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Do James 4:8, John 6:44 contradict?

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QUESTION: Dear pastor, please enlighten me on whether or not James 4:8 and John 6:44 contradict each other. Do we pull towards God or we are drawn towards Him without our individual efforts? Herbert.

RESPONSE: Dear Herbert,
I am a theologian who practices Christianity and, to some, a pastor, not a Bible scholar. Nevertheless, let us examine the two verses: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

“Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8), and John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him at the last day.”

James seems to imply God only draws to us when we draw to Him. But John states that no one can be drawn to God unless He draws them to Himself.

So, do we draw to God or is God drawing to us? The presumption in James is that we are believers because we have drawn close to God.

Whereas the assumption in John is that non-believers are those whom God has not chosen to draw close to Himself.

I understand you are trying to figure out if there is a contradiction between the two statements.

Context
The concept of context is critical in any effective Bible study. Context is a straightforward guide for all readers; both specialists and laypeople.

Context helps us recognise that the book of John belongs to a distinct genre compared to that of James.

John is Jesus’ autobiography, while James is an Epistle. This type of knowledge helps us comprehend the nature of the Bible.

Many people believe the Bible is a single book, yet it is actually a collection of volumes with various perspectives, expressions, and presentations on the same subject matter: God and His creation.

So, James and John are addressing something entirely different.

Therefore, attempting to equate the two quotes would be proof-texting (taking isolated quotes) and establishing a position that may not be the authors’ original intention.

Context helps any Bible reader understand that just because James and John reference being drawn to God, it does not necessarily mean they are talking about the same thing.

Those mentally sober are brought to God by good understanding. (Source/QuoteFancy)

The immediate background of John 6:44 is John 6:35-48, which is about believing that Jesus of Nazareth is Yahweh in the flesh, and that He is the same God who fed the Jews with manna in the wilderness.

This is something the Jews cannot believe because of their Jewish belief system. Verse 44 is about religious people believing God.

So, John 6:44 is not referring to non-believers being pulled to God, but to religious individuals who have misinterpreted God in their belief systems.

Given the level of religious captivity, we can deduce from John 6:44 that a specific set of people can only be led to God by God Himself.

Only through the lens of verses 42, 45-47 can the meaning of the Greek phrase “Helkuse” in verse 44 be understood.

Jesus is saying that religious people are so enslaved to their false beliefs that they can only be dragged away from them.

The same Greek word, Helkuse, is used in James 2:6, where the rich drag (Helkuse) poor defaulters to court.

James 4:8 speaks about a believer’s sociology and is put within the immediate context of James 4:1-8.

James is dealing with, and discussing sociology of Christians; the benefits which remain for as long as these Christians live and interact socially.

He underlines that Christian sociology has God (a specific god) at its center, and the more Christians draw to that deity, the more they pull away from their previous sociologies.

The sociology of believers inside themselves, according to James, is a product of transition.

They transit from one sociology to another, and the center to which each believer is drawn is the deity they worship in common.

As a result, James is discussing a believer’s sociology in relation to their Christian beliefs.

The Greek word for draw, as used in James 4:8, is Eggizo. In this context, it means Christians should interrelate with one another.

Drawing to God
As stated above, there is no contradiction between John 6:44 and James 4:8. The two sections discuss separate topics.

However, we are right in asking the implied question in the main question: how do we come to believe in God?

According to Romans 10:17, paraphrased as: “Faith comes through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ,” we are led to God by the persuasion of our mental powers since we are volitional beings.

So, the mentally sober are brought to God by good understanding, which begins with the right preaching of God’s Word and right understanding.

If our mental abilities are seized like religious fanatics, we are pulled to God by the Gospel’s explosive power (Romans 1:16).

As a result of God’s might and the ability of our volitional capacities, we are pulled to God.

Answered by
Pr Isaiah White.
whitemwine@gmail.com Contact: +256775 822 833

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