Folks, if we could lose our salvation, we would.”
This weeks blog is going to focus on a specific part of the weekly podcast. We are talking about historic Calvinism, or as some call “reformed theology, or the “doctrines of grace.” It is the Biblical view of the salvation of God’s people from their sins. More specifically, how God effects that working and promise into the heart of the believer. Who is the defining factor OF salvation? God, or man? The Biblical view of God’s saving work places all of the glory in God, and none in man’s ability to produce any help or aid in the process of the gift of grace through faith and repentance. Even the very scripture in 2 Timothy 2:25 claims that God grants the very faith and repentance we exercise as a gift. Not of our own working or inner ability. Jesus Himself, teaches a monergistic, or theocentric view of salvation’s work. By this we simply mean that God alone works salvation apart from any work we as sinners provide or meet in this working by Christ. I will emplore a good friend of mine to show this more clearly. Well, not a PERSONAL friend, but a brother of the faith, and an excellent expositor of scripture, Rev. A.W. Pink, well-known Calvinistic Baptist minister of the late 19th to mid 20th century. His works have deeply impacted my theological views on Christ’s teachings on salvation and God’s sovereignty
John 6:35-40 is a key passage that models this specific teaching on salvific order, and our friend, Rev. Pink, is going to help us work through this. Lets hit some key texts in this passage and see how Jesus Himself uses monergistic language in salvation’s work.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 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. 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.”
John 6:35-40 ESV
In v. 33, Christ had spoken of giving life to “the world”- the world of believers, the sum total of the saved. Now He speaks of the individual- “he that cometh to me… he that believeth. A similar order is to be observed in v. 37- note the “all” is followed by “him.” There is no doubt, a shade of difference between “believing on” Christ, and “coming to Him.” To “believe on Christ” is to recieve God’s testimony concerning His Son, and to rest on Him alone for salvation. To “come to Him”- which is really the effect of the former- is for the heart ot go out to Him in loving confidence. The two acts are carefully distinguished in Hebrews 11:6: “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believeth that he is, and he is a rewarder of them that dillegently seek him. I must know who the physician is, and believe in his ability, before I shall go to Him to be cured.”
–Exposition of the Gospel of John, A.W. Pink, Zondervan, p. 327-328
He notes, Jesus’ language, in continuation of his exposition:
“All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me.” But while this is very blessed, it is solemnley tragic and deeply humbling. How humiliating for us… man’s depravity is so entire, his enminty so great, that in every instance, his will would have resisted and rejected Christ,…
– p. 330
We see Jesus, in John 6:37, distinctly making the point that salvation is an eternal, and a triune action. It is rooted in the idea that God has eternally loved the elect, His people (Ephesians 1:4-10). The Father, Son, and Spirit actively participate in all of the work of salvation. We understand that man is dead in tresspasses, with no ability in, and of himself, to effect any work to reginerate the heart. This is God’s work alone. Faith, is then, granted and applied to the heart as a gift, so we can freely come to Christ. The real question in this debate is: “does faith precede regeneration, or come after?” For the monergist, it is Biblically precedent, because it is of the Lord alone (Ephesians 2:8). Unregenerate man is dead spiritually. He cannot effect any work of man’s ability of coming to Christ for salvation without regeneration first.
Pink continues in Jesus’ discourse:
“The last clause “I will in no wise cast out” assures the eternal preservation of everyone that truly cometh to Christ. these words of the Saviour do not signify (as generally supposed) that He promises to reject none who really come to Him, through that is true; but they declare tht under no imaginable circumstances will He ever expel any one that has come.”
– p. 330-331
Clear teaching from Jesus on unconditional election and on perserverance of the saints. We could continue through passages such as Acts 13:48, Romans 9:16-23, Ephesians 1:4-9, 2 Timothy 1:9, Mark 13:20, and many many other passages that speak of this monergistic language that Jesus Himself uses in John 6. The Calvinistic model of salvation is so easily noticed when time is taken to think through passages from their simple language. The authors of scripture had no issue with God alone being the author and perfecter of our salvation, particularly Jesus Himself. God grants regeneration out of His own election, and those do in turn respond through the gift of faith, in full acceptance of Christ Himself. Praise be unto Him forevermore for the free grace of His soverignty. If salvation were up to me? Thats a proposition where I lose. Grace. Mercy. Thanks be unto Him alone.