April 23 – Drawn to Christ

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44

Jesus Christ is the One who introduces men and women to God. Those whom He ushers into the Father’s presence all have a loathing of their sin, a desire to be forgiven, and a longing to know God. Those attitudes are the work of God in drawing us to Christ. A response to the gospel message thus begins with a change in attitude toward sin and God.

Beyond that initial change in attitude is the transformation brought about in every believer at the instant of salvation. Christ didn’t die just to pay the penalty for sin: He died to transform us.

Deserted by most of His followers, Christ hung in darkness and agony on the cross, crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). Those were moments that Jesus felt incredible rejection and hostility. Yet out of those very circumstances Christ triumphed by atoning for sin and providing a way for men and women to be introduced to God and transformed. It was a triumph He Himself would soon proclaim (1 Pet. 3:19–20).[1]


Then Jesus uttered some very solemn words: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” emphasizing man’s helplessness and utter inability to respond to Him apart from God’s sovereign call. Unbelievers are unable to come to Jesus on their own initiative (cf. the discussion of verse 37 above). If God did not irresistibly draw sinners to Christ, no one would ever come to Him.

To explain how lost sinners supposedly have the power to accept or reject the gospel of their own free will, some theologians introduce the concept of prevenient grace. Millard J. Erickson explains,

As generally understood, prevenient grace is grace that is given by God to all men indiscriminately. It is seen in God’s sending the sunshine and the rain upon all. It is also the basis of all the goodness found in men everywhere. Beyond that, it is universally given to counteract the effect of sin.… Since God has given this grace to all, everyone is capable of accepting the offer of salvation; consequently, there is no need for any special application of God’s grace to particular individuals. (Christian Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985], 3:920)

But the Bible indicates that fallen man is unable, of his own volition, to come to Jesus Christ. Unregenerate people are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13), slaves to unrighteousness (John 8:34; Rom. 6:6, 17, 20), alienated from God (Col. 1:21), and hostile to Him (Rom. 5:10; 8:7). They are spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4) captives (2 Tim. 2:26) trapped in Satan’s kingdom (Col. 1:13), powerless to change their sinful natures (Jer. 13:23; Rom. 5:6), unable to please God (Rom. 8:8), and incapable of understanding spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14; cf. John 14:17). Although the human will is involved in coming to Christ (since no one is saved apart from believing the gospel—Mark 1:15; Acts 15:7; Rom. 1:16; 10:9–15; Eph. 1:13), sinners cannot come to Him of their own free will. (Moreover, a comparison of verse 44 with verse 37 shows that God’s drawing cannot apply to all unregenerate people, as proponents of prevenient grace argue, because verse 37 limits it to the redeemed whom God has given to Christ.) God irresistibly, efficaciously draws to Christ only those whom He chose for salvation in eternity past (Eph. 1:4–5, 11).

Once again, Jesus repeated the wonderful promise that all whom the Father chooses will be drawn, will come, will be received, and He will raise them on the last day (vv. 39–40, 54). Everyone who comes to Christ will be kept by Him; there is no possibility that even one elect person given to Him by the Father will be lost (see the discussion of v. 39 above).[2]


6:44 Man in himself is utterly hopeless and helpless. He does not even have the strength to come to Jesus by himself. Unless the Father first begins to work in his heart and life, he will never realize his terrible guilt and his need of a Savior. Many people have difficulty with this verse. They suppose that it teaches that a man may desire to be saved and yet might find it impossible. This is not so. But the verse does teach in the strongest possible way that God is the One who first acted in our lives and sought to win us to Himself. We have the choice of accepting the Lord Jesus or refusing Him. But we never would have had the desire in the first place if God had not spoken to our hearts. Again the Lord added the promise that He will raise every true believer up at the last day. As we have seen before, this refers to the coming of Christ for His saints, when the dead will be raised and the living will be changed. It is a resurrection of believers only.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 128). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 252–253). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1504). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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