Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thinking About John 6

I have been thinking about John 6 and reading over it a couple of times. It is so very interesting! Of course, I am always drawn in by the verses that my Calvinist friends like to quote to me, like:

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
It occurs to me that Jesus is not talking about anything remotely having to do with election or predestination here. Taken in isolation, this verse can come across that way, especially when that idea is tagged. Looking at the whole chapter paints a different picture. How about starting with the surrounding context? He is saying that He is the bread of life and that they do not believe in Him (v. 35 & 36). Then he says, " 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." And then He says "for .... I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (v. 38-40)

What of the word "for"? It is connecting two parts of the sentence. Jesus is saying that ALL that the Father gives Him will come to Him for He is not here to do His own will, but that of the Father. His point is not one of predestination or determinism, but that He is not on His own here. He is doing the will of the Father and those who come to Him are directed from the Father. I think a key verse to this passage is verse 45:

45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
Could Jesus have been telling them that if they were really followers of God, they would listen to Him? He sure talks a lot about His Father in this discourse. Perhaps that is the point! The Father gives them to the Son, not in the sense that He looks from eternity past with the Son and says, "there, there and there. Those are your sheep, I am giving them to you." Rather, if any of the Jews have truly been seeking the Father and looking for the Hope that the Lord had promised, they would be led where? To Jesus!! The Father would give them to the Son. It is the Son they will see and believe and have everlasting life and be raised on the last day. Glory!

Anyways, those were some thoughts I had when reading through this this week. I also was pointed to another source on John 6 with some insight into something about the chapter that has troubled me for some time. Reading it really helped me to understand what could have been happening when Jesus said,
"53 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

(Has that verse ever baffled anyone else? I have heard explanations of it, but none stuck until the one I read yesterday.)

I will share the other view of this chapter that I found so helpful later in the week, before Friday. I hope you'll come back and read it!


  • Rose,

    Thanks for dropping by my Blog.. Yes, I subscribe to Unashamed of Grace and read every post, sometimes commenting. I will likewise subscribe to this your Blog..

    Not often I find Free Grace, real dispensationalists on line.

    In Christ eternally, ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at 6/19/2007 9:25 PM  

  • Rose, this post was awesome! Verse 45 is definitely the key to this passage.

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/19/2007 10:13 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 6/20/2007 12:05 AM  

  • Hi Rose! Hope all is well with you and yours.

    That's how I see the wording of Jesus. Like you said, He's not speaking of predestination (though God has always known who were and were not His), rather He is speaking as a man who gets his information and power from God as seen in chapter 5 verses 19,20 and 30. Verses 36-38 say it all. Actually all of chapter 5 is a great lead-in to chapter 6 (even though these are separate events).

    John 5:38 "And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not."

    We see here that they NEVER had God's Word in them from the beginning and God knew this and passed that knowledge along to Jesus. We eventually see that Jesus says they didn't believe Moses so how are they going to believe Him. So it has nothing to do with God choosing some and not others for salvation. They simply did not receive the Word of God.

    Why would Jesus say in verse 34 that He tells them these things that they "might be saved" if they cannot be saved unless God grants them belief. And then in verses 39-47 Jesus tells them to search the scriptures because they contain eternal life. Then goes on to tell them that they "will not come" and not that they "cannot" come.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 6/20/2007 12:10 AM  

  • Excellent point Dawn!

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/20/2007 12:22 AM  

  • Rose said...
    Could Jesus have been telling them that if they were really followers of God, they would listen to Him? He sure talks a lot about His Father in this discourse. Perhaps that is the point!

    Rose, with this statement intended to discredit predestination, you have also discredited Free Grace theology. We (Calvinists) have also been saying their are false believers as you affirm here. We have also been saying that true believers listen to Him as you also affirm here.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 6/20/2007 9:25 AM  

  • Thanks, expreacherman!
    Jack, it is great that you are blogging. Keep it up. God bless.

    I am glad you liked it.

    I appreciate your insight. You have inspred me to read through the whole gospel of John again by reading your comment. I hope you and yours are well as well.

    Hello Jazzycat...meow....
    I am not seeing that I discredited predestination nor FGT. I was not trying to "discredit predestination" as you say. I was just trying to get the meaning of this passage. I don't see what you mean about false believers. I don't see anything about false believers, but perhaps non-sincere Israelites who weren't really looking for the Messiah. Nice try. ;~)

    God bless.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/20/2007 9:39 AM  

  • Hello, Rose

    Jazzycat, Free Grace does not deny that there are false believers. There are two kinds.

    1) Those who pretend to be believers for their own reasons, such as fitting into a church or pleasing their parents.

    2) Those who have believed a different Gospel.

    What we do not admit is a kind of faith in the true Gospel that is somehow not really faith.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/20/2007 9:49 AM  

  • Rose and Matthew,
    I hope you didn't wrench your backs wiggling out of that one.....

    Matthew your #1 fits pretty well with a false believer and James 2:14. Pretend being the key word. To pretend to believe is to claim as James said.....

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 6/20/2007 10:40 AM  

  • Jazzycat
    So you would say that there is no such thing as a dead faith?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/20/2007 10:57 AM  

  • Pretend to have faith (your definition)= claim to have faith (James)= dead faith (also James)

    I think we have reached agreement here unless you backtrack on "pretend to be believers" comment.........

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 6/20/2007 11:10 AM  

  • definition of pretend: "to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign:"

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 6/20/2007 11:12 AM  

  • Jazzycat

    Is a dead cat a non-existent cat?

    Is a wrecked car a fictional car?

    Is it appropriate to describe manticores as dead because they do not exist?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/20/2007 11:15 AM  

  • Jazzycat, just what is the evidence that the faith in James 2 is a false or pretend faith?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/20/2007 11:16 AM  

  • Jazzy,
    I did not wiggle one little bit - well, maybe a little when I walk.
    You draw funny conclusions about things. I think Matthew's point stands, even though that was not the point of this post - this rabbit trail you've run down.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/20/2007 12:31 PM  

  • Jazzy,

    The point we're making with John 6 is that at the time Jesus was speaking these words, those Jews who had earnestly studied and awaited the Redeeming Messiah (learned from the Father) came to faith in Jesus. As for the Jews who rejected Him outright, and hence were not drawn at that time, some of them believed in Acts 2:36. And I don't see the John 6 passage as addressing the moral state of those who had learned from the Father. This passage is squarely centerd on believing in Christ for eternal life.

    Matthew's #1 has nothing to do with James 2:14. The people Matthew has in mind, who pretend to believe to infiltrate a church or please their parents, do not believe or think they believe. They don't believe (and they know this). They could be cultists trying to infiltrate a church, or simply people trying to please others for outward acceptance.

    James 2:14, on the other hand, is dealing with someone who does indeed believe (and they know they believe the Gospel) but who does not produce works. Someone who can't be saved from merciless judgment under the Law of liberty (2:12-13).

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/20/2007 2:39 PM  

  • Hey Rose--

    Like you, I don't think these verses are talking about predestination in the sense of the systematic understanding which is espoused by our Calvinistic friends. Rather, as with all things, the context of not only the story, but also of the sitz em laben (life situation) of the writers should be considered.

    The Jewish mentality, on a surface level, appears Calvinistic in that all that occurs is attributed to the will of God. The underlying and inevitable determinism of Calvinism, however, is completely absent...anyway, I think Jesus' words very clearly speak to the greater Jewish/Gentile controversy which was occurring in the early church during the writing of these passages. As you well know, the Jews questioned the legitimacy of Gentile salvation, considering themselves to be exclusively privy to justification on the basis of the cultural/religious/cultic identity.

    So consider this interpretation: As the Jewish mind understands all things attributable to the will of God, the writers draw a direct correlation between the legitimacy of Jesus' message and mission and the will of God. That is, Jesus is saying that those who come to him come not out of ignorance, deception, etc.; rather their "conversion" is completely in keeping with the will and good pleasure of God.

    Moreover, by saying that Christ has come to do the Father's will and "not his own," the writers are explicitly drawing a connection not so much with the persona of Jesus as a teacher/messiah (consider the dozens of other false messiahs of the time), but rather with the will of God exhibited in Jesus' life. That is, the ultimate location of legitimacy is in the meta-understanding of God's will in human history being enacted in the person of Jesus, not merely terminating in the person of Jesus alone.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/21/2007 8:12 AM  

  • Hi Exist~dissolve,
    (what does that mean, BTW?)
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    That is, the ultimate location of legitimacy is in the meta-understanding of God's will in human history being enacted in the person of Jesus, not merely terminating in the person of Jesus alone.

    I've been chewing on this all day. It is hard for me to grasp all that you are saying.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/21/2007 1:23 PM  

  • Hi Exist~dissolve,
    (what does that mean, BTW?)

    Besides an interesting screen name, it is somewhat of an abbreviated version of my anthropology. I am a monist--that is, I do not believe that humans are composed of distinctly "soul" and "body." In this way, I don't believe that I have a "soul" as if there is a substance which exists apart from my physicality that is the "real me." Rather, I think that my physicality and my spirituality are who I am, and the two cannot be bifurcated.

    The motivation for this belief comes primarily from reflections upon the goodness of creation. God has created our physicality--therefore, there is not a more "real" us that exists apart from this. Our hope for resurrection, as I understand it, is that not that we will be rejoined to our bodies, but rather that we will be raised to the newness of life which God has granted to Christ in his resurrection. In this sense, resurrection is the largest of all crises, for there is nothing--not even a speculative disembodied state--upon which we can depend for everlasting existence. Rather, as we proceed from dust to dust, we depend absolutely upon the power and mercy of God to raise us to newness of life. Anyway, that's the extremely brief version.

    That is, the ultimate location of legitimacy is in the meta-understanding of God's will in human history being enacted in the person of Jesus, not merely terminating in the person of Jesus alone.

    I've been chewing on this all day. It is hard for me to grasp all that you are saying.

    I admit that I did not phrase this very well. Basically, I am saying that the writers of the NT were trying to disavow any notion that Jesus' mission was commensurate with the socio-political programmes of the other messiahs (so-called) that existed prior to and following Christ. By saying that Jesus' mission was "not his own," but of the Father's will, the writers were showing that the reasons for all the conversions to Christianity were not the result of a particularly compelling public speaker or of deception, fraud or manipulation. Rather, all that surrounds Christ and his mission are directly from the will of Yahweh, thus applying legitimacy to the life and teachings of Jesus over and against his detractors.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/21/2007 2:47 PM  

  • Thanks Danny and you're welcome, Rose.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 6/21/2007 10:49 PM  

  • Exist-Siddolve,
    You really give some interesting things to think about - even with your nickname. Thanks a lot for explaining your earlier comment. I do get it now. Excellent point.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/22/2007 2:57 PM  

  • Exist-Dissolve,
    Sorry I misspelled your name. I was in too big of a hurry.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/24/2007 9:58 AM  

  • Interesting to know.

    By Anonymous Morela, at 11/10/2008 9:00 AM  

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