Coming To Christ: Not By the Power of Man, But By the Drawing of the Father

Taken and adapted from, “Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ” A Plain and Profitable Discourse on John 6:37. Showing the cause, truth, and manner of the coming of a sinner to Jesus Christ; with his happy reception and blessed entertainment.
Written by John Bunyan, 1681.
Edited for modern English and thought

Cranach_the_Younger,_Lucas_-_Christ_and_the_adulteress

“And they shall come which were ready to perish”
– Isaiah 27:13

FIRST OBSERVATION. First, then, coming to Christ is not by the will, wisdom, or power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father. This observation stands on two parts.

First. The coming to Christ is not by the will, wisdom, or power of man;

Second. But by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father.

That the text carries this truth in its bosom, you will find if you look into the explanation of the first part thereof before. I shall, therefore, here follow the method propounded, to show,

First. That coming to Christ is not by the will, wisdom, or power of man. This is true, because the Word positively says it does not.

  1. The Bible completely denies it to be by the will of man. “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man” (John 1:13). And again, “It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs” (Romans 9:16).
  2. The Bible denies it to be of the wisdom of man, as is manifest from these considerations:

(1) In the wisdom of God it pleased him, that the world by wisdom should not know him. Now, if by their wisdom they cannot know him, it follows, by that wisdom, they cannot come unto him; for coming to him is not before, but after some knowledge of him (1 Corinthians 1:21; Acts 13:27; Psalms 9:10).

(2) The wisdom of man, in God’s account, as to the knowledge of Christ, is reckoned foolishness. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). And again, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). If God has made foolish the wisdom of this world; and again, if the wisdom of this world is foolishness with him, then verily it is not likely that a sinner should become so prudent as to come to Jesus Christ, especially if you consider,

(3) That the doctrine of a crucified Christ, and so of salvation by him, is the very thing that is counted foolishness to the wisdom of the world. Now, if the very doctrine of a crucified Christ be counted foolishness by the wisdom of this world, it cannot be that, by that wisdom, a man should be drawn out in his soul to come to him (1 Corinthians 3:19; 1:18, 23).

(4) God counted the wisdom of this world one of his greatest enemies; therefore, by that wisdom no man can come to Jesus Christ. For it is not likely that one of God’s greatest enemies should draw a man to that which best of all pleases God, as coming to Christ does. Now, that God counts the wisdom of this world one of his greatest enemies, is evident,

(a) For that it casts the greatest contempt upon his Son’s undertakings, as is before proved, in that it counts his crucifixion foolishness; though that is one of the highest demonstrations of Divine wisdom (Ephesians 1:7,8).

(b) Because God has threatened to destroy it, and bring it to nothing, and cause it to perish; which surely he would not do, was it not an enemy, would it direct men to, and cause them to close with Jesus Christ (Isaiah 29:14; 1 Corinthians 1:19).

(c) He has rejected the foolishness of the world from helping in the ministry of his Word, —as a fruitless business, and a thing that comes to nothing (1 Corinthians 2:4, 6, 12, 13).

(d) Because it causes to perish, those that seek it, and pursue it (1 Corinthians 1:18, 19).

(e) And God has proclaimed, that if any man will be wise in this world, he must be a fool in the wisdom of this world, and that is the way to be wise in the wisdom of God. “If any man seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18- 20).

  1. Coming to Christ is not by the power of man. This is evident partly,

(1) From that which goes before. For man’s power in the putting forth of it, in this matter, is either stirred up by love, or sense of necessity; but the wisdom of this world neither gives man love to, or sense of a need of, Jesus Christ; therefore, his power lies still for that reason.

(2) What power has he that is dead, as every natural man spiritually is, even dead in trespasses and sins? Dead, even as dead to God’s New Testament things as he that is in his grave is dead to the things of this world. What power has he, then, whereby to come to Jesus Christ? (John 5:25; Ephesians 2:1; Col 2:13).

(3) God forbids the mighty man’s glorying in his strength; and says positively, “By strength shall no man prevail;” and again, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” (Jer. 9:23, 24; 1 Sam 2:9; Zech. 4:6; 1 Corinthians 1:27- 31).

(4) Paul acknowledges that man, no, converted man, of himself, has not the sufficiency of power in himself to think a good thought; if not to do that which is least, for to think is less than to come; then no man, by his own power, can come to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 2:5).

(5) Hence we are said to be made willing to come, by the power of God; to be raised from a state of sin to a state of grace, by the power of God; and to believe, that is to come, through the exceeding working of his mighty power (Psalms 110:3; Col 2:12; Ephesians 1:18, 20; Job 23:14). But this needed not, if either man had power or will to come; or so much as graciously to think of being willing to come, of themselves, to Jesus Christ.

Second, I should now come to the proof that the coming to Christ is only by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father.

  1. It is expressly said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him” (John 6:44). By this text, there is not only insinuated that in man is want of power, but also of will, to come to Jesus Christ: they must be drawn; they come not if they be not drawn. And observe, it is not man, no, nor all the angels in heaven, that can draw one sinner to Jesus Christ. No man comes to me, except the ones which the Father, who has sent me, draws.
  2. Again, “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65). It is a heavenly gift which makes a man come to Jesus Christ.
  3. Again, “It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that has heard, and has learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45).

Use and Application of the First Observation

Use First. Is it so? Is coming to Jesus Christ not by the will, wisdom, or power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then they are to blame that cry up the will, wisdom, and power of man, as things sufficient to bring men to Christ.

There are some men who think they may not be contradicted, when they plead for the will, wisdom, and power of man in reference to the things that are of the kingdom of Christ; but I will say to such a man, he never yet came to understand, that himself is what the Scripture teaches concerning him; neither did he ever know what coming to Christ is, by the teaching, gift, and drawing of the Father. He is such a one that has set up God’s enemy in opposition to him, and that continues in such acts of defiance; and what his end, without a new birth, will be, the Scripture teaches also; but we will pass this.

Use Second. Is it so? Is coming to Jesus Christ by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? And why is it you? Why not another? O that the glory of electing love should rest upon thy head, and that the glory of the exceeding grace of God should take hold of thy heart, and bring you to Jesus Christ!

Use Third. Is it so, that coming to Jesus Christ is by the Father, as aforesaid? Then this should teach us to set a high esteem upon them that indeed are coming to Jesus Christ; I say, an high esteem on them, for the sake of him by virtue of whose grace they are made to come to Jesus Christ.

We see that when men, by the help of human abilities, do arrive at the knowledge of, and bring to pass that which, when done, is a wonder to the world, how he that did it, is esteemed and commended; yes, how are his wits, parts, industry, and unweariedness in all admired, and yet the man, as to this, is but of the world, and his work the effect of natural ability; the things also attained by him end in vanity and vexation of spirit. Further, perhaps in the pursuit of these his achievements, he sins against God, wastes his time vainly, and at long- run loses his soul by neglecting of better things; yet he is admired! But I say, if this man’s parts, labor, diligence, and the like, will bring him to such applause and esteem in the world, what esteem should we have of such a one that is by the gift, promise, and power of God, coming to Jesus Christ?

  1. This is a man with whom God is, in whom God works and walks; a man whose motion is governed and steered by the mighty hand of God, and the effectual working of his power. Here is a man!
  2. This man, by the power of God’s might, which works in him, is able to cast a whole world behind him, with all the lusts and pleasures of it, and to charge through all the difficulties that men and devils can set against him. Here is a man.
  3. This man is travelling to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, and to an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus. Here is a man!
  4. This man can look upon death with comfort, can laugh at destruction when it cometh, and longs to hear the sound of the last trump, and to see his Judge coming in the clouds of heaven. Here is a man indeed!

Let Christians, then, esteem each other as such. I know you do it; but do it more and more. And that you may, consider these two or three things. (1) These are the objects of Christ’s esteem (Matt 12:48, 49; 15:22- 28; Luke 7:9). (2) These are the objects of the esteem of angels (Dan 9:12; 10:21, 22; 13:3, 4; Hebrews 2:14). (3) These have been the objects of the esteem of heathens, when but convinced about them (Daniel 5:10, 11; Acts 5:15; 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). “Let each [of you, then,] esteem [each] other better than themselves” (Phil 2:2).

Use Fourth. Again, is it so, that no man comes to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then this shows us how horribly ignorant of this such are, who make the man that is coming to Christ the object of their contempt and rage. These are also unreasonable and wicked men; men in whom is no faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2). Sinners, did you but know what a blessed thing it is to come to Jesus Christ, and that by the help and drawing of the Father, they do indeed come to him; you would hang and burn in hell a thousand years, before you would turn your spirits as you do, against him that God is drawing to Jesus Christ, and also against the God that draws him.

But, faithless sinner, let us a little expostulate the matter. What has this man done against you, that is coming to Jesus Christ? Why do you make him the object of thy scorn? Does his coming to Jesus Christ offend you? Does his pursuing of his own salvation offend you? Does his forsaking of his sins and pleasures offend you?

Poor coming man! “Shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?” (Exodus 8:26).

But, I say, why offended at this? Is he ever the worse for coming to Jesus Christ, or for his loving and serving of Jesus Christ? Or is he ever the more a fool, for flying from that which will drown you in hell fire, and for seeking eternal life? Besides, pray, Sirs, consider it; this he does, not of himself, but by the drawing of the Father. Come, let me tell you in your ear, you that will not come to him thyself, and him that would, you hinder –

  1. You shall be judged for one that has hated, maligned, and reproached Jesus Christ, to whom this poor sinner is coming.
  2. You shall be judged, too, for one that has hated the Father, by whose powerful drawing this sinner does come.
  3. You shall be taken and judged for one that has done despite to the Spirit of grace in him that is, by its help, coming to Jesus Christ. What do you say now? Wilt you stand by thy doings? Wilt you continue to contemn and reproach the living God? Do you think you that you shall weather it out well enough at the Day of Judgment? “Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you,” saith the Lord? (Ezekiel 22:14, John 15:18- 25; Jude 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:8).

Use Fifth. Is it so, that no man comes to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then this shows us how it comes to pass, that weak means are so powerful as to bring men out of their sins to a hearty pursuit after Jesus Christ.

When God bid Moses to speak to the people, he said, “I will give you counsel, and God shall be with you” (Exodus 18:19). When God speaks, when God works, who can stop it? None, none; and then the work goes on! Elias threw his mantle upon the shoulders of Elisha; and what a wonderful work followed! When Jesus fell in with the crowing of a cock, what work was there! O when God is in the means, then shall that means – be it never so weak and contemptible in itself – work wonders (1 Kings 19:19; Matt 26:74,75; Mark 14:71,72; Luke 22:60- 62). The world understood not, nor believed, that the walls of Jericho should fall at the sound of rams’ horns; but when God will work, the means must be effectual. A word weakly spoken, spoken with difficulty, in temptation, and in the midst of great contempt and scorn, works wonders, if the Lord thy God will say so too.

Use Sixth. Is it so? Doth no man come to Jesus Christ by the will, wisdom, and power of man, but by the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father? Then here is room for Christians to stand and wonder at the effectual working of God’s providences, that he has made use of, as means to bring them to Jesus Christ.

For although men are drawn to Christ by the power of the Father, yet that power puts forth itself in the use of means: and these means are divers, sometimes this, sometimes that; for God is at liberty to work by which, and when, and how he will; but let the means be what they will, and as contemptible as may be, yet God that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and that out of weakness can make strong, can, nay, does oftentimes make use of very unlikely means to bring about the conversion and salvation of his people. Therefore, you that are come to Christ – and that by unlikely means – stay yourselves, and wonder, and, wondering, magnify almighty power, by the work of which the means has been made effectual to bring you to Jesus Christ.

What was the providence that God made use of as a means, either more remote or more near, to bring you to Jesus Christ? Was it the removing of thy habitation, the change of thy condition, the loss of relations, estate, or the like? Was it thy casting of your eye upon some good book, thy hearing of thy neighbor’s talk of heavenly things, the beholding of God’s judgments as executed upon others, or your own deliverance from them, or thy being strangely cast under the ministry of some godly man? O take notice of such providence or providences! They were sent and managed by mighty power to do you good. God himself, I say, has joined himself unto this chariot: yea, and so blessed it, that it failed not to accomplish the thing for which he sent it.

God blesses not to everyone his providences in this manner. How many thousands are there in this world, that pass every day under the same providences! But God is not in them, to do that work by them as he has done for thy poor soul, by his effectually working with them. O that Jesus Christ should meet you in this providence, that dispensation, or the other ordinance! This is grace indeed! At this, therefore, it will be thy wisdom to admire, and for this to bless God.

Give me leave to give you a taste of some of those providences that have been effectual, through the management of God, to bring salvation to the souls of his people.

(1) The first shall be that of the woman of Samaria. It must happen, that she must needs go out of the city to draw water, not before nor after, but just when Jesus Christ her Savior was come from far, and set to rest him, being weary, upon the well. What a blessed providence was this! Even a providence managed by the almighty wisdom, and almighty power, to the conversion and salvation of this poor creature. For by this providence was this poor creature and her Savior brought together, that blessed work might be fulfilled upon the woman, according to the purpose before determined by the Father (John 4).

(2) What providence was it that there should be a tree in the way for Zaccheus to climb, thereby to give Jesus opportunity to call that chief of the publicans home to himself, even before he came down therefrom (Luke 19).

(3) Was it not also wonderful that the thief, which you read of in the gospel, should, by the providence of God, be cast into prison, to be condemned even at that session that Christ himself was to die; nay, and that it should happen, too, that they must be hanged together, that the thief might be in hearing and observing of Jesus in his last words, that he might be converted by him before his death! (Luke 23).

(4) What a strange providence was it, and as strangely managed by God, that Onesimus, when he was run away from his master, should be taken, and, as I think, cast into that very prison where Paul lay bound for the Word of the gospel; that he might there be by him converted, and then sent home again to his master Philemon! Behold “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

Nay, I have myself known some that have been made to go to hear the Word preached against their wills; others have gone not to hear, but to see and to be seen; nay, to jeer and flout others, as also to catch and carp at things. Some also to feed their adulterous eyes with the sight of beautiful objects; and yet God has made use even of these things, and even of the wicked and sinful proposals of sinners, to bring them under the grace that might save their souls.

Use Seventh. Doth no man come to Jesus Christ but by the drawing, &c., of the Father? Then let me here caution those poor sinners, that are spectators of the change that God has wrought in them that are coming to Jesus Christ, not to attribute this work and change to other things and causes.

There are some poor sinners in the world that plainly see a change, a mighty change, in their neighbors and relations that are coming to Jesus Christ. But, as I said, they being ignorant, and not knowing whence it comes and whither it goes, for “so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” (John 3:8), therefore they attribute this change to others causes: as melancholy; to sitting alone; to overmuch reading; to their going to too many sermons; to too much studying and musing on what they hear.

Also they conclude, on the other side, that it is for want of merry company; for want of physic; and therefore they advise them to leave off reading, going to sermons, the company of sober people; and to be merry, to go a gossiping, to busy themselves in the things of this world, not to sit musing alone, &c. But come, poor ignorant sinner, let me deal with you. It seems you art turned counsellor for Satan: I tell you for you know not what you do. Take heed of spending thy judgment after this manner; you judge foolishly, and say in this, to everyone that passes by, you are a fool. What! Do you count conviction for sin, mourning for sin, and repentance for sin, melancholy? This is like those that on the other side said, “These men are [drunk with] full of new wine,” &c. Or as he that said Paul was mad (Acts 2:13, 26:24). Poor ignorant sinner! Can you judge no better? What! Is sitting alone, pensive under God’s hand, reading the Scriptures, and hearing of sermons, &c., the way to be undone? The Lord open your eyes, and make you to see your error! You hast set thyself against God, you hast despised the operation of his hands, you are attempting to murder souls. What! Can you give no better counsel touching those whom God has wounded, than to send them to the ordinances of hell for help? You bid them be merry and lightsome; but do you not know that “the heart of fools is in the house of mirth?” (Eccl 7:4).

You bid them shun the hearing of thundering preachers; but is it not “better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools?” (Eccl 7:5). You bid them busy themselves in the things of this world; but do you not know that the Lord bids, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness?” (Matt 6:33). Poor ignorant sinner! Hear the counsel of God to such, and learn thyself to be wiser. “Is any afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). “Blessed is the man that hears me” (Proverbs 8:32). And hear for time to come, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39). “Give attendance to reading” (1 Tim 4:13). “It is better to go to the house of mourning” (Eccl 7:2,3).

And will you judge him that does thus? Art you almost like Elymas the sorcerer, that sought to turn the deputy from the faith? You seek to pervert the right ways of the Lord. Take heed lest some heavy judgment overtake you (Acts 13:8- 13). What! Teach men to quench convictions; take men off from a serious consideration of the evil of sin, of the terrors of the world to come, and how they shall escape the same? What! Teach men to put God and his Word out of their minds, by running to merry company, by running to the world, by gossiping? &c. This is as much as to bid them to say to God, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;” or, “What is the Almighty that we should serve him? Or what profit have we if we keep his ways?” Here is a devil in grain! What! Bid man walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Two objections answered

Object. 1. But we do not know that such are coming to Jesus Christ; truly we wonder at them, and think they are fools.

Ans. Do you not know that they are coming to Jesus Christ? Then they may be coming to him, for aught you know; and why will you be worse than the brute, to speak evil of the things you know not? What! Are you made to be taken and destroyed? Must you utterly perish in your own corruptions? (2 Peter 2:12). Do you not know them? Let them alone then. If you cannot speak good of them, speak not bad. “Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nothing; but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest haply you be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38,39). But why do you wonder at a work of conviction and conversion? Know you not that this is the judgment of God upon you, “you despisers, to behold, and wonder, and perish?” (Acts 13:40, 41). But why wonder, and think they are fools? Is the way of the just an abomination to you? See that passage, and be ashamed, “He that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked” (Proverbs 29:27). Your wondering at them argues that you are strangers to yourselves, to conviction for sin, and to hearty desires to be saved; as also to coming to Jesus Christ.

Object. 2. But how shall we know that such men are coming to Jesus Christ?

Ans. Who can make them see that Christ has made blind? (John 2:8, 9). Nevertheless, because I endeavor thy conviction, conversion, and salvation, consider: Do they cry out of sin, being burthened with it, as of an exceeding bitter thing? Do they fly from it, as from the face of a deadly serpent? Do they cry out of the insufficiency of their own righteousness, as to justification in the sight of God? Do they cry out after the Lord Jesus, to save them? Do they see more worth and merit in one drop of Christ’s blood to save them, than in all the sins of the world to damn them? Are they tender of sinning against Jesus Christ? Is his name, person, and undertakings, more precious to them, than is the glory of the world? Is this word more dear unto them? Is faith in Christ (of which they are convinced by God’s Spirit of the want of, and that without it they can never close with Christ) precious to them? Do they savor Christ in his Word, and do they leave all the world for his sake? And are they willing, God helping them, to run hazards for his name, for the love they bear to him? Are his saints precious to them? If these things be so, whether you see them or no, these men are coming to Jesus Christ (Rom 7:914; Psalms 38:3- 8; Hebrews 6:18- 20; Isa 64:6; Phil 3:7,8; Psalms 54:1; 109:26; Acts 16:30; Psalms 51:7,8; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Rom 7:24; 2 Corinthians 5:2; Acts 5:41; James 2:7; Song 5:10- 16; Psalms 119; John 13:35; 1 John 4:7; 3:14; John 16:9; Rom 14:23; Hebrews 11:6; Psalms 19:10,11; Jeremiah 15:16; Hebrews 11:24- 27; Acts 20:22- 24; 21:13; Titus 3:15; 2 John 1; Ephesians 4:16; Philemon 7; 1 Corinthians 16:24).