The Everlasting Covenant in John 6

John 6:36-37

“But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

John 6:39-40

“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose none, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 6:44-45

“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. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”

John 6:64-65

“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

In all of the above texts, the necessity of faith is understood, but the existence of saving faith is credited to the Father’s prior initiative to give only some to the Son. The text would have us to observe that this is a limited number, since none to whom it is given fail to come, but none can come unless enabled by the drawing power of Father.

This raises the question: Does any so drawn by the Father ever fail to come? The procession of the text will not admit of any such failure.

The order of the Lord’s sayings, as the chapter continues, seems to narrow to an unavoidable conclusion: None are enabled to come to Christ unless it has first been given, and no one who comes is ever lost.

We know that this drawing is effectual in obtaining its goal because it ensures that each one who is drawn by the Father is also “taught of God”, and that “everyone” so taught comes to Jesus, never to be cast out or lost (Jn 6:37, 39). What follows will show that this is all by a Divine enablement that is not only the result, but also the effectual cause of faith in those whom the Father has given to the Son from all eternity.

Of that foreordained number, not one is ever lost or cast out (6:37, 39), but is kept by the unfailing power of Jesus to be raised at the “last day” (Lk 14:14; Jn 6:39; 17:12; 1Pet 1:4-5). These chosen ones whom the Father has specifically entrusted to the Son’s secure keeping (compare Jn 6:39; 10:27-29; 13:18; 15:16; 17:9, 12, 20) are also the special object of His unfailing intercession, most especially to the end that their faith “fail not” in the day of testing (Lk 22:32; Jn 17:9, 12, 20; with Heb 7:25).

Next is an observation that carries the most glorious implications for those who “love God and are the called according to His purpose” (Ro 8:28-29). It is Jesus’ citation and application of Isa 54:13 in Jn 6:45.

Here Jesus extends to His sheep from every nation all the glorious eternal security of Yahweh’s long promised, long awaited “covenant of peace” (Isa 54:10 with Eze 37:26), which is elsewhere equated with “the everlasting covenant” (compare Isa 55:3; 61:8; Jer 32:40; Eze 16:60; 37:26).

As you will observe by comparing the following verses, the “everlasting covenant”, as well as “My covenant of peace” are manifestly synonymous with Jeremiah’s “new covenant” (compare Jer 31:31-34 with Jer 32:38-40 & Isa 54:10, 13 with Eze 34:25; 37:26).

This is the covenant that includes all the unilateral (some would say, unconditional) promises made to Abraham and to David concerning their seed. It will stand in its most public and plenary fulfillment with a fully renewed Israel in the future Day of the Lord.

This is when every penitent Jewish survivor of the final great tribulation (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1) will all “know the Lord from that day and forward” (i.e., the Day of the Lord; Eze 39:8. 22), “never again to depart” (Ps 89:28-36; Isa 59:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 37:25-27; 39:22, 28-29). Since “all Israel” will be a completely regenerate nation “in that day”, they will no longer stand under the continual threat of covenant judgment, subject always to the potential of curse and recurrent eviction from the Land.

In glorious contrast to past generations, post-tribulation Israel will dwell securely in their own Land “from ‘that day’ and forward” (Lev 25:18-19; 2Sam 7:10; Ps 4:8; Jer 23:6; 30:10; 32:37; 33:16; Eze 34:25, 28; 39:26; Hos 2:18; Mic 4:4; Zeph 3:13; Zech 14:11).

This is made possible because, no longer will there be a mere remnant, at best restraining, but never long preventing the largely blind and backsliding nation from falling back under covenant judgment. In radical, unprecedented contrast, post-day of the Lord Israel will all, without a single exception be righteous with the Lord’s own “everlasting righteousness” (Isa 45:17, 24-25; 54:13-14, 17; Jer 23:5-6; Dan 9:24).

This blessed unity in the Holy Spirit is promised to extend throughout all future generations unto “children’s children”, not one ever failing of the “everlasting righteousness” of the “everlasting covenant” (Isa 4:3; 44:3; 45:17, 24-25; 54:10, 13, 17; 59:20-21; 60:21; 65:23; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:38-42; Eze 20:40; 37:25; 39:22, 28-29, etc.)

From Jesus’ citation of Isa 54:13 in Jn 6:45, we can see that He is applying the eternal security of this everlasting covenant that will stand with post-tribulational Israel to all whom the Father has given Him now, and in the millennial age to come. To be given by the Father to Jesus is to be secured in the everlasting covenant established with Abraham while he was in a deep sleep, signifying its unconditional surety of certain fulfillment (Ps 89:35-36; Isa 55:3; 66:22).

God’s purpose in putting Abraham into a deep sleep before passing between the pieces was certainly NOT to ignore or circumvent the indispensable conditionality of the inheritance. Rather, it is God’s own pledge of Himself that He would unilaterally engage to meet and fulfill all required conditions, first by means of the atoning sacrifice of the curse-reversing Seed of the woman on behalf of “all the seed” (Ps 18:50; 89:29, 36; Isa 41:8; 45:25; 53:10; 65:23; Jer 33:25-26; Ro 4:16; Heb 2:16). Then by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, a new nature will invariably, necessarily bear fruit “after its own kind” (Mt 13:23).

At the “set time”, “when it pleases God” (Gal 1:15-16; Ps 102:13; 110:3), whether for the Jewish remnant at the end of the tribulation, or the calling of any individual in this age, God will “put” His Spirit into the newly recreated hearts and spirits of the heirs of the everlasting covenant. He retains this free sovereign right to quicken “whom He will” (Mt 11:27, Jn 5:21; Ro 9:18), when, at His own sovereign timing, He has prepared the right conditions for the final and everlasting salvation of His elect nation (Isa 30:18).

By Jesus’ applying the covenant promise of Isa 54:13 to all whom the Father has given Him to save and keep (Jn 6:37, 39-40, 44-45, 65), He is thereby uniting “the called according to His purpose” of every generation to the same secure covenant inheritance that will come to the “natural (Jewish) branches” in the coming day of their great national deliverance when “all Israel shall be saved” (Ro 8:28-29; 11:26-29).

For the elect remnant of Jewish survivors of the final tribulation, covenant failure resulting in more than temporal discipline will be a thing of the past. Scripture is very clear that from this time forward, not one of the heirs of the everlasting covenant will ever again depart (Isa 59:21; Jer 32:40; Eze 39:22, 28-30).

Neither can any of the chosen seed of Israel’s race ever fall fatally or finally away from what they have irrevocably and irreversibly become, namely, an everlasting “new creation … born of the indestructible Word of God that lives and abides forever” (2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).

One can see how the NT writers will often describe personal salvation in all the terms and colors that the prophets use to describe the eschatology of post- tribulation Israel. For the apostles, Israel’s eschatology is the model and pattern for the soteriology (doctrine of salvation) of the new / everlasting covenant as applied to the salvation of the individual.

But how might such assurance be mistaken and misused by persons who are yet in the body of this flesh? Wouldn’t this give them a sense of license to misuse their liberty? Well, as believers in the “fight of faith” are reminded to take due diligence to make their calling and election sure (2Pet 2:10), this danger of presumption is certainly warned against in scripture (Gal 5:13; 1Pet 2:16).

But so far as one may have evidence that they are bearing the fruits that witness to the reality of “the righteousness of faith” (Ro 4:13), it is also to be understood that the holy fear of God (“my fear”; contrast Jer 2:19; 32:40) is built right into the everlasting covenant. This is what God has promised to “put” into the heart of every heir of new covenant righteousness (Isa 59:21; Jer 31:33; 32:40; Eze 11:19; 36:26-27; 37:6, 14).

Because of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the regenerate seed of Abraham will vigilantly guard their own hearts. This is not because they will be in any doubt of the security of their everlasting inheritance, but because the love of God has been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, and also the sure knowledge that God will faithfully chasten His own, which is the distinguishing badge of true sonship (Ps 89:30-33; Heb 12:7-8).

Not only post-tribulation Israel, but all of God’s elect are contemplated as the “seed of Abraham” and heirs of His everlasting “covenant of peace” (Isa 54:10; Eze 37:26) . And lest it be foolishly objected that the word, “everlasting“ doesn’t always mean “everlasting”, the context makes its meaning here most abundantly clear. It means eternal, “world without end”(Isa 45:17; 66:22).

These things cannot be said of all persons, but only those whom Paul calls, “the election of grace” (Ro 11:5). Indeed, the gift of “everlasting life” (Jn 6:40) is promised to faith, since unbelief forms the contrast between those to whom it has been given and those to whom it has not been given, in verses 36-37 and 64-65.

But faith is NOT the basis for God’s sovereign, pre-temporal initiative to this limited number. Rather, faith is the result of the Father’s eternal choice to Divinely enable all whom He would give to Christ to both come to Him and be kept forever by Him (Jn 6:37, 39, 44, 65)

This enablement is preceded, not at first by faith that we supply, but by the Father’s “good pleasure” to “quicken whom He will” (Jn 5:21; 6:39; Ro 9:18; Eph 1:5; Phil 2:13). This is a Spirit-quickened faith that must invariably and necessarily “overcome the world”, precisely because it is “born of God”, since it is a rule that “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world” (1Jn 5:4).

While many, such as Judas (Jn 6:64, 70; 13:10-11; 17:12) and the tares sown among the wheat, may move undetected among the sheep for a season (“Lord, who is it?”, Jn 13:22, 25), Jesus said these are “NOT of My sheep” (Jn 10:26; 1Jn 2:19). None of God’s true sheep who are truly “born of God”, and thus in living union with the Divine nature (2Pet 1:4) can ever fatally or finally fall from the Father’s grip (Jn 10:28-29; Ro 8:28-39).

This is just one example of a pervasive biblical doctrine taught in many places throughout both testaments, but it is far more than a doctrine among doctrines. In Ro 9:11, it is called “the purpose of God according to election”.

Paul is clear that in order for that purpose “to stand”, it must not be influenced by any virtue found or foreseen in one more than another (Ro 9:11). The only difference distinguishing the two brothers is a difference that is made by God (1Cor 4:7)

According to Paul, and no less John, any difference that is not perceived as given from above is dangerous ground for the pride of presumption (Jn 3:27; Ro 11:35-36; 1Cor 4:7). In 2Tim 2:19, Paul will call this doctrine the very “foundation of God”. That unshakable foundation has “this seal, the Lord knows them who are His”.

It is the knowledge that Jesus has of His own sheep (Jn 10:14). He warns of those who will count themselves as His sheep whom He “NEVER knew” (Mt 7:22-23). So 2Tim 2:19 is clearly not merely speaking about God’s obvious knowledge of one’s present spiritual condition, but an eternal foreknowledge that reaches back to the covenant that always existed between the persons of the Godhead before creation (Ro 8:28-29; 2Thes 2:13; 1Pet 1:2; Rev 13:8).

Not only is this great truth precious to the believer’s comfort; it is also vital to the upholding of the integrity of the Word and the vindication of the “everlasting covenant” of grace.

John Newton who wrote, “Amazing Grace”, believed this truth, as nothing else so plucks from man any presumption of entitlement, simply because this decision of God, so unbiased by anything in man, cannot be impugned as in any way unjust (Ro 9:14-21). Notably, Paul does not undertake to satisfy all the natural questions that might arise. Rather, he simply answers the anticipated protest with the surprising retort, “who are you, O man, to reply against God?”(See Ro 9:18-23).

Ironically, it is in the place of greatest offense that God has plainly declared the incomprehensible goodness of a grace that was moved by nothing found or foreseen in man, except this unique love for His own that existed before time. Its source, its working, and its goal begins and ends as wholly the work of God alone, for the glory of Christ alone.

He is both author and finisher of a faith that is “given from above” (Jn 3:27; Ro 11:35-36; 1Cor 4:7; Eph 2:8; Phil 1:20) and upheld to the end by the power of God and the indwelling of the indestructible, ever-abiding seed of the Word of God (1Pet 1:23), establishing an eternal, irreversible union between the believer and the Divine nature (1Pet 1:4-5; 2Pet 1:4). This means the truly regenerate believer is not ‘becoming’ a new creation; he or she ‘is’ an eternal new creation (Isa 66:22; 2Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15).

In conclusion, Israel’s eternal covenant is our eternal covenant.
Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

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John, The Everlasting Covenant
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