“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44
Two key truths of our salvation are taught in this passage. This first is the moral inability of a sinner to come to Christ in his own power. The second is that the only way for any sinner to come to Christ is by the effective drawing of the Father.
We see the first point in the phrase, “No one can come to me.” The word “can” is a word of ability. The word “may” is a word of permission. We may remember our childhood teachers telling us that we should ask, “May I use the restroom?” and not, “Can I use the restroom?” To say that no one can come to Christ means that no one is able to come to Christ. All people are certainly permitted to come to Christ, but what Jesus is saying here is that they are devoid of the power to come to Christ. They are morally and spiritually incapable of coming to Christ in their own power. They are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1).
All Christians readily affirm that sinners cannot save themselves. Yet many Christians are uncomfortable affirming the equally biblical truth that sinners cannot cooperate in their salvation. They are unable to do anything to come to Christ in their own power. They are entirely dependent on Christ. They are like crippled Mephibosheth who must be carried before King David (See 2 Samuel 9).
Total depravity means total inability. We are not only ruined in the totality of our being (intellect, emotions, and will), but we are also rendered unable to act in any way that is spiritually pleasing to God. Our righteous deeds are filthy rags in his sight because they are tainted by the unrighteous motivations of our sinful hearts (Isaiah 64:6).
So what must happen in order for us to obtain salvation in Christ? We must be drawn by the Father. The Father who sent Jesus to be our Savior must bring us to himself. We must underline that the Father’s drawing in this passage is an effective drawing. We can see this by the repetition of the pronoun “him” in both sentences. The Father draws “him” to Christ and raises “him” up on the last day. So all who are drawn to Christ are raised up on the last day.
Many people have a false idea that the Father draws all people to Christ, and then they choose whether they will have him or not. That is not what is being taught in this verse. This is saying that the Father draws these sinners to Christ, and they are raised to spiritual life. It is an effectual calling.
The word for "draw" means "to drag." It is used in the Greek New Testament for dragging in a net of fish. The fish that are caught in the net are effectively dragged aboard the ship. In the same way, when God catches his elect with the gospel of Jesus, he effectively drags them aboard the ship of salvation.
The good news is that it is impossible for God to fail in bringing salvation to his people. All those who are drawn by the Father will be raised up by the Son. What a glorious gospel! Salvation is not accomplished by the cooperation of the sinner with God but by the cooperation of the Father with the Son. Jesus will not fail to save any of those people who have been given to him by his Father (John 6:37). He will never cast them out. He will raise them on the last day.