David Cloud on John 6:37

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.

Rated R for Reformed

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
cast out.

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.

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Rick Beckman