The Jews therefore gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered and said to them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”
John 18:37: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
If one is not of the truth, they won’t hear His voice. The unbelieving Jews were not of the truth. This is why the Jews were so angry. They were being told that they were not right with God.
If Calvinists allege that Jesus was only encouraging them to believe in His miracles because some were secretly elect, just pending their Irresistible Grace, then realize that based upon Jesus’ words, if they really were His sheep, even in a secret state, they would believe in Him. (Compare with John 10:27.) So, when Jesus said these words, it means that they weren’t His sheep, at all, secretly or otherwise. However, the fact that they were not His sheep, is shown not to be a permanent, fixed and uncorrectable state, since when He pointed out the fact that, although they didn’t believe in Him (evidencing the fact that they were not His sheep, nor the Father’s sheep), they should reconsider the impact of the miracles anyway, which carries the thrust and significance that Jesus is encouraging them on how to become His sheep. So Calvinists have incorrectly inferred an election vs. non-election into the discussion on “the sheep.”
James McCarthy explains: “Jesus was speaking to unrepentant Jews....Had they repented, the Father would have given them as sheep to his Son. ... 1. The Spirit convicts. 2. A Sinner repents. 3. The Father enlightens. 4. The person believes and is born again. ...This explains...why Jesus taught that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him. It also clarifies what he meant when he said, ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me.’ When the Father opens a person’s heart to understand the gospel, he readily believes and is saved....” (John Calvin Goes to Berkeley, p.279, emphasis mine)
Arminian, Robert Shank, comments: “That their unbelief did not derive from some eternal, irrevocable decree of God is evident from the fact that to the same men Jesus appealed, ‘believe [my] works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him’ (v.38).” (Elect in the Son, p.179)
So, in other words, if God, by decree, made it impossible for them to turn back, repent and believe in Him, then why is Jesus presenting this information as if there was a way in which they could turn and believe in Him, that is, by believing in the testimony of miracles?
John Calvin writes: “...If any should ask why God should make some His sheep and not others, the apostle, fearing this question, exclaims: O the depth, ect. (Rom II.33). Just as Augustine derives the beginning of election from the gratuitous volition of God, and grounds reprobation in His mere will, so he teaches that the security of our salvation is also grounded nowhere else.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.65, emphasis mine)
Calvin adds: “...God has chosen to salvation those whom He pleased, and has rejected the others, without our knowing why, except that its reason is hidden in His eternal counsel. But because Satan does not cease to raise up evil spirits to obscure, vez and even entirely overthrow this doctrine, in order that those who wish to adhere to the pure truth of God may be content with it, I much wanted to add this treatise to what I had already written before as more ample confirmation of what was there already said.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.53, emphasis mine)
Calvin adds: “...the secret counsel of God whereby He chooses some to salvation and destines others for eternal destruction.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.53, emphasis mine)
Calvinism creates a case for one class of humans that had eternal access to the Father, while another class was eternally prohibited from the Father. However, the Bible seems to set up one class of humanity that is on one side, and the Father on the other side, and Jesus stands in the middle, mediating for mankind on our behalf. (1st Timothy 2:5-6) When you trust in Christ, you then are reconciled to the Father, and not before. There is only one way to truly please a holy God and that is through the mediatorship of the Son. Calvinism seems to have circumvented John 14:6, by creating another way to the Father, apart from the basis of being in Christ. The Calvinistic arrangement is that certain ones are eternally pleasing to the Father, and it is these that are set apart for the Son, to be given and drawn to Him. To the Arminian, this is a demotion of Christ.
John Calvin comments: “He gives a more profound reason for their not believing in either his miracles or teaching -- it is because they are reprobate. We must take note of Christ’s claim. Since they boasted that they were God’s church, Christ affirms that believing is a special gift, in case their unbelief should detract from the Gospel. Indeed, for men to know God, they must be known first by God (see Galatians 4:9). But people for whom God has no regard have to always remain turned away from him. If anyone blames God for causing unbelief, since only he can make them his ‘sheep,’ I answer that Christ is totally innocent here, because people only reject God’s grace out of their own voluntary malice. God does everything necessary to bring about faith in himself, but wild beasts will never be tamed until they are changed into ‘sheep’ by God’s Spirit.” (John Calvin: The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.264, emphasis mine)
While they may have been given over to a reprobate mind, they were not created by God to become reprobates, since God is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9) But, Calvin is correct on one point: “they boasted that they were God’s church.” Exactly! They boasted that God was their father (John 8:41), and that Moses was their head: “We are disciples of Moses.” (John 9:28) However, Jesus stated: “‘Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?’” (John 5:45-47) Similarly, if they did not come to the Father, how will they come to the Son, especially since Jesus declared: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) They wouldn’t come to the Son (John 5:40) because they wouldn’t to come to Father who sent Him. (Isaiah 65:2-3) However, there is also another aspect of this. Since they had rejected the Father, the Father had now rejected them. “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10) This is also why Isaiah also prophesied: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) For instance, did these hardened unbelievers really want to know if Jesus was the Messiah? No. Jesus already told them who He was, in a round about way. (John 6:35; 7:37-39; 8:23-25) What they really wanted was a “plain” statement that they could use to testify against Him. But Jesus stated: “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.” (John 10:24-26) So what happened to these people? As recorded in the book of Acts, some of these blinded unbelievers who took part in the crucifixion of Christ were now having those blinders removed and were now being convicted of their sin through Peter: “‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.’ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’ So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:36-41) Now being “pierced to the heart,” these unbelieving crucifiers who were “far off” had come full circle. Why is this? The answer may be because it was now Jesus who was “drawing all men” to Himself (John 12:32) that is, “as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”
You don’t believe in Me because you are not Mine…and you are not Mine because you are not the Father’s either, who supplies Me with My sheep, being from those who are His to give, namely, those who have heard and learned from Him. (John 6:45)
It all points to the fundamental problem that they were not right with God. If they knew God, then they would clearly recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. But being disconnected from the Father, they could not see the Son for who He really was. Nevertheless, Jesus pointed these (who were not His sheep, and who did not believe in Him) to a significant reality at John 10:37-38, namely, the evidence of His miracles (in which even Nicodemus conceded had proven His identity, as One who was incontestably sent from God), and which was for the express purpose that they would believe in Him, and thus become His sheep, so that they would “know and understand” that He was the Messiah.