WALKING AMONG THE TULIPS: REFORMED THEOLOGY IN JOHN SERIES (PART EIGHT)

By Colton Corter

Irresistible Grace (3)
John 6:37 was previously discussed in the section of Unconditional Election. Again we see the inherent interconnectedness of these doctrines. How wonderfully coherent is our God! The verse reads: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” The beginning of the verse shows the reality of God’s electing grace. The Father has chosen to save out of the mass of rebellious humanity. Instead of appeasing His wrath on them, He gives them to Christ that He might pave the way by His blood to the Father’s house (Jn 14:1-3). The key in this verse, as far as the doctrine of irresistible grace goes, is the word “will.” God does call a man with such a certainty. God invites but also compels. There is no question as to if the sinners will or will not forsake themselves and run to Christ. All that the Father gives will come to Christ. Paul in Romans 8 later echoes this beautiful promise. Verses 29-30 in Romans 8 has rightly been called the “Golden Chain of Salvation.” All those who God predestines, he also calls. There is no separation. Later, in John 6:44, Jesus says that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws them. This is an effectual drawing, especially in the context of John 6. This drawing is much more than a simple asking. There again is a certainty, a finality about the drawing in mind here in John. These doctrines were hard to hear for the 1st century people (and they don’t fair too well today). Jesus explains again in verse 65 that no one can come unless granted by the faith. This statement is qualified in verse 63. The verse reads: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” The reasons these doctrines are welcomed by some and not others is the work of the Spirit who alone can give life. The flesh cannot perceive spiritual things. Only the born-again can treasure such things. The flesh has nothing to do with regeneration, as there is no capacity for life in it. The human being is radically dependent on the grace of God in effectual calling.

Irresistible Grace (4)
Back to the wonderful John 10 and Christ, the good shepherd. We have already observed Christ’s eye for the nations. God certainly has many who are not yet in the fold of God. What is our confidence that these sheep will come? Verse 16 says it is because they will listen to his voice. It is this that will bring together one flock. There is no room for doubt in the plans of God for His people and their satisfaction in His sovereign grace. This is why we lead with the word of truth, the gospel of Christ. It is in the gospel that God has placed the power, the voice of God if you please. The gospel is powerful unto salvation and since Christ has entrusted us with the gospel to be faithful, we go forth with it knowing that God will save those who are His.

Irresistible Grace (5)
Now let us indulge in some systematic theology here in John. John 12:32 has often be proposed as another proof text against Calvinistic soteriology. “See!” it is said, “The verse says that God draws all people to Himself.” We must see how this verse fits within the context of the whole Bible. We have already seen in John 6 that drawing is more than an invitation that one might accept or reject. This drawing is as determined as God’s election. So if this text is taken to mean that all people are drawn in the same way, then universalism is the only alternative. If all men are effectually draw, then all men are saved. But all are not saved. So how are we to take this verse? We must see what “all people” means. It is more likely that “all people” refers to all kinds of people. This is talking about the variety people saved, not every single individual person. This may seem like dodging a text, cramming it to fit a system derived by men. However, we are merely trying to be faithful to the Scripture and to the pattern of sound words that arises from it. If the Spirit has inspired both texts then they are both truth. It is much more biblically and exegetically faithful to take this passage in light of the reality of Revelation 5 where people from all tribes, tongues and nations will be present under the justification that is through faith.
Irresistible grace is our only hope. Apart from the monergistic work of the Spirit, no one would come to Christ. There is fullness of joy resting in the sovereign work of God. This doctrine rids us of any glory we can take for our salvation. God’s glory is further magnified when He saves in complete sovereignty those who were enemies at the time.


 

Colton Corter is a student at SBTS. He is a member of Third Avenue Baptist Church and you can follow him on Twitter @coltonMcorter.

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