Week 7 Part 3 John 6:22-71: Focus–God’s Sovereignty in Election and Human Choice and Responsibility
(Link to Outline of John)
John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Four Verses that Function as “Necessary/Sufficient” Couplets
I. Couplet One–John 6:37 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:65 (Necessary Condition)
A. John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
X = “all that the Father gives me”
Y = “will come to me”
In this construction, X is a subset of Y.
• There may be others in Y whom the Father has not given.
• Everyone who is in X must be in Y.
• Y is necessary for X.
• X at this point is not necessary for Y.
Paraphrases of John 6:37
• If the Father gave you to me, it is necessary that you come to me.
• This necessity is called Irresistible Grace
B. John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless is granted him by the Father.”
X = those who come to me
Y = those whom the Father granted
Jesus’ statement “no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” can be translated as–
No X (those who come to me) If Not Y (granted by the Father)
No X unless Y = Y is necessary for X.
In this construction, X is still a subset of Y. Notice, however, that the terms have changed.
• The X of verse 37 has become the Y of verse 65.
• The Y of verse 37 has become the X of verse 65.
In both verses, however, X is still a subset of Y.
Conclusion: If “those whom the Father gives” is a subset of “those who come,” AND “those who come” is a subset of “all that the Father gives,” then both terms are subsets of each other. This can happen only if the terms are identical. Therefore, both terms are Necessary and Sufficient for each other.
All whom the Father gives will come, and all who come were given by the Father. God’s grace is both Irresistible and Necessary.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
II. Couplet Two–John 6:47 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:53 (Necessary Condition)
A. John 6:47 Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
X = whoever believes
Y = those who have eternal life
X is a subset of Y.
Y is a necessary condition for X. However, as stated, it is not a sufficient condition.
B. John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
First, to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” is understood as a metaphorical, symbolic, or spiritual, way of saying, “believe in Jesus.”
Paraphrase: Unless you partake fully in the being and life of Jesus the Son of Man, you have no life in you.
Shortened Paraphrase: Unless you believe in Jesus, you have no life in you.
X = those with life
Y = those who believe in Jesus
If not Y, then not X
Y is necessary for X
As stated, Y is not sufficient for X.
Again notice, Jesus in these two statements has interchanged the X and Y terms. In verse 47, “whoever believes” (X) is a subset of “those who have eternal life” (Y), while in verse 53, “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus” (Y).
Conclusion: If “whoever believes” is a subset of “those who have eternal life,” and “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus,” then each subset is identical with the other. Again, belief in Jesus is both necessary and sufficient for eternal life, and in order to have eternal life, it is both necessary and sufficient to believe in Christ.
There is only one set of believers–those who have eternal life, and only one set of those with eternal life–those who believe. Jesus has just demolished the “many pathways to God [eternal life]” argument. One may believe that there are many pathways to God and eternal life, but such a belief is not Scriptural; nor does it adhere to the teaching of Jesus.
III. These are not the only places in Scripture where Jesus has made these claims.
John 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
John 6:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
The People Respond
When taken as whole, Jesus’ statements in John 6:22-71 presented a stumbling block to his listeners. These were–
1. The Jewish leaders
John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man [this fellow] give us his flesh to eat?”
2. Christ’s disciples, those who had been following him regularly for some time
John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
3. The Twelve, those closest to Christ, his intimate friends and companions
John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
Believing the words of Christ presents problems for millions of those who hear him today. This is why God’s “sovereign choice in election” is a blessing, an aid, a help, a gracious act of forgiveness, not a hindrance nor any unfairness on his part. Without that gracious drawing of God, no one would come to Christ, as Jesus explains in John 6. We do not know why God draws some to Christ and not others.
We do know that nowhere in John’s gospel, nor any other place in Scripture of which I am aware, does God or Christ ever say that he will turn anyone away who seeks him. Rather, Christ says that all who seek him will find.
Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Are you one who struggles against placing your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ? Perhaps you find the bluntness of his words difficult to receive? If this is so, there is no need to turn away from Christ. God provides a remedy for your condition.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
The remedy for an unbelieving heart is prayer. If you want eternal life, humble yourself and ask God to reveal himself to you. When God reveals himself to anyone, he also reveals Christ.
John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–
Father, I pray that anyone reading this right now, who does not know you, will be found of you, and because of your drawing them, will come to know you, and that knowing you, they will come to know and receive Jesus Christ and through believing his Word, receive eternal life in his name. I pray, precious Father, that the gift you gave me when you drew my heart to know and believe in you, will be multiplied as the loaves and fishes, and reach out to many unto eternal life. Thank-you, Father, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus I pray, amen.
So Where in John 6 Is Human Responsibility and Choice?
Having said all that, God still provides for human responsibility and human choice. !!!!! How can this be? Well, God is God and he is infinite–we are finite, and unfortunately, still under the curse of the Fall. Some things that seem paradoxical are; perhaps God in humanity’s eternal future will explain all which is unexplainable now. What is known now is that God somehow takes our choice into account as he makes his own sovereign election.
In John 6 we find human responsibility and choice in the following verses:
John 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Definition of want: “Gingrich, (θέλετε from θέλω, “2. wish, will of purpose or resolve, wish to do Mt 20:14; Mk 3:13; J 6:21, 67; Ac 18:21; Ro 7:15f, 19f; 2 Cor 8:10; Col 1:27; Rv 11:5. οὐ θέλω I will not Mt 21:30 v.l.)” (See Bibliography for Gems from John)
Our faith is the mechanism, the means, which God uses to accomplish his own sovereign will.
All of us need God’s will–his help–in returning to him, in being drawn to Christ, and in choosing Christ, because our own will was destroyed at the Fall (Genesis 3). Regeneration is necessary in order to believe, simply because dead men don’t choose—they cannot. Faith is for the living; dead people have no faith, because they are dead. God regenerates us in Christ—we choose to believe.