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John 6:44 Too many misapply this verse
Jesus the Savior said in John 6:44 something well known to many of you who come to this website. But the reason I’m writing on it, is that this statement by Jesus is SO misunderstood and SO misapplied by so many.
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
What does this verse mean to you? Of course, I totally accept and believe this. Every single person who has a real relationship with Jesus Christ is in that relationship because Father in heaven opened the door and invited/called them in. No exceptions. If you go on to read the next verse John 6:45, these same people are described as being taught by God himself. Keep that in mind.
The reason for this blog: many believers, especially some who keep 7th-day sabbath, feel there is no basis for “evangelizing” or witnessing to people about the saving work of Christ or about God’s Kingdom – because, they believe, ONLY God the Father can open others’ minds to understand spiritual truth or to come to Jesus/Yeshua. (Yeshua is the given Hebrew name for Jesus.) So since this is solely God’s work to call them, they say, therefore what’s the point in talking with people about the Word, or Christ, or the gospel?”
That is so wrong and such a false conclusion, and has drastic consequences. Should we forget “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” (Romans 10:15). Should those hearing The Good News to be limited only to those you’re already certain God has already called? And is “preaching” to be limited to just ordained ministers? You’ll see shortly that some of the most effective talking about Jesus was by regular members!
I’m coming out in a couple of months with a full teaching or sermon on whether or not we confine the sharing of our joy just to those we somehow are certain God has called. This blog is an introduction to get you thinking about this.
A tangential part of this discussion – which I’ll cover in my full sermon on it – is whether or not the “good news” is to be limited to strictly the “Ezekiel warning message” (Ezekiel 33:1-11) as too many believe. Others limit any witnessing to those times someone initiates the conversation and asks you why you believe the way you do (1 Peter. 3:15). That’s better than total silence, but there’s surely more.
Let me ask: Sure, God the Father has to call individuals before they can come to Christ. But how would you know WHICH ones God is calling?
And doesn’t God use people to do his work in much of what He does? Does he just use preachers, prophets and teachers?
I believe those who believe the average church member has no calling to evangelize or witness to people because of John 6:44, have a serious misunderstanding. The result of this is that the good news doesn’t get shared as much as it could be.
I know a lady who came happily for the first time to seventh day sabbath services, which she learned from reading certain magazines. But when she entered the church hall, she spotted one of her best friends there. Short story: her best friend had never shared the truth of God’s word with this newcomer because the member felt there was no point. That was God’s job to open her mind (she reasoned), or maybe it was up to the ministers. She felt that wasn’t her job. So she never ever shared the joy of the wondrous truth she knew.
The newcomer was so shocked, hurt and appalled that someone who had the Pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46), or had the message of the truth, did not think she should share it with her own best friend. The newcomer walked out of the building. I don’t know if she ever came back. The newcomer saw it as an act of profound selfishness. We have the Pearl of Great Price. Show it, share it, talk about it.
True, God IS the one who must first call people. But please understand, God uses PEOPLE – people like you and me – to share the good news. He doesn’t use just ministers and preachers.
Let me show you a couple great examples of average church members sharing Christ and God’s kingdom with others. They didn’t wait for ordained ministers to do it. This blog may be a challenge for some of you who have grown comfortable not having to speak God’s word to anyone.
You surely know the story of the deacon Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7. Please read the end of the story here if you’re not familiar with it (Acts 7:51-60).
As a result of Stephen’s murder or martyrdom, a great persecution broke out and the enemy started rounding up believers in Christ everywhere and throwing them into jail. Some were martyred. As a result, many of them fled Jerusalem. The apostles stayed, but the regular brethren left town.
Acts 8:1-5 “Now Saul [became known as Paul] was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were ALL scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”
Please focus now on verses 1 and 4: the regular brethren – NOT the apostles – were scattered and went everywhere PREACHING the WORD (v. 4)! They didn’t know which people God in heaven was calling or would call, so they preached the word to everyone they could, starting with the Jews.
Would you or your brethren where you attend right now have done that? Or would you have remained silent and played it safe? After all, believers in Christ were being imprisoned (v. 3). So just be quiet, right? And just let God call people, since preaching is not what the regular brethren do, right? Wrong.
The scattered brethren started by sharing the Good News just to Jews and later to Hellenized Jews – Jews who adopted Greek culture.
Again, remember those who were scattered were not the apostles but regular church members. They did not just sit back while claiming “there’s no point in sharing what we know because I don’t know if God has called them or not.” Got it? So what happens next?
Acts 11:19-21 “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”-- BECAUSE OF The WORK of the brethren sharing the word.
Read Acts 11:22-26 next and see how this witnessing resulted in having a solid congregation in Antioch. Result of what? Of regular brethren sharing the Word, sharing the Lord Jesus with everyone they could. At this point they didn’t realize God would call Gentiles as well! But they didn’t wait for ministers to do the witnessing. They didn’t just remain quiet. There comes a point where you’re so full of the joy and love for Messiah in you that you can’t contain it anymore. You have to say something! (Acts 4:20)
Are you seeing the point? God calls, yes. But He uses you and me to speak to and share with those He’s calling. In my sermon I’ll show how.
After Stephen’s death, another deacon – PHILIP – not Philip the apostle but Philip the deacon, went to Samaria and shared the gospel there. Result: multitudes came to be believers! Again, this was not one of the apostles.
Acts 8:5-8 “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed, and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.” Continue reading Acts 8:9-12.
After the preaching in Samaria, Philip again approached a man he had never met before, think of it! He shared with the Ethiopian Eunuch the redemptive story of Yeshua/Jesus. You can read the story by hovering over Acts 8:26-40, and see how Philip preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35-40), resulting in this eunuch being baptized right then and there.
I’ll say more in the full-fledged sermon on witnessing. We have a VITAL part in working with those God is calling and helping them become one of the chosen and who remains faithful to the end, so they come with Christ at his return (Revelation 17:14). I’ll describe HOW we do it in a tasteful way that results in people coming to Christ.
Some years back, while flying back to Portland from a conference in New Orleans, I shared my sabbath beliefs with one of my associates. We had not planned to sit together but that’s how it worked out. The short story is that he and his family became 7th day sabbath keepers some months later and now he in turn has taught ME a lot about sharing God’s word with others. They’ve been instrumental in bringing many neighbors to Christ and to the truth.
Read Philippians 1:12-14. There Paul makes it clear that while he was in chains, the brethren became bolder to speak out the word of God. Something similar is found in 1 Thess. 1:6-8.
The seed of God’s word gets planted and it won’t come back empty (Isaiah 55:11). How blessed we are to be able to help get the Seed out!
This is a breathtaking blog. It's true that most churches of God like the ones that claim that Herbert Armstrong had already fulfilled Matthew 24:14 claims that our work is not to preach but leave God to call His people. I personally have always been encouraged by the Book of Daniel 12:3 and Romans 10:15,17.
We share the Word without fear or comprise but in love not condemning or judging those whose eyes haven't been opened . Thanks a lot Brother Phillip for sharing this wonderful message. Looking forward to listening to the sermon on this topic.
I have to admit that lack of clear and proper understanding of John 6:44 have led many to stay off the track of reaching out to others with the truths of God especially the Complete, true Gospel of God's grace and I was not exempted when I joined the Church of God close to two decades ago. Nevertheless, I thank God that he fully opened my eyes to clearly understand John 6:44. I am in total and perfect agreement with all that Philip Shields have shared in this blog and it's high time the eyes of many people get opened to fully understand what John 6:44 truly means! George Otieno, Kenya Minister.
Thank you for showing this part about us sharing our love of God to other minder! Otherwise, how can we be the light to the world, if we keep our LOVE to God to ourselves. Yahweh bless you! Janine