Skip to main content

Unless the Father Draws

Photo courtesy of hisks
If Shakespeare and Hamlet could ever meet, it must be Shakespeare's doing. Hamlet could do nothing. C.S Lewis in Surprised by Joy.

Compelle intrare, "compel them to come in."

It seems that I've been on a bit of a C.S Lewis kick here lately but then again I can't envision a scenario where that would be a bad thing necessarily. The quote above comes from Lewis' account of his conversion to theism in 1929. It is found in the second to last chapter of his autobiography Surprised by Joy: The Shape of my Early Life, which is appropriately titled "Checkmate." Along with being a conversion account that only a literary great like C.S Lewis could pen, there are also some powerful truths found in his imagery. In a sense it is not unlike the way he explains the Christian faith through the medium of Narnia. Of course, this is no fantasy novel or anything remotely related to it. Rather, what I mean is that Lewis has a flare for using deeply meaningful metaphors even in his non-fiction writing.

In the quote about Shakespeare and Hamlet, Shakespeare is to be seen as God and Hamlet represents Lewis. This much should be obvious. With that point in mind it is clear that Lewis means that if he were ever to encounter God it must be something that God would do. It could not be of his own manufacturing or effort. Hamlet could no more extricate himself from the pages of the play to meet Shakespeare than Lewis could force a meeting with God. This is an interesting idea and one that could be somewhat disturbing to people whether or not they are believers. I mean think about it for just a moment. That means that we are powerless to come to God on our own terms. However, Jesus told us as much 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. 

This is almost a scary thought because it means, as I said, we are powerless to effect our own salvation. This means we couldn't go to God even if we wanted to...right? Let me say, I do not think this means that if someone earnestly wants salvation God will not give it to them, and here is why. I don't think we can even desire salvation apart from the unction (there's an old school word) of the Holy Spirit, that drawing call of God. If we look at the passage this verse comes from we find that there was a group of Jews who were "grumbling" about Jesus claiming to be from Heaven. They were saying, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? This is not the image of someone coming to Jesus, admitting He is the Christ and begging for salvation. Nowhere in the Bible do we find someone humbly coming to Jesus as savior only to be rejected.

Additionally, we have to look at this verse, and this idea for that matter, in light of another passage, Luke 14:16-24. This is the parable of the dinner where the master invited many people and no one showed up. Why did they not show up? Jesus tells us they all made excuses not to come...they didn't want to come. Then in verse 23 He says this;

And the master said to the slave, "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled."

This parable is ripe with meaning and one of the truths that Jesus is getting at is that there will be others besides the Jews who will become children of God, e.g. the Gentiles (that's us by the way). There is something else that I draw from this parable and it relates to the subject at hand. The master told the servant to go all over the place and compel all kinds of people to come to his supper. The image here is not of a master who had a select list of people that he gave to the servant. Instead it was a broad invitation to as many people as he could get to. Furthermore, in verse 24, Jesus says;

For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.

This shows us a very, very important truth. Even if we are called upon by God to "come" we have the choice as to whether or not we will go. When they were called from their fishing nets and tax booths the disciples could have chosen not to follow Christ. When he was confronted with the option to sell all he had and follow Jesus the rich young man decided to turn away. You and I all have the option to either accept or reject the call of God, but He alone decides whether or not to call us.

Again, this can be a rather unsavory thought. However, I do not believe that there has ever been a person who honestly wanted to follow God who was rejected by Him. The one who should be afraid is the one who has never wanted to go to God. It is like people who say they are afraid that they may have committed the unforgivable sin. My response is, "If you are concerned that you have committed it, I can assure you that you haven't." The ones who have probably either never know it, or worse yet, don't care.

Let me give a few more promises from God that will help salve the soul that is concerned over this issue. First, Matthew 18:14 tells us that, it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. God does not delight in seeing any of His beloved people perish in Hell. He wants as many people as possible to crowd Heaven for all of eternity because it will be as big as it needs to be, there will be room! Secondly, Jesus beckons every person who reads the Gospels with these words in Matthew 11:28;

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 

He doesn't say "some" who are weary or "a few of you who are heavy-laden." He says "all." The sad reality is that all who are called will not respond affirmatively. Make no mistake about it, all who are called will respond but that response may be like the guests in the parable. Many will make excuses or simply say "no." As cold and hard a fact as it is, it is not our concern who God chooses to call. Our concern, first and foremost, is how we respond to that call. Furthermore, we must be ready to be used by God to call others to Himself. This is the essence of the Great Commission, God using His children to call other people into the fold.

In the end it may be a hard truth to accept that God calls those whom He chooses. It may be difficult to understand that if we are to come to God in the first place, He must initiate the relationship. However, this is the core of the Gospel. We are powerless to effect our own salvation and it is because of that fact that God sent His Son to die for us. It is a gift that we are given and our only role in the matter is to either accept or reject it. If there were any other way, it would be based on our works and then there would be cause, if even only a minute one, for us to boast in ourselves.

I freely admit that I do not, and never will, fully understand the mind of God. I certainly don't have all the answers to this question but the few things I do know give me comfort enough to press on.

1) To come to God He must call us first.
2) God's will is that none should perish.
3) God's call is broad, not narrow.
4) God has made the ultimate effort to reach out to us by His Son living on this earth, dying for our sins and rising from the grave for our justification.
5) When God does call we are left with the option to follow or not.

And finally, the words that the great theologian Karl Barth is said to have summed up his knowledge of God with,

6) "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Godspeed,
Christian 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Characteristics of a Godly Watchman Pt. 1: Vigilance

Most everyone has heard an alarm go off. It may be something as mundane as the alarm clock every morning that tells us it is time to get up and get ready for work, or it may be something as frightening as a fire alarm. No matter what the specific purpose of the alarm they all share one common theme: they are meant to alert people and warn them of impending danger.

In Joel 2:1 the Lord commands the prophet to; Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountainbecause the day of the Lord is coming. That is, God’s judgment is coming upon Israel for their sinfulness. Further along in the chapter, in verse 15, Joel is again commanded to blow a trumpet but this time it is to call the assembly of the people together so that they can, consecrate a fast. This tells us two important things about the role, or the duty, of the prophet of God. First, it tells us that the prophet is to act as an alarm to warn the people of God’s coming judgment. Secondly, the prophet is also to be the mo…

A Letter to Christian Girls.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Tonight my wife has been asked to speak to a group of Christian girls on the issues of dating, purity, relationships, etc. As part of that, the youth pastor of this church asked if I would write a letter to the group of young women from a guy's point of view. Now, I can't say as I remember ever having written a letter to a group of teenage girls but I do have some pretty strong feelings about the way our culture has portrayed love, marriage and particularly women. So, what I would like to do in this post is reproduce for you some of this letter. I may add some here and subtract some there but I want this to be my letter to all the Christian, young ladies out there.



What I want to do, through this letter, is share some things from a “guys” point of view because it’s no secret that we see things a little differently than you ladies do. You may think that all we think about …

My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter?

Have you ever seen that bumper sticker? The one that says "My boss is a Jewish carpenter." I certainly have and generally when I see it I quietly agree with the driver and take the encouragement that comes with seeing a fellow soldier in the Lord's army. Just this evening, though, I had a thought as I was driving home from Bible study. "Should Jesus be my boss?" Now before you go casting judgment on the thought let me explain what I mean. I propose that instead if being a "boss" we should be looking at God and Christ as "Master." I'll explain by looking at some differences in the idea of boss and master.

Difference #1: Why were you hired?

When an individual is hired for a job by an employer it is for a specific reason. Perhaps a particular skill, talent or level of education qualifies someone for a particular job. The employer hires the person that is the most qualified to fulfill the task. Granted, this is the way it is supposed to work. …