Jesus said "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up on the last day.'' (John 6:44). Many refer to this verse in an effort to support a man-made doctrine which says that only those whom the Lord "calls'' in some mystical way can be saved. They will say that this calling is some sort of direct operation of the Spirit. Calvinism teaches that man is totally passive and cannot do anything until God zaps him with some special anointing, thereby enabling him to believe. Such an idea is foreign to the scriptures.
Our Lord does draw people to Him, and no one can come to the Lord apart from God's drawing power. But this is not a matter of God electing to save some of us and condemn others of us arbitrarily. Consider: God wants all to be saved, and the reason some are lost is not because God has unconditionally chosen them to be.
For Whom Does God Desire Salvation?
The good news is that God does not desire anyone to be lost. No one! God is "...patient, not wishing for any to perish." (II Peter 3:9). God is "compassionate" (Matthew 9:36; Psalm 86:15) God is "...just" (Romans 3:24-26). God is "Sorrowful" that many are lost (Ezekiel 18:23; 31,32; cf. Matthew 23:37). To suggest that man cannot respond to God's gospel apart from a special anointing or calling that God gives to them that He does not give to all others makes God responsible for the lost being lost. But that does not fit with the Biblical description of God's character and nature.
God made salvation available to all. Salvation is available for all men, not just a select few. Jesus died for everyone (Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16). God wants all to come to know the truth (I Timothy 2:4). The invitation is open to all, 24 hours a day. There's no such thing as waiting on God's "special call.'' (Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 22:17). He has already issued His call, and it has gone out unto the whole world. Any of us can choose to answer it, or not.
How God Draws People Unto Himself
The context of Jesus' statement explains how God draws men and women to Himself. There is nothing mystical about it. The following verse in the context (John 6:45) reveals how God draws men unto Himself. "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." Note the words "taught" and "every man" (all drawn the same way; by being taught) and "hear" and "learn" and "come". These are not mystical words. They are common, everyday words which are used to describe how it is that people are drawn to Christ.
What is it that is taught and heard and learned? The means or method by which God "calls'' or "draws'' all men is the Gospel. "And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thessalonians 2:14). There is no special, mystical anointing of the Holy Spirit, but rather, the Holy Spirit calls men through the gospel; and it is the gospel that is the power (Romans 1:16).
God draws people unto Himself through the teaching of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is God's power, his drawing power, to save (I Corinthians 1:18-21). Therefore, all people, when they hear the gospel, at any moment, have the ability to respond to God's gospel call. They also have the ability to reject it (Acts 13:45-48).
Sinners are saved by God's grace when they respond in faithful obedience to the gospel that draws them to God (Matthew 7:21). God is always ready for men to repent and obey (Acts 17:30). It is those who will do so that God has predestined for salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:9). This is an important concept to recognize. God has not predestined individuals to be saved or lost, but rather, has predestined the method by which we are saved. If we obey the gospel, we are baptized "into Christ" (Romans 6:3,4). God has predestined all those "in Christ" to be "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3). But it is up to us as to whether we will obey or not.
How To Be Drawn To God's Son And Be Saved
There are not many ways to be drawn to God. In fact, there is only one way to come to the Father (John 14:6). One cannot get to heaven through Jesus apart from obeying Him (Hebrews 5:9). Those who attempt to enter another way are counted as thieves and robbers and will be unsuccessful (John 10:1).
How does one answer God's call? This is important for you to know because God is calling you. Have you answered? If not, will you? Will you call upon Him? For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." (Acts 2:21). The people who heard this wanted to know how to do so (Acts 2:37) They were told "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Men must believe and obey (Mark 16:16). Saving faith is alive, not dead, and proves itself by obedience to the gospel. The gospel is God's call to us by which we are drawn to Him. Our obedient faith needs to be the answer we give His call.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 7.1; January 2000