Except the Father - draw him - But how is a man drawn? St. Augustin answers from the poet, Trahit sua quemque voluptas; a man is attracted by that which he delights in. Show green herbage to a sheep, he is drawn by it: show nuts to a child, and he is drawn by them. They run wherever the person runs who shows these things: they run after him, but they are not forced to follow; they run, through the desire they feel to get the things they delight in. So God draws man: he shows him his wants - he shows the Savior whom he has provided for him: the man feels himself a lost sinner; and, through the desire which he finds to escape hell, and get to heaven, he comes unto Christ, that he may be justified by his blood. Unless God thus draw, no man will ever come to Christ; because none could, without this drawing, ever feel the need of a Savior. See August. Tract. 26, in Joan. and Calmet.
Drawing, or alluring, not dragging is here to be understood. "He," say the rabbins, "who desires to cleave to the holy and blessed God, God lays hold of him, and will not cast him off." Synops. Sohar. p. 87. The best Greek writers use the verb in the same sense of alluring, inciting, etc.
No man can come to me - This was spoken by Jesus to reprove their complaints - “Murmur not among yourselves.” They objected to his doctrine, or complained against it, because he claimed to be greater than Moses, and because they supposed him to be a mere man, and that what he said was impossible. Jesus does not deny that these things appeared difficult, and hence he said that if any man believed, it was proof that God had inclined him. It was not to be expected that of themselves they would embrace the doctrine. If any man believed, it would be because he had been influenced by God. When we inquire what the reasons were why they did not believe, they appear to have been:
1. Their improper regard for Moses, as if no one could be superior to him.
2. Their unwillingness to believe that Jesus, whom they knew to be the reputed son of a carpenter, should be superior to Moses.
3. The difficulty was explained by Jesus John 5:40 as consisting in the opposition of their will; and John 5:44 when he said that their love of honor prevented their believing on him. The difficulty in the case was not, therefore, a want of natural faculties, or of power to do their duty, but erroneous opinions, pride, obstinacy, self-conceit, and a deep-felt contempt for Jesus. The word cannot is often used to denote a strong and violent opposition of the will. Thus we say a man is so great a liar that he cannot speak the truth, or he is so profane that he cannot but swear. We mean by it that he is so wicked that while he has that disposition the other effects will follow, but we do not mean to say that he could not break off from the habit. Thus it is said Genesis 37:4 of the brethren of Joseph that they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. Thus Matthew 12:34, “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?” See Luke 14:33; 1 Samuel 16:2.
Come to me - The same as believe on me.
Draw him - This word is used here, evidently, to denote such an influence from God as to secure the result, or as to incline the mind to believe; yet the manner in which this is done is not determined by the use of the word. It is used in the New Testament six times. Once it is applied to a compulsory drawing of Paul and Silas to the market-place, Acts 16:19. Twice it is used to denote the drawing of a net, John 21:6, John 21:11. Once to the drawing of a sword John 18:10; and once in a sense similar to its use here John 12:32; “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” What is its meaning here must be determined by the facts about the sinner‘s conversion. See the notes at John 6:40. In the conversion of the sinner God enlightens the mind John 6:45, he inclines the will Psalm 110:3, and he influences the soul by motives, by just views of his law, by his love, his commands, and his threatenings; by a desire of happiness, and a consciousness of danger; by the Holy Spirit applying truth to the mind, and urging him to yield himself to the Saviour. So that, while God inclines him, and will have all the glory, man yields without compulsion; the obstacles are removed, and he becomes a willing servant of God.
“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.” What is the drawing?—“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.” There are men who hear, but who do not learn the lesson as diligent students. They have a form of godliness, but are not believers. They know not the truth by practice. They receive not the engrafted word. “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” He did not receive the impression made upon his mind when comparing his course of action with the great moral looking-glass. He did not see his defects of character. He did not reform, and forgetting all about the impression made, he went not God's way, but his way, continuing to be unreformed. FE 460.1
Hear the only correct way for each human being to do if he would have a safe, all-round experience. “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, [for there is a work to be done, that is neglected at the peril of the soul], this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Carry this out, as a test of pure and undefiled religion, and the blessing of God will surely follow. FE 461.1
“Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.” Mark the figure presented in verse five: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Then these lively stones are exerting a tangible, practical influence in the Lord's spiritual house. They are a holy priesthood, performing pure, sacred service. They offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God. FE 461.2Read in context »
We need to guard continually against those books which contain sophistry in regard to geology and other branches of science. Before the theories of men of science are presented to immature students, they need to be carefully sifted from every trace of infidel suggestions. One tiny seed of infidelity sown by a teacher in the heart of a student may spring up and bring forth a harvest of unbelief. The sophistries regarding God and nature that are flooding the world with skepticism are the inspiration of the fallen foe. Satan is a Bible student. He knows the truths that are essential for salvation, and it is his study to divert minds from these truths. Let our teachers beware lest they echo the falsehoods of the enemy of God and man. CT 390.1
It is a mistake to put into the hands of the youth books that perplex and confuse them. The reason sometimes given for this study is that the teacher has passed over this ground, and the student must follow. But if teachers were receiving light and wisdom from the divine Teacher, they would look at this matter in a very different way. They would measure the relative importance of the things to be learned in school. The common, essential branches of education would be more thoroughly taught, and the word of God would be esteemed as the bread sent down from heaven, which sustains all spiritual life. CT 390.2
We are slow to realize how much we need to understand the teachings of Christ and His methods of labor. If these were better understood, much of the instruction given in our schools would be counted as of no value. It would be seen that much that is now taught does not develop the simplicity of true godliness in the life of the student. Finite wisdom would receive less esteem, and the word of God would have a more honored place. CT 391.1Read in context »
Spiritual Nourishment—Of all professed Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. Our ministers should ever be able to direct men and women to Christ, to the One who Himself declared, “I am the Bread of life.” Let those who minister to the spiritual necessities of the people, read to them the words of Christ: “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever: and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” ... VSS 313.1Read in context »
It is our work to know our special failings and sins, which cause darkness and spiritual feebleness, and quenched our first love (The Review and Herald, June 7, 1887). 7BC 957.1
4, 5 (see EGW on ch. 3:14-18; 1 Kings 11:4). Spiritually Fallen, but Unaware of It—In view of the many virtues enumerated, how striking is the charge brought against the church at Ephesus: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” This church had been highly favored. It was planted by the apostle Paul. In the same city was the temple of Diana, which, in point of grandeur, was one of the marvels of the world. The Ephesian church met with great opposition, and some of the early Christians suffered persecution; and yet some of these very ones turned from the truths that had united them with Christ's followers, and adopted, in their stead, the specious errors devised by Satan. 7BC 957.2
This change is represented as a spiritual fall. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works”—as outlined in the preceding verses. The believers did not sense their spiritual fall. They knew not that a change had taken place in their hearts, and that they would have to repent because of the noncontinuance of their first works. But God in His mercy called for repentance, for a return to their first love and to the works that are always the result of true, Christlike love (Manuscript 11, 1906). 7BC 957.3Read in context »