I especially like his discussion of the “whosoever” and “whoever” passages of the Bible, including John 3:16, the focus of the book. He references Mt. 10:32, Mt. 10:39, Mk. 3:35, Mk. 16:16, Jn. 3:36, Jn. 4:14, Jn. 6:37, Jn. 11:26, and Rev. 22:17. To which I would add Isaiah 1:18-20, Isaiah 55:1, 6-7; Hosea 6:1, Mt. 11:28, and Rev. 3:20 (Note that Rev. 3:20 refers to Christians; they can come too.).
Lucado is expansive:
Whoever unfurls 3:16 as a banner for the ages. Whoever unrolls the welcome mat of heaven to humanity. Whoever invites the world to God.
Jesus could have so easily narrowed the scope … but he used no qualifier. The pronoun is wonderfully indefinite. After all, who isn’t a whoever.
Whoever makes it clear: God exports his grace worldwide. For those who attempt to restrict it, Jesus has a word: Whoever. (Lucado, Max, 3:16: The Numbers Of Hope, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007, p. 66.)
This is the invitation Christians must trumpet to the listening world: Whosoever will may come. Come to Christ in repentance and faith and have your sins washed away. His life and death give you righteousness and pay for your sins if you will come.
Here me one this: if you have not turned to Christ in faith, there is nothing outside of you that is keeping you away. You don’t come because you don’t want to, and you are fully responsible for your refusal to come to Christ.
What happens when a person comes to faith? I was persuaded. I remember that persuasion as a long process, but it could in some sense have been an instantaneous event. (Get the books from the embedded links and enjoy the mental gymnastics that will no doubt follow from careful reading.)
I do not know what happens when a person comes to faith, but I know a few things that don’t happen. People who cannot even see the kingdom do not chose to enter it (Jn. 3:3). Dead men do not chose to do something (Ep. 2:1). People do not find what they are not seeking (Romans 3:11).
Coming to faith required me to be fully convinced by the Holy Spirit of the gospel’s truth. It also required me to be given a new heart with new desires to want to come to Christ out of my sins. It required me to be convinced to stop trying to earn my own salvation and start trusting Christ who earned it for me.
We fail when we do not give an open, sincere invitation to whoever will come. We also fail when we do not give God the credit for anyone coming at all.