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The Calvinist Misuse Of John 6:32-58

  • Calvinists Commonly Cite John 6 As Evidence For Their Doctrines Of Unconditional Election And Irresistible Grace:
          -"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." (John 6:37)
          -"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44)

          This passage of John's gospel narrative is known as the Bread of Life Discourse, where the Lord Jesus Christ had delivered a speech at a Synagogue in Capernaum. In the sermon, He likened bread and wine to His body and blood so as to articulate the point to His unbelieving Jewish audience that He was indeed their promised Messiah, who would offer Himself up as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of mankind. It should be noted that Christ chose not to fully reveal Himself to all members of society during much of His earthly ministry so that He could complete His mission of atoning for the sins of the world. 

          Additionally, these Jews were not born with a seared conscience against God. This is not a matter of people being born hated by God and predestined to eternal condemnation since the timing of creation. The context of John 6:32-58 nowhere indicates an irredeemable situation. It says nothing concerning regeneration or an irresistible calling of the human will. Neither is there such thing as an elect pagan or atheist (John 3:18). The Calvinist notion that regeneration precedes faith is erroneous because one cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the mechanism by which the Christian is justified in the sight of God (i.e. John 20:31; Acts 11:18; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 1:13). In that sense, Calvinists have placed the cart before the horse. Regeneration comes after faith.  

         More precisely, these Jewish people willfully turned their backs against the Lord (i.e. John 5:39-40; Acts 28:27). They wanted to be self-righteous. They wanted to be arrogant. They wanted their own sinful lifestyles. They wanted to rebel against the God who created them. In short, this was a totally voluntary hardening of the human heart by sin, which God allows. The mission of Christ was accomplished through the unbelief of Israel. They were handed over to their vices, which explains why they were rejecting Christ. This willful blinding of the conscience was never meant to be permanent, for God has always wanted to save His chosen nation Israel. The Father draws the sinner who listens and learns (John 6:45). They must accept the truth of the gospel that we preach in order to be saved (Romans 10:14-17). 

         In John 6:32-58, Jesus Christ was simply trying to get the Jews to see their disconnect from God. They did not truly love the Father because they did not love the Son. One cannot come to have a true relationship with Christ without first believing God. Nobody can come to Christ without first hearing and accepting the truth. Hence, the unbelieving Jews were under spiritual condemnation. Their hearts were not right with God. The twelve apostles, however, were drawn by the Father through the miracles and sound teachings of Christ. Their hearts were open to God. He was only drawing the Jews who were faithful to Him during that period of time. As a result, those obedient to the Father also chose to follow the Son.

            Furthermore, even the Bread of Life Discourse tells us that Christ came to die for the sins of mankind. Jesus Himself stated that He descended from heaven to make atonement for the sins of the world (John 6:33). He also said that the will of the Father was that all who come to Him and believe on His name be saved (John 6:40). God wants to draw the whole of mankind to salvation through faith in Him (John 12:32-33; Romans 11:32). Consequently, the gospel needs to be preached to every creature (Matthew 28:18-20). We have the responsibility of hearing, knowing, and understanding the revealed truths of God. We absolutely must make the decision of accepting the forgiveness of God as proclaimed through the gospel. 

            It is important to note that consistent Calvinism does not actually allow adherents to have assurance of salvation, seeing that there is no way for us to know whether we are really a part of God's elect. Also, it would be irrational for Calvinists to teach that God allows the hearts of people to become hardened by sin, since Calvinism teaches that we are already totally depraved. Neither can unconditional election account for how the names of various individuals can be blotted out of the book of life (Exodus 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Revelation 3:5; 22:19). And if the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement is true, then why is it that our Lord Jesus Christ wept for all the unbelieving inhabitants of Jerusalem for rejecting Him as their Savior (Luke 19:41-44)? Calvinists are guilty of limiting God when they argue that He cannot foreknow what He did not foreordain. He is sovereign enough to give us the freewill to accept or reject Him. He can do whatever He wants. He is limited by nothing. The debate should not so much be centered on whether or not we are able to make choices, but rather what the object of our faith is. The fact of the matter is that the Calvinists have misconstrued the meaning texts such as John 6:37 and John 6:44 to fit their own preconceived theological conclusions.

This post first appeared on Rational Christian Discernment, please read the originial post: here

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The Calvinist Misuse Of John 6:32-58


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