(Article for publication week of 5-22- AD 2014)
"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).
Our text this week completely destroys the myth of man's "free" will. Poor sinner, your will is not free, but in subjection to your fallen nature, the world, and the devil. Your will is not free, for you are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). You cannot come to Christ and be saved at your own leisure, but you must be drawn by the effectual grace of God. Unless God has mercy upon you, and makes an exception for you and draws you to His Son for salvation, you will perish in your sins.
This is the most pessimistic text in the Bible, for it tells us that the one thing the sinner must do, he cannot do. Now you let that sink in. You cannot be saved without coming to Christ (John 6:35-40), but you have no power or ability to do the one thing needful. Our text this week leaves no place for creature comforts, or human ability. You are completely dependent upon a sovereign God Who does as He pleases in heaven and in earth to do everything necessary for your salvation.
This is also a pessimistic text for those whom God has called to preach. We are sent to preach the gospel to the whole world, and the whole world lieth in darkness. The characters to whom we are sent are totally depraved and dead in trespasses and in sins. No amount of human eloquence will persuade any man to repent of his sins and believe in Christ for salvation. Intellectual "apologetics" will never persuade the scoffers of this world. False prophets may use psychology and salesmanship and entertainment and emotionalism and tradition to get people to join the church or make a decision, but that is not coming to Christ and it is not salvation. True men of God must know that their task is an arduous one indeed. We are not sent to people with "hungry hearts", but to sinners with hearts as hard as flint. The sinner cannot give himself a new heart, and we cannot give him one. Unless the Holy Spirit works with quickening power in the souls of those to whom we preach, we shall have not a single convert.
But although our text is the most pessimistic verse in the Bible, it is at the same time the most optimistic verse in the Bible! This verse tells us that God Who is rich in mercy makes an exception for some sinners and draws them savingly to Himself. (My computer has underlined "savingly" to tell me it is incorrect, but my computer has not a soul not any spiritual understanding, so I am not going to change it, and I hope my editor will not, for "savingly" is a Biblical concept with which a regenerate soul is familiar!) Well did Fanny Crosby express the truth of my text in her hymn "Pass Me not O Gentle Saviour." The truth of that old hymn is that God is not obligated to call me out of darkness into His marvelous light. So I plead for mercy and beg God, "while on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by"! Praise God, He makes an exception for his chosen people and draws them to the Saviour so they come to Him most freely. I pray that God's exceptional grace will call some of my readers this week.