John 6:38-40: For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
The truth of our salvation resting entirely in the preordained counsel of our great God, the Father and the Son having the same redemptive purpose, and exercising their particular offices in perfect harmony to bring about that salvation, is continued in these verses.
It is a comfort to know that both the will of the Father and that of the Son are in perfect agreement in this, and also to note that our will (prior to being saved) has no part in this salvation. Our Lord was sent by the Father, and the Father gave Him a group of people from within the context of redemptive history, and that each of these has been given, of the Father’s will, singularly and specifically to the Son to be “raise(d) up on the last day,” (which is, of course, that Day of the Lord spoken of so often in Scripture, what we have called the eschaton, meaning the final day of this present age, and the beginning of the eternal, glorified age when we will cease to have any remnant of the corrupt flesh, and there will be nothing to keep us from worshipping our God in fullness of truth and spirit forever), is one of those great and precious promises which makes the grace of God so immediately comforting and transcendently awe invoking. One cannot, when considering the estate of our yet corrupt flesh – how far we fall short of the glory of God each and every day, each and every moment of each day – fail to have their renewed minds struck with wonder that our God would so condescend to bring us into, and keep us in, such relation with Himself through the sacrifice of His only Son becoming incarnate, dying for our sins, and being raised for our justification.
Verses 38-39 show the harmonious work of the Son with the Father’s will being perfectly carried out, and, as a result of this doing of the Father’s will by the Son, we see the ongoing result of that will in those who are given to Him by the Father: they look on the Son and believe in Him, with the result that they have eternal life, and are ensured of being raised in the resurrection, which is the Son’s work, on the last day. This looking and believing in the Son of the Father is synchronous with the Father’s will in giving those who believe in an active and ongoing manner to the Son; that is, because the Father gives the continually believing ones He has preordained to eternal life to the Son, as a result, they see (perceive) and believe (savingly have intimate, inscripturated, well-informed understanding of what it means to be in covenant relationship with the Father through the Son by the Spirit ) to the point that the Son can say that He will raise them on the last day, which, as we discussed above, is a reference to the resurrection at His second, and final, coming.
There can be no separation of the will of the Father, the work of the Son in carrying out that will, and the causative result of that will and work, which is active, ongoing belief that will never fail, otherwise the fact of being given eternal life would make no sense in these verses. Understanding that eternal life refers to life that never ceases, and life that begins through regeneration, as we have studied in chapter 3 of this gospel, we realize this beginning of eternal life is spiritual, and the final redemption of our physical bodies awaits the resurrection. Such realization of the multifold promises of God, which culminate in the singular purpose of His showing forth His glory in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, is both a great hope and a great comfort to us, as well, as we reap the undeserved benefit of this act of our great and glorious God glorifying Himself.
Those given to the Son by the Father may falter, as Peter did, but Jesus Christ will bring them back, and they will continue to believe. An ongoing faith in this life is not the perfect faith we will have in the next, but it is one that continues, and this means that, even with faltering, it keeps going and growing, because it is based upon the work of the Son which is grounded in the will of the Father. We see and believe because we have been gifted by the Father to the Son, so, on that day, He will see His offspring, and say, “behold, I and the children God has given me.”
Looking on the Son and believing in Him are both present active participles, in the Greek, and we have discussed the present active indicative, already – this means the same thing. It is a faith that not only believes once, but continues to believe, and, as we have seen, is sandwiched between that will of the Father to give a specific people, individually and corporately, to the Son, and the Son giving them eternal life and raising them up on the last day. Since we have seen that, in the strongest statement possible, our Lord said, in v. 37, He will never cast out those who come to Him, we have here not only the coming to God by His giving us to His Son, but the perseverance that proceeds from His preserving of those who are His. This could not be stated more strongly than it is in the English, and it is – at the least – as strongly stated in the Greek (we have purposely kept from belaboring the elements of the Greek, but it is of note that, in this passage both the group of people given to the Lord by the Father, and each individual, are identified by various of these grammatical elements in their respective connections in each verse – for further study, we suggest reading The Potter’s Freedom, by James White, where he defines these elements of the Greek grammar).
Please notice that this passage, from v. 37-40 (although it will continue, this is a key part of what is being taught, here), is one of the strongest passages in the entirety of the New Testament of the monergistic work of our God in salvation, and that, with the statement of the monergistic work of the Spirit of God we looked upon in chapter three, shows the inescapable and conclusive truth that it is God who saves (Salvation is of the Lord!), from start to finish. One cannot twist out v. 40, which shows the necessity and reality of true, ongoing faith as the subjective part of each believer, from within the context in which it occurs, which is what the synergist will always attempt to do; however, this is simply wrong exegesis, and we might even say eisegesis, for it adds to the text that which is not inherent in it, or misinterprets that which is in it according to a tradition and philosophy of men which is not contained therein. The Father’s will being perfectly carried out by the Son in giving specific individuals to Him, which will be that group of the elect present on that last day who have been given eternal life by the Son, and so resurrected, cannot be other than those who actively, continually, believe savingly up to that day. The plain sense of the words and grammar in English are strong enough to convey this fact; in the Greek, if possible, they are even stronger, but as has been said before regarding what the Greek means in many places in the New Testament, it means exactly what the English means, and there is no equivocation of that meaning if one simply takes this linguistic unit as a whole, whether in the original language of the New Testament, or in any good, literal equivalency translation.
Now, there are some applications that can, and should, be drawn from this particular passage which we have been looking at; application which we trust we have hinted at, but will now draw out a bit more.
First of all, we need never fear that we who are His will be lost; this does not equate to a ne’er- do-well, antinomian, let us sin, that grace may abound attitude, but rather, a grateful, wondrous point-of-view that continues to marvel at the fact that the infinitely good and perfect Creator of all there is could so condescend as to not only will to save them, let alone any, of this race who have so rebelled against Him, but to keep them perfectly for His magnificent self, despite their many shortcomings (which, by the way, are also being worked out by that same grace that saved them), and that He did so by sending His only preeminent Son to take on flesh and sacrifice Himself for us, knowing we could never earn our way to His perfection any more than our father after the flesh could.
Secondly, as we are kept by Him, we desire to do those things which He has allotted to us according to His predetermining will. Although the best of our good works would be enough to damn us eternally, if not put forth and purified by His Spirit of grace and holiness, because of that same grace that drew us to Christ and made us believe, we seek, however haltingly, to do the will of Him who sent us, as our Lord did perfectly, and because of our being made perfect in Him, know that our efforts are never in vain, for they are of His power, not our own.
Thirdly, because we know who it is that salvation is of, and how surely His will is done, we know that we can share the gospel with great confidence, for He will build His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The church at Philippi was very small and very weak, but He opened the door that none could shut – so it is with the least of the smallest congregations of those who are one corporate part of that greater catholic body of Christ, always.
Soli Deo Gloria – Bill