The primary reason for addressing Tim Warner’s arguments on the subject of John 6 is found in the assertions made therein regarding the exegesis of the text. Each time examples can be provided of errors in exegesis, it is hoped our readers will be better equipped to detect such mistakes in a wider variety of contexts.
As noted before, Mr. Warner has adopted a particular kind of “progressive dispensationalism” that allows him to cut the New Testament (and the Bible) up into sections that are then said to be no longer relevant today. So, if Jesus uses a present tense verb during His ministry, and the specific situation of His ministry has now “changed,” that present tense verb, if it has to do with the peculiar understanding adopted of Jesus’ ministry, can be said to be irrelevant now, since it only had to do with what was happening then. The result of such thinking will be seen in specifics below.
At times it is difficult to follow Warner’s reasoning. He writes,
Jesus indicated that He, like Moses, was sent by God. His confirmation of this fact to the Jews was that His own flesh was to be given for their spiritual food (as the manna was given for their physical food). Partaking of Jesus’ flesh was a cryptic way of saying that one must partake of Christ’s sacrifice of His flesh in a spiritual sense, as the Israelites partook of the manna in a physical sense (see vss. 60-63). Jesus was teaching an important truth here in parable. It had nothing to do with being the “bread of life throughout all ages.” That is purely Mr. White’s assumption that he has read into the text with zero support from the context. I hope you can see the logical fallacy committed here by Mr. White. His circular argument goes like this: He assumes a universal truth (Jesus is the bread of life throughout all ages). He reads that back into the text solely on the basis that Jesus called Himself the “bread of life” (without any reference to “throughout all ages” — the critical point of his argument). He then claimed that Jesus was teaching this alleged universal truth, which Jesus nowhere hinted at!
It would seem to follow that only the Jews of Jesus’ day could be saved by partaking of Christ’s sacrifice of His flesh—but, of course, that makes no sense, since Jesus spoke these words before the cross; but, if we remember John wrote these words decades later, and the truth Jesus spoke then is valid in that context, then we have no problems. And that, of course, is all I have been saying. There is nothing in the text to tell us that Jesus only meant His words to be relevant to Jews in Capernaum at a particular time. This is Warner’s imposition, one he seemingly wishes to be able to assert without proof. But when the result of your imposition is absurdity, one has warrant to reject the position being espoused.
But let us get to the text to see how artificial Warner’s teachings really are. Arguing in circles with those who are more concerned about a system than with the text gets us nowhere. Let’s see how this “system” works out when it tries to deal with the text. We begin with the tremendous man-centeredness of this theological system:
White makes an assumption that Scripture simply does not warrant or support. As we proved in our article, God’s Will, the expressed will of God is not always done. In this passage, Jesus explained what the will of the Father was. That is, God’s purpose or desire.
I hope Mr. Warner will forgive us for not going back over, yet again, the distinction between the prescriptive and decretal will of God. And I will refrain from citing all the text where God says His purpose, in fact, will be established, especially in reference to man’s plans and actions. Be that as it may, this over-arching (and false) theological presupposition is then read into the text of John 6, creating complete havoc. Instead of following the flow of the text and deriving its meaning in this fashion, the text is made to serve an over-arching purpose. Consider well what it means to say “God’s will is not always accomplished” when commenting on these words:
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”
Is Warner saying that it is merely the Father’s wish that Jesus will lose nothing of that given to Him? But that He knows Jesus will, in fact, lose some of those given, despite His “wish” that Jesus would be a perfect Savior? This is why the Son will never cast out any who come to Him? See how such an arbitrary insertion of an external concept, right in the middle of the flow of thought, turns the text on its head? The Lord’s reference to the Father’s will is in a particular context. Let’s follow the flow once again:
v. 35 and before — men seeking physical food, but Jesus is the bread of Life, only source of life
v. 36 the men seeking him are unbelievers
v. 37 contrast with vs. 36: these men are not coming to Him, but those the Father gives Him will come to Him, and those coming He will never cast out
v. 38 why will He not cast them out? Because He has come down out of heaven for a purpose: to do the Father’s will.
v. 39 the Father’s will for the Son: that He loses none of those given to Him, but raise them up at the last day.
Now let us ponder a moment the application of the claim, “God’s will is not always accomplished,” to this text. The “will” spoken of here is the will of the Father for the Son. This is inter-trinitarian language. It speaks to the very eternal covenant of redemption itself wherein Father, Son, and Holy Spirit freely chose to take the roles they did in the self-glorifying act (singular) of creation and redemption. Here the eternal Son of God tells us that He has come into this world for a purpose, and that purpose is to do the will of the Father. How strong, how blinding, must be our commitment to an external system to be led to the conclusion that while the Son may come to do the Father’s will, He may well fail to be able to do so! There is nothing in the text that leads us to such a conclusion: in fact, just the opposite is true, for Jesus assures us that He will, in fact, succeed, for He will raise to life all those given to Him and (as a result of being thusly given) coming to Him in faith. So much for the diminishment of God’s sovereign will, accomplished perfectly by the Father and the Son, to a mere “wish” or “desire” frustrated by the will of mere creatures.
But Mr. Warner has only begun to put forth eisegesis that turns the text on its head. Next we have a classic example of how not to interpret the Bible:
Jesus did not describe the unalterable decree of the Father. The same Greek word for “will” is found in the following passage, where God’s will is clearly not carried out with absolute certainty. Paul wrote, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit,” (1Thess. 4:3-8). Paul recognized that some Christians could reject the “will of God,” and that God’s will for them could be thwarted by their disobedience, despite the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. That is, the free will of man can interfere with the accomplishment of the will of God.
This is a very common and basic error. Note the conclusion one would have to come to if Warner’s argument was consistent: that there is no sovereign will of God, since the term “will” is used, somewhere in the Bible, of something other than a sovereign decree. What happened to context? It was just thrown out the window. There is no contextual parallel between Jesus’ statement in John 6 concerning the will of the Father for the Son, and the will of God expressed in sanctification in the Christian life. Warner does not even seem to realize that he is under obligation, if his assertions are to be taken seriously, to establish that the contexts of the two passages allow his wholesale parallel. In any case, this kind of blatant a-contextual equivocation is very common, but nonethless to be avoided.
The holes in Warner’s position are easily seen as we continue through his attempt to find a way around Jesus’ teaching in John 6:
White may object that in John 6, it was Jesus who was to carry out the Father’s will, and therefore must do so perfectly. But that argument assumes there are no other factors that bear on the completion of God’s purpose. Peter tells us that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9).
Aside from the common and a-contextual misuse of 2 Peter 3:9, we are once again left with the direct statement by Warner that the Son’s fulfillment of the Father’s will for the Son is actually beyond the Son’s capacity in and of Himself! The Son is incapable of doing the Father’s will outside of the synergistic cooperation of the enemies of God! The Son is forced to fail, repeatedly, in fulfilling the Father’s “desires” for Him because He must rely upon the cooperation of–who? Ironically, in this context, it would be “those that the Father gives Me.” It is hard to see how Warner is accomplishing anything at this point, but then again, it is just as hard to see how any of this actually comes fromthe text. But just keep in mind: for this system of belief, the Son is dependent upon sinful, rebellious creatures to help Him fulfill the Father’s will for Himself. An amazing position to hold indeed. Warner continues:
Paul agrees, stating that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4). Yet, most are not saved. Has Jesus failed in His mission to carry out the Father’s wishes and purpose in salvation? Has the Holy Spirit failed to draw all men? Or is there something else that hinders the full accomplishment of God’s desire expressed by Paul and Peter? Surely, it is the latter. And that obstacle is man’s resisting the call of God to repentance, (Rom. 2:1-11, esp. v. 4).
Once again we see the misuse of 1 Timothy 2, and we likewise see no evidence that Warner is overly familiar with the position he is seeking to critique. Neither text he cites means what he assumes they mean, so he has not established the “God wills the salvation of each individual, God fails to bring this about” conundrum. One is tempted to ask if Warner believes Christ is interceding for every single human being before the Father (which would be required by his use of 1 Timothy 2), and if this pleading is fruitless solely because the sacrifice is not enough, God’s desire is not enough, the entire work of the Trinity is dependent in the final analysis upon the work of sinful men? But that issue aside, there is no parallel to the statement of the Father’s will for the Son, and so Warner has completely failed to deal with the text in an accurate fashion. It stands that the Son will, in fact, accomplish the Father’s will, and thanks be to God for that! I am so thankful I serve a powerful, perfect Savior who is not dependent upon my help to be a Savior!
In the next article we will examine what I can only identify as a sad attack upon the clarity of God’s Word by Mr. Warner in his attempt to substantiate his man-made and man-centered system of theology.