Posted by: William | January 16, 2008

A Work of Grace

This is a post that I’ve had on my mind for some time, although it’s mostly floated about in a sort of abstract form that I wasn’t really able to articulate into words. I feel today at least somewhat confident to express these thoughts and feelings. It comes from the verse John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” The statement seems clear enough. However, as it turns out, the use of the word “draws” is perhaps understating the truth.

The word used is Helkuo, defined literally, “dragged.” The word is used again in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a young slave girl. The girl’s owners were angry and they “seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers” (Acts 16:19). In our verse in Acts, there is no doubt that Paul and Silas were taken by force before the authorities. They weren’t drawn there, or gently urged to go there. They were forcibly taken. When applied to our verse in John, it becomes, to me, much more powerful. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me drags him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

I love this because when I look at my life, it rings so true. If you hate, I mean really loath someone and that person were to come up to you and say, “I can make you stop hating me and then we can be friends; all you have to do is agree to it.” I think we’d most likely say no. I believe it is this way with God as well. I thank God that he did not ask my permission before dragging me away from my dangerous path to destruction. I thank God that he changed my heart of stone to a heart of flesh, beating and pumping and exhilarated to be alive! This is true freedom of a living will; what living eyes that can see beauty, ears that can hear the most wonderful music, tongues that taste the greatest delicacies, nostrils that can smell the ripest roses and skin that can feel the most gentle caress of a loved one would by any means reject them? I doubt there would be any.

As I have been pondering these thoughts recently, I have consistently been drawn to the hymn Come Thou Fount. The final verse sends chills down my spine and sends my heart into a kind of flutter over this amazing grace.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
And let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.

I thank God for the grace and favor he has shown me, unduly according to his good pleasure. I pray that I and all of his church would give, always, all the glory to him, to whom it is due. Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it for Thy courts above.

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Responses

  1. nice post. 🙂

  2. Bill. One of my favorite verses, really, and by far one of my favorite hymns. And you are absolutely right about being dragged. What a great gift it is that God our Father did not ask permission. That He acted the Father and did what He had to do to save His own. Save! And this is completely the work of the Spirit in the life of a dead sinner, effectively calling, drawing, and turning him from death to life. Who can resist the Spirit? It is Irresistable to an all powerful and sovereign God…that is good news, Gospel.
    Jer. 31:18-19, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; Thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh.”
    Lam. 5:21, “Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned.”
    Psa. 80:3, “Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.”

    Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. As the gospel comes to us, God speaks through it to summon us to himself (effective calling) and to give us new spiritual life (regeneration) so that we are enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus God that Father speaking powerfully to us, and regeneration is God that Father and God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in us, to make us alive.
    Sometimes the term irresistible grace is used in this connection. It refers to the fact that God effectively calls people and also gives them regeneration, and both actions guarantee that we will respond in saving faith. The term irresistible grace is subject to misunderstanding, however, since it seems to imply that people do not make a voluntary choice in responding to the gospel – a wrong idea, and a wrong understanding of the term irresistible grace. The term does preserve something valuable, however, because it indicates that God’s work reaches into our hearts to bring about a response that is absolutely certain – even tough we respond voluntarily.
    Wayne Grudem from Systematic Theology (pg. 699)


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