Buckets of Grace
(John 4:11) The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Jesus had just declared to a woman of Samaria who had come to draw water from Jacob's well that He could have provided her with living water (JOH 4:5-10). Seeing that Jesus appeared to have no instrument with which to draw water, and not discerning between things of the flesh and things of the spirit (for Jesus was speaking of the Spirit, c/w JOH 7:37-39), she had evidently concluded that no drawing was possible. In this, she is not unlike many of God's children who deem that Jesus and His Spirit are always limited by the lack of appropriate visible instruments such as men and their works. Many say that Jesus cannot possibly regenerate sinners without the help of preachers and the gospel, a position which of necessity eternally damns any who have not heard a preacher or the gospel. And, if this ramification is so unacceptable that exceptions must be made so as to not cruelly damn babies, the ignorant heathen or the mentally handicapped, etc., then it is clearly NOT TRUE that Jesus cannot possibly regenerate sinners without the help of preachers and the gospel. It is a logical absurdity to affirm that preachers and the gospel are absolute necessities for regeneration of the sinner and also to affirm that preachers and the gospel are NOT absolute necessities for regeneration of the sinner. Heresy opposes itself (2TI 2:24-26; TIT 3:10-11). The sense of “draw” which this woman of Samaria had in mind was an effectual draw on a passive object, such as a bucket pulled from a well. This is actually in accord with the primary definition of the word, “draw” according to Oxford English Dictionary: “To cause (anything) to move toward oneself by the application of force; to pull.” As the bucket is passively drawn from the well by an operative, effectual power or as a sword is passive in its being drawn from its sheath (1SAM 17:51; JOH 18:10), so is the regeneration (quickening) of the inward man. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing...” (JOH 6:63). True worshippers of God “...rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (PHIL 3:3); they do not presume to limit Jesus in His sovereign purpose of eternal salvation (ROM 9:10-16; EPH 1:3-6) to the instruments of a preacher and the gospel or even the will of the sinner. In JOH 6:37-40, Jesus was expressing the certainty of salvation for all that the Father had given Him to save: every single one of them would come unto Him in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus is obviously dealing here with the glorification of His saints which is the great end of His work of grace in saving His elect (ROM 8:29-30). In the very context, Jesus declared, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (JOH 6:44). As we have noted in other meditations, that resurrection at the last day will be a general resurrection of the just and unjust by the irresistible, effectual call of the voice of the Son of God (JOH 5:28-29; ACT 24:14-15) which will fulfill Jesus' promise, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (JOH 12:32). Whether it be the raising of a sinner out of his natural state of death in trespasses and sins (EPH 2:1-3) or the raising up of the bodies of the saints at the last day, they are passively drawn by the irresistible power of God, not because of their will (for they be buckets), but by His will! Running to Greek will not help anyone to avoid the plain truth of these observations. The underlying Greek word for “draw” in JOH 6:44 is helkuo (Strong's # 1670), which means “to drag (literally or figuratively)...” and in all seven other places it appears in the N.T., it is undoubtedly speaking of something or someone that is passive when drawn by an operative greater power (JOH 12:32; JOH 18:10; JOH 21:6; JOH 21:11; ACT 16:19; ACT 21:30; JAM 2:6). But, some might say, “Is it possible that 'draw' can imply an influence rather than an effectual force?” The answer is, “Yes.” Oxford English Dictionary shows that a subordinate definition of “draw” can mean, “fig. To attract by moral force, persuasion, inclination, etc.; to induce to come (to a place); to attract by sympathy (to a person); to convert to one's party or interest; to lead, entice, allure, turn (to, into, or from a course, condition, etc.).” The following texts are examples of such usage: (Deuteronomy 30:17) But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; (Acts 20:30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (James 1:14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. In each of these cases the will of the individual is definitely in play. Ungodly influences can draw (influence, entice) saints away from God's will and what is best for them. But this sense of “draw” cannot be applied to the making of a child of God. Those who have been made sons of God are described as having been born, “...not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (JOH 1:13). In an unregenerate state, man will not be drawn (influenced, enticed) by the things of the Spirit like the gospel. By nature as a child of wrath (EPH 2:3), he has no desire or capacity for God or spiritual things (JOH 8:43-47; ROM 3:9-19; 1CO 1:18; 1CO 2:14). Whereas the love of Christ constrains (compels) His children (2CO 5:14), it repels the rest. Who does the Spirit draw by influence; who does He lead? “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (ROM 8:14). Find someone who is being drawn (attracted, persuaded) unto God by the good news of the gospel and its power to convict the heart of sin and you have found someone whom God has already effectually drawn out of damnation and sin according to His will and power, for “...as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed” (ACT 13:48).