reject that enlightenment, as also clearly stated (John 1:11). You also may need to reconsider what Nicodemus understood by the term “Kingdom of God” and the Jesus probably was speaking about the future Kingdom when God will dwell on earth as King. The terms “sees” and “enters” more naturally support that view. Jesus uses the term “kingdom of God” in a number of different ways, and personal salvation is one of them, but in this context, being born again is the salvation and entering the kingdom is the future benefit.
brianwagner writes, “And God gives that enlightenment,…”
Thus, the affirmation of a problem with people to begin with – a total depravity that necessitates God’s action without which none could be saved.
Then, “…to everyone at least a few times (John 1:9, Job 33:29-30)! This is not speculation but is clearly stated in those Scriptures. And some reject that enlightenment, as also clearly stated (John 1:11).”
John 1: 9 tells us that Jesus is the light for both Jews and Gentiles. Yet, Christ is universally rejected, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
Some did receive Christ “…children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” God is required to act else none would be saved. Thus, enlightenment, by itself, does not achieve salvation.
Job 33 recalls that which Elihu says to him. I think context supports the conclusion that the subject deals with an earthly life and Job’s earthly situation. What would cause us to think that Elihu is concerned with Job’s salvation?
Finally, “You also may need to reconsider what Nicodemus understood by the term “Kingdom of God” and that Jesus probably was speaking about the future Kingdom when God will dwell on earth as King. The terms “sees” and “enters” more naturally support that view. Jesus uses the term “kingdom of God” in a number of different ways, and personal salvation is one of them, but in this context, being born again is the salvation and entering the kingdom is the future benefit.”
Or is it that Nicodemus misunderstood the point Jesus made and salvation is primarily what Christ always spoke of. Are we to think that Nicodemus was saved and Jesus was speaking of the future kingdom he would see and enter? That Nicodemus trusts in the law for salvation and Jesus is speaking of a different path to salvation seems the better sense to me. I think we agree that one one must be born again to “see” the kingdom of heaven. That a person must be born again to see and enter a future kingdom seems unimportant in the context. Why would that necessitate Nicodemus coming at night; he could easily have raised issues of the future kingdom during the day when all the Jews were present.
Why is Jesus wasting His time, from a Calvinistic viewpoint, explaining to Nicodemus his need to be born again, when He cannot hear or understand what Jesus is saying, since he is not yet born again?
brianwagner writes, “Why is Jesus wasting His time, from a Calvinistic viewpoint,…”
Calvinists never think Christ wasted any time. Ultimately, the Scriptures are written for His elect, Nicodemus did visit Jesus in the night, and Jesus does not mince words – He came to save His people and He bottom lines it for Nicodemus.
So, what purpose do you see for Jesus to divert attention to the future kingdom?
And those we have a testimony of Calvinism’s faulty presupposition that even though it seems the Scriptures are written for all mankind, they believe it must only be written for a preselected group from before creation. God is thus seen as deceptive in using such universal language in His commands, invitations and warnings, because evidently He could not just speak the truth clearly to make His plan work right.
brianwagner writes, “…even though it seems the Scriptures are written for all mankind, [Calvinists] believe it must only be written for a preselected group from before creation.”
The Scriptures were specifically written for God’s elect – “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” By “us” Paul means himself and the Roman believers to whom he is writing. Peter writes, “[Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.” By “dear friends,” Peter refers to believers. This happens as Paul explains, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Certainly, we, as believers, have every expectation that the Scriptures were written for our benefit. Do the reprobate have this same expectation in the absence of God’s work in them to enlighten them such that they are drawn to the Scriptures?
Yes, 1Cor 10:6, 11 does point to the OT being written for the benefit of believers. But it does not say “only” to believers. And actually, I think Paul is addressing a local church that has those who call themselves Christians, but are not yet truly saved (1Cor 5:11, 2Cor 13:5) as well as addressing true Christians.
But there is no doubt that some books are specifically addressed to all unsaved – the Gospels, and probably Ecclesiastes, and many were written perhaps for dual audiences of saved and unsaved, like perhaps Job, Esther and Daniel. There are certainly portions/prophecies addressed to whole lost nations of the coming judgment, which would normally be seen as God’s desire for individuals in those nations to repent before Him (cf. Jonah/Ninevah).
You can have the last word in this thread if you wish. I can not say it my view of God’s revelation more clearly. I think any normal reading of these books promotes that view.
If Jesus is intentionally confounding the calloused Jews in His ministry, so that they are unable to see or hear, aren’t Jesus’ offers in John 7:37 and Matthew 11:28 then duplicitous?
Good Question, though Jesus was always challenging people’s commitment. Who needs fair-weather friends? To the one who said, I’ll come with you… Jesus Responded, “I have no were to lay my head.” To the other who said, “Let ME FIRST go and bury my father.” Jesus reply, “Let the dead bury the dead.” And to these who were wanting to follow, for the hope of more good food, Jesus gave them the deeper truths, of eating His Flesh and whatever else. The IDEA is that Jesus was often pushing back in challenging people’s own commitment. WILL THEY still continue to believe Jesus worthy of their time, in the face of hard sayings and seemingly a cold shoulder in return? So Jesus’ appeals were real; but Jesus wasn’t interested in numbers and gave them the meat of the word, (usually after a miracle, so they saw heart) but they still decided to spit it out? So He intentionally confounded the Jews, but by giving them Truth. Though as Jesus told the woman asking about her dying daughter, “I’m not sent to give meat to dogs.” She could have walked away, but instead, she drew closer to him by challenging that statement, “Yes, but even dogs get crumbs from the master’s table.” She saw through his hard sayings, and drew closer in return. But Jesus’ hard sayings caused her to draw closer, as He challenged.
No doubt, if they would have given Jesus the benefit of whatever doubts they had; they would have soon gained clarification, and grace, especially in light of Calvary. Though He challenged as He normally did, and they walked.
So Jesus was intentionally confounding them, (yes, for several reasons), but bottom line is that some people can’t see anything past the end of their own nose, and he flushed them out.
Thank you for your reply. I wholeheartedly agree that Jesus uses confounding “cold shoulders” (I thought you gave a good description of this) to, in a way, challenge a person’s faith (like putting it to the fire) to purify it, to prove it, to make it come out as gold. This is the way He works, and it is glorious to consider, and an encouragement to our own faith as we undergo trials of various kinds not to lose heart, and to press on in faith knowing that He is challenging us to learn perseverance.
The issue I was getting at remains a bit unanswered, though. You are saying Jesus will intentionally confound a person to challenge their faith. But Dr. Flowers in this article is saying that Christ was intentionally confounding many of the Jews TO JUDICIALLY BLIND THEM, at least for the time being. So in Christ’s mind, He is giving parables that, FOR THE TIME, are intended only to blind and confuse them (because they had already heard and rejected and so are being judicially blinded, but will be given another chance after the cross). My question is, then, how can Jesus say “come to me ALL you who are weary and heavy laden,” when at that time many of the “all” to whom He was speaking had been judicially blinded and hardened? Was that not duplicity? I understand they were to be given a chance later, BUT AT THAT TIME, was it not duplicitous to say “come to me ALL of you”? I am only using Dr. Flowers’ own logic, because He charged that God would be duplicitous to make an offer to a person when He is either causing or allowing the person to be blinded so that they are unable to come.
One question directly for you: would you say that the difference, then, between yourself (who believe) and those who do not believe, is that they can’t see past the end of their own nose, while you are able to see past the end of your nose?