Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Man’s Total Depravity (John 6:22-58)

"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).

The Reformed or Augustinian doctrine of election is grounded in the fact that man is so sinful, so depraved in his fallenness, that apart from the irresistible grace of God not one could ever turn to Christ. In John 6:25–58, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Jesus did not say some people can come, or only a few people; He said no one is able to come to Him. Absolutely no one can come unless God does something first.

Notice that Jesus said “can.” Can means “is able,” while may means “has permission.” Jesus did not say that no one has permission to come to Him, or no one may come to Him. Rather, He said that no one is able to come to him. No one is able because man is totally depraved, sinful; no one seeks God because no one is good, holy, and righteous even in the least.

Next we observe that Jesus said no one can come to Him “unless.” This introduces an exception. Apart from this exception, no one could ever come to Christ. Finally, we come to the word draw. This word does not mean to “woo” or to “entice.” Many people erroneously think this is what draw means in this context. They say that God gives grace to everyone, but that grace has a limited effect. 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 because in James 2:6, we read, “Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” Likewise, Acts 16:19 says, “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 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 come up from the well, but we force it against gravity to come up by drawing it in a bucket. So it is with us. We are so depraved that God must drag us to Himself. While we were dead in transgression, He made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:4–5).

Every time you pray this week, thank God for His sovereignty in salvation, unconditional love, total provision, and your certain hope of heaven. Express your gratitude and joy for God’s work of redemption in your life. Read the passages below as a reminder of your inability in salvation and your total dependence on God.