Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Drawing of God

In Exodus 7:3-4 the LORD tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply the signs and wonders He would work in Egypt. He also tells Moses that Pharaoh will not heed the warnings and let Israel go free. In Exodus 7:13 we find out that Pharaoh's heart "grew hard" and that as the Lord said Pharaoh did not heed the warnings. 

We are not told "who" hardened Pharaoh's heart here, even though some translations will have "He hardened Pharaoh's heart" this is not found in the Hebrew. Just that his hard grew hard. 

When we get to Exodus 8:15 we are given explanation about who is hardening Pharaoh's heart so far.
But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the Lord had said.
Pharaoh is hardening his own heart, and not heeding the warnings as the LORD had said. Here the word for hardened is in the Hiphil Infinitive, a causative action that resulted in a completed fact which. Who caused it? Pharaoh.  

In Exodus 8:19 we find that Pharaoh's heart was hardened again. This time however it is in Qal Imperfect which is the action (that may be caused or not) which is NOT complete. Once again we are not told who is doing the hardening, but the fact that it is incomplete gives us some clue.

To help explain the relationship between the two, in the action of eating:
Qal = "He ate"
Hiphil = "He caused to eat, he fed" 
In Exodus 8:32 we find that Pharaoh hardens his own heart again, or "this time also" which I believe is informative.

We find twice in Exo 7 & 8 that Pharaoh's heart grew hard without the Scripture identifying who was doing the hardening, and twice we find that it was Pharaoh himself who did the hardening. The last time we find "this time also" which may only call back to the other time he was named as the cause, but I believe includes all four times.

By Exodus 9:12 however the story changes and we find the LORD hardening the heart of Pharaoh.
But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
In short, Pharaoh hardened his own heart first, as God knew he would, and then God hardened it further in order that Pharaoh would not collapse under the pressure on him and God would be able to show many powerful signs and wonders which would be spoken of for all History.
Much is made of the fact that the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart by Calvinists. I've written about Pharaoh's hardened heart before, but this time I want to consider a statement made by Dr. James R. White in his book "The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free" with respect to John 6:43-44:
"These are not words to be glossed over. Non-Reformed Protestants simply cannot explain Jesus' meaning." 
Now I've written about these verses before and I believe I have written about them in such a way that is completely consistent with the rest of Scripture. In this article however, I want to see if John 6 is following a pattern which is established in Scripture which does not agree with the Calvinist's view of that passage. 

Romans 1:18-32 speaks of how God handles those who reject Him. He has revealed Himself in Creation and all people know of Him through this. So they are without excuse, yet even though they know He exists and is Creator they reject Him.  What does God do with those who reject Him? 
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness..." "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions...""Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting...
It is interesting to me that it is the Devil who first blinds the minds of people who refuse to believe. Luke 8:12; 2Cor 4:3-4 It would appear to me that this happens after the person has rejected, or hardened their own heart and then after they have rejected the Devil steals away the seed of Truth lest they should believe, and then if this persists God Himself hardens their heart, or turns them over to a reprobate mind, in order that His wrath will be revealed in the world. Romans 1:18-19 which seems to match exactly what happened with Pharaoh, and for the same purpose.

When Calvinists talk about John 6 they talk about the Lord is explaining the "inability" of people to believe in Him unless they are regenerated first. Much weight is put on John 6:43-44 and John 6:63-65

In the 5th chapter of John's letter we find the Lord speaking to the Pharisees. They are upset with Him for having healed a man on the Sabbath. The Lord speaks of the witnesses they have of Him that ought to tell them Who He truly is. The final witness He cites is the Father and He puts it this way:
37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
"But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life." Here the Lord doesn't say that you are UNABLE to believe, or that you are UNABLE to come. He does say that you are not willing. They were more than willing to have their religious practices, but they were not willing to come to Christ.

In the chapters leading up to the 6th we find the Jews rejecting sign after sign, warning after warning, and revelation upon revelation.

John 6:1 says:

"After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples."
This is a crowd of people who had seen His healing we see in John 5. In other words, it's the SAME crowd of people. Then the Lord left there, and when these people saw that He was gone they followed after Him again and these same people found Him in Capernaum. John 5:22-25 

The Lord rebukes them for following after Him for the bread they ate instead of Him as the Bread of God. They ask Him how they too can do the works of God, and the Lord tells them the work God wants them to do is to believe on Him Who God sent - the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. John 6:26-29

He explains that He is the Bread that came down from Heaven and they say "give us this bread always" seemingly not understanding what He was really getting at. So the Lord explains, and He says that all who the Father has given Him will come and that all those who come the Lord will not cast out. In fact the Lord says that it is "the will of the Father that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have Eternal Life" not that it is the will of the Father that everyone He chooses to give life to will see and believe in the Son.

Now that they knew what He was teaching them, the Jews or the Pharisees, complained that He called Himself the Bread that came down from Heaven. They were not offended because the Lord was speaking of their "inability" to come to Him, they were offended because He said He Himself was the Bread of Life. They didn't understand how He could be when He had come from a family. John 6:41-42 But Isaiah 7:13-14 was specifically stated to help them understand and recognize Him.

The Lord then speaks very strongly to them:
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Verse 45b is something that doesn't get spoken about by Calvinists very often. It is interesting that the Lord says everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to the Him. Not that people are unable to do so, or that they must be regenerated in order to become able.

The Lord does say that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. Romans 1 is part of that drawing. Crucifying Christ publicly is part of that drawing. However, those who have heard but who do not learn - who do not receive it. Those who disbelieve, 2Cor 4:3-4, are no longer drawn they are turned over to their reprobate minds. They are hardened. The world will see the strongest example of that after the Church is translated to Heaven and the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" or the Tribulation starts and those who disbelieved, or did not believe, will be given a strong delusion. 2Thess 2:9-12

The Lord restates His promise that He is the bread of life and that all those who eat of Him will live forever and we come to John 6:60 which (coupled with verse 66) is a thorn in the side of Lordship Salvation proponents, including Calvinists.
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
The Spirit calls these people "Disciples" and yet they could not accept that the Lord Himself was the source of life. They were not saved. One does not become a Christian, or a child of God, by becoming a Disciple of Jesus, or a Follower of Jesus. There are many people who followed Jesus and tried to do all the things He said and walk as He walked - who are not saved.

That being said, the Lord talks to them about their offense.
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
The Lord was not taken by surprise by their disbelief, and He explained how God deals with that. All those who hear and learn will come. Those who disbelieve are blinded by the Devil, and the Lord turns them over to a reprobate mind. He doesn't draw them further. He simply presses them until they reject Him. John 6:66

But all those who have heard and learned, that is to perceive and receive, will come to the Son. We see this demonstrated next in John 6:67-70
67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
Just like the Lord said, all who have heard and learned will come to Him. These had heard and learned that the Lord's words are the words of Eternal Life. They heard and received. They explicitly state that they know exactly Who He is, the Christ of the Son of the Living God.

Yet isn't it interesting that Judas stuck with Him at least for a little while. The unsaved can be greatly motivated to stick it out and continue to pretend. Even with explicit teaching they will sometimes continue to claim belief, yet the Lord knows who has, and who will believe. Again, God is not surprised.

So what is the point? The point is that God deals with everyone the same way. He draws all with Creation and with the Cross, Rom 1:18-13 and John 12:32. Whether it is Pharaoh or anyone else. If one hardens his heart instead of hearing and learning, the Devil will steal the seed of truth and God will harden his heart further and reveal His wrath through it. God makes a spectacle of those who reject Him. It's so that people will know that He is in fact the LORD. It's not that Pharaoh was not able to believe, or that God had set it so that he would not be able to do so. It is that Pharaoh was turned over to his reprobate mind.

Here is an interesting question. If man being a "slave of sin" means that he cannot believe the Gospel, and can do nothing except sin - what does God mean when He says that He turns people over to a reprobate mind? Are they not already subject to it? What about hardening their hearts? Are they not already in rebellion against God? Calvinism simply isn't consistent with all of Scripture.

How do we "explain" John 6:43-44? We recognize that God works the same way He has always worked. We don't build a theology on a re-interpretation of part of a passage and then use that theology to re-interpret the rest of Scripture.

God draws all men, most men reject that drawing, and God turns them over to their own ways.

1 comment:

Kevl said...

We know that God has chosen those who will be Justified in Eternity past in accordance with Romans 8. We know that this is in accordance with His foreknowledge in accordance with Romans 8.

We know that the Father draws people to Christ, that is He gives them to Him.

That is not in dispute. What I sought to demonstrate in this article is how the Scriptures say this process works.

There is no need to invoke extra-biblical concepts and read them into the Text. We can simply read the Scriptures as they are written and believe them.

Thus we find that man has a will of his own, and is responsible for that will. We find that God accomplishes His will - that all those who believe might be given Eternal Life - without behaving in such a way as to violate the atributes we find revealed about Him in Scripture - and without compromising His sovereignty.

He is neither responsible for man's sin, or thwarted by it. The only "system" which establishes these two facts decisively is the one which is built line upon line from the Scriptures.

All other systems actually reduce God to some man sized caricature of Himself.