May 2, 2010

John 5:34 - John Gill

John 5:34.
But these things I say, that ye might be saved.

This passage of Scripture is often produced[1] as proof of Christ’s serious intention to save some who are not saved, to whom he gave sufficient means of salvation, which they refused; and consequently that his Father had made no decree, whereby they stood excluded from salvation; that he did not die intentionally only for such who are actually saved, and that the work of conversion is not wrought by an irresistible and insuperable power. To which I reply,

1. It is certain that the Jews, to whom Christ here speaks, had not, means sufficient to salvation; for though the testimonies of his Father, of John the Baptist, and of his own works and miracles, which he produced, were proper means to induce them to believe that he was the Messiah, yet not means sufficient to salvation; for to salvation, an internal work of grace, the regeneration of the Spirit,. are absolutely requisite and necessary; without which no man can be saved. Now it is evident, that they wanted these, since they had not the love of God in them (v. 42); nor his word abiding in them (v. 38); nor so much as the knowledge of Christ’s divinity, or of his being the true Messiah (v. 18).

2. It is taken for granted, that these words regard a spiritual and eternal salvation; whereas they may very well be understood of a temporal one; and the sense of them be this; these things I say, that is, these testimonies of my Father, and of John, I produce, not so much for my own honor and glory, as for your good; that ye, through these testimonies of me, may believe that I am the true Messiah, and so be saved from the temporal run and destruction, which will otherwise come upon you and your nation, for your disbelief, neglect, and contempt of me. But,

3. Admitting that Christ spoke these words with a view to the spiritual and eternal salvation of his audience; it should be observed, that he is here to be considered as a preacher, a minister of the circumcision, sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, for whose welfare he had a compassionate regard and concern; and therefore published the things concerning his person, office, and grace, indefinitely to them all, that he might gain some, not knowing as man, though he did as God, who were chosen, and who were not; which consideration of him is neither injurious to God nor to him.

4. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to prove, that the persons to whom Christ spoke these words, were not eternally saved; though at the present time they were unbelievers, and destitute of the grace of God, yet might hereafter be converted and enabled to go to Christ, for life and salvation; or at least, there might be some among them who were the elect of God, and sheep of Christ; for whose sake Christ might express himself in this manner, in order to bring them to the knowledge of him, and salvation by him; and therefore do not militate either against; any decree or act of preterition passed by God, respecting any part of mankind, or the doctrines of particular redemption and unfrustrable grace in conversion.

[1] Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. 3. 4. p. 216;Act Synod. p. 81; Curcell. 1.6, c. 13, see. 6, p. 402; Limborch. 1. 4, c. 13, sect. 13, p. 373; Whitby, p. 13, 73, 135, 162; ed. 2. 13, 72, 132, 158.

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