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.
What comes before the giving in John 6:37? Nothing according to Dr. James White on his October 23, 2017 podcast of the Dividing Line Program (segment starts at 1 hr 2 min 30 second mark). But is James White correct that John 6:37 shows that only unbelievers are given to Jesus? Let’s walk through the context of this verse and compare it to what Dr. White claims is the only proper way to understand this passage.
An important note:
Dr. White defines those who disagree with him as “Anti-Calvinist”, in particular, he identifies a “lady anti-Calvinist”. I appreciate that James White remembers that he reviewed my work on John 6 on the Dividing Line a few years ago. However, for many of us, the term anti-Calvinist is not true or fair. One can vigorously disagree without having an “anti” label attached. Does James White call himself an anti-nonCalvinist? I have never heard him refer to himself that way. …
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.
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.
John 6:41-42 (NASB) 41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?”
What were the Jews grumbling about?
41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him…
The Jews were grumbling about Jesus Himself! The Greek word that is translated grumbling, means to speak against someone in a complaining way. The BDAG lexicon shows it this way:
Just like their fathers
Just as the Israelites in the wilderness grumbled against God, so the Jews in Jesus’ day showed their unbelief by grumbling against Jesus.
What was it that Jesus said that caused all the grumbling? John doesn’t leave us guessing.
41 …because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”