Are All Welcome? (ATP) 

John 6:65 says “And He (Jesus) said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” Verse 37 says, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” Does this mean that people can’t come to God on their own? 

One of the amazing things about this question, is that I was literally just studying these scriptures. It seems like God might want us to understand it! 

Romans 3:10-12 (NASB) says, as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” Well that’s a pretty heavy statement but it shows the condition of the human heart after sin. Nobody really wants God. We may think we do because we don’t want hell, or because we want help, but the truth is, everyone resists God Himself. I can verify this by telling you quickly about sin. Sin is the opposite of good which is God so to embrace sin, even a little, is rejection of God.

With that said, let’s look at the context of these scriptures of John 6, backing up to verses 44-45 (NASB) which says, “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 SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” This is a scripture that Calvinist (or those who believe only those God chooses get to go to Heaven) use to back up their theology. But is this what these scriptures are telling us? I don’t believe so.

The greater context here is dealing with the heart of man. In verse 26 Jesus talked about how they were seeking Him for the feeding (naturally) not because He was God. In other words, they weren’t as interested in what was being taught as they were in what they got for showing up. He was talking about the difference between those who come and have a heart to learn and those who are just trying to get what they want.

God does in fact draw people. I believe He is drawing all people. How would we know this? 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us. It’s what people do with it that matters. Do people answer the call? When God draws, how do they respond? Humans are so lost that they don’t even know they need God. I see this time and time again. We cannot even come to God unless He draws us in. However, that does not say that there are some He won’t draw. He draws mankind through various methods so we also have to be careful about thinking of that in our box. 

When trying to understand scripture, we have to look at it from the standpoint of God‘s love. God‘s love is pure and real. Although the Bible tells us that His love is greater than our love, that does not mean that we cannot understand His love at all. After all, human love only exists because of God.  Would love drive you to pick some and not others simply on a whim? Not the sacrificial love that the scriptures speak of. Would love send some to hell, simply because you didn’t choose them? Of course not, not the love that came for the entire world (John 3:16). 1 John 4:18 (NASB) says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” Wouldn’t the thought that God has destined some people to hell with no way to choose otherwise be a major cause of fear? See, this idea doesn’t have to be taken very far to see it doesn’t hold up scripturally. 

Finally, the full understanding of the last part (vs 37) is found a few scriptures later. John 6:40 (NASB) says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds (comes to) the Son AND BELIEVES in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” This is the key part, they come because they are called, they stay because they believe. Many come, not all stay. To those who believe continually, will also stay continually. 

I love what one theologian said when answering the question are people “once saved always saved?” He said, “This I can guarantee this, there will be no unbelievers in Heaven.” I don’t think it’s our job to sit around deciding who gets to go and who doesn’t, we are not equipped to decide that. Our job is to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and let the Holy Spirit work on the hearts of people to either come to believe, or let them continue in their unbelief by their rejection.

The whole counsel of God is important to understanding His word. In other words, if something seems different, yet doesn’t fit the character clearly spelled out, we have to seek a different interpretation. I may not know everything about scripture, or every language it’s written in, but I know the gist by seeing God’s heart throughout. If nothing else, by the fact that at our worst, He proved His love most. That’s a special love that is going to every length to see us get where God has us to be. That indeed is a very special love.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff