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Passage of the Week – November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

(John 10:27-30 ESV)

John 10 is one of the most powerful passages in all of Scripture regarding the perseverance of the believer. (The “P” in the Calvinist TULIP for those paying attention.) Here Christ identifies that He has a specific people and that He is their guarantee of eternal life by the power of God. Here we have a promise so strong that John uses one of the most powerful techniques in the Greek language to illustrate. A double negative.

This seems counter-intuitive to those of us to whom English is our first language. Does a double negative not equal a positive? In english yes, not so in Greek. The phrase translated here as “they will never perish” uses two different words that both mean not. The blindly literal translation would be something like “they will not not perish.” What here looks like foolishness to our English reading eyes is in fact an extremely powerful negation. One could easily translate this phrase using some adjectives like “will most certainly never;” or “can not ever.” John masterfully uses the Greek to make our assurance as water tight as it can possibly be.

Why do I belabor the point in the language? The answer is simple. We are confronted on every side with our failings. The enemy will constantly tempt us, watch us give into temptation, and then taunt us with our sin. How can we possibly be safe in our salvation with such sin? Here we have a beautiful promise right from the lips of Christ Himself. Follow the logic: If we are His sheep then we hear His voice and follow Him. He gives us eternal life and we will most certainly never perish. The enemy wants to steal our assurance and leave us helpless and ineffective for the Kingdom. Christ has promised us that nothing can separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39)and no one can take us away (not even ourselves.) If words have any meaning at all then we must take Christ at His.

Are you in Christ? Are you saved by faith in Him? Do you call yourself a Christian? If the answer is yes then I call upon you for two things:

  1. Live the life He calls you to and resist the temptations of the enemy to sin and to dwell on your failings. If you confess your sins He will forgive (1John 1:9.)
  2. Be confident that your sin, while terrible, is paid for and cannot separate you from the promise given in this passage.

We all sin and none of us will reach perfection on this side of glory. God knows this and in His sovereign wisdom has provided us a way to be assured that we are His. As you go about your week you will be sure to fail and fall along the way, however, rest assured that you can never fall beyond the reach of the grace of God. The Gospel is not just for the lost. It is also to help the found remember that they’re found.

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