Question:

I am still struggling a bit with the topic of predestination and at least from the translation I am reading from which is the NIV the verse John 6:65 seems to point toward predestination. What do you think it means?


Answer:

"And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father"" (John 6:65).

To properly understand a verse we must consider the context, but first let's take note of what the verse does not say: It doesn't say how the Father grants people to come to Jesus. It doesn't state what the criteria the Father uses to grant people to come to Jesus. All we know is that people cannot come to Jesus unless the Father allows it. In other words, people cannot decide on their own how they want to come to Jesus and the Father will accept it.

People who saw Jesus in person, including his miracle of feeding 5,000 people were looking for Jesus. They were following him, but for the wrong reason. "Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him"" (John 6:26-27). By their own inadvertent testimony they stated they did not believe in Jesus. "Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?"" (John 6:30). What they wanted was more free food. That the earlier miracle was done to prove that Jesus was the Christ didn't matter to them. Likely with such a crowd no matter how many miracles Jesus might do, it would never be enough. They would always hold out and say "We'll believe in you if you do more miracles." Jesus understood this.

"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 the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:36-38).

These people physically come to Jesus, but since they did not accept Jesus, they didn't fully and truly came to him. Here then is a hint. The Father has given Jesus those who believe in him -- really believe, not just a claim of belief or an offer to believe.

Jesus shortly returns to the same point:

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me" (John 6:44-45).

Here then is how the Father brings people to Jesus. People are taught by God. Those who hear and actually learn from God will fully come to Jesus. Add in Paul's statement and it becomes very clear: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Those who believe come to Jesus. How do people believe? They hear the words of God -- words that that came from the Father.

Jesus is not talking about arbitrary selection of individuals from before the creation of the world. He is talking about a plan of God that drew people to the truth. It starts with God's teaching, which then awakens belief in some people who then seek out Jesus with their full hearts.

Jesus points out in John 6:65 that these people wanted to follow him on their own terms and in their own way. But God's way requires learning and believing. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Corinthians 1:21).

Predestination inserts assumptions as to how God grants followers to Christ; instead of looking for and accepting the verses that explain how God accomplished this feat. Instead, imaginative methods are inserted that take all personal responsibility out of the equation and turning God into someone partial to some individuals.