I can’t leave the subject of the gospel without a word on being saved forever – or as we say in the south, “Once saved, always saved.” There are passages in the Bible when taken at first glance have the tendency to shake our security. Come to think of it, we looked at one yesterday. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But Paul quickly added, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (verse 13). We quickly realized the extreme value of the passage. It did not threaten our eternal security at all.
God’s word is very clear that the moment we believe in Jesus Christ we will never perish, but we will have eternal life (John 3:16). Think on this! If one truly possesses eternal life, then it is life that is eternal – it lasts forever. If eternal life could ever be lost for any reason, then it was never eternal life at all. It was probationary life! What a difference this makes. The truth is this. On the one hand, there is eternal security (God’s part of the eternal life question), and on the other, there is personal assurance (how we personally feel about God’s part in our salvation). I have to admit that there have been times in my life when I did not feel saved. If my security was based on my feelings, I would have been a spiritual schizophrenic, never convinced.
First, let’s think of our Savior’s side of this equation. Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd (John 10:14). Hear His words. “My sheep hear My voice, and they know Me and follow Me. I give them (my sheep) eternal life, and they shall never perish.” I’m not a Greek scholar, but His words “never perish” are the strongest possible way to say “no, not ever.” One may say it like this, “No not ever under any circumstances, no matter what they may be, no matter who these circumstances may be happening to,” perish. That’s strong!
And then the Good Shepherd says, “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” He holds us in His hand. He holds on to us. We do not hold on to Him. If my salvation rested on my ability to hang on to the Savior, I would have been lost many times. But He holds me fast. And then He said, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all.” He is the almighty, all powerful, never-changing God. No one or nothing is able to snatch believers out of the Father’s hand. We are held tight in a double grip – the Son holds on to us (one grip) and the Father holds on to us (two grips). Praise His holy name!
“I and My Father are one.” This is an amazing statement confirming the deity of Christ. The Father and Son are one in essence and two in person. This is a hard saying, but the Jews got the meaning, even if we do not. The Jews picked up stones to kill Him. Jesus made a point followed by a question. “I have performed many good works for you, for which good work do you stone me?” Their answer was crystal clear and very powerful. I will quote it letter-perfect. “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33). Wow!
Quickly think back to the personal assurance side of eternal security. We now have an understanding of God’s side, but what about our side – what about our thinking? We best get this from the apostle Paul written just after His powerful explanation of God’s order of salvation (Romans 8:29-34). He closed his argument with this statement: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35). Then he goes immediately into a long list of possible ways that we could be separated from Christ. Shall tribulation (separate us) or distress, (separate us) or persecution, (separate us) or famine, (separate us) or nakedness, (separate us), or peril (separate us) (the Covid virus could be added here)? Finally, he mentions a sword (could death separate us)? His answer: “As it is written: For your sake we are killed all day long: We are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Paul ended his entire position on security with these incredible conclusive words that should never be very far from our thinking: “I am convinced,” meaning I am persuaded. Why is Paul convinced? Because his personal assurance is based on God’s assurance. This states how Paul feels about God’s security: “I am convinced (persuaded) that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Like Paul, one must be convinced (persuaded) that eternal life means what it says. When we are convinced of this, then we can begin to study the Bible as we should – knowing that our eternal security is never in doubt. Stay safe and stay tuned.