I Will Never Cast You Out

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Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

John 6:37

John Bunyan is most famous for The Pilgrim’s Progress, which is, besides the Bible, history’s bestselling book. But he also authored fifty-seven other books. One of the loveliest is Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, written in 1678. In this particular book he takes John 6:37 and zeroes in on it, looking at it from every angle, wringing it dry. He confronts our innate suspicions of Christ’s deepest heart. Using his KJV rendering (“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”), Bunyan writes:

They that are coming to Jesus Christ, are often times heartily afraid that Jesus Christ will not receive them.

This observation is implied in the text. I gather it from the largeness and openness of the promise: “I will in no wise cast out.”

For this word, “in no wise,” cuts the throat of all objections; and it was dropped by the Lord Jesus for that very end; and to help the faith that is mixed with unbelief.

But I am a great sinner, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I am an old sinner, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I am a hard-hearted sinner, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I am a backsliding sinner, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I have served Satan all my days, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I have sinned against light, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I have sinned against mercy, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

But I have no good thing to bring with me, say you. 

   “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. 

What is Bunyan after?

Jesus’s statement in John 6:37, and the book Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, and this quote at the center of that book, all exist to calm us with the persevering nature of the heart of Christ. We say, “But I . . .” He says, “I will never cast out.”

Fallen, anxious sinners are limitless in their capacity to perceive reasons for Jesus to cast them out. We are factories of fresh resistances to Christ’s love. Even when we run out of tangible reasons to be cast out, such as specific sins or failures, we tend to retain a vague sense that, given enough time, Jesus will finally grow tired of us and hold us at arm’s length. Bunyan understands us. He knows we tend to deflect Christ’s assurances.

“No, wait”—we say, cautiously approaching Jesus—“you don’t understand. I’ve really messed up, in all kinds of ways.”

I know, he responds.

“You know most of it, sure. Certainly more than what others see. But there’s perversity down inside me that is hidden from everyone.”

I know it all.

“Well—the thing is, it isn’t just my past. It’s my present too.” 

I understand. 

“But I don’t know if I can break free of this any time soon.” 

That’s the only kind of person I’m here to help. 

“The burden is heavy—and heavier all the time.” 

Then let me carry it. 

“It’s too much to bear.” 

Not for me. 

“You don’t get it. My offenses aren’t directed toward others. They’re against you.” 

Then I am the one most suited to forgive them. 

“But the more of the ugliness in me you discover, the sooner you’ll get fed up with me.” 

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

The only thing required to enjoy such love is to come to him. To ask him to take us in. He does not say, “Whoever comes to me with sufficient contrition,” or “Whoever comes to me feeling bad enough for their sin,” or “Whoever comes to me with redoubled efforts.” He says, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Our strength of resolve is not part of the formula of retaining his good will. When my two-year-old Benjamin begins to wade into the gentle slope of the zero-entry swimming pool near our home, he instinctively grabs hold of my hand. He holds on tight as the water gradually gets deeper. But a two-year-old’s grip is not very strong. Before long it is not he holding on to me but me holding on to him. Left to his own strength he will certainly slip out of my hand. But if I have determined that he will not fall out of my grasp, he is secure. He can’t get away from me if he tried.

So with Christ. We cling to him, to be sure. But our grip is that of a two-year-old amid the stormy waves of life. His sure grasp never falters. Psalm 63:8 expresses the double-sided truth: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Author: Dane C. Ortlund

Adapted from bestselling author Dane C. Ortlund’s book Gentle and Lowly, this tract explores the unconditional love and comforting words of Christ for sinners and sufferers.