Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 12:23 PM

TULIP (23) - Enduring to the End

I love this doctrine, because it reminds me and comforts me that my hope is found not in my own ability to hang on and persevere to the end, but in God's sovereign and effectual (effective) choice of me. As the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism says:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
Of course, "where's the Scripture?" is the obvious question. I can go all over, to Christ's prayer in John 17, to His work in Hebrews, to the promise in Philippians 1, but I think it'll be useful to go back to texts that I've already touched upon, if just to demonstrate the unity of the five points of TULIP.

John 6 (which I've previously posted about here and here)
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
To set the context, Jesus has just fed the 5000 with loaves of bread. Then, in usual Jesus form, He dissapears. The crowds, having been fed, wake up and go searching for him.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus, perceiving their true intent, begins to challenge their assumptions about who he is and what that means. (He seems to have quite a way with people! =D)

35 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. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 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.”

Now we get to the main body blows of the passage. Jesus declares that he is the bread of life, that those who come shall not hunger, and those who believe shall not thirst (v.35). Then he turns and address their unbelief (v.36). He declares "All that the Father gives me will come to me" (v.37a) Now, why does he say this in response to their unbelief? John makes the connection between the Father's act of giving and the crowd's act of unbelief. All that the Father gives will come. The crowd has not come (believed). Therefore, the crowd's unbelief is due to the fact that the Father has not given them to Christ.

Now, that's the unconditional election that I previously addressed, but now notice what Jesus promises to those who do come, "whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (v.37b) Jesus makes the promise that those whom God has given to Jesus will come, and they will never be cast out. Jesus accomplishes the will of the Father - to save those that God has given Him. (v.38-40)

Unless of course, we say that Jesus fails at accomplishing God's will, and God's will fails at being fulfilled, but I don't think anyone takes that position, and if they do, let me just say that there's a distinction in the Scripture between the wills of God. There's one "blueprint will" (declarative will for you theologians), where God lays out a blueprint of what's going to happen. That will is not thwarted. (Isaiah 46:10) There's another will which is his "Thou shall not-will" (prescriptive will). This is the will that is transgressed. Suffice to say that I think Jesus is not obeying commands here (or failing at obeying commands as some might charge him with!), but fulfilling God's eternal decree.

Thus, our hope rests on nothing else but the promises of God. This is our security and our hope. We bring nothing to the table but our own sin, but by the gracious hand of God, He has called us, given us to the hand of Jesus Christ, and promised us everlasting hope preserved and protected by the almighty power of Jesus Christ.

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

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