Thursday, December 14, 2006

John 6 and Election

I have here an piece of exegesis on John chapter 6 done by a speaker who is a leading apologist for a major branch of theology and whose name I do not remember. I had it saved to a draft for a few months and thought I would now just get some critical thoughts down regarding its accuracy. The following is that piece of scriptural interpretation from the speaker who's name I have misplaced.
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John 6 and Election:

We see clearly in John 6 that faith is the gift of God given only to those whom God has chosen. Jesus says in v. 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The words “comes” and “believes” in this sentence mutually interpret one another, so that both designate a coming and believing that saves, for those who come to Jesus and believe in him find life through his death.9 Two verses later we read, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). It is evident from v. 35 that “comes” is another way of speaking of believing. Furthermore, the coming and believing in both vv. 35 and 37 clearly refer to the actions of individuals, for John uses the third person singular.10 Verse 37 also teaches that all those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, and that all those who come will be received by the Son. In other words, all those given by the Father to the Son will believe in the Son. The text does not say that only some of those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, but all of those given will come and believe. It is clear that not all human beings come to the Son, for not all believe.11 So, only some come to the Son, and those who do come have been given by the Father to the Son, and all those given by the Father to the Son come, so that it follows that those who come do so because the Father has given them to the Son. Moreover, v. 44 clarifies that human beings who do not come to the Son have not been drawn by the Father. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Those who do not come refuse to believe because they were not given by the Father to the Son. We can conclude, then, that John 6 teaches individual election unto salvation. All those given by the Father to the Son will come to faith, whereas those not drawn by theFather cannot and will not come.__________________________


Here is the above text again with my comments intermingled in blue:

We see clearly in John 6 that faith is the gift of God given only to those whom God has chosen. Jesus says in v. 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
I think it's much more clear that this is a wide open invitation to, "whomever comes to me", than it a statement about who are, "those whom God has chosen". The word 'clearly' here would have to be strictly rhetorical and actually comes back to betray the speaker.

The words “comes” and “believes” in this sentence mutually interpret one another
No they don't. They are distinct by their seperation and individual use. As well as difference in definition. Yes, they have a pairing in the Greek however that pairing does not guarantee the tenuous point the speaker is trying to conclude.


so that both designate a coming and believing that saves, for those who come to Jesus and believe in him find life through his death.9
Come and believe here are two separate verbs and ideas. Both able to and intended to stand alone.


Two verses later we read, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). It is evident from v. 35 that “comes” is another way of speaking of believing.
Not evident to me. What is evident to me is that it is 'apart from' and 'precedes' believing.

Furthermore, the coming and believing in both vv. 35 and 37 clearly refer to the actions of individuals, for John uses the third person singular.10 Verse 37 also teaches that all those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, and that all those who come will be received by the Son.
It doesn’t say they are raised or saved, just recieved. Where else is recieved used synonymously with saved?

In other words, all those given by the Father to the Son will believe in the Son.
No, that they will just come.

The text does not say that only some of those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, but all of those given will come and believe.
Does it say ‘come and believe’? No, ‘come and not be caste out’.

It is clear that not all human beings come to the Son, for not all believe.

It does not say that. There's that 'clear' word again. Danger.


11 So, only some come to the Son, and those who do come have been given by the Father to the Son, and all those given by the Father to the Son come, so that it follows that those who come do so because the Father has given them to the Son. Moreover, v. 44 clarifies that human beings who do not come to the Son have not been drawn by the Father. “Noone can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Those who do not come refuse to believe because they were not given by the Father to the Son.

No, just that they were not drawn and therefore cannot believe.


We can conclude, then, that John 6 teaches individual election unto salvation.
Yes we can.


All those given by the Father to the Son will come to faith,
Where does this one come from. Someone forgot to explain this one. This statement has been rejected, please reinsert in the appropriate passage of scripture.


whereas those not drawn by the Father cannot and will not come.

We still can't be sure how it all works so just be glad you have an inkling of how part of it works and beware of any grand conclusions.

It's interesting, as you follow this thread of reasoning, and how after you go along and string all of these words together and come up with something sounding like a fairly convincing riddle, that you are left with absolutely no guarantee that you have the answer right. I think that sort of reasoning would be much more accessible to me if the pope had a bounty on my head such as he did on Calvin's. It lacks truth.

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We sometimes look inside the apostles words to see if there is even more meaning than they knew they were recieving, not the things they had heard during their time spent listening to Jesus and recited later on, but more meaning from what they were taught by the Spirit than they were even aware of themselves, as if we can somehow read their minds and recieve more than even they did...and satan beholds an opportunity. Don't let him have it._____________________________________

13 comments:

Bhedr said...

I see you are working through all of this. Tough stuff aint it?

Amen?

May the Lord continue to bless you as you seek to know him more. He is a wonderful God to discover.

One thing that was helpful to me in the past was thinking about people like the president who make sovereign choices like perhaps shooting down an airplane before it flies into a stronghold structure in our nation and cause mayhem. There are so many things that God chooses to do in his justice as well as revealing his love. Who can know the mind of God but I am convinced that it does indeed start with his plans and his power of Sovereign Choice. We may never know why..but we can know what. May the Lord continue to bless you with his love and favor that he has bestowed upon you in drawing you to himself.

Todd said...

Todd said...
I have no problem agreeing with you Brian.

I'm clear on the what, it's just the how, and I think the speaker in the post takes it somewhere farther than God's word does.

And I really find encouragement in your 'heart for the Lord' brother.

Bhedr said...

Thanks brother. You are a blessing and I am ignited by your love for God and desire to praise him in song. What a blessing you are.

I was thinking you wrote this. Did I miss the authors name? Silly me.

Bhedr said...

Oh I got you now. I went back and read the first paragraph again. Now I understand.

Todd said...

I'm not always clear enough. Unfortunately I could'nt track down exactly where I got it from so I saw no harm in just posting it as a leading theological interpretation and criticing it.

Get a load of this now. I just posted on how I'm through with this dispute-provoking type posting and I'm going to try some less quarrelsome style. actually what you have been doing quite well. But I can't get the thing to post! It says it did but...so I'll just be patient and wait til it makes it through cyberspace.

Go easy on the Christmas cookies.

Todd said...

Well there. I just changed the whole introduction to this post to clear up a little confusion. Glad you pointed that out.

jazzycat said...

Todd,
The key is not to confuse external call with the effectual call (John 3:3). Verses such as John 3:16, 6:47 give a call, but are silent as to unregenerate man's ability to believe. John 6:44 and 6:65 are not silent about ability, they do 'clearly' indicate a lack of ability apart from God.

Todd said...

Hi Jazzycat,

"The key is not to confuse external call with the effectual call (John 3:3). Verses such as John 3:16, 6:47 give a call, but are silent as to unregenerate man's ability to believe."

It's true, those verses give a call. But there is no verse that states that "unregenerate man" is unable to believe.

When you say then...

"John 6:44 and 6:65 are not silent about ability, they do 'clearly' indicate a lack of ability apart from God."

You're proposing that scripture intends that 'granting' and 'drawing', by the Father, is the equivalent of His 'regenerating' us. I don't see how you can do that.

I'm not going to argue that God is not involved in the process. And for that matter, God is sovereign, and there is nothing that we are able to do that God does not permit and enable us to do according to His purpose; whether it be to be called, or drawn, or singled out for destruction, according to His plan, but imparting the Spirit is another thing. I see a problem in thinking we can know, from scripture, how He enacts that 'drawing', 'calling', and 'granting them to come to the son', and a problem with which part of that is actually imparting the Spirit to man.

I think that saying we must have the Spirit in order to 'behold Him and believe in Him' is inaccurate. And that drawing and granting is not regenerating.

In John 3:3
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

I think you want, "see", to mean, 'see and believe in Christ'. Not sure. I believe, "see the kingdom", means to 'see the kingdom' upon Christ's return and His gathering up those who believe, and then actually entering into and seeing a portion of the kingdom with Him.

jazzycat said...

Todd,
From John 6 we have the following three verses that each impart information about drawing, enabling and who will come:

verse 37: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

verse 44: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

verse 65: And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

point 1... The Father must intervene and draw believers. This does not prove election by itself.

point 2... All that the Father gives Jesus will indeed come.

Put the two points together and we have election. If God must enable a sinner to come and all that are enabled come, then none come that are not enabled and it, therefore, does not depend on man's decision apart from God (John 1:13, Rom. 9:16).

Thanks, for answering my first post and giving me an ear. This is not something I really like debating anymore, but I thought I would briefly chime in.

Todd said...

I know. This debate is probably almost 2000 years old. But since you probably try to thoroughly answer most comments made in your blog and I will probably try to do the same. Not only that but you've come here suggesting I'm confused, which is pretty much what I needed in order to move any discussion forward.

I'm going to quickly describe the problem I see in your election doctrine and then leave it up to you whether or not to read the lengthy explanation.

This is your conclusion:

"Put the two points together and we have election. If God must enable a sinner to come and all that are enabled come, then none come that are not enabled and it, therefore, does not depend on man's decision apart from God."

You've proven election up to the 'coming', but coming is not being saved, nor being "raised up", nor "not being caste out". It's merely coming. It says if you come you won't be caste out and you won't be lost(v.39) and then it says you must believe to have eternal life. You know this, you just read it differently than I do and come to a different conclusion. I think you probably just absorb believing into some other part of the passage and sort of disable it. In reality, believing is very important.

Coming is only coming. It never says to 'come' is to be raised. It says all who are given will come, certainly not be caste out, will not be lost, but the believing then mentioned has to be factored in before they are raised up. So we are a assured in these passages that if we are given, then we can expect to then come to Christ, and that we may see and believe and then will have eternal life.

IMO, this is a tough passage to resist creating specific election doctrine regarding who is raised up and who is not, how, and why, because it tells us so much, yet not quite enough to suit our elaborate doctrine building.

So there. You need not read the rest of this comment because it probably doesn't contain anything you haven't heard me say somewhere else already.

But feel free to explain to me how God's electing those who 'come' to Christ guarantees that they will then be raised up?

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"point 1... The Father must intervene and draw believers. This does not prove election by itself.

It does entirely prove election. Doesn't it? There should be no debate as to whether election is a scriptural fact. The huge differences in election doctrine between Christians comes from them attempting to describe how they think the mystery of election works. Which they are free to do, but is futile since the bible does not entirely tell us, and only breeds division and hostility since God uses election in a way in which only He knows. We know only what He's told us and He's told us relatively little.

Since knowing entirely how election works has no significant bearing on our salvation and only breeds perpetual disagreement over it, since it's been debated inconclusively for ages and will be for ages to come by Christians claiming the other has it backwards, then the debating is for entertainment or something, and not for the glorification of the body of Christ which He desires. But when one is ridiculed by a fellow Christian for not following their concocted doctrine of election, he has to at least take a stand. So I think I know how tired you must feel about this debating the specifics of election.

Your second point:

"point 2... All that the Father gives Jesus will indeed come.

Coming is coming. Not believing.


During this entire John 6 passage Jesusm seems to be talking to the Jewish people. As well as anyone else there who had come to listen. But the author of John 6 is focused in His remarks as they were directed to, and responded to a specific type of question by the Jewish people present. The passage says the people in the crowd consisted partly of those who were coming from various faraway places for the Passover celebration; those who referred to Him as "the Prophet who is to come into the world", those who were about to take Him by force and make Him king, called Him rabbi, who's fathers were the fathers(of Israel), the Jews who were grumbling. The Jewish people is who he is talking to and about for the most part in these passages.

IMO, while reading this we have to put ourselves in the position of the nation of Israel.

So, as we know, many members of Israel had already been set aside and hearts hardened, as it states in the old testament, and as Jesus Himself refers to at times elsewhere. John 6 shows us that Jesus is focusing His remarks on the Jewish people(even more specifically the Jewish hierarchy).

As far as hardening, or the subsequent inability to believe, I can see in scripture where people were hardened only for specific reasons according to His specific and usually stated purpose. There was no general hardening that we are told of. This does not mean that the gentiles are not subject to this same purposing of God, as He fashions, and the same selective hardening occurs among the gentiles for purposes related to God's plan. But people begin in an unhardened condition unless or until God specifically, purposefully, hardens them to achieve an end. At least there are no instances in scripture that conflict with that.

So, summing up, here's the difficulty that I see which can't be ignored when trying to put together a detailed doctrine of election, such as Calvin's, using these passages of John 6 from which he supports his conclusion that 'all men are unable to believe'.

"verse 37: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."

When the Lord is saying "cast out" we can't be sure nor can we even be confident that He is meaning 'raised up'. Moreover, there are other likely meanings to what he is saying.

Next...

"verse 44: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

The author portray's Jesus' remarks in this verse as a direct answer to Jewish people who were questioning His diety. It's pointing at His realationship to God, and as the Son of God. He says God draws and He, Christ, does the raising. He's answering direct questions concerning His role with God. In doing so, He addresses both who will come and why they come, but doesn't claim to be representing the whole salvation process. His entire passage does however. Four sentences later Christ gets to the 'how' by using and giving great significance to the word "believes". Now He's almost finished talking about salvation. He further explains the how..."if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;". His offer is to "anyone" and "for the life of the world". He's appealing to the world to 'believe'. He's not condemning some automatically and eternally while telling the rest that their eternal life has already been done for them from before they were born.

For instance, it's true all who are given, "will come"., but will they be raised? We have no reason to believe that.

They will not be "caste out", but from what? They haven't even been raised yet. They have plainly 'come' and will not be 'caste out'. But I think you assume that they will "not be caste" out from "being raised up", or, "not be caste out" from already having been "raised up". I'm not sure you can do that. Whereas, I assume they will "not be caste out" from simply "coming" and seeing, hearing, 'being taught of', "beholding" and "believing", as the rest of the same passage includes.

"point 2... All that the Father gives Jesus will indeed come."

Coming is not enough. I don't think we can use coming and believing interchangeably.

God elects those who will come and see His Son and then believe in Him, or chose not to believe in Him. That election would seem to include all men except for those whom he elects to harden to enact His larger plan of restore men's hearts back to Himself.

Thanks again for hearing my position Jazzycat.

Todd said...

God's election is a tool Jazzy. He's told us in part how He uses it and the rest remains a mystery.

jazzycat said...

Todd,
Thanks for your response. I did not say you were confused in my first comment. I could have just as easily and perhaps better said, "The key is to distinguish between the external call and the effectual call" which would have the same meaning without using the 'confuse' word. At any rate I did not mean to imply you were confused in that comment. You are obviously very knowledgeable.

Thanks again for listening and responding and I believe as you do that salvation comes by faith alone in Christ alone.

Todd said...

Sincere thanks and amen Jazzycat.