Saturday, November 6, 2010

Getting the L Out of Here. Part 14


While discussing the atonement and people trusting in Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection the following phrase came up from one of my Calvinists. This is presented in order for them to prove Jesus’ work is limited to believers rather than for all people.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me,

Two things are remarkable about this phrase being presented as proving limited atonement. First it is an assuring promise that those the Father gives Jesus as his sheep will be saved. No ifs ands or buts about it. Against the decision Theology model where it depends on you making the right choice and sticking with it is not the issue. And also those who say by our behaviour change we both prove our faith and maintain it also is shown to be false. But how is it limiting which is terrifying rather than promising which is assurance?

Second we have a partial verse which should be finished to get the entire impact of what Jesus is saying:

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
ESV

It is not only bad form to interrupt a person mid sentence and comment but we also see from the remainder of the sentence quite the modifier. The first part can lead, and does lead many, to believe that Jesus is limiting the number of ones who can come. Instead of the terrifying thought; “Have I been given to Jesus?” we have the assuring statement of Jesus not casting anyone off who comes to him. So we can once again look to Romans 10:9,10 and believe this good news and live in the peace that it gives. No questioning necessary!

In the name of Jesus. Amen.†

15 comments:

Julie said...

One thing I have learned, St. David, is to check on scripture that people use. Even the verses that I want to use to "prove a point". I have used them partially, or improperly as well. The Babel curse plagues us all.

David Cochrane said...

St Julie,

Are you suggesting that I could fall prey to that? Surely not! :P

Andrew said...

David,
I just discovered your blog. I am currently looking into Confessional Lutheranism and having to give up my T.U.L.I.P is going to be an issue. So I wanted to ask you a question on this post. I am not so much arguing with you as I am trying to learn what the Lutheran answer would be to certain questions. So keep that in mind. If I ask you a question or present an argument I am not necessarily trying to prove you wrong. I am just trying to cure my own ignorance. With that being said....
Doesn't the first part of John 6:37 limit the whoever of the second part of the verse to those given by the Father in the first place? If not, why not?
Thank you in advance for your answer.

David Cochrane said...

Hi Andrew, Thank you for stopping by. The Calvinist understanding of scripture has the Sovereignty of God as the central theme. Lutherans on the other hand have the cross of Jesus as central. This would make giving by the Father a promise rather than a limit. The work of Jesus is the Father's love for the sinner in giving that sinner to Jesus to save. We would heartily agree on the Sovereign God part but would see Jesus Sovereingly dead on the cross for all sinners. Those given to Jesus will come to him and be his no ifs ands or buts.

Hope this helps answer your question. I dearly love speaking on this issue. God's peace. †

Andrew said...

Thanks for your answer. I have another question. Are all people given to Christ by the Father?

David Cochrane said...

Andrew, now you are switching the focus in the passage off Christ crucified and back on sinners. My suggestion is to check out the Book of Concord; http://www.bookofconcord.org/

Look at the articles relating to the atonement. This way you will get the flavour of the Confessional Lutheran understanding from the confession itself. :D

God's peace. †

Andrew said...

David, with respect (I mean that) your answer disappoints me. We agree that all who are given to the Father will come. We also agree that not all people come. It doesn't therefore seem like much of a stretch to say that not all are given. Does it? I do plan on reading the BoC soon, but I am reading C.F.W. Walther's book on the law gospel distinction first. If you don't have the time or inclination to go 'round about this with me that is fine. I take no offense, but if that is the case just tell me and I'll back off.

David Cochrane said...

Andrew,

I am sorry the answer seemed like trying to get rid of you! Not at all I love talking of this stuff. Please continue this conversation if you find it helpful.

The reason I mention the needful focus on Jesus for it is in him that we see the promises of God fulfilled. When we move focus off him and onto sinners is where we have the limited view of the atonement. Sinners are not at all the answers to question but the seat of the problem. Focusing on the Lamb of God we see he that took away the punishment for the sins of the world. Those who refuse Jesus do not receive the gift won by Jesus on the cross even though it was for them. This places the responsibility for the lostness of the lost on the lost instead of on God. I hope this is helpful Andrew but please ask additional questions if you would like! :D

I am pleased you are reading Walther's work on law and gospel. That is a masterful work. If you get the chance review the articles in the BOC dealing with that topic. I have some posts previous that deal with some of Walther's theses. I will go back and label them in the event you would find them of interest.

God's peace my brother! †

Andrew said...

Thanks David!
What I am trying to do here is figure out where the rubber really meets the road. Also, I don't believe that I am changing the focus from Christ to sinners. I also agree that as believers we should focus on the promise "whoever comes to me I will never cast out". It just seems so obvious to me that if all who are given come, and none who come are cast out, and not all come, then not all are given. Let me put it this way: Would you agree with this statement? There are people whom God knew from eternity that he wasn't going to save.

Anonymous said...

My, my, my, have we been busy on the blog. Maybe I should go to Europe more often and cut myself off from cyber religion,so that all this discussion can proceed.

Bruce

By the way, you were right about the granddaughter Dave. She is the best one anywhere.

David Cochrane said...

Andrew,

Sorry for taking so long to answer. Work gets in the way of what is really important! :D

Yes God knows all so he knows who will be saved and who will not be saved. However, that is not what God bases his election on. Neither does knowing indicate desire since he desires all to be saved. We are much better served staying within what scripture teaches rather than looking behind Jesus to see what Our Father is up to. This will not satisfy our curiosity and leaves much in mystery. Sola scriptura.

God's peace. †

David Cochrane said...

Bruce,

Glad you enjoyed that baby. I predicted you would! Wow do I have the gift of prophecy or what? Answer: or what

pax doimini. †

Jordan Cooper said...

John 6 was a chapter often used in early Lutheran discussions to show the doctrine of election. Walther used this chapter quite often as well. I don't really see how it would work in a discussion of limited atonement, as John 10 is usually the place Calvinists go to.
Andrew- If John 6 is about election, then it need not be universal. The elect are a particular number, not everyone (if you don't believe me on this look at Hoenecke, Pieper, or Walther. I can provide quotes if necessary). Jesus does however say later in the book of John that he will draw all men unto himself. Thus if I see that a verse seems to be particular in its focus, I assume that it is discussing election. However, if it is universal I assume that it is discussing God's universal grace, especially as given through the universal atonement of Christ.

StephenT said...

David,

I just discovered your blog today. I attend a baptist church but desire to have ears to hear when truth is spoken. I benefited from your responses to Andrew. With just a few words you spoke some important truths. To cling to Christ and His cross as central, and ABOVE our reason, is a watershed insight for those on the christian journey.

David Cochrane said...

St Stephen, Thank you for reading my blog! I pray you find it helpful and thank you also for your kind words.

God's peace. †