Preface: I respect David Cloud. Ever since I was drawn to Christ six years ago, Mr. Cloud’s works have been a constant companion to my studies, and I’m glad to have several of his books in my personal library. However, over the course of the past few years, I have diverged from Mr. Cloud’s views on several subjects. It is one of this disagreements which I will be addressing here.
I want to address David Cloud’s understanding of John 6:37 as he responds to the Calvinist interpretation in Calvinism’s Proof Texts Examined. But first, the verse:
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out.” NASB
If you haven’t already, memorize that verse. I believe it to be one of the most profound & important — if indeed there even can be degrees of importance in Holy Writ — verses of the Bible. Hide it in your heart, meditate on it often, cherish its promise. Take my word for it; it’s worth it!
Mr. Cloud begins on this verse by stating,
If “irresistible grace” is taught in this
passage, it is for all who believe on Christ and
not merely for a special few who were sovereignly
pre-elected to be saved.
There are a couple of things wrong with that interpretation.
First, “all who believe on Christ” are biblically identical to those “special few who were sovereignly pre-elected to be saved.”
Second, the verse in question affirms exactly the opposite of what Mr. Cloud is saying. Jesus says that the Father gives believers to Him. Elsewhere in the context (v.44), Jesus tells us that those the Father gives to Him aren’t just brought to Him, they are dragged to Him. Quite simply, Jesus tells us that the Father does the pickin’ and the choosin’, and He does so while we are yet sinners.
This verse does not say that God has sovereignly
pre-chosen only some for salvation and that it is
those pre-chosen ones that are given to Christ.
Who then does the Father give to Christ except those whom He has chosen? After all, none are coming to Christ unless the Father drags them (again, verse 44).
One must read all of that into the verse. It
simply says that all that the Father gives will
come to Christ. The question is this: “Who is it
that the Father gives to Jesus?”
Yes, that is what the verse says; and that is a pertinent question, so let’s get to its answer:
That question is answered plainly in this passage
only three verses later: “And this is the will of
him that sent me, that every one which seeth the
Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting
life: and I will raise him up at the last day”
(Jn. 6:40). (Of course the Calvinist argues that
it is only the elect who can “see the Son,” but
one must read that into the verse.)
No, one mustn’t “read that into the verse.” One simply needs to understand the larger context of the Scriptures. Those who believe are those that the Father gives to Christ. So, those who do not believe are those who the Father does not give to Christ. Simple. God is still choosing. Romans 3 in no uncertain terms affirms that no one comes to God on their own. Either Jesus is the author of their faith or man is; it cannot be both. And if it is Jesus, then the question must be asked of all noncalvinists, why does Jesus not author true faith in every man and not simply the elect?
Everywhere you look in Scriptures, salvation comes down to choice, specifically choice of the Godhead. While often enough salvation is presented in human terms — those who believe will be saved; those who do not are damned already — ultimately it is not about our will or action but about God who shows mercy.
Thus, all those who believe on Christ are given
by the Father and they are received and are not
If we are given to Christ because we believe, then it makes no sense whatsoever that we must be dragged to Christ by the Father (again, verse 44). Now, I’m sure many a people may argue that the word translated “draw” in most translations in verse 44 doesn’t mean “to drag.” Okay, that’s fine, but…
Every dictionary I have disagrees, and the usage of the Greek word everywhere else in the New Testament disagrees.
The word means “dragged,” and it implies force. The Father forces sinners to come to Christ. Jesus authors their faith, the Father grants them a new heart, they believe, and they are saved. Perhaps it all happens instantaneously, perhaps it doesn’t.
The point is that if the Father is dragging sinners to Christ, then there wouldn’t anyone be saved. That’s what Jesus said, and that settles it for me. If man were capable of coming to Christ on their own, what need is there of a dragging Father? If man were capable of exercising saving faith on their own, what need is there of a faith-authoring Christ? If biblical repentance were as humanly possible as turning a page in a book, what need is there of a regenerating, guiding, and sanctifying Spirit?
Most assuredly, every aspect of the salvation process has its source in God. As sinners, we bring nothing to the table. We can’t even do something as simple as believing until God enables us to. The glory is Yahweh’s. Let’s make sure we’re giving it to Him always.