Question / Comment - A debate on eternal security - Is Eternal Security true?
I have a problem of whether eternal security is true because of what a doctor of theology has written to me. He wrote concerning John 10:28 and the parable of the sower:
"Out of my hand" says nothing about /*our*/ behavior; no one can
separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, but we certainly can
make the very poor choice of turning away from that love. *Principle: * we have
free will; being saved does not remove our free will; if it did, God might as
well have transferred us immediately to heaven when we believed; instead, He left
us here for a purpose, and that purpose has everything to do with the decisions
we make; we can make good decision, we can also make very bad ones; no one else
can remove us from God's hand, true; but we can remove ourselves from the
hand of God through throwing away our faith; if we could not, then we would not
have the free will to exercise (or fail to exercise) our faith. Since we do have
the free-will of faith as the scripture confirms repeatedly and as we know
experientially, to be told that in this instance it is not operative is
inconsistent with the passages quoted above; the passages offered in defense of
absolute eternal security all have at their core this same problem: they are
focused on God who will indeed for His part keep His part of the bargain, but
they ignore the possibility which scripture does not ignore that we may prove to
be at fault.
In the parable of the sower, while the first type of soil does not
receive the seed of the Word and thus the seed is removed by the devil before
belief can occur, the second type of soil /does receive the Word so as to
believe/. But while this second group "rejoices" in the good news,
latter on, they fall away. Luke 8:13 actually says "/*They believe */for a
while, but in time of testing /*they apostatize*/ (Greek /aphistantai/)",
which is the technical term for apostasy, the turning away from God by those who
were once His (i.e., an unbeliever can't be apostate, Greek
"stander-away", because he has never actually "stood-with"
God in the first place). No reasonable interpretation of the parable of the Sower
can explain away the clear and obvious fact that group two are actual believers
who later fall away from the faith ("they believe ... they fall away").
I say "reasonable", because of course hyper-eternal security proponents
have their particular "exegetical gymnastics" with which to defuse
these passages. However, this is one of those passages that doesn't let
individuals of this persuasion sleep at night (if they are indeed honestly
seeking the truth of the Word of God), because in any simple reading the only
interpretation that works is the one given above -- and the passage is repeated
in all three synoptic Gospels."
Please help as I need some comfort on this issue and prayed over this. Thanks in advance!
thanks for the email. I understand the concerns that you have as it is not a simple subject (otherwise it wouldn't have been debated for the last 2000 years!) At the end of the day however there can only be a 'Yes' or a 'No' to the question 'Can a truly born again believer lose his/her salvation?' Or, to put it another way from a heavenly perspective 'Will Jesus lose any of those that the Father gives Him?' I think when you look at salvation from that perspective then the answer is a lot simpler. Jesus won't lose any but will raise them all up on the last day as He has promised.
Some of the questions you have asked I have already answered and put on the site. In particular, this link has a question that someone wrote concerning John 10:28.
Also the following concerning 'falling away', apostasy and the parable of the sower might be helpful (specifically questions 1,7 and 10 but others may be useful.):
Concerning the comments below that only true believers can commit the sin of apostasy... that is simply his/her own interpretation or belief and isn't backed up by the Bible (or in their words, apostasy is: "the turning away from God by those who were once His (i.e., an unbeliever can't be apostate, Greek "stander-away", because he has never actually "stood-with" God in the first place). "
I don't know where they would get this idea from. The Bible speaks of many professors of the faith that later deny the truth. It doesn't indicate that they were saved to begin with. William MacDonald, a well loved Bible teacher says the exact opposite concerning apostasy: ie that the sin of apostasy can only be committed by unbelievers. He writes in his Bible Believers Commentary
is a sin which is only committed by unbelievers, not by those
who are deceived, but by those who knowingly, and wilfully and maliciously turn
from the truth... Apostasy should not be confused with backsliding. A true
believer may wander very far from Christ. Through sin his fellowship with God is
shattered. But he can be restored to full fellowship as he confesses and forsakes
The apostle John knew about those that were apostates and turned from the faith. What did he say? Did he say that they were true believers that had now lost their salvation? Nope.. Here is what he said:
"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going
showed that none of them belonged to us. "
In John's mind, turning and leaving the faith was a sign that they NEVER belonged to the household of faith to begin with.
There will always be those that see salvation differently. But don't allow yourself to be unsettled just because a 'doctor of theology' sees a verse differently.
For me, I want to live for Jesus and make my life count in some way. But my confidence in getting to Heaven is not in myself but in Him. He will keep me to the end. The alternative to eternal salvation is daisy salvation... "He loves me, he loves me not"... Eternal Insecurity!
Anyway, some things for you to think over. At the end of the day you will have to settle the matter in your own heart.
All the best
I'm having difficulty with this doctrine even more as I go into it. I've been studying both sides and his exegesis sounds convincing, please help... He wrote back:
"This is a weak attempt to twist Jesus' own very clear words. Think
about it. In the quote (Lk.8:13) "They believe for a while, /*but */in time
of testing they apostatize". What is on the other side of the
"BUT" has to be the OPPOSITE of "believing". So even if a
person wants to say that apostasy does mean what it means (in Greek, and also in
English), then they are still left with the reality that the meaning would be
clear even without a word: "BUT (instead of continuing to believe) in times
of testing they ________ ". Whatever word we use to fill in the blank, it
will still have to mean "do not believe" (since it expresses the
opposite of "they do believe for a while"). And by the way, the
parallel passages, Matthew 8:21 and Mark 4:17 both have /skandalizontai/,
"they are tripped up" = they lose their faith. For after all Christ is
a "stumblingblock" (/skandalon/) to the Jews who do not believe
(1Cor.1:23), and this verb in Matthew and Mark is based on the same root as that
of the word "stumblingblock" (so that clearly, "stumbling" in
a salvation context means lack or loss of faith)."
Thanks in advance!
Certainly, as mentioned last time, there are difficult passages on both sides of the debate and I think it is fair to say that Luke 8:13 is not without its difficulties. Having said that, it seems to me that your friend's assumption that they are true born again believers is not true. Before I get into that, let me ask you a question though. Do you think that the intent of this parable of the sower spoken by Jesus was to prove or disprove eternal security? Of course it isn't. Parables are stories that illustrate biblical truth. They generally have a distinct purpose or truth to illustrate. What is the purpose of the parable of the sower? To show the different responses to the word of God and what leads to fruitfulness for the kingdom of God . Jesus wasn't trying to teach that salvation is either secure or insecure from this parable. I only say this because parables are useful for illustrating doctrine but when people try to read more into them than they were intended for it can lead to problems.
Anyway, you have asked about Luke 8:13 so here is the part of the parable we've been looking at:
Luke 8:6,13 "And other fell on the rock; and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture... And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away."
The assumption from your friend is that this group is true born again believers who lose their salvation. Now I understand the difficulty for it does say that they 'for a while believe', and believe is used in verse 12 with the previous group in connection with being saved. But there is certainly other evidence in the parable that this was a temporary head belief not a true heart saving faith. I say this for the following reasons:
1) The condition of their heart - the soil or ground that the seed falls into in this parable stands for the human heart (see verse 12 & 15 - "...the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts" as opposed to the good ground where the "good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart." So look at how Jesus described the heart of this group we are looking at - Rock! It is hard. A heart of stone. Does that sound like a description of a truly born again believer to you? God's promise to true believers is that 'a new heart also will I give you, and
a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of
your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.' The hard stoney heart that this group had is not that of a new creation in Christ!
2) The shallowness of their 'belief' - look at what Jesus said about their roots - "these have no root". It is all just on the surface. The root of a Christian’s faith is the person and work of the Lord Jesus. He is our life. Without this there can be no fruit or spiritual life. This group is said by Jesus to have had no root. Thus, no water or moisture (often used as a type of the Holy Spirit). Thus, no spiritual life. Just a withering - a falling away as quickly as they had arisen. No truly born again believer who is 'in Christ' and has come into a spiritual union with Him would be said to have 'no root'. These are professors only. Everything is just on the surface. No actual roots connection to draw upon the life that is in Christ.
3) The length of their profession - look at how long the word of God says that this group of people last - "
as soon as it grew, it withered away." This group sprung up quickly and departed just as quick. In Matthews gospel it says that they "last only a short time" and "quickly fall away." Again - Jesus is not trying to describe true born again Christians here.
By the imagery and interpretation used I find it very difficult to think that Jesus had true Christians, those whom the Father had given Him, in mind when he spoke of this group. In fact I would say He definitely didn't have true believers in mind. But it does remind me of people I have known and seen. Some come into the church who do this very thing. There is a profession of faith, everyone is overjoyed including them, and then they fall away just as quick. (It is fair to say that common evangelistic 'techniques' don't do us any favors in producing this type of 'covert'.) Once the initial honeymoon joy is over and they find out that the Christian life is not easy they are gone. No root. No connection. No life. No perseverance.
I would agree with the Bible Knowledge Commentary that says of this group:
"The second group are those who listen and rejoice but then do not stick with the truth of the message for they have no root (v. 13). The fact that they believe for a while but . . . fall away means that they only accept the facts of the Word mentally and then reject it when "the going gets rough." It does not mean they lose their salvation, for they had none to lose."
The fact is that Jesus was not trying to teach on the security or lack thereof of the believer in this parable at all. He was describing the response to the word of God going out. He was simply teaching that when the word of God goes out some don't understand from the very beginning. Some initially accept it but still have hard hearts and no real root and leave just as quickly. Others grow and do start to produce something but later down the track pleasures, wealth and worries (the things of this life) choke the plant and stop it from being fruitful. But there are some... some that Jesus describes as having a good and noble heart. These continue to produce for the kingdom of God ..
Well, I have described what I believe Jesus was teaching in Luke 8. I'll let you ponder over this scripture. But I would like to hear your friend’s thoughts on the following scripture that I believe teaches the security of the believer. In contrast to the above parable that is not even about the security/insecurity of salvation, here are the very words of Jesus concerning salvation and the security of the true believer.
John 6:35-40,44 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me
will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the
will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of
him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise
them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day...
44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
A couple of quick points from this:
1) No one can come to Jesus unless they are drawn by the Father. (vs 44)
2) True believers are a gift from the Father to the Son. And all that the Father gives to the Son will come to Him. (37)
3) Jesus lives to perform the will of His Father and that will is specifically said to be this - to "lose none of all that he has given me but to raise them up on the last day." (38,39)
So, here is a passage specifically looking at salvation (and it's security) from Jesus' point of view. Jesus has said that people can only come to Him if the Father draws them and that of those that come He will lose none! Zip. Zero. Do you believe that? Do you believe that He will raise up ALL that the Father has given Him? All of them? Or in reality it is just 'some' of them and Jesus will in fact lose some?
If a person believes that a truly born again believer can be lost and end up in hell then they cannot also believe what Jesus said in this passage. They are saying that Jesus will lose some of His sheep, those that were given to Him by the Father. Which do you believe? We are not talking here about those that profess to be Christians or simply those who say 'Lord, Lord... did we not do this and that in your name...' to which He will say 'I never knew you!' No, we are talking about true born again believers. True sheep. The bride of Christ. Those foreknown before the foundation of the world. Those who are a gift from the Father to the Son. Those true believers of whom Paul wrote: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Those who are said to be 'the joy set before Him' for which he (Jesus) endured the cross.
Please tell me - do you truly believe that Jesus is going to lose some of these true believers that the Father has given Him?
I'll leave it with you. You know my answer. I know He will do what He said.
All the best
Hi again, JPN
"I would have to disagree. There are in fact no difficult passages on this side of the debate. That is the so-called eternal security proof texts all suffer from the same point of spiritual myopia in the case of those who advance them, namely, they express the security that God provides for believers; they do not, however, even hint that those who abandon their faith are protected.
the other hand, to call Luke 8:13 a "problem passage" when Jesus flat
out says that some people only believe for a while and then fall away I find
flabbergasting -- if we say that the Bible means something to us, shouldn't
its clear meaning trump all of our preconceptions? This is the way we grow. We
have an idea what something is or means biblically, but as we study and read and
access good, sound teaching, we are going to have some of our misconceptions
corrected -- hopefully /all/ of them given the time and persistence. So I think
it is time to re-frame this debate a bit, since the main points are being missed
and "dissed" to the point of un-profitability. Please consider
carefully the following passage and I hope you will see what I mean:
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be praised, who has
in His great
mercy caused us to be reborn to a hope which lives
Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and to an
inheritance which will
never be destroyed, defiled, or dimmed, but
which is being guarded in heaven
for us, /who are ourselves also
being kept safe by God's power/
_/*and*/_ */through our faith in Him
to an ultimate deliverance/* ready to be
unveiled at the end of time.
1st Peter 1:3-5
God is certainly
capable of doing what the absolute eternal-security position suggests, namely to
say /only /that we are "kept safe by His power". But consider that
Peter does not stop there. We are kept safe also "through our faith".
If we continue in our faith, God's power is certainly more than sufficient
to bring us safe to heaven-home. But what if we abandon our faith? What if we
believe only "for a while" and then fall away? Peter's words do
not only assume that continuing faith is necessary for salvation; they say so,
literally: "*/and/* through our faith". In fact, the only thing that
this prepositional phrase */can/* mean, when you think about it honestly, is that
believers, those who maintain their faith in Jesus firm until the end are
"kept safe", but those who do not have faith, who lose faith, who
become unbelievers again by rejecting Jesus for whatever reason, are not kept
safe and do not receive the "ultimate deliverance" or
"salvation" (Greek: /soteria/) which Peter promises those who do.
idea of our continued faith being necessary for salvation is in fact ubiquitous
in scripture. We are not talking about sinless perfection here. But what we do
need to be saved is saving faith. And to be delivered at the end, we have to
"hold fast our confidence (i.e., faith) firm until the end" (Heb.3:14;
cf. Heb.3:7). This principle is implicit in so many things said in the epistles,
for example, a book could be written. One passage will have to suffice:
we sent Timothy to you, our brother and co-worker in the gospel
of God and of
Christ, to*/ strengthen and encourage you in your
faith/*, so that none of
you might /*waver */in the midst of these
tribulations. For you yourselves
know [very well] that we have been
appointed for this (i.e., to endure
pressure in this life). Indeed,
when we were with you I was warning you that
we [all Christians]
were destined to be persecuted . For this reason, when I
longer stand it, I sent him to you to find out about */your faith/*,
in some way the tempter had tempted you and my work had thus
turned out to be
1st Thessalonians 3:2-5
Paul is addressing a new
batch of converts and he is absolutely in knots about their spiritual welfare
when he finds out that they have been placed under severe pressure. He is worried
about their faith, that is, he is concerned that under pressure they might
"waver". He is worried that they might turn out to be like the second
group of people in Jesus' parable of the sower who "believe for a
while", but when the pressures of life come, they fall away. In fact, Paul
uses a verb from the same root word for the pressure that can potentially knock
our faith that Jesus uses: /thlibo / thlipsis/ "tribulate /
tribulation" (from which we get the Great Tribulation). Paul is worried that
his work in evangelizing the Thessalonians and teaching them thereafter will turn
out to be "for naught" (vers. "in vain"). If it were merely a
question of spiritual set-back rather than loss of salvation that Paul is
concerned about, then concern and disappointment would be appropriate to express,
but not a flat statement like this: "if you waver and lose faith, all I did
was for nothing". If the Thessalonians had eternal security, then
Paul's work might be diminished by their stumbling, but it could not be said
to have been completely "for naught". That only makes sense if the
situation he was contemplating was the loss of their salvation through the
wavering and loss of their faith under pressure of persecution.
The bottom line for all this is that if one approaches the epistles (and the gospels and the entire rest of the Bible, for that matter) with the thesis that faith is necessary for salvation but that faith can be lost, very many passages are opened up, while none of the hyper-eternal security proof texts cause any problems at all. But you have to read the Bible with blinders on to miss the import of all the passages that teach the need to continue in faith; and you have to ignore these hundreds of "problem" passages entirely to accept the false notion that the passages which teach assurance do not mean that some people will not fall away even though they did "once believe".
I think the lengths this person goes to try and disprove this part in the parable of the sower more than proves this point. It is a little embarrassing to read, actually. I think, in fact, that it is so clearly forcing the obvious statements of our Lord that it is unlikely to convince anyone. In fact, I think that just by reading this "exegesis" in the context of our discussion, anyone who is not a died-in-the-wool hyper-eternal security advocate would be moved to reconsider on the basis of the failure of this groundless assault. Simply put, Jesus doesn't say they "profess"; Jesus says these people "believe", plain and simple; there are no such qualifications in the biblical text such as this person wishes to insert.
The passage exegeted
next follows the same line of thinking. Large, bold, red font is not an argument.
The only part of the discussion here which has anything to do with eternal
security is the quotation from verse 39 (and we'll talk about v.40 too):
"And */this is the will/* of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all
that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day".
verse is not inconsistent at all with the biblical principle that continuing
faith is necessary for salvation. It is in fact God's will that */all/*
human beings be saved: "[God] who wants */all men to be saved/* and to come
to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim.2:4; cf.. Ezek.18:23; Matt.18:14;
Jn.12:47; 1Tim.2:4; 2Tim.2:24-26; 2Pet.3:9). Using the same logic applied to the
John 6 passage, all human beings will be saved, because that is God's will:
"this is the will of Him who sent Me". After all, Jesus did die for all
of the sins of all unbelievers too, so should we assume that there is no last
judgment, no lake of fire, no condemnation, because it is God's will for all
to be saved? Of course not. This all goes back to the many explanations about the
free-will faith God has given everyone. We are here to exercise our will in
faith. God could have made us automatons, but He has given us the choice to
accept Jesus Christ. It is God's will that all mankind be saved, but most
will not accept Jesus in the first place. And it is God's will that all who
have come to Jesus maintain their faith, firm until the end so as not to be
"lost"; but sadly not all will do so. Just as it is God's will
that we do not sin (yet we do), so also some will "believe for a while"
but in times of persecution or through the influence of sin or on account of some
severe disappointment (for which they blame God), they will "fall
away". During the Great Apostasy in the first half of the Tribulation, that
will include a full one third of genuine believers (not just pro-fessors) who
turn away from Christ to follow antichrist. Jesus will not lose any of His sheep,
those who continue to hear His voice and continue to truly /*be*/ His sheep, that
is; but those sheep who turn away and reject Him, those sheep who by their own
choice remove themselves from His flock, will indeed earn the rebuke "I
never knew you".
In the Name of the Great Shepherd of all the sheep who believe in Him, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "
I seem to believe what you wrote instead, but I would like to hear what you believe on what he wrote here. Thanks in advance!
you have asked me to comment on what he has written. Unfortunately I only got to the second sentence when I read "There are in fact no
difficult passages on this side of the debate". Wow! What a statement... Especially given the history of the debate. No difficult passages? What a pity it is that he wasn't born centuries earlier so that he could have corrected Luther and the reformists on this topic. He could have explained to John Bunyan and the Puritans that there is no evidence for eternal security in the Bible and they should abandon that belief. He could have explained to Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, and D.L Moody, one of the greatest evangelists, that they simply had spiritual myopia with their belief in eternal security. He could have corrected Jonathon Edwards (often called America's greatest theologian) over his belief in the Believer’s security and assured him that Jesus will in fact lose some of His sheep. Not to mentioned Mueller, Knox, Whitefield, Darby, Ironside...
Sorry, but to begin as he did is not an honest statement. There are difficult passages on both sides of this debate. The history of this debate alone proves that. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous. Anyway, with that out of the way I'll do my best to stick to the points.
Concerning Luke 8
Your correspondent is flabbergasted that I don't think Jesus had true born again believers in mind when he spoke about those who are like the seed falling on the rock. As I pointed out last time, there is plenty in the parable alone to suggest that this was not a true saving faith. I don't wish to just repeat what I have already said but the three points I raised are still valid and they weren’t addressed. This group is described thus: the conditions of their heart are hard for they are likened to seeds falling on a rock. It is only a surface belief for they do not have any root and thus they are said to fall away as quickly as they have arisen. Both the Bible and experience testifies to such a 'believer' even if there is initial joy in their 'conversion'. James talks about those who simply have a head belief and not an active faith when he writes:
"But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."
There is plenty (whether your correspondent admits it or not) in the parable to suggest that Jesus did not have true born again believers in mind when He gave this parable.
Concerning falling away
Your correspondent asks 'But what if we abandon our faith? What if we believe only "for a while" and then fall away?' You probably know that 'eternal security' is also known by other names. One is 'Perseverance of the Saints'. Simply put, it is the belief that all true saints (those who are the bride of Christ) will persevere in their faith because Jesus will keep them unto the end and not leave them. Ups and downs certainly... Total loss or abandoning of the faith, nope. The basis for such a belief is found in passages such as:
Heb 7:24-25 Jesus is able to save them completely because He lives to make intercession for them and He cannot die.
Jude 24, 1 Thes 5:23-24, 1 Cor 1:8-9, Phil 1:6 God has promised to keep them from falling and to present them faultless before Himself.
Heb 13:5, John 14:16 The promise of God is that He would never leave or forsake his children. Likewise the Holy Spirit is promised to be with true believers forever.
John 17:6-7, Rom 11:29 They are God the Father’s irrevocable gift to the Son and he never changes his mind about His gifts and callings.
Rom 8:38-39 There is nothing in creation that can separate a true believer from the love of God. Nor can anything in the future do this.
So if someone totally abandons the Christian faith (and I say totally because Jesus even said to His disciples that they would 'fall away' but this didn't mean 'lose your salvation!' Matt 26:31-35) then my reaction is the same as that of Jesus when some other so-called disciples decided to follow Him no more... That a true salvation will persevere. How did Jesus react when people stopped following Him? (Please read John 6 to get the whole context)
John 6:41,60,66 'It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe " For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, "For
this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been
granted him from the Father." As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. '
(Um, apologies in advance to your correspondent for having Jesus' words in red. Also, I did once again make use of the bold facility to highlight a point which is a nasty habit I am trying to break.:o)
Jesus confirmed three things:
1) The Spirit is the one who imparts true spiritual life and without this people will not accept Jesus revelation concerning Himself (even if they follow for a brief time) But the one who has received life will accept Jesus’ teaching because His words are spirit and are life.
2) That people may follow after Him for all sorts of fleshly reasons but in the end it counts for nothing. They are not saved and will fall away when hardship or persecution begins.
3) That for a person to be truly saved the Father himself must call him to His Son and that the people who were turning from Him showed that they had never been called or saved to begin with.
You will see that Paul and John had a similar reaction when people departed (see 1 John 2:18-19, 2 Tim 2:17-19). Despite people falling away 'God knows those that are His' and leaving for good (not just struggling in your faith) is a sign that they were never of us to begin with John wrote. So in short those that believe in eternal security believe that a true believer will have a continued faith (though there may be ups and downs due to the spiritual battle along the way) because they are kept by Jesus (John 6:19) and for Jesus (Jude 1).
Concerning the John 6 Passage
It seems to me that your correspondent hasn't thought this passage through very well. He likens it to God's will that everyone be saved. God does wish that everyone would be saved and it is obviously true that mankind in general disobeys this will. Mankind's hearts in general are hard and do not turn to God for salvation. But read this passage again and you will see what the difference is:
John 6:35-40,44 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from
heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of
all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day... 44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
This is not talking about God's will for mankind. It is talking about God's specific will for Jesus! And it is not a will for all of humanity but for those that the Father gives Jesus. It is Jesus saying that He has come to do God's will and that specific will is that of all that the Father gives Him he will lose none. Mankind may disobey God's will but Jesus won't. Mankind may fail but Jesus won't. To restate the obvious, Jesus said that the specific will of the Father for Him (Jesus) is that He (Jesus) loses none of those that the Father gives Him. He will not fail to do His Father's will here. It is His assignment from the Father. It is on this basis that He could say in the famous passage:
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, 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."
Those who believe that Jesus can and will lose some of the true sheep given to Him by the Father can't accept these words simply as they are given. They, like your correspondent, change them to read something like 'If my sheep hear my voice, and if they follow me continually, then they will receive eternal life and will never perish' (I guess when they die). But Jesus didn't say that. He wasn't giving conditions for salvation or eternal life. He didn't say 'If they do this or if they do that'. He was giving facts concerning His true sheep. They hear His voice. That is true.. true sheep do. He knows them. That is true. He knows which are his sheep. His gives them eternal life. That is true. They shall never perish. That again, is wonderfully true. THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH. Why? Because no one can snatch them out of His hand. It is Jesus' personal assignment from the Father to lose none. It is the will of the Father for Jesus. He will not fail on this. Mankind does and will fail the will of God. Jesus won't.
On the human side, we may not understand when seemingly good people fall. We don't understand when people abandon the faith. We exhort them to persevere, to not lose heart or faith. We exhort, teach, encourage, rebuke, warn... we do all of these things and rightfully so. For we know no man's heart. But Jesus does. He knows His sheep. And what He has clearly told us is the wonderful promise that His true sheep will never perish.
Concerning his last comments
Your correspondent wrote: "During the Great Apostasy in the first half
of the Tribulation, that will include a full one third of genuine believers (not
just pro-fessors) who turn away from Christ to follow antichrist. Jesus will not
lose any of His sheep, those who continue to hear His voice and continue to truly
/*be*/ His sheep, that is; but those sheep who turn away and reject Him, those
sheep who by their own choice remove themselves from His flock, will indeed earn
the rebuke "I never knew you"."
Some brief comments here. I have studied Bible prophecy for many years and haven't read about one third of genuine believers turning from Christ to the antichrist in the tribulation. I'm curious what passage or passages this is based on.
Also your correspondent’s comments about the sheep are odd. If Jesus says 'I never knew you' to anyone then we should believe exactly what He says. That is, that He NEVER knew them. They were not true sheep to begin with. This is obvious. He is not saying that they used to be His true sheep and He used to know them but they left so He knows them no more (as your correspondent seems to believe). No, He says 'I never knew you' - they were not ever His sheep. On the opposite side, if they are true sheep to begin with then He does know them and they shall never perish as He promised.
Well, more could be said but I have written enough. Like I have said in previous emails I can only try explaining why I believe as I do and you are free to make up your own mind. All the best in that!
‘…nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor. If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance… If I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort.’
I've read from both sides and I tend to agree with you because I know that Jesus is God and God as the Good Shepherd knows how to secure His sheep, even if they wander astray. Jesus would not be a "Good" shepherd if His sheep got lost, especially if He's God... Jesus hasn't failed me yet, and I know that He will never fail me. Thanks for taking your time in answering my questions and ridding me of any doubt regarding my salvation. I know that I am His sheep and I hear His voice. I may not be perfect, but I am always growing in the Lord and getting closer to Him day by day. Thanks again.