John 6:37-40 - The Sovereignty of God, Man’s Free Will
Some of God’s ways we will never understand as fully as others, for “the secret things belong to the Lord” (Deut. 29:29). (Isaiah 55:9) tells us that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways. And that is certainly true when it comes to the doctrine of election.
In (Ephesians 1:4–6) Paul writes, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Those verses reveal the past aspect of God’s eternal plan of salvation.
Through this 6th Chapter of John there are many references to Jesus being sent by the Father (6:29,38,39,40,44,57). So there is no question as to whom Jesus was referring to when He said “to believe on Him whom He has sent (v.29). There is not question that Jesus Christ is the one whom was sent from the Father. 33 times in Johns gospel this is declared. But what is the will of Him who sent Him (v.39,40)? It is God’s will that you have everlasting life (2 Peter 3:9). But what I want to focus on today for the rest of our time in the Scriptures is what Jesus said in (6:37), “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
A. The Two Sides Of the Same Coin
1. Predestination—Divine Election—God’s Sovereignty
a) All That The Father Gives Me Will Come To Me (v.37, 44, 65).
It is interesting to note that this did bring a division among the disciples (v.66). It is also interesting that the doctrine of Divine Election & Predestination still brings division. There are a lot of people that are unable to handle the doctrine of Divine Election & Predestination & it brings a division within the church the body of Christ.
Predestination — the biblical teaching that declares the sovereignty of God over human beings in such a way that the freedom of the human will is also preserved. Two major concepts are involved in the biblical meaning of predestination:
1) God, Who Is All-Powerful In The Universe — who has control over the affairs of nature and history (Is. 45:9–19; Rom. 8:18–39), has foreknown and predestined the course of human history and the lives of individuals. If He were not in complete control of human events, He would not be sovereign and, thus, would not be God.
2) God’s Predestination Of Human Events Does Not Eliminate Human Choice —
A thorough understanding of how God can maintain His sovereignty and still allow human freedom seems to be reserved for His infinite mind alone. Great minds have struggled with this problem for centuries.
Two views of predestination — are prominent today.
1) Calvinism holds that God offers irresistible grace to those whom he elects to save, in other words “You will be saved or damned for all eternity because you were saved or damned from all eternity, you have no choice in the matter.
2) Arminianism insists that God’s grace is the source of redemption but that it can be resisted by people through free choice. In Calvinism, God chooses the believer; in Arminianism, the believer chooses God.
The term predestination is not used in the Bible — and although it is not used in the Bible, it is taught. The apostle Paul uses a form of the same word in (Ephesians 1:4,11).
1) God has predestined us to be conformed into the image of His Son (Rom.8:28-30)
2) Our names have been written in the Book of life before anything was created (Rev.17:8) & this should cause us to rejoice (Luke 10:20). This is what determines our final entrance into the heavenly kingdom—If you name is not written in this book you are cast into the lake of fire (Rev.20:15). Your name must be in it or you will not be in the heavenly city (Revelation 21:27).
3) It Was Then That Our Inheritance In God’s Kingdom Was Determined (Matt. 25:34).
4) Christians are to make their calling and election certain by growing in godliness (2 Pet. 1:2–11) as they respond with gratitude to God’s electing love (Col. 3:12–17).
5) God has prepared good works for us that we should walk in them (Eph.2:10).
6) God has chosen Christians to bear the image and glory of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Thess. 2:14).
7) They have been elected to be holy in conduct, like Christ (Eph. 1:4). Like Him, they are also to be glorified in their whole being in the life to come (2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21).
8) The ultimate goal of our election is that we might bring praise and glory to God (Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:33; 2 Thess. 2:13).
9) This should cause us to give thanks to God for choosing us (2 Thess.2:13; 1 Thess.1:4-5)
10) All Christians agree that creation is moving within the purpose of God. This purpose is to bring the world into complete conformity to His will (Rom. 8:28).
11) From the very beginning of time, God predestined to save humankind by sending His Son to accomplish salvation. Thus, “God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
The doctrine of predestination does not mean that God is unjust, in deciding that some people will be saved and that others will be lost.
1) We are not condemned because we have no opportunity to be saved, but a person is condemned because he makes a choice not to believe (John 3:18).
2) In John 5:40 Jesus said, “But you are not willing to come to Me, that you may have life.”
3) I believe that God's grace and mercy can be resisted by us. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Jesus clearly acknowledges the fact of human resistance and rejection (John 12:46-48)
4) Clearly, God's grace can either be resisted or received by the exercise of human free will (Acts 7:51; Rom.10:21; Heb.10:26,29).
5) The unsaved are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Election Alone Does Not Result In The Salvation Of People.
To be sure that election assures that those chosen will be saved, but it alone does not save them. People are saved through faith in the substitutionary death of Christ. Therefore, election, the death of Christ, testimony of His death, and personal faith are all necessary in the salvation of an individual. Election alone does not save (1 Tim.4:10).
In Chapter 10:26-30 Jesus said, “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
b) The Message of Jesus Created a Division.
Now its interesting how that many times the messages that Jesus preached did not attract people to Him but created a division (6:66) but here we read that the Jews took up stones again to stone Him (v.31) to the declaration that “I and My Father are one” (v.30).
1) In John 15:16 Jesus Said To His Disciples: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
2) Many Times In John’s Gospel Jesus refers to the ones that the “Father has given Him (6:37,39; 17:2,6,9,11,24; 10:29).
3) So Jesus Keeps Referring To Those Who Have 1) come to Him, 2) to those who believe in Him, 3) as those whom the Father has given to Him, 4) declaring that no man can come to Him lest the Father whom has sent Him draws him. A person cannot come, Jesus said, unless the Father is drawing him to Me (v.44).
4) Salvation Is A Process & A Work Of God even to the drawing unto Jesus Christ to those whom God will and that no man can come unless that Father draws him (v.44) THESE ARE THE WORDS OF JESUS. And as I pointed it out and you were able to read, over and over again this was making reference to those who the Father had given to Him (6:37,39; 17:2,6,9,11,24; 10:29).
5) And So To The Saint’s Of God That Are Here Today, the Scripture is quite clear that God loved you and chose you before the foundations of the earth (Eph.1:4), that you should believe on His Son whom He sent and that through your believing in Him God would give you eternal life. And to you who have come to Jesus Christ you came because of the work of the Father drawing you to the Son.
6) Now To You Who Are Here Today Who Do Not Believe that God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world, I don’t know, it is quite possible that God did not choose you. On the other hand He may have chosen you but as yet you haven’t chosen Him. But there is only one way that you can find out whether or not God did choose you, & that’s by:
1. Receiving Jesus Christ into your life, coming to Him, believing in Him & the moment you do you’ll find that God did choose you. For Jesus said that “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out (v.37).
7) So Its An Interesting Kind Of A Situation Here: “you really cant come unless that Father draws you & has given you to His Son, to watch over you, to keep you & to sustain you & to give you eternal life that He might raise you up at the last day. But the only way you can find out whether or not you’ve been chosen by God and ordained by God to eternal life is to “receive Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior.” And the moment you come to Him & receive Him you will discover that God chose you before the foundations of the world (Eph.1:4).
B. The Other Side of the Coin
1. Mans Free Will — Make a Choice.
a) You Are Called To Choose the God That You Will Serve. Man Must Exercise His Free Will, God Will Not Force You To Choose Him.
1) Joshua – Throughout the entire Bible men have been called upon to make the choice as to whom they will serve. When Joshua stood before the children of Israel at the end of his ministry, he gathered together Israel and he said to them: “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14), but they were called upon to make the choice as every man is called upon to make the choice. And so you are called upon to choose the god that you will serve. Whether it be the gods of the flesh, or the true and living God (John 17:3), that’s something you must choose.
2) Elijah — When Elijah stood before the children of Israel on mount Carmel having gathered the 450 prophets of Baal and having challenged them to the contest of letting the true God prove Himself, building the altars, placing the sacrifice on the altars but not placing any fire under the sacrifices and let the prophets of Baal pray to Baal to see if he will answer by fire. And Elijah the lone prophet of God will pray to God & the God who answers by fire let Him be the God. But Elijah said to the people, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21), make you choice whom you are going to serve!
b) Whosoever, Anybody May Come!—Jesus was always using words like “whosoever”
(John 3:16; 6:37,40; 7:37; 11:26 Romans 10:13; Rev.22:17; ). And even in our text here in (John 6:37) Jesus says “the one whom comes to Me” & yet you cannot come unless the Father draws you. Now, the gospel is given to every man and is open to all.
q But there is an interesting Scripture in the book of Acts (13:48), “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Isn’t that interesting? Some believed, some did not, “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
2. Jumping To Conclusions
a) We Must Get the Gospel Out (2 Tim.2:10)!
Now whenever you begin to talk about Divine Election & Predestination, we begin to jump to logical conclusions & then we begin to make illogical assumptions from our logical conclusions.
1) So often times when the subject of Predestination & Election is brought up, having been chosen by God, cannot come accept by the Father drawing you, people will say:
(a) “If God then has ordained & elected those who are going to be saved, its not necessary for us to be concerned or worried about missions, because if their going to be saved their going to be saved.
(b) In fact I don’t even have to worry about myself, “If God’s ordained me to be saved I’ll be saved & it doesn’t really matter then what I do, I can live as I please, do as I please & if I’m going to be saved I’m going to be saved, & if I’m not going to be saved God knows I’m not going to be saved & so I might as well just live it up while I am here & find out where I going to be for all eternity when I get there, wherever that is.” That is not Biblical, Election is not to be a source of complacency (2 Pet. 1:10-12). Election is not to be a source of presumption (Rom. 11:19–22) on the part of Christians.
3. Reconciling the Two
a) How Do We Deal With This, How Do We Reconcile These Things?
By “Acknowledging That We Don’t Know & Don’t Understand The Ways Of God (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Deut.29:29). You see the problem lies in this foreknowledge of God & when the Bible of predestination it also speaks foreknowledge (Romans 8:28-30).
God Is Omniscient—God Having As One Of His Attributes That Of Omniscience, He knows everything. Since God knows everything God cannot learn, for if God could learn something it means that He didn’t know it & therefore He was not omniscient. So if there is anything that is to ever by known God already knows it, because He knows everything. If God will every know who is going to be saved, then God has always known who is going to be saved.
b) Therefore, Having Known On The Basis Of His Foreknowledge, He Has Predestined.
Know that does not, as we would logically assume, that does not rule out mans choice to choose God, for God has still given to man the choice, it just so happens He knows the choice your going to make.
“God is not willing,” the Bible tells, “that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), and therefore, God has provided salvation for all men. The door is open to all, “Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev.22:17), this is one of that last invitations in the Bible… “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me (Rev.3:20). God has not precluded or excluded any person from salvation & eternal life. He has made the same offer to all men, but having omniscience, God knows the decision & the choices that men will make, & therefore on the basis of that foreknowledge He could say that you were chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world because He knew before the foundations of the world what choices you would make because He knows everything & still man has that choice.
c) So If You End Up In Hell, You Really Cannot Accuse God Of Not Being Fair With You
You cannot say that God didn’t give you a chance, for God gives to everyman the opportunity the door is open to all. Again Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). But you see where we get into trouble is that we are trying to think as God thinks & you cant.
1) How Do You Think When You Know Everything? Do you even have to think? We don’t know what it would be like to think knowing everything. We choose and hope, God chooses and waits because He knows the outcome & He knows when the response how the response & what it will take to create the response.
2) Know God Gives Equal Opportunities To All Men & God has put the ball in your court & God has declared you must choose whom you will serve and that you must come & if you come He “will not cast you out” (6:37) & you wont be saved without coming & if you come you wont be cast out & yet there are many who do come & there are many who don’t come & God always knew who would come & who wouldn’t come.
3) Therefore God Made His Choice On That Knowledge but that’s where He loses us because we cannot reason, we cannot think, we cannot even imagine what it would be like to be able to know everything, & therefore being able to make our choices on the basis of knowing everything.
4) Imagine What It Would Be Like If You Had That Kind Of Foreknowledge what you could do with the California lottery. Know if you had that kind of knowledge & you bought your Lotto card & you knew exactly what numbers were going to be chosen, would you choose numbers on your Lotto card that were not going to be chosen? You would be sort of stupid if you did & God’s not stupid. You would choose only winners because you know which numbers are going to win so you would choose only winners that only logical. That’s what thrill me and gives me such comfort that God chose me, because He doesn’t choose losers & that’s what Jesus said basically that it “is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing” (6:39). Jesus has committed Himself to keeping me, because the Bible says that I am kept by the power of God through my faith in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:5) & knowing that Jesus has committed Himself to keeping me gives me great comfort, because I know that I cant keep myself.
4. A Lot Of People Want To Fault God
a) People say that God isn’t fair, & if you think about it this is quite an accusation against God.
1) God Is Absolutely Fair & Just.
(a) Surely God has the right to choose if He wants to doesn’t He? Why would you fault God for wanting to choose? Do you want to choose whom your going to spend your life with? Or do you want someone just dumped on you?
(b) When I asked Kristi to marry me, she had a choice in the matter & and I also had a choice in asking her. So if you want that freedom of choice in who you want to spend the rest of your life with, why should you object for God choosing who He is going to spend eternity with?
(c) On the other hand, don’t you want the freedom of choice to not marry any body at all if you don’t want to? And in like manner God will give you the choice of not spending eternity with Him if you don’t want to, He will not force you to choose Him, you have a choice in the matter (Rev.3:20). Therefore we should not object to God being able to choose as well.
(d) I don’t fault, argue, or challenge God for having the capacity of choice, because He chose me. Now if He didn’t choose me I might challenge Him but I wouldn’t believe in Him anyhow so I wouldn’t challenge Him because I did not believe in Him & that’s why I wasn’t chosen because He knew I wouldn’t believe.
2) So Jesus Said, “All That The Father Gives Me Will Come To Me, And The One Who Comes To Me I Will By No Means Cast Out.” There you have it, both sides of the coin in one verse,
(a) God’s Sovereignty in Predestination & the capacity of man’s free will. All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, so those that have come have been given to Jesus by the Father,
(b) But on the other side of the coin, “whoever comes to me I will not cast out.” That opens the door to all of you, every man predestined or not, chosen or not, elected or not. If you will just come to Jesus Christ you have His word He will not reject you. No one will be able to ever say, “Well the Lord didn’t want me, I wanted so bad to be a Christian, I prayed and I cried and I wanted to follow Jesus & live my life for Him and spend eternity with Him, but the Lord just didn’t want me, He said “no, sorry, cant come in.” No one can accuse the Lord of that.
So the door is open to all men, but not all will come, not all have been drawn by the Father, not all have been ordained to eternal life, & yet the door is open to all, the opportunity is there for all, God has made salvation equally available to all men (1Tim.2:4; 4:10; Titus 2:11), & yet God is Sovereign in Salvation.
5. Perhaps This Is No Better Illustrated Than On The Cross Itself.
a) God’s Sovereignty At the Cross.
1) The Two Thieves Hurling Assaults (Matt.27:38-44) — For as Jesus hung there on the cross there were two thieves & in the beginning of the crucifixion both of the men had joined with the crowd in blaspheming & mocking Jesus, hurling assaults at Him.
2) One Thief’s Believes In Jesus (Luke 23:32-42) — But after a few hours on the cross, about three, the day began to ware on, the pain & suffering was taking its toll as the muscles beginning to give away & the flesh was beginning to tear & breathe was hard to come by, & so as this process was taking place, the one thief near Jesus said, “Hey man if you’re the son of God why don’t you get off of that thing & get us off to? And the other said, “Hey nock it off man, that’s enough, don’t you have any respect, don’t you fear God? Were here because we deserve to be here, but this man has done nothing wrong, & turning to Jesus he said, “Lord, when you come into your kingdom, will you remember me?
(a) Wait A Minute Man, What Are You Talking About Coming Into His Kingdom! He’s on a cross! How do you know he’s got a kingdom? Above the cross Pilate had written, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19), but He’s dying. Even the disciples were being thrown a curve, even they were doubting now because of the crucifixion, yes they believed in the Kingdom, but not now, their hopes for the kingdom were being destroyed as Jesus was hanging there on the cross.
(b) And yet where in the world did this thief get that kind of faith to know that though He is dying, yet He is coming into His kingdom? Again he said, “when you come into your Kingdom will you remember me”? That can only happen by the Father drawing Him (John 6:44). Faith that was planted in his heart by the Father.
3) Now, Here Are Two Men, They Are Equally As Close To Jesus & they are equally close to eternity & within hours they will both be dead.
(a) One will spend his eternity in the Kingdom of God, & the other will spend his eternity separated from God. Equally close, equally exposed, both of them could read the inscription hanging over Jesus, one saved, one lost, the Sovereignty of God in salvation.
(b) That should cause you to rejoice, rejoice that God chose you & loved you & ordained that you should be His child.
(c) That you should have eternal life, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:37-38). Surely that was manifested in the Garden before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will”(Matt.26:39). For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.