This Week's Focus Passage

‘No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him.’

Focus Passage: John 6:44

‘No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him.’

This is the very first verse of Holy Scripture that, in my best memory, was ever set before me to demonstrate the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. It matters little, or not at all, whether this was discovered in a sermon or in a book, whether in the form of commentary or in the form of a devotional treatise. The conclusion that both my heart and my mind immediately reached—by the grace of God, of course—was the indisputable reality of what our Lord Jesus Christ was saying. The entire argument of those believing in the free will of man—accompanied by the ability necessary for compliance—is that based upon the word here employed by our Savior, namely can. That simple word embodies the entirety of the question that was entertained by Job and others, How can man be just with God? There is just one command of God in answer to Job’s query, Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16:31. This was the explicit direction given to the Philippian jailer by Paul and Silas in response to his question, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Is this not the question, per se, of most as they begin to enquire of themselves regarding their position before their Creator God? John Bunyan, in his lovely and influential allegory; his classic, the Pilgrim’s Progress, illustrates this position in the person of his pilgrim, at the very beginning, since question is indeed the beginning for every person who has ever entered upon the pilgrimage from this world to the next; from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Bunyan has his pilgrim lamenting his most despicable position in the words of a most desperate tone. Evangelist has come upon him as Bunyan’s Dreamer tells us in the following brief and pithy language:

“I saw also that he looked this way and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still, because as I perceived, he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and asked, Wherefore dost thou cry? He answered, Sir, I perceive by the book in my hand that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second.”

The Pilgrim is not willing to die in his present state with these judgments hanging over his head. He is not able to come to judgement, for he has nothing to say in his defense; the Book has found him guilty in all that it pronounces, and he is helpless. His fearful state is pictured for us by the awful burden upon his back; he knows not whence, nor how, to remove that burden and he cannot come to judgment with it. This is what Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones aptly referred to as ‘The Plight of Man.’

What does the world offer as a method for the removal of this burden? What we mean to say is, what do men—even men of the cloth, as some call them—offer to those whose spirits are thus disturbed? We knew such a man once. He had made a profession of faith; he had begun reading Scripture regularly; he was conspicuous in his attendance upon worship services; he was recognized by the ‘household of faith’ as a child of God. Surely, if he was not such, there were none! Yet, as he read in his Book; as he mused upon the path of his supposed coming to faith, he was made to recognize glaring holes in the pattern. But when he suggested to some among those whom he considered guides to pilgrims, he was told that he was troubling himself over trifles; he was making ‘much ado over nothing.’ And so there was really nothing for him to do, since it was asserted that he had done all things needful.

Attending other church services than those to which he had accustomed himself; churches and services ostensibly more ‘evangelical,’ the direction given by them was for him to ‘say the sinner’s prayer,’ ‘to come down the aisle,’ ‘raise his hand,’ when the invitation to do so was given. But he knew enough of his heart and thought to know that in all these ‘works,’ even if works should avail anything, that there was not sincerity. His heart was not right with God; his righteousnesses—that is, his works—were all less than filthy rags. So, with Bunyan’s pilgrim, he found himself with his Book in his hand, and still weeping, ‘What must I do?’ It was at this point in his experience that, in God’s merciful Providence, he was confronted with this asseveration, No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him. No man, not any man, no person whatever, can!! The operative word here is can, or we should say, cannot, for it is in the negative, no man can.

This is that wonderful truth that has confronted multitudes that have set out on pilgrimage for the Celestial City. No man can, but God can! We happily read the words of our Lord from Matthew 19:26, And Jesus looking upon them said to them, With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible. There are no ‘cannots’ for God. And so men often view this passage of Scripture, when they view it for the first time—or even perhaps the first many times—with despair. If no man can come unto God, and I must come unto God if ever I am to be saved, what then am I to do? We stand like Bunyan’s pilgrim between the proverbial rock and a hard place, it seems. Yet the very text itself points us in the direction of the answer that we require. Do not be satisfied to read only the first part of the statement without having read the entirety of the wonderful sentiment expressed; even as the verse we cited above from Matthew 19:26, if read in that manner, could lead to desperation. Who can be saved? was the question asked when Jesus responded, With men this is impossible. But the ‘rest of the story’ is that wonderful BUT, but with God all things are possible. Parallel with that is our focus verse this week. Yes, it is absolutely true that no man can come to me, and it is equally and absolutely true, except the Father that sent me draw him. So the thoughtful pilgrim would reasonably begin crying unto God to draw him unto Himself, would he not? Rather that arguing with the innumerable proponents of man’s free will, argue with God to make you willing in the day of His power to come unto Him; plead for God to so draw you as to be made willing. This has been the joyful experience of many in the history of the church of Jesus Christ. If you have begun to cry with the Philippian jailer, what must I do to be saved? it is most likely a sign that God has already begun to draw you.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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