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HUMAN INABILITY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, December 3, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).


I am not a five point Calvinist. They sometimes say I have been confused by some of Richard Baxter’s and Martin Luther’s and John Goodwin’s thoughts. Perhaps they are right. I do not see all things perfectly, nor do I think anyone fully does. At best,

“We see through a glass, darkly” (I Corinthians 13:12).

I do not pretend to have a full understanding of what are known as the “doctrines of grace” in Calvinism. But though I do not ascribe to all of their “points” and doctrines, I believe our text, and I believe it with as much fervor as the staunchest Calvinist. In fact I believe this verse in John 6:44 the same way the strongest Calvinist does, for I believe that their view of the text is plain and clear on the page of Scripture, when Jesus said,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

I could find no way to “dodge” it if I wanted to, and so I will present it to you in a message adapted from C. H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers. I have given the same title to the sermon he did, and I will give you the outline of his sermon, “Human Inability,” in an abbreviated, simplified form, more suited to modern hearers (ref. The New Park Street Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1981 reprint, volume IV, pp. 137-144). Christ said,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

“Coming to Christ” is a common phrase in the Bible. It is used to describe a person leaving his self righteousness and fleeing to Jesus, receiving Jesus’ righteousness as his covering, and Jesus’ Blood for his cleansing. “Coming to Christ” includes repentance and faith in Jesus, and sums up all of those things which accompany the salvation of a soul. “Coming to Christ” is the one thing necessary for a sinner to be saved. When a person has not come to Christ, it is certain that he has not been converted and is still dead in trespasses and sins.

In these dark days of “decisionism,” coming to Christ is often thought to be the easiest thing in the world. And yet, by listening carefully to many testimonies, the discerning pastor will see that nearly all have failed to come to Christ Himself and have, thus, missed the mark. It is easy to believe things about Christ. It is easy to believe that He can save from sin, that He can wash sins away, and that He can save the soul. The demons believe those doctrines. They are easy things to believe. But the act of coming to Christ Himself is impossible for any man, unless he is drawn to Christ by the Father, for Christ said,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

I will, therefore this morning, speak on the inability of man and, then, on the drawings of the Father, and conclude with the application of this doctrine.

I. First, the inability of man.

The text says,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

When the Disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26), Jesus answered,

“With men it is impossible” (Mark 10:27).

With men it is impossible to be saved! That’s what Jesus Christ our Lord said in Mark 10:27!

Some may say that I am preaching against what they call “easy believism.” They may think that I am speaking on “Lordship salvation,” which at least one author refers to as, “Hard to Believe,” in a book with that title. But I am not speaking of “easy believism” or “hard believism!” I am speaking about “impossible believism.” I am speaking of the impossibility of the natural man coming to Christ!

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

What makes coming to Christ humanly impossible? Where does this inability come from? It does not come from any physical imperfection, flaw, or defect. If coming to Christ meant moving the body or walking with the feet, certainly man would have the ability to come to Christ. A man once said he did not believe anyone had the power to walk to church unless the Father drew him. Now that man was clearly foolish, because it is plain to see that as long as a man can use his legs, it is as easy for him to walk to church as it is for him to walk to a liquor store! If coming to Christ meant saying a “sinner’s prayer,” it’s as easy for him to say that prayer as it is for him to say a dirty word! So, it is clear, man’s inability to come to Christ is not physical.

Nor does this inability lie in the mind. I can believe the Bible to be true just as easily as I can believe any other book to be true. I can believe what Christ said as easily as I can believe what anyone else says. With my mind, I can believe in the existence of Christ as easily as I can believe in the existence of anyone else. The defect, then, does not lie in either the body or the mind. Why, then, did Jesus say,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44)?

Let me show you where the inability of man really exists. It exists in his nature. Through the Fall, and through our own sin, the very nature of man has become so ruined, and depraved, and corrupted that it is not possible for him to come to Christ unless the Father draws him!

A sheep cannot eat meat. A lion cannot eat grass. Why? Because it is against a sheep’s nature to eat meat. It is against a lion’s nature to eat grass. And it is against man’s nature to come to Christ! As Dr. Watts put it,

Great God of glory and of grace,
   We own, with humble shame,
How vile is our degenerate race,
   And our first father’s name.

From Adam flows our tainted blood,
   The poison reigns within;
Makes us opposed to what is good
   And willing slaves to sin.

Daily we break God’s holy laws,
   And then reject His grace;
Engaged in Satan’s awful cause
   Against God’s holy face.

We live cut off, afar from God,
   And love the distance well;
We quickly run the dangerous road
   That leads to sin and hell.

We raise our Father’s name on high,
   Who his own Spirit sends
To bring rebellious sinners nigh,
   And turn Christ’s foes to friends.

And can such rebels be restored,
   Such blindness made to shine?
Let sinners see Thy Son, O Lord,
   And feel His blood divine.
(“Our Unconverted State” by Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748;
   to the tune of “O Set Ye Open Unto Me,” Belmont).

Think hard about those words. Was not Dr. Watts correct?

From Adam flows our tainted blood,
   The poison reigns within;
Makes us opposed to what is good
   And willing slaves to sin.

That’s why,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

Every human heart is ruined by the Fall, poisoned to death by sin, incapable, unable, dead to God. That’s why

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

II. Second, the drawings of the Father.

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

How does the Father draw people to Jesus? Christians used to know that sinners were usually drawn to Jesus through the preaching of the Gospel. But they also knew that it was a special quality in the preaching that turned sinners to Christ. They knew that the preaching had to be empowered, so the preacher could say, with the Apostle Paul,

“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4).

Rev. Brian Edwards, a British authority on revival, said of Paul’s preaching,

That was revival preaching. In revival, congregations do not discuss a man’s style or eloquence, in fact they do not even debate the content; they are moved to action. Revival preaching has a power and authority that bring the Word of God like a hammer to the heart and conscience. This is exactly what is absent from most of our preaching today (Rev. Brian H. Edwards, Revival! A People Saturated with God, Evangelical Press, 1991, p. 103).

What happens in a revival to a number of lost people, happens to one or two, here and there, during regular preaching services. But, note this, every true conversion is a miracle! We had a hopeful conversion last Sunday. I consider that to be a miracle, comparable to the raising of Lazarus from the dead! How we pray that there will be another conversion today – that God will take these simple words, and by the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” use them to change the direction and habit of a sinner’s heart.

I know I cannot change your mind. I know I cannot convince you. I am as powerless to convert you as a paraplegic is powerless to walk. I often dread coming to this pulpit and preaching. I know I can preach. I have preached hundreds of times. But I know, and I know full well, that no words I say can ever help or change, or convert a single soul, apart from the drawing power of God!

Lord, now indeed I find
   Thy power, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots,
   And melt the heart of stone.

Jesus paid it all,
   All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
   He washed it white as snow.
(“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1889).

How does God melt the heart of stone? He changes the direction of the will. He moves the heart to want Jesus, to desire Him, to thirst for Him.

Martin Luther said, “The Father does not yank the sinner by the hair, but draws him by the heart.” By a mysterious operation, God turns the heart to come to Jesus and love Him, God turns the heart from cold religion to a lovely, warm and friendly relationship to Christ.

When I was young I knew an old man that all the other kids were afraid of, because they said he was mean. But somehow I knew instinctively that he was really a very kind old man. I used to pick him up in my car from the Biola Hotel, next to the Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, and take him to prayer meeting at the Chinese church I attended while I was in college. The Chinese young people in that church thought he was scary and mean, because he was so old. But I found that he was really a kind and gentle old man, full of love for Christ. I always sat beside him while he prayed. He was from Hungary and spoke with a thick accent, but his prayers were so full of love for Christ that it brings tears to my eyes, thinking about the love he expressed to Christ each time he prayed.

I think that is the way we are with God and Christ. Before we are converted, we are so very cold toward God and Christ. We think of them as distant figures, somewhat angry, to be feared and shunned. But when God changes our wills, we discover, to our surprise, that God and Christ love us more than we ever knew they did, more than we ever thought they could!

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

And when God opens our eyes, He draws us to Jesus

“with cords of a man, with bands of love” (Hosea 11:4).

As an old hymn puts it,

I’ve found a friend, oh, such a friend!
   He loved me [‘fore] I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
   And thus He bound me to Him.
(“I’ve Found a Friend” by James G. Small, 1817-1888).

Luther said,

God draws by the will, not by the neck. Christ here says: only he comes to me, and only he receives faith, whom the Father draws to me. This drawing is not as the hangman [drags] a thief [to the gallows]. It is rather a friendly inviting and drawing, as a [kind and gentle] man attracts people to himself by being so friendly and pleasant that [you are] glad to [come] to him. In this way God also gently invites people to [Christ] so that they willingly and gladly [want to be] with Him and near Him (Martin Luther, Th.D., What Luther Says, Concordia Publishing House, 1994 reprint, pp. 346-347).

God goes to the secret part of the human heart, and by a mysterious work, turns the will in the opposite direction so the man is saved, as Ralph Erskine paradoxically put it, “with full consent against his will,” that is, against his old will, he comes to Jesus. But he is saved with his full consent, because he is made willing in the day of God’s power. When God’s Spirit gently influences your heart to come to Jesus, a verse in the Song of Solomon is fulfilled,

“Draw me, [and I] will run after thee: [Jesus] hath brought me into his chambers: [I] will be glad and rejoice in thee”
      (Song of Solomon 1:4).

Draw me, and I will run after Thee!

The man’s heart is troubled, full of conflict and despair. He thinks, “I can never be saved. Nothing can save me.” Then Jesus comes, and night is turned to day! The man is drawn so willingly to Him that it seems like he was not drawn at all. And he comes to Christ very quickly and easily.

Someone says, “Well, I have been to another church where they told me I could be saved whenever I wished. They said I could say a ‘sinner’s prayer’ any time I wanted and be saved. So I have been putting it off. But now you have taken this hope away from me, preacher. I feel full of pain and fear.” I say, “My friend, I am glad to hear it. This is what I hoped would happen. I pray that you will feel that inner pain and fear even more, a great deal more. And when you have no hope whatever of saving yourself, I will dare to hope that God has begun to save you.” As soon as you say within yourself, “Oh, I cannot come to Christ. God, draw me, help me,” I will be very happy for you, for he who wants Jesus, though he does not have the power, has the grace of God already begun in his heart, and God will not leave him until the work is finished, and he is converted.

Let me give you a verse of Scripture that may help you,

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).

I believe that you will come to Christ because God has been drawing you, and because He is drawing you, it is proof that He loves you, as no person on this earth has ever loved you. May you come by faith to the cross of Jesus. May you kneel beneath His cross and

Let the water and the blood,
   From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
(“Rock of Ages” by Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778).

Let us stand and sing the last hymn on the song sheet. Sing it with all your heart and soul!

I hear Thy welcome voice,
   That calls me, Lord, to Thee
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
   That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

Though coming weak and vile,
   Thou dost my strength assure;
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
   Till spotless all and pure.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

‘Tis Jesus calls me on
   To perfect faith and love,
To perfect hope, and peace, and trust,
   For earth and heaven above.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

If you feel that you should come to Jesus now, I would like you to speak with Dr. Cagan and myself. Please meet us in the little foyer leading into the Fellowship Hall, as we go upstairs to have a meal together. And may our Heavenly Father use this sermon as a means of drawing you to Jesus, for cleansing in His precious Blood from all your sins. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 6:38-44.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Our Unconverted State” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748;
sung to the tune of “O Set Ye Open Unto Me,” Belmont).


THE OUTLINE OF

HUMAN INABILITY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

(I Corinthians 13:12)

I.   First, the inability of man, John 6:44; Mark 10:26-27.

II.  Second, the drawings of the Father, I Corinthians 2:4;
Hosea 11:4; Song of Solomon 1:4; Jeremiah 31:3.