How does God save sinners? Much confusion exists in our evangelical culture as to what it means to be saved and have eternal life. In John Chapter 6, Jesus tells us three fundamental truths concerning how God saves sinners.
Truth Number One: Spiritual Deadness: You are born spiritually dead and unable to come to Christ due to the guilt of sin. Jesus says in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” In John 6:65 He reiterates this same truth: And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Jesus clearly says that no one CAN come to Him. The wording here in the original language means inherent ability. No one has the ability in and of themselves to believe in Jesus or come to Him in faith. Why do sinners lack the ability to come? The Bible clearly teaches that we are in bondage to sin and that we are dead in sin and that we are unable to come to Christ if left to ourselves.
Ephesians 2:1 reads: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. Romans 8:7–8: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Notice Paul’s wording here: The lost mind—the person who is not a believer—CANNOT submit to God’s law and cannot please God. It doesn’t simply say that they won’t please God, but that they cannot. They lack the ability. What is the one thing the pleases God the most? Coming to faith in his Son Jesus. You in your bondage to sin cannot please God. You cannot come to Jesus.
1 Corinthians 2:14: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Again, the natural person, or the lost person, the unsaved person, is NOT ABLE to understand the things of the Spirit. A lost person lacks understanding. A lost person sees the cross as foolishness.
Here’s the fundamental problem that is universal to all people. We are all born spiritually dead, children of wrath, blinded by Satan, and not able to understand spiritual truth, not able to please God, not able to come to Christ.
Truth Number Two: Sovereign Regeneration: The Holy Spirit must overcome your deadness by granting you new life and drawing you to Jesus. Notice the wording Jesus uses there in verse 44 that we cannot come UNLESS the Father “draws us” and in verse 65 Jesus says we cannot come UNLESS the Father “enables or grants” us the ability to come.
The idea behind the word “draws” is that a person does not want to come to Christ and does not have the ability to come to Christ so God must overcome this unwillingness and deadness and inability by working and moving and drawing so that the sinner will come. In other words, this drawing is effectual in the sense that when God draws, the sinner will come.
In verse 65, Jesus uses the same terminology but changes from “drawing” to “granting”. The word here in the original language means to grant a gift. In other words, this ability to come to Christ is a gift that only God gives to the sinner. You as a sinner who is spiritually dead and in bondage cannot come unless the Father grants you as a gift of grace the ability to come.
Jesus summarizes this theme in John 6:63: “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.” This is just another way of saying that God has to grant or draw or enable you to come. The Holy Spirit has to grant you life. Why? Because in your flesh—in your bondage to sin—you are helpless. You are dead. You are incapable of coming. The flesh is of no help at all. In the original language, the wording here conveys benefit or assistance. You in your flesh as sinner you can’t aid or benefit or assist in coming to Jesus. You can’t do it unless the Spirit gives you life.
The Bible uses many metaphors and images to describe what happens when God sovereignly overcomes your spiritual deadness and frees your will so that you will come to Christ. Ezekiel 36:26–27: “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.”
Ephesians 2:4–5: ‘But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Truth Number Three: Saving Faith: When the Holy Spirit gives you new life, you will come to Jesus in repentance and faith. In John 6:37 Jesus proclaims, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” If you’ve been given by the Father to Jesus, you will come. If you’ve been drawn by the Father, you will come. If the Spirit has given you life, you will come. If the Father grants you the ability as a gift, you will come. Jesus does not say that you “may come” or that you “might” come, but that you will come.
In an instant He powerfully overcomes all of those spiritual barriers and grants you life and you will come in faith to Christ. You will repent of your sins. You will place all of your trust in Jesus. Romans 10:9 states, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Why did you confess Jesus as Lord? Why did you believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead? Why did you come to Christ in faith? Why were you saved? Because God overcame your spiritual deadness and rebellion and inability and depravity and granted you the grace to come. He gave you life so that you would confess Jesus as Lord. He caused you to be born again so that you would believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead.
Let us praise God for: Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.