We’ve been walking through components of TULIP acronym over the past 3 weeks, and we’ve learnt how each component reveals something challenging and comforting about God’s grace to us. In this, we’ve seen that this doctrine, understood rightly, shows us who Christ is, what He did on the Cross, and how our lives are transformed because of it.
The doctrines of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Limited Atonement raise questions about fairness. Read on to see how the doctrine of Irresistible Grace gives us more perspective on this subject!
(A) Irresistible Grace is Attractive: Living Bread that is enduring, eternal and given (John 6:22-27)
Today's passage begins somewhat in the middle of a series of events. At this point in John 6, Jesus has fed the 5000 and walked on water - two stories that some of us could be very familiar with! Many witnessed or heard of these events, and as a result, it led to people “seeking Jesus” (Jesus 6:24b), for he was performing great signs. Many, we are told, were seeking the immediate benefits that the signs brought (John 6:26). John doesn't leave us guessing as to what the crowds' motives were. The crowds sought Christ because He was attractive to them in a very practical way, but in doing so, they lost sight of the greater message that was being proclaimed. They were supposed to hear the gospel message that the signs conveyed, but they found themselves caught up in the attractive benefits that the signs purveyed.
It might be tempting to wag our fingers at them, but we’ve felt this way before. Haven’t we chased the immediate material benefits that our relationship with God could bring through prayer, church attendance, and even Bible study? Don’t we feel a sense of disappointment when the blessings of the gospel aren’t immediate or tangible to us?
But when we read on, we realise that Jesus doesn’t actually rebuke them for their practicality. Instead, He appeals to their deeper need by contrasting food that perishes, with food that is enduring. Food that is enduring is eternal and given by Christ, for “on him God the Father has set His seal” (John 6:27). They think He’s good because of His power, but He’s telling them that He's actually better than what they initially thought!
It is not hard to see the application of these verses in John 6. How many of us think that God is attractive? Do we think of Him as burdensome, who always requires
us to “do things” for Him? Do we think of the things we do as good? Do we see Christ as lovely and the gospel as amazing? His word reveals Him as a Christ who is enduring, eternal, and given - an attractive Christ! His word probably paints Him more vividly that what we imagine Him to be. Do you see Christ as He reveals Himself through His word. This is important because what we desire affects what we do! When we see Christ as attractive and not as a burden, it fuels us to
obey! Friends, is Christ attractive to you today?
(B) Irresistible Grace is Wooing: A Savior that reveals, persuades and assures (John 6:28-40)
But not only is Christ, attractive, He is also wooing. Consider the exchanges between Jesus and the crowd in this table:
What was Jesus trying to tell them? Jesus began with the Father’s will, that Christ is sent as the true Bread. This Christ will save all who believe in Him. Our belief is not our work but the work of God. There is an assurance — all who believe in Him will not be cast out, and that's not all. There is a promise that we will be raised up on the last day! But looking beyond the theology, how would you describe Jesus in these verses? In these exchanges, Christ reveals, persuades, and even assures the crowd. Do you see your wooing Saviour? Hear what He says!
Like the people of that day, we too are being told that our acceptance isn’t based on what we do, it is based on what God has done in Christ. Our salvation depends on our belief in Him, but even our belief is a product of God’s work! God gave the Israelites manna through Moses, and He is now giving us true bread. Jesus is the true bread that leads to true life. We may have your doubts, but those whom God has given to Christ will never be cast out - they will be raised to eternal life.
The call to action seems to be for us to “just believe”. Is it that simple?
(C) Irresistible Grace is Effectual: A God who changes our hearts to draw us to Him (John 6: 41-51)
Jesus proceeds to show us the most important side to our belief by saying that we can only go to the Father if God draws us. We may have gripes about unfairness, but Jesus says here that the Father has already provided us with what we need to do.
This idea about the bread of life is repeated throughout verses 47-51. But He ends John 6:51 on a different note. He tells us here that “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” This is a powerful statement that we often gloss over, and we must consider it dutifully. Jesus is engaging us sacrificially here. He is telling us that this grace is not merely attractive and wooing. It is also effectual. This is a God who changes our hearts to draw us to Him, and we see this most clearly in Christ who gave His life for the world. The key to God’s will in Christ is revealed in Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us.
How often have we let this truth slip away from us? The idea of irresistible grace is that it is so attractive that we can’t help but respond to it. This is a grace so beautiful and so true that we can’t reject it. This means that questions like “maybe God isn’t good”, or “maybe God didn’t choose me”, or “maybe God doesn’t really love me” are laid to rest. He has given us everything, and caused us to believe in His Son. It causes us to rest in Him. Will you rest in Him today?