The first observation is that this text appears in the historical setting of Paul turning away from the Jews to preach to the Gentiles. What is interesting is that in verse 46, Paul rebukes the Jews, telling them they have judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. What rationale does Paul provide for his supposition? They repudiated the word of God, says Paul. In other words, they refused to believe the gospel that Paul and Barnabas delivered to them. Conversely, the Gentiles believed. What was the dissimilarity between those who believed and those who repudiated the word of God? The contrast is located in verse 48. Hence, Paul introduces the controversial doctrine of predestination. The difference is in the Greek word tetagmenoi. Those who believe do so because God designated, from eternity past, that they will do so.
In case you are wondering if this view appears anywhere in Christ’s discourses, the answer is yes it appears in John 6.
John chapter 6 is one of the most interesting chapters in the Bible. First of all, Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (v.44) Now the Greek translated into the English word, “can” means “ability.” In other words, what Jesus literally said is “No one has the ability to come to me…” I completely grant this contradicts the concept of “freewill” which, as a doctrine is so predominant in our society that people take for granted it is valid. After making this statement, a few verses later, Jesus emphasizes his point. In this periscope, John is explaining why some people don’t believe in Jesus and why, in the end, they will crucify him. Moreover, the key to that behavior emerges in the verse we just discussed. Jesus says in v. 64, “But there are some of you who do not believe in me. (For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him). And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” There you have it. Unless God grants a person the ability, they will NOT come to Christ. First, this means that men do not possess an inherent ability to come to Christ and this explains why they don’t. They love their sin! There are no good people in the world that deserve a chance to come to Christ. Such a radically specious understanding dismantles grace. The world hates God and despises His Christ. However, the converse of this is true. Everyone that hears and learns from the Father comes to me. The reason men believe is because they have been chosen. The reason we believe is directly attributable to the fact that we are His sheep. Back in v. 44 Jesus said the ones the Father draws to Christ, He will raise them up. He does not say he might. This means that everyone who has given the ability to come, in the end, comes to Christ. Jesus said in John 10:28, “The reason you do not believe Me is because you are not my sheep.” The Father gives the sheep to the Son. In additional, he does not lose any of them, not even one.
Rob Bell clearly dismisses the idea that God chooses people to salvation. In Rob Bell’s view of salvation, everything depends on man. Man must cooperate with God from the beginning to the end. In Rob Bell’s understanding of the cross, there were no guarantees that anyone would come to God in this life. In that view, the atonement accomplished nothing actually, but only made salvation possible. Everything else would be up to fallen humanity and who knows how that will go. I am glad that Christ, when He died at Calvary, did more than just make my salvation possible. I am glad He took my place and secured my home in heaven for eternity. I am glad that the Father chose me, and place me in the Son’s hand, and that no one take me out of His hand now. I was a God hater and while I was still a God hater, Christ saved me. That is grace!