This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: John 6:44 ‘No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him

This Week’s Focus Passage: John 6:44

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

    This one great and marvelous verse epitomizes, we firmly believe, the teaching of the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of man; any man, woman, child.

We understand that the very first three words of this verse absolutely stick in the craw of unregenerate, sinful mankind, when the words unquestionably affirm the simple truth, no man can. Reality is that mankind, apart from the grace of our God, conspicuously, and without any reservation, recoil spontaneously, and immediately, when informed that there is anything that they cannot do; to be told they are helpless. This is the very last thing that they want to hear. It should be recognized, as well, that this understanding ‘sticks in the craw’ of many professing Christians, among whom are almost certainly true Christians. There are Arminians, and ‘free-willers’ that are not able to accepts this verse in any way, shape, or form. They are, it seems, inherently confounded by an ingrained, self-imposed, insistence upon the vigorous teaching, that man, even while affected [or, infected] by depravity, inherited from our common father, Adam, they are not saddled with ‘total depravity.’ To employ a metaphor here, the two, namely ‘depravity,’ and, ‘total depravity; the one implies that man, the children of Adam, has been ‘wounded’ by original sin, while the other, that is, total depravity, insists that man is born depraved in every aspect of his being. This does not mean, or intend to mean, that man is unable to do anything good. It does teach, however, that man is unable to do anything worthy of acceptance with God. A person may do many things that are good in, and of, themselves, but they are not pleasing unto God, in and of themselves: everything we do, as children of Adam, is tainted with sin. 

     Even when we may do something that, in itself, is right and true, it remains that our motives are not right; as we read, repeatedly, of the Pharisees who did such things as praying, and giving alms, we discover, through the very words of the Word of God Himself, Jesus, that they prayed to be seen of men; they gave alms to be seen of men; their motives were, sadly, involved in self-aggrandizement; they evidently loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God. To return to our text of John 6:44, however, the question before us is, can a man come, savingly, to Christ without God having drawn him to do so?  Our focus verse declares, absolutely, that the answer is a definite ‘no,’ he cannot. This is what offends those who believe, and very firmly, that man has been able to retain the vestiges of ability to come, in and of, themselves. They believe that man has some remnant of faith within themselves, which they can stir up, or kindle, or enflame, that will make it to be a force of will enabling them to do whatever their will guides them to do. This is blatant synergism in the face of the monergism plainly advocated by our Lord Jesus Christ in the text before us. No man can come! Except the Father!

    It is sad, and disappointing, as well, to discover someone with the academic credentials of the biblical commentator, Godet, expressing himself in terms, not so veiled, that smack of that very thing; namely, synergism. Perhaps a definition of the thing in question would be helpful. We are informed that “In Christian theology, synergism is the position of those who hold that salvation involves some form of co-operation between divine grace and human freedom. Synergism is upheld by the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox churches, and Methodist churches. It is an integral part of Arminian theology. When we are reminded of a fairly well-known claim of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that mankind are born Arminians. That is to say, they believe that they must contribute something to their salvation. This is, on the face of it, a reflection of the pride conspicuous in the behavior of Adam and Eve in the garden, when they succumbed to the tempter’s assertion that if they exercised their will about the tree, they would be like gods. The view also echoes one of the best known recorded songs of Frank Sinatra, ‘I did it my way.’ That reminds one of the well-known ‘adage,’ ‘it’s either my way, or the highway.’ With all due respect (whatever that means), soteriologically speaking, one’s my way is a highway to hell.   

    The commentator mentioned above, as we said, had favorable credentials.

Frederick Louis Godet taught (1851-1873) at Swiss Reformed Seminary. But when he commented upon John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him, he wrote the following; “We must observe the correlation of the subject he that sent me and the verb draw; the God who sends Jesus for souls, on the other hand, draws souls to Jesus. the two divine works, external and internal, answer to and complete each other. The happy moment in which they meet in the heart, and in which the will is thus gained, is that of the gift on God’s part, of faith on man’s part. Is not Godet evidencing his belief that salvation is synergism; ‘God’s part and man’s part? Is not the faith of which he speaks, itself, the gift? Many, along with ourselves believe that it is precisely what Paul teaches us in his letter to the church of Ephesus. In chapter two, we may read verses 8-10; where we find it said;

For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

With regard to an explanation of the phrase; through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, the American Dutch Reformed pastor, and commentator wrote:

    ‘That offered by A. T. Robertson. Commenting on this passage in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. IV, p. 525, he states, “Grace is God’s part, faith ours.” Without any hesitancy I answer, Robertson, to whom the entire world of New Testament scholarship is heavily indebted, does not express himself felicitously in this instance. This is true first because in a context in which the apostle places such tremendous stress on the fact that from start to finish man owes his salvation to God, to Him alone, it would have been very strange, indeed, for him to say, “Grace is God’s part, faith ours.” True though it be that both the responsibility of believing and also its activity are ours, for God does not believe for us, nevertheless, in the present context (verses 5-10) one rather expects emphasis on the fact that both in its initiation and in its continuation faith is entirely dependent on God, and so is our complete salvation.’—William Hendriksen.

    In order to embrace the case that Hendriksen makes while not giving up the biblical concept of ‘two or three witnesses,’ we will permit a brief statement from the inimitable J. C. Ryle, on this Johannine passage. Ryle has written, very simply, “We learn, for another thing, from this passage, man’s natural helplessness and inability to repent or believe. We find our Lord saying, “No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Until the Father draws the heart of man by His grace, man will not believe.” Amen.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church   


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