Effectual Drawing

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
~ Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:30, Acts 13:48, Colossians 2:12, Philippians 1:29

They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
~ Isaiah 44:18-20, John 12:37-40

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
~ Matthew 11:25, Romans 8:7-8, John 12:32, Jeremiah 31:3, Song of Solomon 1:4, Hosea 11:4, John 6:65, John 6:39

God’s Effectual Drawing, by John Flavel. This is an excerpt from his work, The Method of Grace, Sermon 4: Concerning the Work of the Spirit, as the Internal, and Most Effectual Means of the Application of Christ.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
~ John 6:44

Let us consider the marvellous way and manner in which the Lord draws the souls of poor sinners to Jesus Christ, and you will find He doth it (1) gradually, (2) congruously,1 (3) powerfully, (4) effectually, and (5) finally.

First, this blessed work is carried on by the Spirit gradually. [It brings] the soul step by step in the due method and order of the gospel to Christ: illumination, conviction, compunction2 prepare the way to Christ. Then faith unites the soul to Him. Without humiliation there can be no faith: “Ye…repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Mat 21:32). It is the burdensome sense of sin that brings the soul to Christ for rest: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” (Mat 11:28). But without conviction, there can be no compunction, no humiliation. He that is not convinced of his sin and misery never bewails it nor mourns for it. Never was there one tear of true repentance seen to drop from the eye of an unconvinced sinner. And without illumination, there can be no conviction; for what is conviction, but the application of the light that is in the understanding or mind of a man to his heart and conscience? (Act 2:37). In this order, therefore, the Spirit (ordinarily) draws souls to Christ: He shines into their minds by illumination, applies that light to their consciences by effectual conviction, breaks and wounds their hearts for sin in remorse, and then moves the will to embrace and close with Christ in the way of faith for life and salvation…

Secondly, He draws sinners to Christ congruously and very agreeably to the nature and way of man. So He speaks, “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love” (Hos 11:4). Not as beasts are drawn, but as men are inclined and wrought to compliance by rational conviction of their judgments and powerful persuasion of their wills. The minds of sinners are naturally blinded by ignorance (2Co 4:3-4) and their affections bewitched to their lusts (Gal 3:4). Whilst it is thus, no arguments or entreaties can possibly prevail to bring them off from the ways of sin to Christ.

The way, therefore, that the Lord takes to win and draw them to Christ is by rectifying their false apprehensions and shewing them infinitely more good in Christ than in the creature and in their lusts, yes, by satisfying their understandings that there is goodness enough in Jesus Christ to Whom He is drawing them…

Thirdly, the drawings of the Father are very powerful. “The arm of the LORD” is revealed in this work (Isa 53:1). It was a powerful word indeed that made the light at first shine out of darkness, and no less power is required to make it shine into our hearts (2Co 5:14). That day in which the soul is made willing to come to Christ is called, “the day of his power” (Psa 110:3). The Scripture expresseth the work of conversion by a threefold metaphor: that of a resurrection from the dead (Rom 4:4), that of creation (Eph 2:10), and that of victory or conquest (2Co 10:4-5). All these set forth the infinite power of God in this work, for no less than almighty power is required to each of them; and if you strictly examine the distinct notions, you shall find the power of God more and more illustriously displayed in each of them…Let the soul whom the Father draws, struggle and resist as much as it can, it shall come, yea, and come willingly too, when the drawing power of God is upon it. O the self-conflicts, the contrary resolves with which the soul finds itself distracted and rent asunder— the hopes and fears, the encouragements and discouragements, they will and they will not! But victorious grace conquers all opposition at last…and certainly, if we consider how deep the soul is rooted by natural inclination and long continued custom in sin, how extremely [hostile] it is to the ways of strict godliness and mortification! How Satan—that [hateful] enemy, that strong man armed—fortifies the soul to defend his possession against Christ and entrenches himself in the understanding, will, and affections by deep-rooted prejudices against Christ and holiness, it is a wonder of wonders to see a soul quitting all its beloved lusts and fleshly interests and endearments and coming willingly under Christ’s yoke!

Fourthly, the drawings of God are very effectual. There is indeed a common and ineffectual work upon hypocrites and apostates, called in Scripture a “morning cloud” and “early dew” (Hos 6:4). These may believe for a time and fall away at last (Luk 8:13). Their wills may be half won, they may be drawn half way to Christ and return again. So it was with Agrippa: “Almost (within a very little) thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Act 26:28). But in God’s elected ones, it is effectual: their wills are not only almost, but altogether persuaded to embrace Christ and quit the ways of sin, [no matter] how pleasant, gainful, and dear soever they have been to them. The Lord not only draws but draws home those souls to Christ: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (Joh 6:37).

It is confessed that in drawing home the very elect to Christ, there may be and frequently are many pauses, stands, and [delays]. They have convictions, affections, and resolutions stirring in them, which, like early blossoms, seem to be nipped and die away again. There is frequently (in young ones especially) a hopeful appearance of grace. They make conscience of avoiding sins and performing duties. They have sometimes great awakenings under the Word. They are observed to retire for meditation and prayer. [They] delight to be in the company of Christians. [But] after all this, youthful lusts and vanities are found to stifle and choke these hopeful beginnings, and the work seems to stand—it may be some years—at a pause. However, at last, the Lord makes it victorious over all opposition and sets it home with power upon their hearts.

Fifthly, to conclude, those whom the Father draws to Christ, He draws them finally and forever. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29). They are so, as to God the giver; He never repents that He hath called His people into the fellowship of His Son Christ Jesus. And they are so on the believer’s part: he is never sorry, whatever he afterwards meets with, that he has come to Christ.

There is a time when Christians are drawn to Christ, but there shall never be a time in which they shall be drawn away from Christ (Joh 10:29). There is no plucking them out of the Father’s hand. It was common to a proverb in the primitive times, when they would express an impossibility, to say, “You may as soon draw a Christian from Christ, as do it.” When Christ asked that question of the disciples, “Will ye also go away?” said Peter in the name of them all, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (Joh 6:67-68). They who are thus drawn do with full purpose of heart cleave unto the Lord.
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Footnotes:
1. congruously – in a manner that fits the circumstances; suitable.
2. compunction – pricking or stinging of the conscience after wrongdoing; remorse

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