Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
JOHN 10:27-28 (Holman) AMy sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish B ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.@
This message seeks to answer three questions asked about eternal security. One, what about people who claim they were once saved yet became lost again?
The moment we are saved, we receive eternal life, life lasting forever. It is not delayed until we reach heaven, but belongs to us at the moment of conversion.
The word Aeternal@ denotes quality and quantity. Its quality says it is impossible for decay to set in which would end in total loss. Its quantity says it will never end. ANever perish@ is inserted in verse 28 in case we might infer from the next phrase we can squeeze out by ourself.
People who say they had eternal life five days and then lost it are wrong. They had five-day life, not eternal life. AEternal@ means forever.
These words comfort the saved, but we need to add a word of warning to the lost. We celebrate eternal life, but recognize there is also eternal destruction.
Two, isn=t it presumptuous to claim eternal security? Not if we unceasingly testify AGrace, grace, all of grace.@ Our only bragging has to be about Christ. Eternal life is a gift, the opposite of payment. What we receive as a gift certainly is not deserved. None of us deserves eternal life, or ever can deserve it.
Presumption may lie in saying salvation is a gift at first, but then must be retained through works. It seems presumptuous for anyone to believe they can be good enough to retain salvation. Eternal life is a gift from beginning to end.
The sheep are safe because their salvation is not in their own hands and keeping, but in the hands and keeping of Jesus. God reserves Heaven for us, and preserves us for it, for at least four reasons.
First, the sheep have belonged to Jesus since before the foundation of the world. Predestination can be mysterious, but one thing about it is sure, the sheep of Christ have belonged to Him forever. We all prize what we=ve had a long time.
Second, the sheep are a gift from the Father to the Son. Jesus said to His Father, AI guarded them [that You have given Me] and not one of them is lost@ (John 17:12). Jesus repeatedly spoke of us as being the Father=s gift to Him.
Anything given to us by someone special becomes special to us. The token of love carries precious memories in it. The thing in and of itself may be insignificant, but its associations make it exceedingly precious.
Sheep of Christ, rest. Be not disturbed with fear. We are a gift from the Father. The Son will never release us.
Third, the sheep were bought with an extremely high price. We cost Jesus His blood. In the face of every believer God sees the blood-sweat of Gethsemane and the blood-flow of Calvary. The Son bought us, the Father will have us.
Fourth, the sheep are members of Christ=s body. It is unthinkable that Christ could be dismembered. Can He ever be maimed? No! Never!
Jesus is the Head. We live because He lives. However much water hits a person, they can never be drowned as long as their head remains above water. A stream cannot drown feet or hands. Since all the floods of Satan can never vanquish Christ the Head, we the body cannot be destroyed.
Satan has never celebrated a triumph over the Redeemer, and is unable to hold up a single jewel of the Redeemer=s crown and jeer, AAha! I stole this one. You could not keep it.@ Not one sheep has been stolen from the Shepherd.
A man was once walking across the Mississippi River on ice. Fearing the ice was too thin, he began crawling on his hands and knees in terror. As he approached the other shore freezing and shivering, another man drove past him riding in a horse-drawn sled filled with iron.
Many Christians are headed to Heaven the same way the first man crossed the river. They tremble at every step, afraid the promises might break beneath their feet. This is sad. God=s promises are secure enough for us to hold up our hands and sing with confidence as we march to Heaven.
Question three, what about professing Christians who wallow in sin? Most were never saved. Multitudes are going to Hell because they think they are eternally secure, but were never saved to begin with.
Verse 27 gives two obvious marks of Christ=s sheep: the ear mark (hear) and foot mark (follow). People can not take the smallest comfort from these verses on eternal security unless they are hearing and following the precepts of Jesus.
There must be soul-searching here. Do we have the ear and foot marks? God preserves His sheep. His sheep do not indulge unendingly in sin.
At conversion, sin=s guilt is removed, and love for sin is purged from the heart. A believer can be overtaken in a fault or surprised by temptation. When we stumble through weakness or lack of watchfulness, we repent and return.
Saved people grieve over their sin. This sorrow is a blessed sign. Anyone who has a heart broken over sin will find forgiveness. Faith is never far removed from a conscious sadness over sin. Presumption, not faith, overlooks sin.
A sheep proves itself a sheep even when it falls into a ditch. It will not roll in the mire as a hog would if it fell there.
Children of God are perturbed at themselves when they sin. They find no peace or ease in it. Do you know professing Christians who rejoice in blatant sin? They are pretenders, not Christians. Anyone who continues in sin without remorse is no child of God. A believer cannot be comfortable in sin.
Salvation is an incentive to virtue, never a pretext for vice. Divine protection inspires confidence, but does not render effort unnecessary. Anyone who thinks, AI=m secure, so I=ll do what I want,@ verges on perversion.
God disciplines His sheep. He rebukes those who fall into sin. Through the word, preaching, or the conscience, God speaks to them of their guilt. When this happens, it is time to repent, because delay brings chastisement.
God does chastise His sheep. The child of God is spanked for repeated disobedience. It would be impossible to know how much suffering we believers bring on ourselves as chastisement from God. King Uzziah lost his temper and became a leper. King Asa oppressed the prophet Hanani and became diseased in his feet. King Solomon had many wives and God raised up men to lead rebellions against him. Miriam spoke against Moses and was stricken with leprosy.
God sometimes scourges His sheep. Punishment becomes intense. King David lost his child. Israel was scattered to the winds. Judah was exiled 70 years. King Saul=s descendants were rejected from being kings.
Sometimes God removes His sheep. AThere is sin that brings death@ (I John 5:16b). If punishment does not retrieve the lamb, God has no alternative but to inflict physical death on the believer. Rather than remove spiritual life, God removes physical life.
Nadab and Abihu mixed strange fire before the Lord and were killed. When Moses smote the rock and chided the people, he sealed his doom. King Saul consulted a witch; God killed him the next day. Ananias and Sapphira lied about their offering, both died (Acts 5). Because of abuses at the Lord=s Supper, some were sick and others were dead (I Corinthians 11:30).
Sin unto death is terrible indeed, but it=s better to die physically than to die spiritually. Even sin unto death is an evidence of God=s grace.
Where are you before God? Pleasing Him, being rebuked, being chastised, being scourged, approaching removal? Or, are you lost, separated from God?