5/24/11

Kickin' and a Screamin'

Kickin’ and a Screamin’


Good old Garth Brooks once wrote a song entitled “Kickin’ and Screamin’.” One small excerpt from the lyrics of that song go as follows:


Yeah, he was kickin' and screamin'
Just like he came in
He was kickin' and screamin', darlin'
Right to the bitter end
Ain't it funny how we come in kickin' giddyup
And go out hollerin' whoa
Lord, we never want to be here
Sure don't ever want to go


After reading those lyrics, it makes you wonder if Garth is an Arminian. It sure sounds like he was writing a song about the biggest straw man Arminians use against the doctrines of election and predestination. You know, the whole silliness they concoct that “God doesn’t drag people against their will into heaven.” And there we go again with the whole “my will” thing. Surely, Calvinists agree - God doesn’t drag people against their will into heaven. No one who enters heaven is going to be screaming about how they hate God and how they don’t want to be there. Really? Is God that small? Or perhaps what is small is the false understanding perpetuated against God’s sovereign election. Ultimately, it’s really not about our will is it? If it is, we might as well just chuck out the doctrine of grace alone, which of course would be contrary to the entire canon.


This brings me to the main point of this blog post. The Scripture to be examined today is John 6:44. As usual, I will post the Scripture in question from the KJV as well as the ESV. Most importantly, we will examine the Greek.


John 6:44 (KJV): No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.


John 6:44 (ESV): No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.


We see that the first phrase Jesus uses here is simply: “No one can come to me…” The Greek text bears this out as well. We see simply that:


No one (3762) oudeis (pronoun): No one, nothing
Can (1410) dynamai (verb): 1) To be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources. 2) To be able to do something. 3) To be capable, strong and powerful
Come (2064) erchomai (verb): 1) To come. 2) Metaphor: To come into being, arise, come forth. 3) To go, to follow one.
To  (4314) pros (preposition): 1) to the advantage of. 2) at, near, by. 3) to, towards, with, with regard to.
Me (3165) me (pronoun): I, me, my.


This short piece of Jesus’ message here should be clear enough. Very simply put, no one can come to Christ. It should grab our attention that the message here is very clear and very blunt. The Greek word translated as “no one” (ESV) and “no man” (KJV) excludes everyone universally. It leaves no room for some to be able to come. It says, bluntly: no one. But no one can what? No one CAN. Can, as we see from the Greek, speaks about ability. The word used is dynamai. Look familiar? It should - it’s where we get our English word dynamite. It speaks of power. We don’t have the power (ability) to do so. Jesus’ message here is simply this: No one (which excludes everyone universally) is able to come to Him. Well, so much for free willing your way to Christ.


Ah, but next comes some really great news! The Scripture adds a qualifying word here. The word is “unless (ESV)” and “except” (KJV). In the Greek, it is:


Unless (3362) ean me (conjunction particle): If not, unless.


So, Jesus is stating that no one is able to come to Him, unless something happens. What is the something? As we read on, we see that it is: “unless the Father who sent me draws Him.” So, we cannot come to Him, unless we are drawn by the Father. Let’s examine the Greek here:


Father (3962) pater (noun): Generator or male ancestor.
Who/Which (3588) ho (article): This, that, these, who, which.
Sent (3992) pempo (verb): To send.
Me (3165) me (pronoun): I, me, my.
Draws (1670) helko (verb): 1) Draw, drag off. 2) To draw by inward power, lead, impel, compel.
Him (846) autos (pronoun): 1) Himself, herself, themselves, itself. 2) He, she, it.


Thus, so far we have seen that No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him. Very clearly, we see here that Jesus is teaching that we are unable to come to Him, unless the Father (God the Father, that is) that sent Jesus to Earth draws them to Him. The interesting word here is the word translated as “draws” (ESV) or “draw” (KJV). Literally, this word means much more than people want to make it mean. They love to define the word as a “wooing” or something along those lines. But the Greek supports a definition much stronger than that. More literally, the word here means “to compel” or “to drag.” But doesn’t this mean God drags us into heaven against our will, someone will argue? No, not at all, because Scripture has much more to say about the topic. Not only has God ordained the beginning and the end, but He aso ordains all the means in the middle. (Isaiah 46:9-10) Even in this same discourse from our Lord, there is more to it. Within the book of John there is much more to it as well. Essentially, what the passage is teaching here is that all those who are drawn or compelled to come to Christ will come to Christ. If we back up a bit to John 6:37, we also see that all those who come to Christ will not be cast out and that all those whom the Father has given to Christ (the same group as them who are drawn/compelled) will come to Christ. It is a guarantee. But even then, there is more to it. There is a major characteristic of those people that are given by the Father to Christ. A major characteristic of those whom are compelled to come. It is this: Right after Jesus states in the same passage that “this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6:39), Jesus then goes on to say: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40). We see from the passage that:


a) All of those whom the Father has given Christ will come. It is guaranteed. (John 6:37)
b) Those who come by the Father’s giving to Christ will not be cast out. (John 6:37)
c) Christ will lose none of these. (John 6:39)
d) Those that come believe in Christ. (John 6:40)
e) We are unable to come to Christ. (John 6:44)
f) Unless we are drawn/compelled/given to Christ by the Father (John 6:37, 44)
g) We who are elected by the Father, given to Christ, and believe will have eternal life (John 6:37, 39, 40, 44)


Thus, we come to the final phrase in John 6:44. And I will raise him up on the last day. In the Greek, we see that:


And (2532) kai (conjuntion): And, also, even, indeed, but.
I (1473) ego (pronoun): I, me, my.
Will Raise Up (450) anistemi (verb): To cause to rise up, raise up.
Him (846) autos (pronoun): 1) Himself, herself, themselves, itself. 2) He, she, it.
At The Last (2078) eschatos (adjective): 1) extreme. 2) The last.
Day (2250) hemera (noun): 1) The natural day. I.e. Sunrise to sunset. 2) The civil day. I.e. 24 hours. 3) The last day of the present age. The day of Christ’s return.


This last statement by Christ is a clear reference to the hope of the resurrection and eternal life upon His return. It echoes John 6:39 and 6:40. In 6:39, Jesus uses the same phrase: “Raise up on the last day.” In 6:40, He speaks of “eternal life.”


The final thing we need to examine in the passage is the two major statements Jesus made. Namely, when He says:


a) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
b) And I will raise him up on the last day.


Essentially, the question we need to answer is: Is Jesus talking about the exact same group of people head-for-head in these two phrases? Basically, is the “him” that are drawn by the Father the same “him” that is raised up at the last day? It’s simply very close to a chance of zero that the groups Jesus are talking about are different here. It really would make no sense, especially in the context of the entire passage regarding eternal life, that Jesus was saying that:


a) My Father draws Him (everyone universally), then
b) I raise up and give eternal life to Him (Those the Father gave me)


Likewise, the “hims” in the passage cannot possibly be talking about:


a) My Father draws Him (everyone universally), then
b) I raise up and give eternal life to Him (everyone universally)


Of course this would end in universal salvation, which is something Scripture emphatically rejects.


The final question then becomes this: Why do some folks believe and worship the one true God and some don’t? For the life of me, I can’t find any Scriptures that locate the cause of our belief within ourselves. I just can’t. On the other hand, I can find tons of them that locate the cause in God’s sovereign grace. Just look at John 6:37-44.


a) All that the Father gives to me will come. Is it obvious that the Father’s giving happens before the elect person’s coming? It should be obvious. Jesus never states that: All that come to me the Father then gives me. Nay, He says rather: All that the Father gives me will come. They come precisely because the Father gave them to Christ. Other places in Scripture tell us that this giving of the Father  happened before the foundation of the world, before it was even created. (Ephesians 1:4-5, Romans 8:29-30, for two)


b) Those that come have eternal life, will never be cast out, and will be raised up at the last day.


To put it simply, we believe in Christ, we worship Christ, we love Christ, because the Father gave us to Him. Everything we do for Him is the result of sheer grace which no deserves and not everyone receives. As the Scriptures say: by grace you are saved (Eph 2:5, 8-9), we are what we are only by grace  (1 Cor 15:10), and we believe and have faith only because of grace given (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 12:3, Phil 1:29, Acts 13:48, Heb 12:2).


If we all really truly grasped God’s gracious election, all of our pride would be completely squashed. I always find it ironic that the free willies love to accuse Calvinists of pride for holding to election. Sure, they may understand what the doctrine teaches, but to accuse those who hold to the teaching as prideful is a serious error, a slander against the people of God, and worst of all, a slander against God Almighty, who inspired the texts which clearly teach the doctrine. Election kills our pride. The false and slanderous accusations made by free willies that go somewhat like this “It’s prideful to hold to election, because it’s sheer pride to think you’re chosen and someone else isn’t” need to be stopped and called out for what they are: straw man arguments and lies directed at people who understand God’s electing grace and hold to the doctrine. It’s quite ironic that it is not the Calvinist who sets themselves up as able to control their own spiritual destiny - when Scripture clearly teaches otherwise. If I may be indulged for a quick second here: Is it not great pride to assume that you can possibly add anything to the perfect work of Christ? Is it not pride to assume that you are the one who must make His crucifixion effectual? How in the world can we ever add anything to God’s work? It's not you cooperating with His grace that caused you to be born again. It's His grace. It's not you cooperating with His grace that keeps you saved. It's His grace. It's not because of anything that you have done or will do that will be the reason you enter heaven. It's His grace. If you think that there is something you DID that is going to be the difference as to why you enter heaven, think again. How can you be said to be trusting in Christ alone if this is the case? Are you not trusting in your profession of Christ? That is, for lack of a better term, to be trusting in a work. It's not that people can't read Scripture. The doctrines are laid out clearly in Scripture. It's not that people can't exegete the text. We have a plethora of great bible study resources out there. It's not that people can't read works from great saints past and present who have done a wonderful job exegeting the Scriptures for what they clearly teach. It's that they refuse to believe in a sovereign God who is on the throne. They refuse to admit they are not autonomous creatures who control everything about themselves by their sovereign free will. They refuse.


Charles Spurgeon once said: "I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart."


As for me, I will hold to clear Scriptural teachings. God's Word will trump anything we ever raise against it and will kill all of our pride and rid us of our idols, so that every mouth may be stopped (Rom 3:19) and that God is true and every man a liar (Rom 3:4). God said it, that settles it. Praise God for His bountiful mercy and grace that He gives lavishly to His children.