How Faith & Food Figure in Following Jesus (Part 6)

In the interest of driving home some of the truths of yesterday’s message, here is a portion of my preaching manuscript from John 6:41-51.

Our part is clear. Repent and believe. That’s all over John’s gospel. Jesus gets right in their face and calls them over and over again to come, to believe, to eat. But something else is clear, painfully clear, Spurgeon said obnoxiously clear. We can’t do it left to ourselves and our own devices. Look at v. 44. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. This should sound familiar. It strikingly resembles Jesus’ words back in v. 37 – All that the Father gives me will come to me. This is the same doctrine of Christ related to salvation but said in two different ways. The first is from a positive view looking at the gifting to the Son by the Father all those He chooses out of His love and grace. The second is from a negative view looking at the total inability of absolutely everyone – no one can come – apart from that intervening love and grace of God on their behalf.

He’ll punctuate it again with this same crowd nearly the exact same way in 6:65 – This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father. Why is this so? Sin. Sin has left every last one of us like the invalid man at the pool of Bethesda. We are morally and spiritually unable to do a thing to remedy our condition. We are as Paul put it in Eph. 2:3 – dead in our trespasses and sins. Or in Rom. 8:7 – For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. Or to use Jesus’ words to another crowd in John 8:43 – Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. It’s not your nature. Sin has corrupted it through and through. Rom. 3:10-12 – None is righteous, no, not one, no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

The good folks at Desiring God ministries have summarized the implications of this truth, what Reformed types call Total Depravity, as well as I have ever encountered:

It is hard to exaggerate the importance of admitting our condition to be this bad. If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective. But if we humble ourselves under this terrible truth of our total depravity, we will be in a position to see and appreciate the glory and wonder of the work of God. (For the entire document go here.)

What must happen then? Where then is there hope? Another great doctrine of the Reformed faith, irresistible grace, or what we might better call effectual grace! And its truth is all tied up in that massively important word in v 44 – draws. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. Jesus uses the same word in 12:32 of the power He will exert in having gone to the cross – And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. When this word for draw gets used in the NT, whether for a fishing net that gets dragged from the sea, or a sword that gets drawn from its sheath, it always implies a couple of things. There is resistance and that resistance is ultimately overcome.

Thanks be to God that though our sin paralyzes grace regenerates!

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