John Piper’s article “For Whom did Jesus Taste Death?” focuses on Piper’s premise that disallows Jesus from being a ransom sacrifice for all people. There are many parts of Piper’s article that I would like to address, but I will deal with them one at a time in individual posts. This post addresses Piper’s claim that our faith was purchased on the cross as a gift.
Was Our Faith Purchased on the Cross as a Gift?
In my last post, I addressed the question of whether there was one verified example of a man for whom Jesus did not die. For if there was such a man who did not have a kinsmen Redeemer, then Jesus could not have died for all. Similarly, if there is a biblical example supported by the testimony of Jesus that He died for one particular man who is now in hell, then the premise that it would be unjust for a man to be in hell if Jesus died for him, is untrue. So, what about the claim that faith is a gift purchased at the cross? John Piper says that one will believe this if “you believe as you ought to believe”.
And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ.
Where does the Bible say that your faith was purchased on the cross as a gift? Piper claims that Hebrews 10:14 shows that our sins were paid for and ultimately forgiven at the cross so that no judgment will ever fall on our head, no sin can be brought up against us, and the wrath of God was wiped out at the cross – before we were born! …
How does God harden a man’s heart? We know that God can and does harden hearts because the Bible tells us this, but how and why does God choose to do this? And if all people are created with pre-hardened hearts as some suggest, then why is it necessary for God to harden a man’s heart? Let’s consider a balanced view of God’s sovereignty.
Let’s also consider Pharaoh, a man NOT after God’s own heart.
WHY does God harden a man’s heart?
We know why God does things when He reveals it to us. God does harden some hearts because He said He does this and God tells us this is His desire.
Romans 9:18b …and He hardens whom He desires.
Whom does God desire to harden? It is not a mystery or a hidden secret. God has revealed His will to us in James 4:6.
James 4:6b …Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
The literal Greek in the screen print below shows God is against or He exhibits an expression opposition to the proud.
God desires to harden stubborn, prideful people who oppose Him. God sets Himself up in opposition to these prideful people as He opposes them.
We know that God opposed Pharaoh from what God told Moses. God intentionally elevated a stubborn, prideful man to the position of the highest authority in Egypt. God put that stubborn man on the throne. And then He hardened Him for a godly purpose.
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.
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.…
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 discussed the phrase in John 6, which Calvinists ignore from their own proof text passage. In this post, we will deal with John 6:28, 29.
John 6:28–29 (NASB)
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
When the crowd that had followed Jesus asked Him what they were to do to work the works of God, their question was about their moral or legal obligations before God to gain eternal life. Their question was about works (plural). Their question was also personal. “What work shall we do…?”, they asked.
In reply to the unbelieving crowd, Jesus responded, “this is the work of God” (a singular thing as opposed to plural works). This one (singular) thing is God’s work, in order that you believe in Him (Jesus) whom He (God) has sent.
In my post about Judas and the last supper, Colin Maxwell, a Calvinist responded to my post, although not responding on this blog, but on his twitter account @weeCalvin. He wrote that Luke’s account that listed Judas as being at the first celebration of the covenant in Jesus’ blood should be considered as a disputed passage. He considers Luke disputed not because he doesn’t believe that it is God-breathed, but because he doesn’t believe that it is written in chronological order. He also said that Matthew’s account where Jesus’ words show that Judas could not have been present, should be trusted as the chronological wording of Jesus so that Judas was not offered the wine and the bread representing Jesus’ death on the cross.
Let’s take a look at this issue carefully, trusting that God’s Word does not contradict itself.
How was the book of Luke written?
Let’s look at the testimony of Luke.
Luke 1:1–3 (NASB)
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,
2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
Luke’s purpose was to write out a consecutive, ordered account of the events that happened concerning Jesus and the gospel. That is his testimony.
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.
If we are to believe Calvinism, we would have to conclude that God is a “dragger.” Calvinists are quick to point out that in John 6:44 the term “draw” actually means “drag” and this is what God does to His elect who, in their unregenerate state, are both unwilling and unable to respond to Him in faith.
Taking the Biblical test
Let’s have a close look at the word “draw” to see what it actually means.
If we look up the Greek term for the biblical usage of the word for “draw” we can see that the primary meaning is to “attract.” There are other meanings for draw when animals, clothing, judgment and mistreatment are the context. For example, the Greek word can mean to “haul” in a net, or to “stretch” a piece of cloth.
It can also mean to drag a person out for the purpose of punishment, mistreatment or judgment:
My last post on Judas brought up a discussion of Jesus’ words about Judas and what it would have been like for him had he not been born.
Matthew 26:24 (NASB) “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
What is “good”?
There is no doubt that Jesus’ words are inspired. His words are also preserved in the Scripture so that we can learn things that we could not know without His revelation. Jesus gives a conditional statement about what would be “good” or “better” for Judas on the condition that he had died before he was born. Jesus said that for Judas to die before he was born would have been advantageous to Judas. Look at the range of the meanings for the word that Jesus chose to use:
What is the specific usage of the Greek word “kalon” in Matthew 26:24?
Let’s consider the specific usage determined by the BDAG lexicon (Bauer, Danker & Arndt) for Matthew 26:24 …
Is Judas a problem for your theology? He can be a problem if some of your beliefs come from tradition and not from the Scriptures. In this article, I would like to discuss the full Scriptural view of Judas and ask you to test your own understanding against what the Scripture reveals.
What was the history of Judas as one of the Disciples?
Judas was a follower of Jesus who was chosen with eleven others to be Jesus’ apostles.
Luke 6:13 (NASB) And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
As a disciple of Jesus, he was sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom and to do miracles.
Matthew 10:5–8 (NASB)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
Notice it was the twelve that Jesus sent out and Judas was among the twelve according to Matthew 10:4. Judas was given authority over sickness and the enemy just as the other apostles received. Jesus also said that the twelve were sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Matthew 10:16 (NASB) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
In the teaching of Calvinism, there is an election to salvation for some men while the rest of mankind are created without a hope of eternal life. In this understanding God has pre-determined from eternity past that all but the elect would remain in their sin and be lost forever. If Calvinism is true, then there is a portion of mankind that has been unconditionally chosen and guaranteed salvation because Jesus died for their sins and His death and resurrection guarantees their salvation without fail. Unconditional election is either true or false when tested by the Scriptures. May I share my view of the most famous of the elect in the Scriptures?
Was John one of the elect?
If I asked this question of a Calvinist, I am sure that he or she would answer “Yes.” After all, John had the Holy Spirit since he was in his mother’s womb. Jesus even said that John was the greatest so if anyone on earth should be one of the elect, it surely would be John. Let’s have a look at John’s election.
The Bible’s witness of John
Malachi 3:1 names John as God’s messenger:
Malachi 3:1 (NASB) “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me…
John preached in the wilderness where he drew great crowds. His work as a messenger of the Lord is prophesied in Isaiah: …