by Berry Kercheville
“So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ … Jesus answered them, ‘Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him’” (John 6:41, 43-44).
Please carefully consider the words of Jesus. There is an action the Father must take in order for a person to come to Jesus. The Father must draw that person. The fact that the Father must act in order for us to come to Jesus fits many of the prophecies.
“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:6).
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezek. 36:26–27).
There are numerous New Testament passages that indicate a similar action by the Lord:
“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39).
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).
“But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).
Notice that God must circumcise our heart in order for us to love him with all our heart and soul. God must give us a new heart, change our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, and put his Spirit within us and cause us to walk in his statutes and be careful to obey his rules. And when we come to Jesus, it is God who “calls us” into the fellowship of his Son.
We did not change our hearts, God did. We did not decide, independently of God, to walk in his statutes and be careful to obey his rules; God caused us to do that. We did not come to Jesus all by ourselves, God called us into fellowship with Jesus. Do those words make you uncomfortable? In your Bible study over the years, have you quickly read past those words for fear that you might become a “Calvinist” if you accepted them? These passages are too plain for us to ignore. We must come to grips with what God has done within us.
Nothing had changed, had it? The Jews grumbled over the manna in the wilderness, and when Jesus came to them as the true bread, they were still grumbling. Notice in the text that Jesus actually explains to them why they were grumbling. They were grumbling because the Father had not drawn them. But wait, aren’t these Jews worshipers of God? Absolutely. Do they want to go to heaven? No doubt about it. Do they think Jesus is a great man and the “prophet” who was to come into the world (6:15)? They certainly do, so much so that they would like to make him a king. Are they going to heaven? No way! Why not? The Father had not drawn them to Jesus
Let’s talk about drawing. Do you see the significance of God’s method? The Father is not pushing or forcing or demanding; he is wooing like a lover. Just as a man dates a woman to encourage her to get to know him and fall in love with him, so God wants us to know all about him so that we desire a marriage with him.
Just to confirm this thought even more, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 54:13, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord.” The context of the chapter is a prophecy of God bringing his people back to him after their punishment in captivity. Earlier in the text, God said, “For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off” (v. 6). Again in verse 8: “In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you.”
This is the reason the knowledge of God is so important. God wants us to be drawn to him by his love. In our language, he wants us to “fall in love with him.” Thus, Jeremiah prophesied, “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts.” Therefore, get this: if you have not “heard and learned from the Father,” he has not drawn you nor have you come to Jesus.
But I’ve Been Baptized and I Go to Church!
Doesn’t matter. Just following some rules does not mean you have been drawn and wooed by God. In other words, obeying some commands, even obeying those commands meticulously (as did the Pharisees), does not mean you love him or that you are drawing nearer and nearer to him. You see, when Jesus said that the first commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we forget that there is a processwe must go through in order to love anyone or anything. Love is not commanded in a vacuum. We are drawn by the Lord to love him.
By what are we to be drawn? We have seen it clearly. We are drawn by God to Jesus by learning about him. This should remove any doubt as to why we should not fill the church with a bunch of “ministries” or with recreation or children’s church, etc. We want our children to be drawn by learning about how wonderful God is. We ourselves want to draw closer and closer to God by learning more and more about him. And when we seek lost souls in the world, our “draw” is one thing and one thing only: hearing and learning from the Father so that people will come to Jesus. In other words, don’t follow the denominational model. Any other “draw” is not to the Lord!
Just the Facts, Ma’am
Are our Bible study methods keeping us from being drawn by the Father? Have we become so concerned about right answers and getting the facts straight that we have forgotten that being “taught by God” is for the purpose of a right relationship? The Jews knew the scriptures and studied them diligently, but the Father had not drawn them because their purpose in their study was to know facts and rules apart from knowing God.
Look at it this way, when we fill out our tax return does it make us fall in love with the government? Upon completion of our taxes do we have an urge to send the government an extra $1000 just because we love our wonderful bureaucracy? This is what we have too often done with God. We have the cart before the horse. We started with a God who would destroy us if we did not obey. We have taught a God who is demanding we fix our rebelliousness or he will cast us into hell. And the result has been that we have not truly been taught by God and therefore drawn by the Father into a relationship with Jesus
God’s method of bringing us to him was by revealing the scriptures in such a way that he was pouring out his love into our hearts by the Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). As was revealed by Ezekiel, through what God did in Jesus, he changes our heart to a heart of flesh and “causes us to walk in his statutes and be careful to obey his rules.” We will obey him and we will even be careful to obey him, but it will be because he has drawn us with his beautiful character and his great love! Have you been drawn by God or are you just a “rule-keeper?”