Safety in Christ
How “Safe” is the Flock of Jesus?
© 2022 C. O, Bishop
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
Over the last twenty verses, Jesus has been teaching regarding the Sheepfold, the Good Shepherd, and the Flock of God. This is not the first time he has addressed the subject of the safety of the flock. In John chapter 5, He affirmed that anyone who believes His promise has eternal life the moment they believed. They will never be condemned, but have crossed over (permanently) from death into life.
In John chapter 6 He stated that anyone who came to Him would never be cast out. He declared that, of all who came to Him, He would lose no one, but that He would raise them all up at the last day. That is very “solid ground” upon which to rest our faith!
Over the years, we have touched on the subject of the security of the believer many times. But, since Jesus is directly addressing it, right here in John chapter 10, it seems good that we address it directly, as well.
What was the “Original Problem?”
Why did Jesus come in the first place? The answer to that question goes all the way back to Genesis 3:7, where Adam fell into sin. In disobeying God, he plunged all of his progeny (including Eve) into spiritual death. That is where all of us start out. As Ephesians 2:3 confirms, we are all born “the children of wrath,” just like everyone else. The whole human race had become spiritually dead. We were disconnected from God, at the moment Adam fell into sin. We all went with him! This is what we call “Original Sin,” and it is definitely the original problem!
What was the Solution?
The plan of God to redeem His lost Creation was actually laid before the human race was created: Revelation 13:8 states that Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World.” And, in 1st Peter 2:18-20, we see that we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, who was “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” So, God shed blood, to provide animal skins as a covering for the sins of Adam and Eve. That blood was a picture of the Blood that Jesus would shed at the Cross. According to John 1:29, His Blood would take away the sin of the World.
But in order for that to happen, Jesus had to be born a human (thus inheriting the right to redeem us.) But He had to be born without a sin nature. (That is what the “Seed of the Woman” in Genesis 3:15 and the “virgin birth” in Isaiah 7:14 were all about.) Thus He would have the “price of redemption:” a perfect person.
And then He had to actually live a perfect, sinless life, in keeping with that birth. Finally, He had to be willing to pay that price of redemption: His life. And we saw in the previous verses that He had been given the authority to lay down His life, willingly: No one “took it from Him.” So, Jesus is the solution: the only solution God has ever offered. The Old Testament sacrifices were only pictures of God’s perfect sacrifice. Jesus is the “real thing:” He is our only hope, through His sacrifice.
How “Good” is that Solution?
When we talk about medicine, and diseases, and cures for those diseases, the question often arises, “How effective is that cure?” And the answer is often given in terms of percentages, such as, “If the patient receives this medicine within two weeks of infection, there is a nearly 100% cure rate. After that it drops off very rapidly.” And some “cures” are a bit of a gamble, no matter when they are applied. But what about God’s cure for spiritual death—the cure for our sin?
When we read the Old Testament, we see people who seemed to be believers, but who did bad things: terrible things in some cases. From a human perspective, it seems logical to think that “Well, you see? They fell away and they were lost!” But then in the New Testament, we see some of those same people called out by name as being saved individuals…and as righteous individuals!
What about their Sins and their failures?
For example, we see Lot, whose life did not seem to reflect any of the righteousness of God, and who lost everything in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah…and the last thing we see of him was that (because of their deliberate conspiracy) he drunkenly impregnated both of his daughters. And his progeny, the Moabites and the Ammonites, still live today, as enemies of Israel. But, in 2nd Peter 2:6-8, we see that God says Lot was a righteous man!
And then, of course, there is King David, whom God declared to be a “man after His Own heart,” but who later fell into sin, including the sins of adultery and murder, and vicious cruelty toward his enemies. How could he be called righteous?
(Wow! Maybe we need to re-examine what God defines as righteousness. At least, we need to find out on what basis He will declare a human sinner to be righteous.)
Definition of Righteousness
In Genesis 15:6, we see that Abram “believed God, and God credited it to him as righteousness.” And, as we read through the rest of the Bible, we discover that this is the only means by which any sinner has ever been declared righteous by God! We are declared righteous on the basis of faith in God’s plan of redemption.
Faith and Righteousness
In Adam’s case, he believed God’s promise of the coming Savior, the Seed of the Woman. In Abraham’s case he believed the promise of God regarding the coming offspring, and of the promised land. We discover later that he also believed God regarding the resurrection, but that is more obscure. And, he brought blood sacrifices to God on a regular basis.
The Children of Israel found safety, trusting in the Blood of the Lamb, at the first Passover, when they struck the blood of that lamb on the lintel and the two doorposts. In Romans 3:25, we find confirmation that He, Jesus, became the propitiation (the satisfaction of God’s righteousness) through faith in His Blood!
Safety in His Blood
You see; that specific blood sacrifice, offered by God’s Grace, is God’s only plan for the redemption of the lost Human Race! (Jesus is “Plan A,” and there is no “plan B”) And we lay hold of His plan through faith in His blood. Then, in keeping with his promise, He declares us to be righteous in His sight, on the basis of that faith.
It has absolutely nothing to do with our works, either before or after the fact. And what is the “Cure rate?” 100% of all those who trust in Him for their salvation are eternally saved!
What Does Jesus Say About our Safety in Him?
I think it is important that we see His promises as they were given: In John 1:12, Jesus said that the way to be born into His family is to place our faith in Him…receive Him. Believe on His name. In John 3:14-16, Jesus compared the bronze serpent Moses made and hung up by God’s command, to His own ministry.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Judgment and Faith
You remember, that old bronze serpent was hung up to represent the fact of God’s judgment on the sin of Israel, in the form of thousands of migrating vipers that He sent through their midst. People were being bitten and were dying! He told Moses to make that bronze serpent and hang it up high on a pole, so that whoever looked to God’s solution—the bronze serpent—instead of their own solution, would not die! They still had the bite-marks, the pain and the other symptoms of the bites, but they would not die.
Jesus said that He Himself was to be lifted up in similar fashion, so that whoever believed in Him—as God’s solution for their own sin—would also not die. But in this case, the life they gained was eternal life. We still bear the marks of our old sin nature, but we will not be lost.
A Specific Promise in Three Parts
In John 5:24, Jesus promised that whoever heard His Words, and believed on the God who sent Him,
- HAS everlasting life (Present tense: it’s yours today…no waiting to see if you were “good enough!”)
- And SHALL NOT come into condemnation (Future tense: it will never happen. God will never again condemn you! Your whole eternity is covered in that promise!)
- But IS PASSED from death into life (Past-Perfect tense…it’s a “done deal,” and can’t be reversed! You can’t be “un-born again,” or go back to being “un-redeemed.”)
What Works are Required?
In John 6:28, 29, the people asked Jesus “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” (This tends to be our question, too, as we insist on believing that “There must be something we can do, to make God like us!” …to make ourselves righteous. The fact is, it can’t be done…and there is nothing we can do to change our nature as lost sinners!)
Jesus gave a very clear reply: He said, “This is the Work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (That’s it! Faith in Jesus, and His finished work!)
How Secure is that Promise?
In John 6:37 Jesus said, “37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Under no circumstances will Jesus turn away those who have come to Him in faith. Under no circumstances will He subsequently reject them and cast them back out! That is very solid ground! We are not left standing on a “sand foundation!”
Years ago, my younger brother pointed out that most sand is made of tiny fragments of rock…very hard rock, in some cases, such as quartz. But in fragmented form that rock is useless as a foundation. The solid rock we have been given, on which to base our faith, is the Eternal Truth of God’s Word and the Promises of Christ. If we depend upon the fragmented “truths” of the world’s wisdom and human philosophies, we are building upon sand. If we trust the Living God and His Truth, we have built upon the Rock.
No Believers will be Lost
In John 6:39, Jesus made an even more specific promise: “39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
Do you see why that was “more specific?” He said that, not only will HE not “cast” us out, but that He will lose none of us, regardless of cause. Some argue against this, citing the case of Judas Iscariot: but, in John 13:10, 11 Jesus pointed out that Judas had never been “washed”… he was never cleansed. He was not a believer. Judas never was saved, so he did not “lose his salvation:” he never had it to begin with!
In John 15:3, after Judas left, Jesus confirmed this, telling the remaining disciples, “Now ye (plural) are clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you.” Judas had heard all the same words the others had heard. Faith was the difference: they believed, and Judas did not!
Shall Never Perish
But, in our text, here, today, Jesus says perhaps the most powerful of all the promises: He says, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
“I give unto them Eternal Life, and they shall never perish!” How long is never? How secure is that promise? It is exactly as secure as the character of the One who made the promise. He is utterly perfect and He is THE Truth, so we depend on His Promises as being the truths upon which we base our faith.
They Follow Me
Yes, the normal result of our faith is that we follow Jesus. But, as we saw in the lives of Lot, and David (not to mention Balaam and Samson,) once a person has become one of God’s flock, Jesus, the Great Shepherd, will not lose a single one of them.
We are eternally secure in His promise. Salvation is a gift, not a reward. The gift is ours by God’s Grace, through faith. But if we want Eternity to hold rewards for us, beyond that initial gift of eternal life, then we need to learn to follow Him, and serve as His ambassadors: His hands and feet; and the light of His Hope, in this dying world.
How can we see that Security?
It is interesting that He concluded, “29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.”
If I see the hand of Jesus cupping us from one side and the hand of the Father from the other, and His final word, “The Father and I are one,” then I can understand that we are safe between the two hands of the almighty God who has redeemed us from sin and is calling us to walk with Him in obedience. We are safe in His hands, for eternity!
Lord Jesus, teach us to trust in Your promise, and to follow You in obedience, and to extend that promise of eternal life to all around us, serving as Your ambassadors, and the light of Your Love in this dark world.