In John 12:32 Jesus draws all men to Himself. Is this true or must we reinterpret Jesus to remove His promise?
John 12:32 (NASB) “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men to Myself.”
Are all people drawn to Jesus? We know for sure that not all people come to Jesus because we know that not all will believe in Him. However, Jesus said that He WILL draw ALL men to Himself. So, what does Jesus mean in this context? Let’s lookout His words to understand His meaning.
In John 12:27 it states the purpose He came is for this hour so although He is troubled He will not ask to be saved from this hour.
John 12:27 (NASB) “Now My soul has become troubled: and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
Jesus is speaking to a crowd of unbelievers (see verse 37). And in verse 30 Jesus says that the voice from heaven was for the benefit of this unbelieving crowd.
John 12:30 (NASB) Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.
John 12:37 (NASB) But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.
Jesus said that He came for this hour. Jesus came to die, yet so many of those who heard Him speak did not believe. They weren’t just not believing Jesus. They did not believe God the Father. Some say that their unbelief was what God predestined for them from all of eternity. But there is a problem with this view because of the words of Jesus. Jesus speaks about drawing all, not just some. If God did not desire for all to come to faith, then Jesus would never draw all. John 12:32 is a dividing line between the truth and error, but to some, it doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t seem to be true.
Is there purposeless evil if God did not foreordain all things?
Calvinists often talk about “purposeless evil.” In fact, Dr. James White, a Calvinist apologist from Alpha and Omega Ministries, has stated that if God did not ordain all things including the evil actions of men, then evil has no purpose. Dr. White gives Isaiah 41:22, Genesis 50:20, and Acts 2:23 as proof that God ordains evil. Dr. White says that everything is for God’s ultimate glory so that there is no purposeless evil. But are these verses really saying that God ordains all evil acts of men? This post will address the three texts that Dr. White proposes as proof that God ordains all things including all evil.
Isaiah 41:22 (NASB) Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the former events, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming;
When Dr. James White debates God’s Sovereignty he appeals to Isaiah 41:22 to prove that God ordains all evil actions. Dr. White says that the words “know their outcome” (in Isaiah 41:22) means to “know their purpose.” He uses “purpose” as a synonym for “outcome,” but “purpose” cannot be exchanged with the word “outcome.” That would completely change God’s meaning.
This post is in response to Dr. James White from his August 5, 2014 podcast where he gave several challenges about the answers I posted on my blog post “Why are people not coming to Jesus?”Dr. White’s point was that if one believes that Jesus showed a person belongs to the Father before he belongs to Jesus, then it must mean that the sheep choose the shepherd. Is Dr. White’s statement true? Do the sheep choose the Shepherd if they respond to the Father first? This post will be the first in a series of posts that will answer the challenges of Dr. James White on the issue of Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism.
Dr. James White’s challenge: If people are given to the Son as believers, they are choosing the Shepherd
The biblical truth that is being challenged is Jesus’ teaching that people who fear God, first belong to the Father before they are given to the Son.
Malachi 3:16–18 (NASB) 16Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17“They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
John 6:37 (NASB) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
In Malachi 3:16-18, those who feared the LORD were heard and a book of remembrance was written. Does this mean that they were the ones who chose the Shepherd? No! God Himself must first do the work that prepares the sheep. God must first teach people to fear Him.
Deuteronomy 31:12 (NASB) “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
God prepares the sheep by teaching them about Him.…
For this reason – John 6:64-65. I am jumping ahead in my verse by verse exegesis to John 6:64-65 because these are the verses that give the answer to Jesus’ words in John 6:37, 44-45. I will start with verse 65 first.
For this reason
John 6:65 (NASB) And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
Here in John 6:65 Jesus is giving a clear reason He said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” and “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” In John 6:65 Jesus begins his saying with a preposition of causation.
It is for this reason or because of the truth that Jesus had just said.
Dr. James White has stated on his Dividing Lineprogram that he wants to see how I line up the John 6 passage to show why people are not coming to Jesus. This post will summarize my view from my previous verse by verse exposition and tie in reasons for unbelief from the book of John. Let’s look at two different groups of people from the book of John who walked away from Jesus and several people who also ended up in unbelief and did not follower Jesus.
Why the hostile Jews did not come to Jesus
The first group of people that did not come to Jesus, John identifies as hostile to Him. In the book of John, John calls Jewish leaders who were hostile to Jesus, as “the Jews.” John identifies Jewish leaders who are hostile opposers to Jesus as “the Jews.”
the Jews Referring to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. John often uses the label hoi Ioudaioi, “the Jews,” to categorize those who are opposed to Jesus and His ministry. While the term can be used in a neutral or even a positive sense (see 2:6; 4:22), the prevailing connotation with the expression is “unbelieving Jews.” John refers to “the Jews” more than 70 times. (Faithlife Study Bible note referenced from link on John 5:15)
(John) 6:41–42 The opening words of 6:41 serve as a powerful announcement: those who had been conversing with Jesus were not merely uncommitted people in general but in fact his opponents. They were “the Jews,” the designation used by John to mark out that particular group in the people of Israel. Moreover, they were for the evangelist the equivalent of the rebellious people in the wilderness wanderings, and so he identified these Jews with the grumblers in the desert (e.g., Exod 16:2, 7) (The New American Commentary pg 267)
1. They do not have the love of God in themselves. (John 5:42) John also reveals that there is a connection between loving the Father and loving the Son. (1 John 5:1)
John 5:42 (NASB) but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 1 John 5:1 (NASB) Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
Jesus spoke incredibly powerful words in John chapter 6 that many people are afraid to dig into because of their concern that John 6 might contradict their theology. In fact, Calvinists are quick to challenge non-Calvinists to explain what these verses mean outside of the Calvinist interpretation. This post will engage that challenge because we believe God’s Word is the truth, and we refuse to ignore the text. What is the challenge that we face? John 6:43-45 is a very important passage that Calvinists use to attempt to prove that God only wants some saved and that only some are drawn by God. Because Calvinists believe that all God draws are raised to eternal life, they conclude that God only draws a select few who He has predetermined to save. However, these compelling verses in John chapter 6 are, in reality, a refutation of the standard Calvinist view when we look carefully at the inspired words and grammar. I invite you to take a journey with me into the intense words of Jesus in John 6:43-45 and I challenge you to believe what He said. This post is a detailed account of the specific language that Jesus spoke because Jesus’ words are profound. After we carefully consider each verse, I will provide a summary of the important points and questions for Calvinists to answer; both are at the bottom of this post. I trust that you will find this material thought provoking and that you will consider interacting with the material through our comment section. Please be respectful in your comments. Now let us deal head on with this significant passage.
Jesus responds to the grumblers
In the last post, we saw that the Jews were grumbling in unbelief because of Jesus’ claim that His origin was from Heaven. In response to the Jews, Jesus gives a command:
John 6:43 (NASB) Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.
Jesus rebukes the Jews for their grumbling and then He states the problem regarding an impossibility.
John 6:44 (NASB) “No onecan come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; …
Jesus said No one. The Greek term means none, not one. What is the thing that is a universal impossibility? No one can come to Me, Jesus said, unless… The word “can” is dynatai in the Greek. The BDAG lexicon in its short form shows dynatai means to be able or capable of doing something. (See screen shot below)
The extended meaning: to possess capability (whether because of personal or external factors) for experiencing or doing something.…
In our verse by verse discussion of John 6, we come to verse 38, a verse that highlights the will of the Father.
John 6:38 (NASB) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
The will that Jesus reveals about salvation is founded not on human will in time, but on the transcendent will of God. It is the will of the Father who sent the eternal Word from Heaven. What is the Father’s revealed will? Jesus reveals the Father’s will in two different ways, by what He says in verses 39 and 40.
John 6:39 (NASB)“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
Who are the all that He (the Father) has given Me (the Son) in verse 39? …
John 6:37 (NASB) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…
Jesus promises all that the Father gives… Let’s start our search into this passage by looking at the terms “all” and “gives.”
What does “all” mean in this context? Does all mean some? In other words, is Jesus saying that some of what the Father gives Him will come to Him? Not at all. I think we can safely say from the context because the Father’s will is expressed in the passage, that all simply means all without exception within the group of those who are given.
Since “all” is that which is given, what is the meaning of the term gives? The grammar will help us to understand. The term “gives” in the Greek is in the present, active, indicative. The present means that the action is in process without an assessment of the action’s completion. Gives as the present tense means that God is presently giving and is continuing to give. Notice that the grammar is not eternity past, but rather the “now.”
In my last post, I showed how the crowd went from asking Jesus about what they were obligated to do to gain the bread that endures to eternal life, to the next step of asking to see the work that Jesus would do. The purpose of the work is to bring the crowd to faith in Jesus. We stopped in verse 33 where Jesus said that the bread is to give life to the world. Did the crowd understand that they too were a part of the world to whom the bread was given? This post will take apart John 6:34-36.
The request of the crowd
The crowd asked Jesus for the bread which was being offered. There was no sign that the crowd viewed Jesus’ words as exempting them from receiving what He was giving. Their words were clear. Let’s look carefully at the words of the crowd. The crowd said:
John 6:34 (NASB) Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
Why did the crowd say give “us” this bread? They said these words because they knew what the term “world” meant as Jesus used it in that context. Jesus said that the bread was for “the life of the world.” The use of the term “world” by Jesus was not said in a limited context, and the crowd believed that they could ask for this special bread… so they asked.
John 6:34 (NASB) Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
By using the term “give” and not “pay”, the crowd understood Jesus to be saying that the bread was something to be granted.
The crowd also said:
John 6:34 (NASB) Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
In my last post, I talked about how Jesus showed the unbelieving crowd, who followed Him in John 6, that the “work” which result is meant to bring the crowd to belief, is God’s work. When Jesus shared that it is God’s work, not the work of the crowd, the crowd demanded a work from Jesus.
John 6:30 (NASB) So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?
Notice that the crowd is no longer conversing with Jesus about their own work. Instead, they want a work from Him. They demand “What then do YOU DO…” They understand that there will be a work whose purpose it is to bring them to faith. They now want a work that they can see, a work that is designed to cause them to believe. Jesus rightfully brought the crowd from their mindset about their own righteous works as being the cause of salvation, to the true cause of salvation which is the work of God.…
In my last post, I showed that Scripture must not be taken out of context by making the word “draw” mean “drag” in John 6:44. However, if “draw” does not mean “drag” in John 6, what does “draw” mean within this inspired context? In this post let’s discuss what “draw” means, and whether everyone whom God draws, will eventually come to Jesus?
God’s own Witness
Immediately after Jesus gives the strong statement that no one can come to Him, unless the Father who sent Jesus draws that person, Jesus takes us into the Old Testament to understand the meaning of what He has just said. Let’s examine Jesus’ words very carefully. In John 6:45 Jesus said:
It is written…
These are powerful words. They are the same words that Jesus used to answer challenges from Satan, and from the religious Jews. “It is written” is a powerful appeal to what God has already said! Who is Jesus answering this time from the context of the “It is written” statement in John 6:45? If we look back at verses 41 and 42, we see the Jews grumbled about Jesus’ claim to be the bread that came down from Heaven. In verse 43 Jesus answered and “said to them” (the grumbling Jews). Jesus tells them not to grumble, and then Jesus gives an amazing revelation to them starting in verse 44.
John 6:44 is Jesus’ response to the grumbling of the Jews
John 6:44 (NASB) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
Jesus said in John 6:38 that He is the one who had come down from Heaven, but the Jews did not believe Him. Jesus equates “coming” to Him with “believing” in Him. So when the Jews were grumbling against Jesus, they were not believing Him and not coming to Him in faith. Jesus makes it clear that no one can come to Him, no one can believe in Him, unless the Father draws him. Jesus answers the grumbling of the Jews by taking them to what God has already said. Jesus’ statement and His meaning will be confirmed by the witness of Scripture.