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.…
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.”
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? …
This is an update on my personal health. I decided to create a personal blog so that the updates on my personal health won’t clog up my ministry blog. I have posted an update on my fight against cancer here.
This is an update to my transitions post. On August 6th, 2013 I was scheduled for surgery to remove cancer. The surgery did not happen. At the time that the surgeon came to see me before I was wheeled into the operating room, he rechecked the site, and he was concerned that cancer might have spread to the skin which made surgery a risk. He consulted with a cancer specialist at a nearby Cancer hospital, and he was advised that the treatment plan should be reversed and after taking a biopsy of the skin lumps, I should have chemotherapy as a first line of attack against the cancer. We prayed for wisdom for the surgeon, and so we must believe that God is involved in the process. The disappointment was that I had waited three weeks to get into surgery and there would be another wait to find an available doctor who could administer chemo. I like in a small community with only one cancer doctor, and the oncologists at the nearby cancer clinic are all booked up with new patients waiting three weeks to get into the system.
Yesterday my family doctor came to the rescue, and he got the ball rolling by pulling some strings on my behalf. I will enter the “path” of cancer treatment today with a specially arranged appointment at the hospital with the cancer doctor’s assistant. He will begin the work to stage this cancer to see how far it has gone and complete all of my tests and blood work up to date so that the day the cancer doctor comes back from vacation I can be bumped directly into the chemotherapy program without a wait to be processed.
Bumps along the path
I am experiencing leg pain, and I have a concern that the cancer has already spread to the bone. Or it could just be my sciatic nerve acting up. I am also experiencing tiredness, but this is likely from the new cancer-fighting tea that I was recommended by a friend. The tiredness may just be the way my body is fighting the intruder who has invaded my body. For those who have subscribed to my blog and are following my progress, could you please pray that this aggressive cancer is held back from spread until I can get treatment to shrink and destroy this cancer? Please also pray for strength as I have much ministry work to do, and I would like to carry on unhindered.
Update from August 24, 2013
On Friday I was rushed to emergency with abdominal pain and my body had gone into shock with very low blood pressure, a low heart rate, and I was as white as a sheet as I struggled to keep from passing out. The tests showed very high lipase in my blood, ten times the normal high rate. The doctor is not exactly sure what went wrong. It could be my pancreas, but the thought is that it was a withdrawal from the steroids that I was given during the time of my chemo treatment and the days afterward. My prayer request is that God will help the doctor to find out how to manage my drugs so that I do not have a reaction like that again. It was a very scary experience.
I developed a blog for my personal health and spiritual journey so that this blog will stay focused on my writing on John 6. You can find my new personal journey blog called On the Path here.
In life there are transitions. As Christians, we go through many transitions as we grow in Christ and become all that we can be with His amazing grace. Today I would like to post about a new challenge in life that involves an area of transition for me. It is about a struggle with cancer that I am facing as I fight for my life.
I am still dedicated to serving the Lord Jesus in the ministry that He has called me to. As I continue to work on this DVD project The Giving, I will need every ounce of strength that He provides, as my work will be interrupted by surgery and further treatment as the doctors consider necessary. I will continue to post on The Giving blog, but I may not be as fast as I would like. Check the subscribe area on the right-hand side to follow my posts and to check out my personal journey.
As I fight this battle for life against an enemy that wants to stop my work and end my life, if you are inclined to pray for me, I would be very grateful. I have been eighteen years cancer free, but it has come back with a vengeance. It is an aggressive enemy, but our God is able. I choose to serve God with every breath that He gives me. There are 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord, even when we are sick. Here is a link to a song that was sent to me to bless me, and I hope that it will bless you as well.
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 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.
The verse that is the most ignored by Calvinists in their own proof text is John 6:27, and within the verse, in particular, a specific phrase. Calvinists prefer to start their focus in John 6 with verse 37, but it is vital to discuss all of Jesus’ words to the crowd, so that we do not miss out on the truth presented in verse 27.
Jesus makes a promise
In John 6:27 Jesus makes a promise that lays the foundation for the important words that will follow. Jesus said:
John 6:27 (NASB) “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
To understand this verse, we need to know who Jesus is talking to.
To whom is Jesus talking to?
John 6:26 (NASB) Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Jesus is speaking to the crowd that had been fed by the bread and had followed Jesus. But they were not following Him because they had faith, but because they had a physical need met. Jesus exposes their motive for following Him in verse 26.…
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: …