Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email: cfpc@esatclear.ie

DAVID CLOUD ON JOHN 6:37 ANSWERED

Every now and again, David Cloud lets a blast against what he perceives to Calvinism. Sometimes his arguments are fair enough...on other occasions, he is simply refuting what no Calvinist believes. And worse still...doing it again. Which is a pretty useless thing to do. Below are my replies (in red) to his comments on John 6:37(in dark blue) quoting exactly from his page on the same.

JOHN 6:37-40 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."

Calvinistic theology focuses on the first part of John 6:37 to support the TULIP doctrine of irresistible grace. According to this doctrine, God sovereignly chooses who will be saved and who will be lost, without regard to the individual's response to the Gospel, and those who are chosen for salvation are irresistibly drawn.

Mr Cloud's attempt to define what Calvinists believe is flawed in the first part. Calvinists do believe that men are lost because of their sin and because they reject the gospel of Christ which is to be offered to them. Had Mr Cloud bothered to look up Calvin's comments, for instance, on John 5:40 before waxing eloquent, he would come across the following: "He [Christ] again reproaches them that it is nothing but their own malice that hinders them from becoming partakers of the life offered in the Scriptures; for when he says that they will not, he imputes the cause of their ignorance and blindness to wickedness and obstinacy. And, indeed, since he offered himself to them so graciously, they must have been wilfully blind; but when they intentionally fled from the light, and even desired to extinguish the sun by the darkness of their unbelief, Christ justly reproves them with greater severity." (Comments on John 5:40) The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches the same thing...although in Mr Cloud's page seeking to refute the same, he manages to edit out the paragraph in the WCF which clearly puts the blame on the sinner. I would remind my readers that Mr Cloud is not a reliable critic of Calvinism. I write these pages just to show that behind a very large, well presented and oft visited website lies a man who is easy to refute him on Calvinism. It is true to say that Calvinists believe that those who are chosen to salvation, purely on the basis of grace, are drawn irresistibly to salvation.

This doctrine flies in the face of the testimony of Scripture, though.

As Calvinists actually believe it (as opposed to Mr Cloud's imaginations) these doctrines can be established by the word of God. Mr Cloud is, however, entitled to his opinion that otherwise is the case. I am willing to listen to his arguments to the contrary.

If the first half of John 6:37 is taken out of context, it does appear to teach some sort of irresistible grace, but it cannot be forced from its context.

I see Mr Cloud is going to put it all into context for us...so we will follow and see where he is leading us.
First, there is the immediate context to consider. The first half of the verse cannot be divorced from the last half and from the verses surrounding it. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me" refers to the fact that the Father has ordained that every believer will have eternal life. This is explained clearly in verse 40 - "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." Words could not be plainer, and this is what the New Testament repeatedly promises.

True. Every last Calvinist will agree completely with Mr Cloud. He is not refuting Calvinism here because Calvinism is in complete agreement with these words. However read on...

The Gospel is not limited to the elect.

Mr Cloud's great bugbear comes back again. He just can't stay away from it...can he? However, our answer is immediately available to us because Mr Cloud has tried to sell this to us before. So...just a matter of linking you all up to the pages where we quote John Calvin On The Free Offer and other Calvinists on the free offer also. Read it for yourself and see who is telling the truth. Choose between Mr Cloud's oft rejected notions on this matter and the dozens of quotations where Calvin and Calvinists speak for themselves. Choose who is telling the truth - Mr Cloud or the people he continually caricatures on these pages. It's as easy as that. The hard work has already been done for you - you just have to read the evidence and draw your own conclusion.

The Gospel is for whosoever will, and the elect are the whosoever will.

True. Again every Calvinist will agree with this.

Consider the teaching of John chapter six which refutes the TULIP doctrine of irresistible grace:

We're watching.

(1) The Lord Jesus Christ died for whole world (Jn. 6:51; compare Luke 2:10,30-32; John 1:29; 3:16; Rom. 15:8-12; Eph. 2:11-22; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:19-21; 1 John 4:14).

These verses work on the rather simplistic assumption that the "whole world" or the word "all" must mean every last individual ever born. However, this notion is easily refuted, and I do so on this site. Did Jesus Christ die for the unpardonable sin of Judas Iscariot? If so, is there pardon for that sin? If not...why did He die for it and (presumably) bear it away with all the other sins of Judas? Which Judas is now paying the same price for in Hell?

(2) It is God's express will for all men to saved (Jn. 6:40; compare John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

I cannot see how this point can be said to refute, as claimed, the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. If Mr Cloud takes the "express will" of God here to have the force of a decree, and the "all men" to be every last Son of Adam ever born...then he is propagating a frustrated God whose decrees can be rendered worse than useless. Which is news to Solomon (Proverbs 19:21) among others.

(3) Any man who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ has eternal life (Jn. 6:40,47,51).

Since Calvinists heartily believe this...it baffles us completely how it is said to refute our doctrine.
Second, there is the context of the entire Gospel of John, which repeatedly emphasises the universal call of God inviting sinners to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and which repeatedly promises that whosoever shall believe on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. This is the theme of John's Gospel, and it is the purpose for the book. "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31). The Gospel is not addressed merely to "the elect" but to every individual in the entire world. It is an elect only Gospel, but a whosoever Gospel.

On another page, Mr Cloud tells us of a phone call which he made to Dr Peter Masters, Calvinistic pastor of Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle on the issue of Calvinism. Mr Masters recommended Iain Murray's book on Spurgeon versus hyper Calvinism which Mr Cloud professed to read and benefit from. Both these sources would tell him that Calvinists believe in the free offer of the gospel...but still Mr Cloud propagates the same old nonsense that we preach only to the elect. I have refuted this above and see little point in doing it again.
Someone will doubtless point to verse 44 to support the doctrine of irresistible grace: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." This verse does not prove that God sovereignly chooses who will and will not be saved, for the Bible also tells us that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Again see above where we deal with the matter of the purposes of God. If Mr Cloud is serious about his arguments, then let him answer our replies. I accept that he is a busy man...but evidently not too busy to take time to propagate things about Calvinism which are manifestly untrue.

It is absolutely true that no man can come to Christ except the Father draw him, but Jesus said in John 12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN unto me." How does God draw men to Christ? He draws through the Gospel, which He has commanded to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15). It is by the Gospel that God calls men (2 Thess. 2:14).

True...but only as far as it goes. What about those who never got a chance to hear the gospel? The many heathens both before and after Christ who never once heard the message of the redeeming love of the Cross? I know they are damned solely because of sin - a Calvinist belief despite Mr Cloud's insinuations above - but did God decree (note the wording) that they should hear and be saved? If so...just where did God fail? For failure it is if they never heard or were saved. I think its about time Mr Cloud faced upto the realities of his own doctrines. It's very easy saying what they say...but they really do want to think it out. If some of the heathen never heard the gospel even once...then how were they drawn to Jesus Christ? The answer is: They were not and that limits the "all" to "all who were"

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 tells us that those who are lost are lost not because they are not chosen for salvation, but because THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED.

We agree Mr cloud. Sorry...but you're not refuting Calvinism. Indeed Calvin himself says the very same thing. "Because they received not the love. Lest the wicked should complain that they perish innocently, and that they have been appointed to death rather from cruelty on the part of God, than from any fault on their part, Paul shews on what good grounds it is that so severe vengeance from God is to come upon them—because they have not received in the temper of mind with which they ought the truth which was presented to them, nay more, of their own accord refused salvation. And from this appears more clearly what I have already stated—that the gospel required to be preached to the world before God would give Satan so much permission, for he would never have allowed his temple to be so basely profaned, had he not been provoked by extreme ingratitude on the part of men." (Comments on 2 Thessalonians 2:12) Is it asking too much for these folk who make much ado about refuting Calvinists just to take a little time and read what Calvinists actually believe?

In John 6 the Lord Jesus Christ is addressing the Jewish crowds which were following Him because of the miracle of the multiplying loaves (John 6:24-26). Their minds were set on worldly things. They wanted a worldly savior and king, a political and social messiah. The Lord had irrefutably proven His messiahship to them by His birth, life, and miracles, but they still asked for "a sign" (verse 30) and they did not believe (verse 36, "ye also have seen me, and believe not"). Why did most of the Jewish people not believe? Why did the Jewish leaders not believe? It was not because God had not chosen them? It was because of THEIR OWN HARD HEARTS.

True again Mr Cloud. Calvin said the very same thing in his comments on this verse. Which leaves a lot of us wondering why you bother with these articles at all. "He now reproves them for wickedly rejecting the gift of God, which is offered to them. Now, that man is chargeable with wicked contempt of God, who rejects what he knows that God has given him. If Christ had not made known his power, and plainly showed that he came from God, the plea of ignorance might have alleviated their guilt; but when they reject the doctrine of him whom they formerly acknowledged to be the Lord’s Messiah, it is extreme baseness. It is no doubt true, that men never resist God purposely, so as to reflect that they have to do with God; and to this applies the saying of Paul, They would never have crucified the Lord of glory, if they had known him (1 Corinthians 2:8.) But unbelievers, because they willingly shut their eyes against the light are justly said to see that which immediately vanishes from their sight, because Satan darkens their understandings. This, at least, is beyond all controversy, that when he said that they saw, we must not understand him to mean his bodily appearance, but rather that he describes their voluntary blindness, because they might have known what he was, if their malice had not prevented them." (Comments on John 6:26)

When Christ wept over Jerusalem just prior to His crucifixion, He stated this matter plainly: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, HOW OFTEN WOULD I HAVE GATHERED THY CHILDREN TOGETHER, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and YE WOULD NOT!" (Matthew 23:37) The problem was not that the unbelieving Jews were not chosen for salvation.

Here we must disagree. Working on the assumption that being chosen for salvation means in Mr Cloud's theological vocabulary being predestinated etc., he appears here to have God choosing every one in Christ to be saved. Even Mr Wesley, the great Arminian preacher, in his notes on Ephesians 1:3-4 limits this choice solely to believers. He wrote: 4. As he hath chosen us — Both Jews and gentiles, whom he foreknew as believing in Christ, 1 Peter 1:2. 5. Having predestinated us to the adoption of sons — Having foreordained that all who afterwards believed should enjoy the dignity of being sons of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. According to the good pleasure of his will — According to his free, fixed, unalterable purpose to confer this blessing on all those who should believe in Christ, and those only. Below, Mr Cloud himself reverts back to the chosen ones being those who receive the gospel...although this need not contradict what is written here. I'm sure Mr Cloud would be able to explain himself a little clearer if he chose to do so. To be fair - I guard my fairness with my life - I think Mr Cloud has worded it somewhat clumsily.

Christ would have saved all of them.

Yes and no. Yes in that He offered to save them and, as stated rightly below, the problem is they wilfully rejected His offer. Yet (and let Mr Cloud and others of his school deny this) it can never be said that God decreed to save them.

The problem was that they rejected Him. The problem was the will. Christ would, but they would not.

True. Again Calvin basically agrees with the contention that the fault lies entirely with the sinner. He comments on this verse: "But this is the crowning point of desperate and final depravity, when men obstinately reject the goodness of God, and refuse to come under his wings." (Comments on Matthew 23:37)

Man has the capability to reject God, and He has the capability to receive God. That is taught from the beginning of the Bible to the end. We do not deny that there is a special work of God in the believer's life to draw him to Christ.

Calvinists believe that sin (not God) renders man incapable of receiving Christ. The sinner really is blind, deaf, dead, lost etc., and therefore has the ability (as stated by Mr Cloud) to reject God. He only has the ability to receive God when this ability is graciously given to him. This ability is not given to all men, but only to the elect of God. I can't see Mr Cloud accepting this latter statement, but our faith does not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

It is impossible for a man to come to Christ except God drawn him and enlighten him and convict him; but this is precisely what God does by the Holy Spirit for every man who hears the Gospel (John 16:8)

True...as far as it goes. However, it doesn't really go far enough. God must do more than merely draw, enlighten and convict sinners. He must regenerate them also...from above (John 3:3) Again we remind ourselves of a question posed above: What of those who never hear the gospel? Where do they fit in Mr Cloud's scheme of things? Say what he will...Mr Cloud cannot deny that millions have been left without hearing the gospel at all. The last thing I want to do is put words into any man's mouth (a most despicable thing) but I do wonder if the logical outcome of Mr Cloud's theology is then to charge God with unfairness when He could have ordained otherwise.

God's election cannot be divorced from His foreknowledge. We are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God" (1 Peter 1:2). God has known from all eternity who will and will not receive the Gospel.
True...but it is not the meaning of this verse. The word "know" carries the meaning of intimate love. "[Joseph] knew her not until she had brought forth her first born" (Matthew 1:25) God loves His people from eternity past and on the basis of this love elects them to eternal life. Mr Cloud appears to base God's choice on our loving Him first. It is man who is the initiator in Mr Cloud's plan of salvation, contrary to 1 John 4:19

God has told us who He has chosen for salvation: He has chosen that those who receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be eternally saved!
True. However, Calvinists believe that faith is the result of God's choice...not the cause as Mr Cloud's theology tells us.

"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).

True again.

So that's it. Mr Cloud has said his piece. Has he refuted Calvinism? Hardly! He is still chasing phantoms over the matter of the free offer, but at least we have it all reduced now to the cut and paste method of answering his allegations. He rightly blames the sinner for rejecting Christ...but then so did Calvin, (and so do Calvinists in general) so that is hardly a rebuttal. Perhaps his strongest argument lies in his quoting of the "universal" texts. Here we must differ with his interpretation that "the world" and "all" etc., must mean every last son of Adam since it can be shown that these words can carry a narrower meaning. Try reading "every last son of Adam" into Luke 2:1 and John 12:19 and see how you get on, or into Luke 16:16 etc., The logical outcome of Mr Cloud's stance is universalism, although he rightly rejects this position even if somewhat inconsistently.

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