Friday, January 22, 2021

The Total Inability of Humanity

"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).

As we learned earlier this week (Tuesday's post), the Reformed or Augustinian doctrine of predestination is grounded in the fact that humanity is so sinful and rebellious in his fallenness that apart from the irresistible grace of God, no one could ever turn to Christ. Jesus made this clear.

First, we notice that Jesus said “no one.” This is a universal negative statement. It does not mean that some cannot come unless the Father draws them. Rather, it means absolutely no one can come unless God does something first.

Second, we notice that Jesus said “can.” Remember the difference between can and may. Can means “is able,” while may means “has permission.” Jesus did not say that no one has permission to come to Him. Rather, He said that no one is able to come to Him. This is the doctrine of man’s total inability.

Third, we notice the word unless. This introduces an exception. Apart from this exception, no one could ever turn to Christ.

Finally, we come to the word draw. Some have said that draw only means “woo” or “entice.” They agree that men are so sinful that no one is able to come to Christ apart from God’s grace, but they say that God gives grace to everyone. God’s grace has a limited effect, however. It does not force people to come but only woos them. The final decision rests with the sinner.

This interpretation of John 6:44 is impossible, however. In James 2:6, we read, “Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” In Acts 16:19 we find, “They dragged them into the marketplace.” The same Greek word is used in all three verses. Obviously, mere enticement is not in view here.

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, a standard work written by men who are not committed to the historic Christian faith, tells us that the word translated draw in John 6:44 means “to compel by irresistible authority.” It was used in classical Greek for drawing water from a well. We do not entice or persuade water to leave the well; we force it against gravity to come up by drawing it. So it is with us. We are so dead in our fallen nature that God must drag us to Himself.

Think back to when God began to draw you to Himself (whether it was recently or long ago). What or whom did He use to bring you? As you think of that time today, thank God for His plan and the people He used to produce your conversion. If possible, communicate your gratitude to these people.