(c) Last, but not least, it is the doctrine of experience. The longer ministers of the Gospel live, the more do they find that there is something to be done in every heart which neither preaching, teaching, arguing, exhorting, nor means of grace can do. When all has been done, God must “draw,” or there is no fruit. The more the holiest Christians are examined the more general is their testimony found that without grace they never would have been converted, and that God “drew” them, or else they never would have come to Christ. And it is a curious fact moreover, that many who profess to deny man’s impotence in theory, often confess it in their prayers and praises, almost in spite of themselves. Many people are very low Armenians in print or in the pulpit, but excellent Calvinists on their knees.
There are several very important principles of theology connected with this remarkable sentence, which it may be useful to put down together, before we leave this passage.
(a) We must never suppose that the doctrine of this verse takes away man’s responsibility and accountable-ness to God for his soul. On the contrary, the Bible always distinctly declares that if any man is lost, it is his own fault. He “loses his own soul.” (Mark 8:36) If we cannot reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility now, we need not doubt that it will be all plain at the last day.
(b) We must not allow the doctrine of this verse to make us limit or narrow the offer of savlation to sinners. On the contrary, we must hold firmly that pardon and peace are to be offered freely through Christ to every man and woman without exception. We never know who they are that God will draw, and have nothing to do with it. Our duty is to invite all, and leave it to God to choose the vessels of mercy.
(c) We must not suppose that we, or anybody else, are drawn, unless we come to Christ by faith. This is the grand mark and evidence of any one being the subject of the Father’s drawing work. If “drawn” he comes to Christ, believes, and loves. Where this is no faith and love, there may be talk, self-conceit, and high profession. But there is no “drawing” of the Father.
(d) We must always remember that God ordinarily works by means, and specially by such means as He Himself has appointed. No doubt He acts as a Sovereign in drawing souls to Christ. We cannot pretend to explain why some are drawn and others are not drawn. Nevertheless, we must carefully maintain the great principle that God ordinarily draws through the instrumentality of His Word. The man that neglects the public preaching and private reading of God’s Word, has no right to expect that God will draw him. The thing is possible, but highly improbable.
(e) We must never allow ourselves or others to waste time in trying to find out, as a first question in religion, whether we are drawn of God the Father, elect, chosen, and the like. The first and indeed the main question we have to do with is, whether we have come to Christ by faith. If we have, let us take comfort and be thankful. None come to Him unless they are drawn.
Augustine remarks: “If you do not desire to err, do not seek to determine whom God draws, and whom He does not draw; nor why He draws one man and not another. But if you yourself are not drawn by God, pray to Him that you maye be drawn.”
If you don’t have Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, can I highly recommend you get them? They are the best balance of deep exposition along with wonderfully encouraging application from the 19th century.
You can find them online HERE.
You can purchase them HERE.