John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
We are all prone to doubt. It is a characteristic of human nature. In our lowest moments, at times of greatest trial and testing, we are liable to question our salvation and the goodness of our God. There have been and still are believers who have read sections of the scriptures and feel convinced that the message is for them; they consider it possible to fall away from grace leaving no hope of restoration or repentance.
The doubts and fears that the Adversary can bring into our hearts are real. How many can say that they have never doubted their salvation? How many can say that they have never feared as they have looked within and seen the coldness of their own heart?
It is for this reason that this article will consider three aspects of the double security of the believer.
The Lord stated, ‘Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’, John 10. 28. Again, ‘no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand’, v. 29. Here, we have the double security of the hands - held tightly in the divine grip!
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 1. 20, ‘For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen’. This is the double affirmation of divine promises. The writer of Hebrews wrote, ‘That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation’, Heb. 6. 18. This is the promise and the oath of God combined as a fortress against doubt.
John 10 - The double security of the divine grip The characteristics of the sheep are given here as those that, ‘hear my voice’, v. 27, and ‘follow me’. This should be a challenge to our hearts. KENNETH WUEST’s translation of these two phrases is helpful: ‘are in the habit of listening to my voice’; and, ‘they take the same road that I take with me’. The sheep listen to the voice of the Shepherd because it is He that has their care and preservation in mind. The Eastern shepherd goes before his sheep and thus the sheep would be expected to take the same road that he takes.
The ministry of the Good Shepherd is based upon His threefold relationship to His sheep. He has a loving relationship because He died for the sheep, as well as a living relationship because He cares for the sheep. It is also a lasting relationship, for He keeps His sheep and not one is lost.
In verses 28 and 29 there are four phrases we need to consider:
- ‘I give unto them eternal life’;
- ‘They shall never perish’;
- ‘Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’;
- ‘No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand’.
Eternal life is a gift. If we had merited it, earned it, or won it as a prize then we could equally have lost it by our waywardness or folly. If the eternal life that we have in Christ depended upon anything that we had done, or had to do, then there could be no security in the believer’s salvation. The truth of this phrase is that our salvation and eternal security is a gift of divine sovereignty and grace. As such it does not depend upon us but upon the unfailing work of Christ.
We might translate the second phrase: ‘They shall never, never perish’; the Greek double negative is used. What the Lord is describing is utterly impossible. If we might use the illustration, we find the whole theory of evolution laughable because the evolutionist would suggest that the reptile became a bird, that, in effect, the frog turned into a prince. Why, then, should we think that the sheep can become a goat or the child of God become lost. While the shepherd lives we are secure in the knowledge that we are His.
Our third phrase is, ‘Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’. The word ‘man’ is in italics in the King James Bible to indicate that it is inserted in our English translation to give the sense. We might also translate it, ‘Neither shall any one or anything pluck them out of my hand’. The thought in the word pluck is to snatch by force. But let us remember that the universe holds no power capable of snatching us by force from the Saviour’s hand. There is no force able to stand against the King of kings and Lord of lords. Colossians chapter 2 tells us that He has defeated every foe. We may be weak and helpless but there is absolute strength with Him.
Our fourth phrase adds the final answer to every question, ‘No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand’, v. 29. To confirm the assurance of this statement the Lord adds, ‘My Father . . . is greater than all’. The hand of the Saviour is beneath us, and the hand of the Father is above us. There can be no greater security than that which is the portion of every saint of God.
2 Cor. 1 - The double affirmation of divine promises
Every promise that God has made finds its fulfilment in Christ. We might consider every promise in the New Testament as signified by the ‘Yea’ and every promise in the Old Testament as signified by the ‘Amen’. All are fulfilled in Christ! He is the beginning and end of the divine promises. Although much of what God has promised in relation to the believer has yet to be fulfilled, we can rest assured that as Christ has fulfilled the past promises so He will fulfil that which remains.
In verse 22 we have the confirmation: we are ‘sealed’. The mark and guarantee of ownership has been stamped upon us. We are His. God has ‘given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts’, v. 22. Here is the down-payment. We know from the world of business that often the seller would seek some indication of the genuineness of a buyer. He would ask for a deposit or down-payment. God has given us that demonstration of His intention – the guarantee of ownership and the downpayment. He will carry out all that He has promised.
Jesus Christ reveals the promises, fulfils the promises, and enables us to claim them for ourselves!
Hebrews 6 - The promise and the oath of God
This chapter has caused deep concern and anxiety in the hearts of many. In the section, vv. 4-12, we, like the writer, must seek to separate the true from the false and the believer from the unbeliever.
In verses 4-6 the writer speaks of ‘those’, they’, and ‘them’. He puts a distance between himself and those of whom he wrote. He was speaking of unbelievers. From their Jewish background and their experience of and involvement in the rituals of Judaism they had come close to the truth whilst not accepting it for themselves.
In verse 9 he speaks of ‘you’. He addresses his readers as ‘beloved’ using the term descriptive of the love of God. Clearly, he is addressing believers and not unbelievers. He expresses his compassion for them and his conviction about them. He testifies to the reality of their salvation because it has been seen: the ‘things that accompany salvation’, v. 9. There is no need to address a warning to them. Like the ground, described in the previous verse, they were bringing forth fruit meet for the one who had dressed them. A description of the kind of fruit is given us: their ‘work and labour of love’, v. 10. What they did was motivated by love for the Lord.
To be comtinued