By Spencer D Gear PhD
Does Jesus draw all people to the Gospel, anywhere in the world where no Gospel preachers have been in person or nobody has heard the Gospel by radio or any other means?
Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB) gives this as its mission: ‘Reach Beyond is part of a global community committed to reaching unreached people groups with the gospel through the use of dynamic media and high quality programs along with healthcare and community development’.
How can Jesus draw all people to Himself?
1. Meaning of John 12:32
I interacted with a person on a Christian forum who cited a string of biblical references to answer these questions:
- Can the natural man comprehend the gospel or come to saving knowledge of God on his own?
- Can men of themselves accept God’s gift of salvation? Do men choose God or come to Him on their own?
His comeback was: ‘Context directs Jesus is speaking about judgement in this verse. All men will stand before the Judge’. Then he gave these verses of support: John 12:31-32, 37-40, 47-49. His conclusion was:
The gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. It is our commission to be salt and light in this dark world. We continue to give witness and testimony to the glory God has yet to reveal in which we who believe are partakers. We in ourselves are powerless in bringing about belief for in our unbelief the Gospel is folly. Yet in His mercy some do come to belief despite ourselves (sic). God is no respecter of persons, therefore all creeds and colors, all social classes both great and small, people from every nation will come. But none can come unless it is granted by the Father. The Gospel is glory to those who believe, and condemnation to those who do not.
Glory be to God in the highest.
2. Which judgment?
John 12:31-33 (NIV) states,
‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die’.
Krisis (judgment) is spoken of also in John 3:17, 19-21; 5:22-30; 7:24; 8:16. While there will be judgment coming at the consummation of the age, these references that I’ve just given demonstrate that judgment began with Christ’s first coming. Since he is ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12 NIV), those who follow Jesus will never walk in darkness. The rest walk in darkness – a judgment.
This judgment that Jesus began with his first coming forced a division between those who pursued evil deeds and those who accepted and embraced the light. In a similar fashion, Jesus’ death and resurrection (passion/glorification) draws people to himself (John 12:32 NIV) but it is also demonstrating ‘judgment on this world’ – not the last judgment, but judgment by rejecting the Son, which was rejecting God Himself (see John 5:23 NIV)
Remember the judgment expressed in John 5:24 (NIV), ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life’. This is judgment in this world that was inaugurated by Christ’s death and resurrection and the bringing of eternal life to those who believe.
At the cross, the world thought capital punishment judgment was being passed on Jesus but in the cross, Jesus was passing judgment on the world of sinners who were in rebellion against God.
So, commentator D A Carson, could write about John 12:31 (NIV), as context for John 12:32, ‘Now is the time for judgment on this world’,
Thus Jesus’ passion/glorification signifies judgment both positively and negatively. As far as “the world” is concerned, however, it can only be negative. There can be no further reprieve, for there can be no hope for those who reject the one Person whose death/exaltation is the epiphany of God’s gracious, saving self-disclosure (Carson 1991:443).
Therefore, John 12:32 (NIV) is affirming Jesus’ drawing all people to himself, in a judgment associated with his first coming, and believing or not believing in Him.
For a fuller discussion of this verse, in association with verses in John 6, see the article: John 6:44: God’s drawing power for salvation
3. Works consulted
Carson, D A 1991. The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press / William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Reach Beyond Australia 2017. ‘Who we are’. Available at: http://www.reachbeyond.org.au/who-we-are/reach-beyond-australia (Accessed 13 January 2017).
 Christianity Board 2017. Total depravity: Is it biblical? Justaname#18. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/23426-total-depravity-is-it-biblical/ (Accessed 13 January 2017).
 Ibid., OzSpen#24.
 Ibid., justaname#25.
 This is from my post at ibid., OzSpen#26.
 Some of these details were from Carson (1991:442-443).
Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2019.