Why evangelize if no one can come unless drawn by the Father? (John 6:44)

(Michael Jagusch) #1

Curious what insights you all might provide.

Why Evangelize if no one can come unless drawn by the Father? Those drawn will enter a relationship with Jesus, and the rest cannot?



(christopher van zyl) #2

I think this is an important topic. It’s one of those instances where we will do well to really look at what scripture says, because our belief will determine how we behave. If we then believe that God draws certain men, we might be tempted to negate Our Father’s teaching to go into all the world.

So here is some thoughts I shall share on my understanding in this debate.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
John 5:39‭-‬40 ESV

So we see in the previous chapter that it clearly says that YOU refuse to come to me to have eternal life. It is something on our part. What this shows is we need to take more and more context into the verse you shared.

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— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
John 6:45‭-‬51 ESV

Here again we see the provenance of God. All men will be taught by God. That is the mechanism by which we are drawn. This encourages me all the more to go and evangelize! (Although I fail so often).

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV

Lastly, here we see that whoever believes has eternal life

I highly recommend the book Determined to Believe? by John Lennox. It has been one of the best resources to me in understanding free will, determinism, Calvinism etc

I hope this is helpful.

(SeanO) #3

@Onetruth68 Not all Christians believe that a person is incapable of choosing God without initiation from God. There are Christians who believe that men can choose to fall into the arms of the Savior even in their fallen state. But I believe a book by J. I. Packer strikes at the heart of your question. Packer agrees with your assertion that God is the initiator and yet he recognizes that we are still responsible to share the Gospel. I suggest reading his book “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”.

J. I. Packer’s Book

In this book, Packer says that human free will and divine sovereignty is an antimony - a mystery of sorts that we cannot understand. We should obey Jesus’ command to share the Gospel rather than getting stuck in rigid logic that is beyond our capacity to grasp regardless.

“I shall try to show further that, so far from inhibiting evangelism, faith in the sovereignty of God’s government and grace is the only thing that can sustain it, for it is the only thing that can give us the resilience that we need if we are to evangelize boldly and persistently, and not to be daunted by temporary setbacks.”

“The temptation is to undercut and maim the one truth by the way in which we stress the other: to assert man’s responsibility in a way that excludes God from being sovereign, or to affirm God’s sovereignty in a way that destroys the responsibility of man.”

“The root cause is the same as in most cases of error in the Church- the intruding of rationalistic speculations, the passion for systematic consistency, a reluctance to recognize the existence of mystery and let God be wiser than men, and a consequent subjecting of Scripture to the supposed demands of human logic. People see that the Bible teaches man’s responsibility for his actions; they do not see (man, indeed, cannot see) how this is consistent with the sovereign Lordship of God over those actions.”

“This is because thinking through it we have to deal with an antinomy in biblical revelation, in such circumstances our finite, fallen minds are more than ordinarily apt to go astray.”

“It is an apparent incompatibility between two truths. An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side, seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable…You see that each must be true on its own, but you do not see how they can both be true together.”

“An antinomy is neither dispensable nor comprehensible…an observed relation between two statements of fact…Accept it for what it is, and learn to live with it….think of the two principles as complementary to each other…Use each within the limits of its own sphere of reference.”

Free Will and Sovereignty

Below are some resources on another thread regarding differing Christian views on how free will and sovereignty work together.

Hope those thoughts are helpful. The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom as you study :slight_smile:

(Todd Sheets) #4

As Christians, we evangelize because God says to. The people of God evidence themselves as being his people by doing what he commands (Jn. 10:27-28).

This is not new idea.

God gave Adam dominion over the earth and was to subdue and expand.

He failed to believe God and instead chose the lie of the serpent. Adam was disobedient.

Moses led Israel out of slavery towards the promised land (expanding His Kingdom), but the people were not content and grumbled against God.

They didn’t believe God’s promises and were disqualified from the promised land. 1 Corinthians 10 and Hebrews 3 & 4 speak to this. How although God brought all the Nation of Israel out of slavery, not all were considered the ‘Israel of God’ and would not enter his eternal rest (the REAL promised land) because of unbelief.

In the NT, the primary way Christians expand God’s Kingdom is through obedience to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20). It is not delegated to the Christian to decide who is or will be saved, but to ‘go into all the nations’ and PREACH the good news.

Paul put it this way, "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Cor. 3:5-9) ESV

1 Thessalonians 1 & 2 speak specifically to the evidence and power of a changed heart by being obedient to preach the Gospel and evidencing it by walking in a manner consistent with a sinner who has been saved by God’s grace. The Scriptures even go so far to mention that certain people were hindering the spread of the Gospel, which was therefore displeasing to God and opposing mankind!

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!” (1 Thess. 1 & 2 ESV)

If the Holy Spirit has given you a new heart (Ez. 36:26) and opened your mind to the Scriptures (Lk. 24:45) and you believe that it relies on God to do a work that you could not, you see that the entire NT commands and empowers you to share the Gospel (sowing) with others in humility and to trust God to reap in ways and places that we cannot understand (he chooses the foolish things of the world)- because he gets all the glory! (Rv. 2.11)

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #5

Hello Michael @Onetruth68! Your question seems to imply that there’s a tension between the fact that we need to preach the gospel to all people, and people can only come if they are drawn by the Father. Then your second question presupposes a Calvinistic understanding of drawing. Your question is soteriological, and the way we would answer this would depend on a person’s soteriological view. What I’ll share with you are two orthodox views regarding soteriology, which are Calvinism and Arminianism.


  • In Calvinism, they interpret that those who would come are only those who are drawn by the Father. Not everyone would come because not everyone are drawn (irresistible grace). Jesus Christ died only for God’s elect (definite or limited atonement), and not for all human beings. In terms of evangelism, Calvinists does not see their view as antithetical to evangelism, because this view of predestination and election for them means that God will surely save His people. They share the gospel because they don’t know who the elect are, and since God uses means (sharing the gospel) to save His people (for His ends), they are bold because they know that God would surely save His elect.


  • In Arminianism, they believe that God draws all human beings to salvation. But not irresistibly as Calvinists would assert. Arminians believe in the necessity of God’s grace for a person in being able to come to Christ. Arminians call this prevenient grace, or grace before salvation or regeneration. The purpose of this grace is to make a person able to trust in Christ, but of course, the person themselves must be the one to trust in Christ. Arminians believe that Jesus Christ died for all human beings, but only those who believe would receive the benefits of the atonement. They would share the gospel because they believe that God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, and of course because God’s grace leaves all humans without excuse before a holy and loving God!

(Michael Jagusch) #6


Thank you so much for sharing. I deduce that once curious (via an evangelist perhaps), God will use the Scriptures and the Spirit to draw people to Himself.

I’ll definitely check out that book

Thank you


(Michael Jagusch) #7


Interesting point. I’ve come to that conclusion a few times (perhaps more than a few), that I’ll have to accept that the Fathers wisdom greatly exceeds my own. Yet curiosity will occasionally drive me to search for answers.

Thanks for the book recommendation.


(Michael Jagusch) #8

Thank you Todd,

Really appreciate the references. I guess that John makes it seem that God will only draw certain folks.? I realize that I need a deeper understanding. Why only draw certain folks if the rest won’t be with God eternally (left to their own choices)?

Thank goodness for Jesus actions!

(Michael Jagusch) #9


This is interesting and helpful.

I need to better educate on Christian history and logic.

Thank you for sharing.


(Todd Sheets) #10


You’re welcome and glad to share what little I know. I hope you were edified and God glorified by anything right and true.

Many folks more intelligent than me have proposed that the question isn’t “why does God ‘only’ save ‘some’ but ‘why’ does he save any”?

I’d suggest getting ahold of RC Sproul’s book, ‘The Holiness if God’.

Left to our own merits, we humans have a problem. God is Holy (completely separate from sin) and we are not.

There is no logical reason he would overlook his standards of complete perfection to allow any humans into his presence. Jesus put it like this, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”.

Romans 3 tells us that ‘none is righteous, no not even one. There is no one that seeks after god. We have collectively (because of our natural disposition against God [Romans 1]) have become unprofitable. Our feet are swift to shed blood and the way of peace we have not known.’

Jesus came as fully God and fully man to actively obey all God’s requirements.

He died on the cross as God poured out his righteous wrath on Jesus- as the penalty for sin for all who would believe. Thereby satisfying God’s requirement that sin be paid for by the shedding of blood.

On the third day Jesus rose from the grave. Proving that his promises and prophecies were true and that he had conquered sin and death!

By faith, his righteousness is accounted to us, and if we persevere to the end, we will rule and reign with him forever in eternity.

To the praise of the glorious grace.

(Mark Gilliam) #11

Because the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Person who died on the cross for our sins, who created the world, the Self Existent One, who also sits at the right hand of the Father commands us to evangelize. Mark 16:15 “And He said to them. ‘Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’…”

(Jennifer Judson) #12


I’m glad you asked the question. We all learn from one another and an examined faith is one that we can more fully express to the world. So I encourage all of us to keep asking questions. I’ve asked this question myself more than once. Thinking it through today has opened a new avenue of thought for me.

I used to think that when I’m led to give of myself to others, because I want to be an obedient Christian, that it was an offering I was making to others for their sake. Over and over I found it’s because God had a lesson for me to learn about myself and it was an opportunity to grow. Now I try to keep the mindset, what would you have me learn in the midst of this situation? What if evangelism is like that?

Let me just pose a couple of questions that puts the focus on the “commissioned” saved person and not the unsaved audience:

  1. What if part of God’s purpose in the great commission is to allow us the joy of participating in the salvation experience of others? That it is a continuing means of grace in our life?

  2. What if we are the vessels God may choose to use to draw a particular person? We are the magnet but God is the magnetic force.

  3. What if this is a means for God to build our faith and trust when we see Him at work in the situation?

  4. What lessons does God have for me in this process?

  5. If God is the irresistible force, then we are wholly dependent on Him. Then is evangelism the training ground where we grow from a rebellious individual to a dependent, obedient follower of Christ? Is it a means of sanctification?

  6. If we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, then how could we accomplish that and do otherwise? We become shepherds seeking and finding lost sheep.

  7. Can our loving, Christlike presence (no matter how awkward and inept we may feel) remove barriers that will bring others into the arms of Christ sooner? In doing so can we help spare them pain?

I’m not suggesting that God is dependent on us in any way. I’m suggesting our loving, giving, graceful God invites us and calls us to and into the joy of participating with him in His purpose of restoration in a broken world.

(Michael Jagusch) #13

Good afternoon Jennifer

Thank you for your insights. Hadn’t quite thought of that “angle” before. Perhaps I’ve been missing growth opportunities.

I asked the question to gain better insights on how God’s drawing and evangelism work together. It wasn’t a rejection of the great commission. I figured several folks on this web board may had some great info to share.

Great stuff

Thanks again


(Michael Jagusch) #14


Another follow up; If we (humans), in our limited comprehension, cannot understand this antinomy, why include it in Scripture? I realize this might not be answerable. Not much point to include a topic if we have no chance to understand it.

I recognize that the point of the inclusion may reside outside the topic of concern.



(Kathleen) #15

Hi, @Onetruth68 (…and others!), I had the privilege of reading your question last week (and reading the subsequent responses), and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. I think you got some good theological responses, so there’s really no need to add to that end. Instead, I wanted to reflect on the chapter as a whole for a moment. I found myself reading John 6 yesterday in my morning reading time, and one thing that really stuck me is the overall theme of being drawn or coming to Jesus.

John opens the chapter by telling the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 and then relays how Jesus slipped away from the crowd under the cover of darkness (…by walking out onto the water to his disciples in a boat held up by a fierce wind on the Lake!). When the crowds noticed Jesus was no longer where they thought he was, they went in search of him. But what was drawing them to Jesus in this instance? Jesus points it out to them…

…you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. [6:26]

A large number of the people it seems were (and still are) drawn to Him because of what He could give them: food, relief from disease, power that could be used for political ends, etc. That is, many come to Jesus with their own selfish ends in mind. We even see in the interchange between Jesus and the people, where the people seem to be trying to manipulate Him. (See vrs. 30-34.) Oh, how many times have I valued the gift over the Giver!

But Jesus points out that this type of drawing is not from God. Those who are drawn by God (and, subsequently, ‘do the work of God’ in vrs. 29) believe in Jesus, the one the Father has sent. They believe that in Him there is life…so that when life gets tough (or Jesus’ word to us is difficult - see the exchange from vrs. 48-69), we do not walk away from Him.

I love that @Jennifer_Judson pointed out that the evangeliser is also important in this equation. It’s not just a numbers game. In evangelism, God is doing a work both in us and as well as through us. All involved are important. We who were once drawn to God by selfish motives and have now tasted what it is to know Jesus are now the means by which God draws others from death to life. What a privilege!

So I guess my overall reflection is that drawing is an essential part both of salvation as well as sanctification. We all need to examine what draws us to Jesus. Even as Christians, do we know the daily drawing of the Spirit or are we more concerned with how Jesus will serve our overall life goals?

(Kathleen) #16

Also, for more on this question…

I’d encourage you to click on the magnifying glass up on the top right and do a keyword search, as there have been a number of conversations that include this topic. If none of them are helpful, begin a new thread with your question, and I know there will be a number of folks who would love to engage with the topic. :slight_smile: