“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

– John 6:65

If we need Jesus in order to be saved and no one can go to Jesus unless God has enabled them, does this mean that we cannot choose to be saved? This is quite the paradoxical question and has been the subject of much debate in the theological community. Can mankind choose to be saved? Does God call all of us? Does God want all of us? 

Before we find ourselves overwhelmed by existential angst, let’s ask ourselves a very important question. If God did not move in our hearts and call us, would we have any desire at all to ask Jesus into our lives? I think it is clear from the scripture that we would not desire to do so. So, is this a situation where God limits our free will? I do not believe that it is, as we are merely at the mercy of a specific stimuli in order to make it possible for us to take an action. Much like seeing an advertisement for something that we never knew existed and then desiring that item.

Imagine walking down a hallway at a local hospital, on your way to visit a sick friend, when you here an advertisement for a new product on a television in one of the waiting rooms. You think to yourself, “That would be pretty cool to have, but I don’t really need it.” As you keep walking you pass another waiting area and you overhear some people talking about that very same product. They are saying that they just bought the product from the commercial and they love it. It has changed their lives and couldn’t imagine living without it. You keep walking an hear more people talking about it and pretty soon you find yourself thinking, “I need to check that thing out. Maybe I really could use it.” In this situation, are the advertisers and people in the waiting rooms conspiring to inhibit your ability to make your own decisions?

This is very similar to what Jesus is saying. God will move in the lives of those that He chooses to, and He will inspire them to desire Jesus. He does not need to manipulate you physical mind to do this, He only needs to provide very natural environmental stimulation in order to create desire. Now let me ask you a question. In the scenario at the hospital, would you have desired the product in the commercial if you had been distracted and deep in thought while walking down the hallway? 

“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

– John 6:65

So let’s summarize the issue at hand. 

  1. If God does not take a specific action (enabling us), we cannot take a specific action (knowing and desiring Christ). 
  2. If God does take a specific action (enabling us), we can take a specific action (knowing and desiring Christ) or choose not to.

This is not God limiting our free will because He is not preventing us from taking a specific action. Here is a great example of a modern scenario within the same guidelines. 

Every year I bake a wonderful family recipe which only I know. Is it reasonable for me to say that no one on the planet could ever know what they taste like and continue to desire them unless I first enabled them by giving them a sample? Of course it is. Is it reasonable to infer that not everyone who had been given a sample of my recipe would decide that they wanted more? Of course, some people may not like it.

Much like the baker of a secret recipe, God can choose who gets to taste some of the Bread of Life and who does not. This does not mean that everyone who tastes the bread has no choice but to like it, and it likewise does not mean that anyone who does not try it would not desire it. God is not limiting our free will in this scenario, instead God is freely interacting with a people who are granted free will. 

Now, those that read John 6 before reading this article may point out that:

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me

John 6:37

Does this mean that we do not have the freedom to ignore the call of God? That if we are chose we have no choice but to come? I suppose I would answer that with a question: 

Is it possible for a baker to make something so delicious that no person would dislike it?

Written by James Dusenbery

I am the Founder/Lead Editor at CanonOfReason.com. I do not claim to be an "expert" at anything, although the title is afforded to me quite often. I simply want to spread understanding of different Biblical positions and shine some light on the versatility and brilliance of the Bible. You can follow me on Twitter (@JamesDusenbery) and Instagram (@CanonOfReason).

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