Of God's Will and Personal Election
Jesus said: "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39).
By these words Jesus teaches us several things concerning God's will. First, that God has a certain definite purpose in Christ which determines the final state of all things and all men (predestination). Those given to Christ according to the Father's will cannot be lost forever. He will raise them up unto eternal glory. Jesus is speaking here not of the law or the moral will of God, but of His eternal purpose, God's decree. Secondly, Jesus teaches that of all that is given to Him He will lose nothing, that is, God's will (His eternal decree) shall surely be done. God's purpose and will shall stand.
God's will is His sovereign purpose to raise up unto eternal glory at the last day His people, given to Jesus Christ. Jesus repeatedly emphasizes this. He says, "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him," (John 17:2). Note well Jesus' words. God gave Christ power, power over all flesh. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is so for this purpose: to give eternal life as a gift of God. But to whom is this gift given and for whom is it intended? Jesus says very plainly, "as many as thou hast given him." It is for those given to Christ of God's determination. It is not for all men head for head, not by intention, design, will, or purpose. It is for many, many indeed, qualified by one thing, they are given to Christ. Jesus is speaking of what God did in eternity. He gave certain persons to Christ. It is not we who give ourselves to Him but God who gave us to Christ that He should give unto us eternal life. The text is plain and simple.
Moreover Jesus teaches us what is given unto Him according to the Father's will: His people who shall believe on His name. As He says, "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," (John 6:40). Jesus makes it clear where this believing comes from. They believe because they are given to Him and therefore shall come to Him by faith. For Jesus says, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out," (John 6:37). Jesus teaches that God wills to save certain persons, chosen of God and given unto Christ to be infallibly saved by Him. He teaches that according to the Father's will we are elected unto faith and salvation through faith.
For the elect Jesus died. As He said, "I lay down my life for the sheep," (John 10:15). Born of the Spirit as spiritually newborn babes, we enter His kingdom. As He said, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). We are not better than others but the work of God's almighty grace. Jesus also thanks the Father that this is His will. He prays, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes," (Matt. 11:25). The cause of this will of God Jesus also explains in the next verse. It rests in God. It was His sovereign good pleasure, the determination of His will alone. Jesus says, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight," (Matt. 11:26). Note well that Jesus teaches the truth that it was the good pleasure of God to reveal His grace and to save some, the helpless babes and to hide the saving knowledge of the gospel from others, leaving them in their pride and unbelief. Jesus teaches the truth of sovereign election and reprobation.
In harmony with this will of God to save His people, it is not possible for a redeemed child of God to lose his salvation. He may fall into sin or wander as a prodigal son for a season. He may as a sheep "be gone astray," but Jesus will seek him out and find him again. Jesus explains this. He says, "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doeth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?...Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish," (Matt. 18:14). God's will shall infallibly be accomplished. This saving work in Christ, grounded in election and Jesus' effectual saving work, is the cause of our being born again and believing.
This doctrine is taught in obedience to Christ by the apostles:
- --that God knew in love from eternity (foreknew) certain persons, predestinated in Christ unto the adoption of children of God, (Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph 1:4-11);
- --that God willed all things in Christ, that He might be the head of the elect church, (Col. 1:16-21);
- --that the cause of that will of God is His good pleasure, Eph. 1:11;
- --that God willed both vessels of mercy out of all nations and vessels of His wrath, (Rom. 9:21-24);
- --that the cause of faith is in God's ordinationthat as many as were" ordained to eternal life believed," (Acts 13:48);
- --that others stumble at the word in their willful unbelief, to which also "they were appointed," (I Peter 2:8).
But it is first of all Jesus' doctrine.
This truth is sometimes called Calvinism, and it is that as the teaching of John Calvin. It was also the doctrine of Martin Luther in his book The Bondage of the Will. It is, in fact, historic Christianity, for it is the teaching also of Augustine. But it is first of all the teaching of the Word of God by the mouth of the Savior Jesus Christ.
All who hear ought to believe the gospel, and many are called by its sound, but Jesus says, "many be called but few chosen," (Matt. 20:16). This is the cause of the separation between faith and continuing unbelief. Jesus does not teach a wonderful plan for all men which will happen only if we let it. He rather teaches that some believe not, "because ye are not of my sheep," (John 10:26). He makes it clear that God is just and sovereign. He teaches that God is GOD. He teaches the sovereign, almighty, sure will of His Father as a sure comfort to elect believers. Do you believe in this Jesus of the Scripture? It is a false christ of man's invention, whose Father wants to save all, but cannot save whom He wills.
By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor
Index to articles:
What Jesus said about...