The Security Of The Believer
Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?
- Perseverance of the Saints,
- Security of the believer, and
- Eternal security.
But each phrase centers on these questions:
What happens when believers sin or backslide?
Can a person’s sins or failures result in the loss of salvation?
John 10:22-30 is a key NT passage on the security of the believer.
Jesus Is Rejected
It was winter, and the Festival of the Dedication of the Temple was being celebrated in Jerusalem. Jesus was walking in Solomon’s Porch in the Temple, when the people gathered around him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? Tell us the plain truth: are you the Messiah?”
Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you would not believe me. The deeds I do by my Father’s authority speak on my behalf; but you will not believe, for you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me. What my Father has given me is greater than everything, and no one can snatch them away from the Father’s care. The Father and I are one.”
The Promise of Eternal Life
In verse 28, Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me.” Jesus makes the same promise two different ways: believers will not perish and no one can take eternal life from them.
The doctrine of the believer’s security does not rest just on Christ’s words in this one passage. All three members of the Godhead are involved in salvation, and Jesus’ perfect, one-time work to atone for all sin (Heb. 10:10) is the basis for that assurance. Believers cannot save themselves or keep themselves saved; only the collaborative work of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit can do this.
The word of the Father reinforces Christ’s words and work: “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29), and the inheritance He gives us is “incorruptible” and “does not fade away” (1 Peter 1:3-5). God assures believers that Jesus will “confirm” us “to the end” (1 Cor. 1:7-9) and that He is able to “present” us “faultless” in that final day (Jude 24). For God’s purpose to be thwarted by human weakness or fickleness would make God’s word dependent on human actions.
Regarding the Spirit’s confirmation, Ephesians 1:13 says: “Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Paul says the Spirit serves as a mark of permanence and security in our lives – a guarantee that the Christian’s destination will not be interrupted.
The Protection Of Eternal Life
Jesus words in John 10:28-29 paint a picture of believers being held in His hand. This is a tremendous image of security.
Romans 8:35-39 affirms the believer’s security with a long list of things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Our security is not in our ability to hold on to Christ’s hand but in His ability to hold us in His.
Some critics have said this doctrine is dangerous because it means that Christians can go out and live anyway they want – even willfully sinning – without fear of the ramifications. But anyone who treats the security of the believer as an insurance policy so they can sin without consequence probably does not know the Lord to begin with. That is simply not the heart of a born-again follower of Christ. As Paul said, if “we have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer” (Rom. 6:2)? Or in James words, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). True faith results in a transformed life.
Those who have truly known the forgiveness of their sins and who are in the habit of thanking God for His love will not use their forgiveness and salvation as a license to sin. True believers in Christ look for ways to please Him every day, not loopholes by which to exploit their promised salvation.
The Proof Of Eternal Life
Verse 27 gave rise among Puritan theologians to the two marks of Christ’s sheep: the mark on the ear “My sheep hear My voice” and the mark on the foot “they follow Me”. Just as cattle are branded today to identify their owner, so followers of Jesus are “branded” by those two traits. A true Christian is one who listens to the words of Jesus and who follows Him.
Practically speaking, that means when we read the Word of God, a spirit of agreement and affirmation will well up in our hearts. We will embrace what we read, not resist it. We will affirm its truth and look for ways to apply it in our lives. We will want to follow Him. And when we fail, we will want to repent and seek His forgiveness. No true believer will be comfortable unless he or she is following Jesus.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
The works that I do are evidence that I am in Jesus. All of the power that works in and through me comes through His name.
I am in Christ. As Jesus is one with the Father, I am in Jesus, and therefore have become one with the Father as well.
My total and complete reliance for the sustenance of my new life is upon Jesus alone.
I am part of His fold – a standing and valued member of his family.
My ears have been opened and I continually listen to His voice. He knows me personally and I follow Him relentlessly.
He has given me eternal life and I shall never lose it. I am held secure under His tender care from now through eternity. No one has the ability to snatch me out of His hand.
My Father, who is greater than all, has placed His seal upon me and has committed me to Jesus’ care. No one can snatch me out of my Father’s hand.
I am in Jesus, just as Jesus is in the Father. We are all one (the most perfect and complete partnership that is possible).
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!
|NKJV Jeremiah Study Bible, Hardcover
By Dr. David Jeremiah / David Jeremiah
Drawn from more than 40 years of study, Dr. David Jeremiah, one of America’s leading Bible teachers, has produced a deeply personal and comprehensive study Bible packed with features specifically focused to help you discover what Scripture says, what Scripture means and, most importantly, what Scripture means for you. The Jeremiah Study Bible presents the best of biblical insight and study tools along with clear, practical application to bring about authentic transformation in your life.
About the Author
Dr. Jeremiah is also the author of more than 40 books, including the bestsellers Captured by Grace, What in the World Is Going On?, and the most recent New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller, God Loves You—He Always Has. He Always Will. Dr. Jeremiah pastors Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, a suburb of San Diego.