Wednesday, February 05, 2003

You Still Can't Choose God

Those who believe that it is actually possible for fallen man to choose God are advised to ponder this familiar passage from the Gospel of John:

34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread."
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
38 "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 Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:34-39, NASB)

Verses 37-39 are often used by Calvinists to support their position. Indeed, they rather irrefutably proclaim the perfect Sovereignty of God, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance (Preservation) of the saints.

But the Calvinist should always include verses 34-36. They add richness to the exegesis. In verse 34 it appears that some are seeking Christ, but in truth they are not. They are seeking not God but the favor of God, the benefits of God, the gifts of God. They seek the manna, not He who provides the bread.

The fact that some appear to be seeking God is a common argument against the reformed position. For if some seek God, and God withholds Himself because they are not of the elect, then surely this casts aspersions on God’s character. But God is true to his word. All who seek Him shall find Him. But not those who merely seek the benefits of God. Any pagan would surely desire the rewards God promises to His chosen (although he would just as surely balk at the promised trials and pruning), and he would seek them from any god or man who could provide.

In verse 36 we see anew the utter hopelessness that man can make a choice of his natural will. We see total depravity at work. For Christ tells them “…you have seen Me and yet you do not believe.” If men, in the very presence of God, the Creator of the universe, cannot believe, using their unregenerate will, how then can any man who does not enjoy such an incalculable advantage of seeing Christ in the flesh? It makes the mind reel.

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