They Will All Be Taught By God

It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me – John 6:45

One might understand this to mean that all men shall be taught of God. But the context in Isaiah 54:13, from which Jesus was quoting, removes the possibility of such an understanding. Isaiah said, “All your children shall be taught by the LORD.” Therefore Jesus was speaking of the children of God, not to everyone on planet earth. We therefore conclude that one must be born again by the Spirit of God before one can understand the gospel and go to Christ for salvation.

Some argue that faith comes before the new birth because Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life“ (John 6:47). But it is not intelligent to take this one verse and give it a meaning that denies what several other verses in the Bible, rightly interpreted, say about faith and the new birth. The words of Christ in John 6:47 do not mean that one is born again because he or she believes in Christ. The word “hath” is a translation of the Greek word scheo, which is used in several ways. It speaks of “possession, condition, relation.” So we can correctly paraphrase Jesus’ words in John 6:47 to say, “He that believeth on me possesses or is related to everlasting life.” In other words, the one who believes already has everlasting life because he or she could not believe in Christ unless he or she received everlasting life or immortality by being born again.

Here is a story to illustrate this truth. It was told by the late Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, former pastor of Tenth Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, a radio preacher, and an editor of the religious magazine called Eternity.

We must imagine a battlefield over which troops are advancing in order to take a ridge which is just beyond them. Suddenly heavy fire opens up, and immediately the soldiers fall to the ground and hold their prone position until the enemy fire is silenced.

When the firing stops the command comes once again to advance. Some of the soldiers get up and move forward while others, the ones who are dead, do not. Why is it that the ones who do get up and advance get up? It is because they are alive and hear the voice of their commander.

Does their getting up give them life? Of course not! It is the other way around. In the same way, he “that believeth” on Christ does so because he already has everlasting life. The hearing and believing are the marks of the existence of the new life of God implanted within the individual.

– Robert E. McNeill, Christ’s Dogmatism