God’s sovereignty is not subjective

By Mike Ratliff

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25-30 ESV)

God is Sovereign. That sovereignty is not partial. It is not subject to any conditions or forces outside of God. He has never nor will He ever relinquish any portion of His sovereignty. What He sets out to do, He does. What Men believe or refuse to believe about these truths changes nothing. Just because professing Christians cling to the fallacy that they are saved because they exercised their Free Will does not in any way diminish the truth from God’s Word that tells us the very opposite.

Man is fallen. All born of Adam are children of God’s wrath. No one seeks after God because none are righteous (Romans 3:10-18). God’s people are part of our Lord’s flock. Those of His flock believe God, seek God, and know the Lord’s voice. The Lord gives them eternal life. Notice that the veracity of their eternal life is not subject to them or their behavior. No, the Son holds them and no one can snatch them out of His hand.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40 ESV)

Who believes and who does not believe? Those who come to Jesus are the same ones who believe. Those who believe are the same ones who are given to the Son by the Father. All given to the Son come to Him and are given eternal life. However, many do not believe even though they are given the truth. The Father does not give these to the Son. If we go back a few verses in John 6 we see that He is speaking to people who seek Jesus from a motivation of ‘getting’ or ‘receiving’ food or provision from our Lord as He had fed them (5000) with five barley loaves and two fish. The next day they sought Him again seeking more. However, His response to them is that those who ‘find Him’ seek Him for Himself not to receive anything temporal. He actually rebukes these people and, as we shall see, tells them the qualifications for being part of His Kingdom, which they reject proving that they are not among those given to the Son by the Father.

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come 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. And I will raise him up on the last day. 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 6:41-51 ESV)

As you can see in this passage, these people are in unbelief. Their unbelief remains while those who do come to Him in belief are those drawn to Christ by the Father. The Greek word used here that is translated “draw” is ἑλκύω, ἕλκω or helkuō, helkō. This word gives us the picture of a fisherman dragging a net to shore in order to capture the fish caught in it. In this context, it refers to God the Father actually accomplishing His will in the hearts of those “drawn” to the Son by changing them from the inside out. As we saw earlier, no one seeks after God or the Son unless it is to ‘get.’ On the other hand, those drawn by the Father come in belief with faith that saves. Notice that the drawing includes being taught by God by hearing and learning about Jesus from the Father. This is part of their regeneration. Those who are drawn by the Father to the Son eat the bread of life, who is the Son, and will live forever. 

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:52-58 ESV)

Who eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son? Only those given to the Son by the Father do this. The Father draws them to Him as they are taught about the Son. They come to the Son and are given eternal life. What was the response of those seeking to come Him in unbelief?

Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:59-65 ESV)

Those who seek the Son in unbelief do so via the flesh. Only those given life by the Spirit come to son in belief and are given eternal life. Notice that even when the Gospel is given directly to those who are not given to the Son by the Father, they do not believe. No one can come to the Son unless the Father grants it to him. There is a form of Christianity that ignores these truths and teaches that people are saved by exercising their Free Will and are rewarded salvation for doing so. I do not see that taught anywhere in scripture and, in fact, what we see in God’s Word lines up perfectly with our Lord’s words in this passage. This does not change how we preach the Gospel though. We still offer the Gospel freely to all because this is the means that God has chosen to save His people. They hear the Gospel as God is drawing them to the Son. Those believe, repent, and are justified by the Father.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:17-25 ESV)

Notice that the message of the Gospel is not palatable to those not called or drawn by God to the Son. It is foolishness to them. However, to those granted it, it is the means of their justification as they respond in belief and repentance.

Soli Deo Gloria!

3 thoughts on “God’s sovereignty is not subjective

  1. But Mike – a Roman Catholic just told me we each have free will and can command God to save us! That conversation – contrasted with this clear teaching from the Word of God- reminds me of what Pat Morley wrote: “There is a god we want and there is a God Who is, and they are not the same god.”

  2. Amen to that Manfred! I’ve been doing a lot of online debating lately so this post is a “rebuttal” of sorts. I find it utterly amazing that some professing Christians actually believe they are able to counter Biblical exegesis with threats, innuendo, verbiage, and philosophy. Those who do that don’t want the God of the Bible.

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