There are those that argue that once a person is truly in Christ they can never walk away from the Lord in such a way as to be finally lost. One Scripture that could support this idea is in John 10:27-29. But before you quickly assume that you are one of the people Jesus is referring to here, please check and see if you meet the qualifications. And if you do meet the qualifications, be sure that you are in a place where you keep on meeting them. God will give grace for that. Now here is the passage:
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Jesus describes a class of people called “his sheep”. Concerning “his sheep” the LORD says, “they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” and “no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” either. This is because the Father is greater than all.
This passage certainly is talking about the security God gives his true people. The image of a shepherd caring for sheep that Jesus paints is one that surely implies the ACTIVE protection of God for his people to protect them against all kinds of danger to the soul.
God is certainly at work to protect the people who are in this category. No one, no matter how evil or powerful, will be able to FORCE a true follower of Christ to become apostate. God has promised to help his true people. Even if we were to be tortured and threatened, God is able to keep us in His love.
Who are these people?
Not everyone can simply lay claim to being one of these “sheep” of Jesus. Jesus says that the ones who are His sheep do three things:
1.They believe in Jesus.
2.They hear the voice of Jesus.
3.They follow Jesus.
Many claim to believe in Jesus, but how many believe what Jesus said in the gospels and through his holy apostles in the Word of God? There is a difference between claiming to believe in Jesus and actually believing in Him. Jesus said, for example, that “he that believes in me, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). How many can claim that? Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do, shall He do also!” (John 14:12). How many can claim that? Perhaps there is more to “believing in Jesus” than saying so. Roman Catholics, the “Orthodox” and almost everyone who makes us what we might call “Christendom” would CLAIM to believe in Jesus. Does that make it so? Whose definition will count in the end – theirs, or Christ’s? Christ has told us what will happen in the life of someone who believes in Him.
The true sheep of Jesus hear the voice of Jesus. Some hear better than others, but all sheep hear. Maybe God’s little lambs don’t hear so well but they certainly hear at times. God can cause us to hear His voice as we read His Word, the Bible, but it doesn’t automatically happen to all who read the Bible. A hardened rebel against God can read the Bible and never hear the voice of Jesus. The Pharisees read the Tenach (Old Testament) which spoke of Jesus in many ways, but they are here in John 10 told by Jesus that “you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep” (verse 26). In another place, Jesus told the Pharisees:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39,40)
There has to be a certain tenderness of heart as well as a work of God’s Spirit before we truly hear the voice of Jesus. It is much more than having an appreciation of what the Scriptures probably meant to someone at the time. The Word of God should come alive and give you confidence concerning what God wants you to do. As the Psalmist said, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119: ). And hearing the voice of Jesus can happen directly by the Spirit of God who dwells in our hearts. Since we cannot say that the Spirit of God is mute, we should acknowledge that if He lives in our hearts, bodies and minds then He can definitely say something even if we don’t happen to be thinking about the Bible at the time. God’s Holy Spirit still imparts living truth, living wisdom, and various gifts as He pleases. If all this does not describe your experience, then you should really QUESTION whether Jesus is talking about YOU when he talks about “My sheep”. For Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice”.
The third characteristic of the sheep of Jesus according to John 10:27 is that “they follow me”. What does following Jesus mean? Surely it means living life out of the same spirit and the same fundamental principles that guided the life of Jesus! Following Jesus means imitating Jesus. The life of Jesus was clean, honest and truthful – but it was more than this. Jesus was all about allowing the Spirit of God to work through Him so that others could be blessed and led into the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ life was all about always seeking the mind of the Father so He could always do the will of the Father. To truly follow Jesus therefore, we will have to deny ourselves – that is, deny the Lordship over our own lives, we will have to take up our cross daily (endure pain in the path of doing God’s will) and go after Jesus (Luke 9:23). Again, anyone who wants to assure themselves that they are one of Jesus’ sheep MUST fulfil this condition also, or they have NO SCRIPTURAL grounds for claiming to be one of those whom the Father will protect and give eternal life to.
The Word of God teaches us something very different to what the world teaches. The world may teach us to improve ourselves, educate ourselves, give out of our abundance to others as we wish and so on – but the gospel teaches us that without a NEW LIFE from God we will never enter God’s Kingdom. In God’s Kingdom, the Spirit of God teaches us to radically lay down our lives and our self interest for the glory of God and the salvation of others. If we have not learned anything of this, it is indeed questionable if we are even in God’s Kingdom – as far as GOD is concerned anyway.
If you want to be assured that you will never perish, cry out to God to so work in you that you will be conformed to what Jesus hear teaches about “His Sheep”. Don’t stop short of this, thinking that just because you believe that you are a child of God that you really are. Plenty of people thought so, whose lives did not meet the description, and they lost their eternal souls forever. Be wiser than that. Settle it with God.