The Father's Will

John 6:37-40.

In one respect the connection of this scripture recalls the end of Matthew 11. There, it will be remembered, when Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had really rejected Christ, He finds His resource and consolation in the sovereignty of grace. Turning away from those who repented not, notwithstanding the mighty works which He had wrought before their eyes, "at that time" He answered and said, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight." So here, there is the same contrast between the breakdown of man and the stedfast, immutable will of the Father. In verse 36 Jesus said to those about Him, "Ye also have seen Me, and believe not," and immediately He proceeded to add, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." Man, the responsible man, may fail, as he has ever done; but God's purposes will be surely accomplished. The knowledge of this, if indeed held in the soul in the power of the Holy Ghost, will afford continual joy to our hearts, and will impart to us, through grace, both strength and stability; for thereby our feet are set upon a rock, the rock of God's power and love, which has been established in righteousness in and through the death of His beloved Son.

Examined closely, it will be seen that there are three different aspects of the Father's will presented in this scripture for our consideration. The first of these is contained in verses 37, 38. Those to whom Jesus had been speaking had seen Him and believed not. Was His mission then to be fruitless? Far from it, for "all that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." He was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world; the Light shone for all, and yet, as we here learn, only those who had been given Him by the Father would come to Him. And even to do this they were dependent upon divine teaching and divine power. They must first be taught of God, must hear and learn of the Father (v. 45), and must be drawn of the Father (v. 44); and then, and then alone, would they come to His blessed feet. All such, and only such, will surely come to Him, and thereupon we learn the first aspect, here given, of the Father's will. "Him," says the Lord, "that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." All these had been given to the Son in a past eternity, the Son came down from heaven, becoming Man, to be the Servant of the Father's will; and thus when those who had heard and learned of the Father came to Him it was His meat to do His Father's will in receiving them. As the perfect Servant He is hidden, so to speak, behind the Father's will (and every true servant delights to be out of sight and to magnify his Master); but we know full well what joy it was to His own heart to receive all who came to Him. The point here, however, is that He, though the Son, is seen as the will-less One, in perfect communion with the Father's heart, waiting to receive everyone that should come; and it is to encourage such that He puts it in this way, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." Blessed assurance! One that should pacify the fears of every trembling soul who is beginning to turn his eyes with longing hope to Him who, as glorified, is now seated at God's right hand. If the riches of the Father's heart are displayed in His eternal gift to the Son, no less are the depths of the Son's heart revealed in the assurance that none that come to Him will ever be cast out, because for the realization of the Father's counsels it was necessary that He should give His flesh for the life of the world. (v. 51.)

The second aspect of the Father's will is next presented: "And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." It will be thus seen that the Father's will covers, so to speak, the whole history of those whom He has given to Christ. This is surely what we might expect; and, in order to understand it a little more fully, attention may be called to what is involved in coming to Christ. It is not simply coming to Him, as, for example, by prayer to receive relief from our burdens and distresses; but it is, having accepted the judgment of death which lay upon us, and which He bore, we by the appropriation of His death pass to His side and remain there in His company. Like the two disciples who heard John in the fulness of his heart say, "Behold the Lamb of God," we are drawn to follow Him to the place where He dwells, and there we abide. Henceforward that place is our home. Those then who have come to Him are committed to His keeping by the Father's will. Accordingly in chapter 17, in consonance with what we find here, Jesus, speaking to His Father, says, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." How blessed to know that amid the snares, pitfalls, and dangers of the path, we are committed to the safe-keeping of the Son, and that He is accomplishing the Father's will in keeping us securely! And there is yet more, for He adds, "But should raise it up at the last day." This, the resurrection of our bodies, will then be the work of the Son (see chap. 5:28-29) for the accomplishment of the Father's will, for it will be in resurrection that we shall be conformed to the image of God's Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

In verse 40 the Lord gives a complete summary of the Father's will in connection with the presentation of Himself as the object of faith. His will, as expressed in the previous verse, concerns the Son and His work in regard to those whom the Father had given Him; here it is rather the Father's will in respect of the believer, revealing the object of His eternal counsels in his blessedness, a blessedness into which he should be introduced in resurrection at the last day. There is great emphasis and solemnity in the repetition of the words, "This is the will of Him that sent Me," as also the revelation of the Father's heart in the accomplishment of the work which His beloved Son came to do. The believer, moreover, is thus placed upon a rock - the immutability of the eternal and divine will in regard to all his expectations and hopes. There are three things in this short statement to be considered. The first is the doorway into eternal life, which is seeing the Son and believing on Him. By "seeing" we understand discernment; that is to say, it means that the eyes have been divinely opened, like those of the blind man in chapter 9, to perceive that Jesus of Nazareth, the Man Christ Jesus, is the Son - the Son of God. (Compare 1 John 4:15.) It was not everyone who came into contact with the Son in human form, for the carnal eye saw nothing but a lowly Man, but it was he who received the testimony that Jesus was indeed and in truth God's Son. This is evident from the following words, "and believeth on Him." The testimony, therefore, was received, and was effectual in the heart; the soul bowed to the testimony and accepted Him so presented as the Sent One of the Father. Wherever this was the case a divine link had been formed between the soul and the Son, and also the Father as revealed in and through the Son; and, moreover, entrance upon the possession of eternal life was secured.

This brings us to the statement of the second thing found in this verse; viz., that it is the Father's will that everyone who received Jesus as the Sent One of the Father should have eternal life. This will be readily apprehended if we remind ourselves that "this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (Chap. 17:2.) It is the fundamental truth of this gospel that the Father is revealed in the Son; and hence the Lord said to Philip, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Knowing the Son, therefore, is to know the Father; and as John has written in his epistle, "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life." (1 John 2:24-25.) That is, as we understand it, "continuing" or abiding in the Son and in the Father will be the enjoyment of eternal life. But for this there is another condition, as the Lord Himself points out, when He says, "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life. (6:54.) There must be the appropriation of His death, if we would morally pass out of this world into that sphere where eternal life has its home, and where alone it can be enjoyed. This sphere is, in one word, the circle of divine affections - that circle which the Lord revealed to His disciples when He said to them through Mary, "I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God." This makes it clear also that the realization and enjoyment of eternal life may begin now, as indeed is everywhere taught in this gospel. It is indeed the only proper life of those who, believing in the Son, are associated with Him in His own relationship before the Father; and hence to enter upon and to maintain it there must be the constant appropriation of the death of Christ.

Lastly, and this is the third thing, the Lord says, "And I will raise him up at the last day." This has already been referred to in connection with the previous verse; but a few more words are necessary to explain its repetition. Eternal life does not belong to this world; its home is in heaven, in the Father's house, and consequently its full enjoyment, according to the thoughts of God, is future. The apostle Paul generally thus speaks of it, and thus more than once speaks of the "hope of eternal life." Resurrection (if dead before the Lord's return) must then come in to introduce us actually into that blessed circle of divine affections in the Father's house. Even now, possessed of the springing well, we may, through the energy of the Holy Ghost, enter upon and enjoy in our measure the bliss of eternal life; but for the realization of it according to the Father's counsels, we must wait until the Lord Jesus Christ returns as Saviour and changes our bodies of humiliation, that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. All this is included in the Father's will, and this blessed will is accomplished in and through His beloved Son. The result is that all His brethren, conformed to His own image, will surround Him as the firstborn throughout the ages of eternity. There in the Father's house, sharing His glory, and thus one, even as the Father and the Son are one, they will also, being with Him where He is, behold the glory which the Father has given to Him; for, as He said, in addressing the Father, "Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." Well might we say: -

"Oh what a home! But such His love
That He must bring us there,
To fill that home, to be with Him,
And all His glory share.
The Father's house, the Father's heart,
All that the Son is given
Made ours - the objects of His love,
And He, our joy in heaven."