Sam Waldron comes highly recommended by yours truly. When I was able to take classes from Reformed Baptist Seminary, I took two classes from Dr. Waldron and his material is top-notch.
10/10/13: Eternal Life Ministries is offering this series on DVD for free – no telling how long this offer will be available.
Greg Nichols is a pastor at Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an instructor at Reformed Baptist Seminary. Audio and video from the series are available below. The videos are in WMV format and will need to be downloaded to your computer first before viewing. (From Sovereign Grace Audio Treasures)
12) God's Simplicity
14) God's Aseity
34) God's Justice
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
In this clip, Dr. Sproul recounts the time he was asked to engage in a debate concerning this topic. The word in question is ἑλκύω (helkuō). It is found in the New Testament in the following verses:
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut.
But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
Definitions of this word include:
a prim. vb.; to drag:—drag(1), dragged(2), draw(1), draws(1), drew(2), haul(1). Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.
ἑλκύω hĕlkuō, hel-koo´-o; or ἕλκω hĕlkō, hel´-ko; prob. akin to 138; to drag (lit. or fig.):—draw. comp. 1667. Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (27). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
ἑλκύω (helkuō): vb.; ≡ Str 1670; TDNT 2.503—an alternate lexical form based on the inflected form with an upsilon manifest, yet considered only a part of the inflection, MHT 2:236; see ἕλκω (helkō), just below ἕλκω (helkō): vb. [served by 1816]; ≡ Str 1670—1. LN 15.212 pull in, drag, draw, haul in (Jn 6:44; 12:32; 18:10; 21:6, 11+); 2. LN 15.178 lead by force (Ac 16:19; 21:30; Jas 2:6+) Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
(impf εἷλκον, fut ἑλκύσω, aor εἵλκυσα, subj 3 sg ἑλκύσῃ)
a pull: 15.212
b lead by force: 15.178 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (82). New York: United Bible Societies.
- Transliteration: Helkuo
- Phonetic: hel-koo’-o
1. to draw, drag off
2. metaph., to draw by inward power, lead, impel
- Origin: probably akin to G138
- TDNT entry: 10:23,2
- Part(s) of speech: Verb (Thayer)
tn Or “attracts him,” or “pulls him.” The word is used of pulling or dragging, often by force. It is even used once of magnetic attraction (A. Oepke, TDNT 2:503).
sn The Father who sent me draws him. The author never specifically explains what this “drawing” consists of. It is evidently some kind of attraction; whether it is binding and irresistible or not is not mentioned. But there does seem to be a parallel with 6:65, where Jesus says that no one is able to come to him unless the Father has allowed it. This apparently parallels the use of Isaiah by John to reflect the spiritual blindness of the Jewish leaders (see the quotations from Isaiah in John 9:41 and 12:39–40). Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Jn 6:44). Biblical Studies Press.
Yes, before one objects, there could be other nuances in 6:44, so the dictionaries/lexicons are not absolutely definitive here. One should, however, give theological thought to these definitions – they do present a rather compelling (no pun intended) argument for what Dr. Sproul says in this clip:
If any one, then, chooses to make use of this term without attaching any bad meaning to it, he shall not be troubled by me on that account; but as it cannot be retained without very great danger, I think the abolition of it would be of great advantage to the Church. I am unwilling to use it myself; and others if they will take my advice, will do well to abstain from it.
Institutes of The Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 8.
1 Corinthians 10:1–5 (ESV)
Warning Against Idolatry
10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
1 Corinthians 10:16–17 (ESV)
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
1 Corinthians 11:17–34 (ESV)
The Lord’s Supper
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
Breathed-out through the Apostle Paul…..
Romans 8:7–8 (ESV)
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Ripped out of context, you may say? Not hardly. Here’s the context:
Romans 8:1–11 (ESV)
Life in the Spirit
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The passage addresses the contrast between the unregenerate person (whose mind is “set on the flesh”) and the regenerate person (whose mind is set on the Spirit), along with the contrast between the person who is dead and the person who has life. Here, God says the unregenerate person not only does not obey God, he cannot obey God. If he cannot obey God, he thus cannot – by a mere act of his “will” – do what God commands. His will in that case is not “free,” but in bondage, as Jesus clearly stated to his audience in John 8. That audience didn’t like hearing they didn’t have “free will” anymore than today’s person likes to hear it, eh?
From The Bondage of the Will – Section 26.
Over and over in his diatribe against Erasmus, Luther makes the point that for man’s will to be truly “free,” as Erasmus (and many today) wish to define it, then by necessity the only way it could be such is to fall into a Pelagian definition of “free will,” which has been denounced as heretical going back to the times of Augustine.
You describe the power of free-will as small, and wholly ineffective apart from the grace of God.
Agreed? Now then, I ask you: If God’s grace is wanting, if it is taken away from that small power, what can it do? It is ineffective, you say, and can do nothing good. So it will not do what God or His grace wills. Why? Because we have now taken God’s grace away from it, and what the grace of God does not do is not good. Hence it follows that free-will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good. This being so, I give you full permission to enlarge the power of free-will as much as you like; make it angelic, make it divine, if you can! – but when you add this doleful postscript, that it is ineffective apart from God’s grace, straightway you rob it of all its power. What is ineffective power but (in plain language) no power? So to say that free-will exists and has power, albeit ineffective power, is, in the Sophists’ phrase, a contradiction in terms. It is like saying ‘free-will’ is something which is not free - as if you said that fire is cold and earth hot. Fire certainly has power to heat; but if hell-fire (even) was cold and chilling instead of burning and scorching, I would not call it fire, let alone hot (unless you meant to refer to an imaginary fire, or a painted one). Note, however, that if we meant by the power of free-will the power which makes human beings fit subjects to be caught up by the Spirit and touched by God’s grace, as creatures made for eternal life or eternal death, we should have a proper definition. And I certainly acknowledge the existence of this power, this fitness, or dispositional quality and passive aptitude (as the Sophists call it), which, as everyone knows, is not given to plants or animals. As the proverb says, God did not make heaven for geese!
It is a settled truth, then, even on the basis of your own testimony, that we do everything of necessity, and nothing by free-will; for the power of free-will is nil, and it does no good, nor can do, without grace. It follows, therefore, that free-will is obviously a term applicable only to Divine Majesty; for only He can do, and does (as the Psalmist sings) whatever he wills in heaven and earth [Psalms 135:6]. If free-will is ascribed to men, it is ascribed with no more propriety than divinity itself would be – and no blasphemy could exceed that! So it befits theologians to refrain from using the term when they want to speak of human ability, and to leave it to be applied to God only. They would do well also to take the term out of men’s mouths and speech, and to claim it for their God, as if it were His own holy and awful Name. If they must at all hazards assign some power to men, let them teach that it be denoted by some other term than free-will; especially since we know from our own observation that the mass of men are sadly deceived and misled by this phrase. The meaning which it conveys to their minds is far removed from anything that theologians believe and discuss. The term free-will is too grandiose and comprehensive and fulsome. People think it means what the natural force of the phrase would require, namely, a power of freely turning in any direction, yielding to none and subject to none. If they knew that this was not so, and that the term signifies only a tiny spark of power, and that utterly ineffective in itself, since it is the devil’s prisoner and slave, it would be a wonder if they did not stone us as mockers and deceivers, who say one thing and mean another – indeed, who have not yet decided what we do mean!
Since, therefore, we have lost the meaning and the real reference of this glorious term, or, rather, have never grasped them (as was claimed by the Pelagians, who themselves mistook the phrase) why do we cling so tenaciously to an empty word, and endanger and delude faithful people in consequence? There is no more wisdom in so doing then there is in the modern foible of kings and potentates, who retain, or lay claim to, empty titles of kingdoms and countries, and flaunt them, while all the time they are really paupers, and anything but the possessors of those kingdoms and countries. We can tolerate their antics, for they fool nobody, but just feed themselves up – unprofitably enough – on their own vainglory. But this false idea of free-will is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences.
If we do not want to drop this term altogether – which would really be the safest and most Christian thing to do – we may still in good faith teach people to use it to credit man with free-will in respect, not of what is above him, but of what is below him. That is to say, man should realize that in regard to his money and possessions he has a right to use them, to do or to leave undone, according to his own free-will – though that very free-will is overruled by the free-will of God alone, according to His own pleasure. However, with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, he has no free-will, but is a captive, prisoner and bondslave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.
Isaiah 10:5–19 (ESV)
Judgment on Arrogant Assyria
5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;
the staff in their hands is my fury!
6 Against a godless nation I send him,
and against the people of my wrath I command him,
to take spoil and seize plunder,
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
7 But he does not so intend,
and his heart does not so think;
but it is in his heart to destroy,
and to cut off nations not a few;
8 for he says:
“Are not my commanders all kings?
9 Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols,
whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols
as I have done to Samaria and her images?”
12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. 13 For he says:
“By the strength of my hand I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I have understanding;
I remove the boundaries of peoples,
and plunder their treasures;
like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.
14 My hand has found like a nest
the wealth of the peoples;
and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken,
so I have gathered all the earth;
and there was none that moved a wing
or opened the mouth or chirped.”
15 Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it,
or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it?
As if a rod should wield him who lifts it,
or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
16 Therefore the Lord God of hosts
will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors,
and under his glory a burning will be kindled,
like the burning of fire.
17 The light of Israel will become a fire,
and his Holy One a flame,
and it will burn and devour
his thorns and briers in one day.
18 The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land
the Lord will destroy, both soul and body,
and it will be as when a sick man wastes away.
19 The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few
that a child can write them down.