Friday, January 18, 2008

FG Theology and Matthew 7:21-23 (Part 2)

Part two of Matt Waymeyer's article at Pulpit Magazine...:

"A Misguided Hermeneutical Approach

The second problem is that the FG view apparently sees John 6:40 as the interpretative key which unlocks the hidden meaning of Matthew 7:21. There is nothing in the immediate context which leads the interpreter to understand “the will of the Father” as faith in Christ, and only when this meaning is imported from John 6:40 does this interpretation emerge. But where does that leave the original hearers’ of the Sermon on the Mount? Without a copy of the Gospel of John in their hip pockets, they would be left completely in the dark, with the true meaning of Matthew 7:21 hidden from their eyes.

On top of that, even if the original hearers had possessed the Gospel of John, what would compel them to look to John 6:40 to discover the meaning of Matthew 7:21? FG teachers confidently state that the meaning of “the will of the Father” in Matthew 7:21 can be found in John 6:40, but how do they know that? The whole approach seems to betray a desire to preserve FG theology. Unfortunately, it does so at the expense of the clear meaning of Matthew 7:21-23.

A Complete Misunderstanding of John 6:40

Thirdly, the FG explanation completely misinterprets John 6:40. In other words, this interpretation not only ignores key details in the immediate context of passage under consideration, but it also uses John 6:40 to import into Matthew 7:21-23 meaning which is not even found in John 6:40! Put simply, the will of the Father in John 6:40 is not God’s will for mankind, but rather God’s will for His Son Jesus.

Consider the verse in its context. In John 6:38-40, Jesus says:

(38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (39) 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. (40) For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

Verse 38 is simple enough: Jesus says He has come to do with the will of the Father. He follows this up in verse 39 by explaining what this will is: that He (that is Jesus) would lose none of those whom the Father has given to Him, but rather that He would raise up all of these believers on the last day. In verse 40, Jesus elaborates further on what He has said in verse 39 (indicated by the explanatory gar [“for”] at the beginning of v. 40) by again explaining the will of the Father for Jesus. The will of the Father, He says, is that all believers will have eternal life (the emphasis being not on the present possession of eternal life but on the future culmination of it). And who is going to make sure they have eternal life? Who is going to accomplish the Father’s will and guarantee this eternal life by raising believers up on the last day? Jesus! As He says at the end of verse 40: “I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus will indeed accomplish the will of Him who sent Him, and therein is the hope of the believer.

To summarize, the will of the Father in John 6:38-40 is not that people would believe—it is that those who do believe would have eternal life and that Jesus would guarantee this by raising them up on the last day. None whom the Father has given to the Son shall perish, because Jesus shall do the will of the Father. Therefore, to use John 6:40 to interpret Matthew 7:21 may seem to get FG off the hook, but it amounts to a careless handling of the Word of God. If FG teachers are determined to relieve the tension that exists between Matthew 7:21-23 and their theology, they will need to seek some other way to do it. My vote is that they jettison their theological system altogether."

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