At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 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 10:22-30)
I am convinced that the Bible promises that all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ receive eternal life and will never perish (John 3:16). This promise is at the heart of the Gospel message of why Jesus came to provide a substitutionary atonement for our justification and glorification (Romans 8:28-30).
One of the most beloved statements, of what is often referred to the eternal security of the believer, is found in John 10:28-29. If comes from the spoken, and recorded, words of Jesus. “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” (John 10:27-29).
A true believer in Christ is identified by three characteristics in John 10:27. They understand the Gospel or the revelation of Jesus (I Corinthians 2:1-14). This is only possible by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8). Second, Jesus knows them. To know means that Jesus acknowledges believers belong to Him. Third, true believers obediently follow Christ (Ephesians 2:10). They demonstrate their covenant relationship with Christ by a changed life lived for Christ.
In light of this condition, Jesus gives a promise. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Dr. John Walvoord writes, “This is one of the clearest statements in the Bible that one who believes in Jesus for salvation will never be lost. Believers sin and stumble, but Jesus as the perfect Shepherd loses none of His flock (cf. Luke 22:31–32). Eternal life is a gift (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:10; Romans 6:23). If one has it, he has it eternally. They shall never perish is a strong affirmation in the Greek meaning that they will indeed not ever perish”; cf. John 3:16. The security of the sheep is found in the ability of the Shepherd to defend and preserve His flock. Such security does not depend on the ability of the frail sheep. No one can even snatch His sheep out of His hand. “Snatch” is harpasei, related to harpax (“ravenous wolves, robbers”).”
Not only does Jesus promise what He will do, but also states what God the Father has already done. “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.”
Dr. Walvoored continues by stating, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. That is, no one is strong enough to snatch any of Jesus’ flock from the Father’s hand (or from Jesus’ hand, v. 28). As the NIV margin states, verse 29a in many early Greek manuscripts reads, “What My Father has given Me is greater than all.” The thought of the verse in either case is that the Father who is omnipotent secures the flock by His power and protection. God’s plan of salvation for Jesus’ flock cannot be aborted.”
God the Father and God the Son are in complete and perfect harmony. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Both have the closest possible unity of purpose in the complete salvation and deliverance of sinners saved by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
As Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John, “We are secure, not because we hold tightly to Jesus, but because He holds tightly to us.”
John Calvin states, “The salvation of all the elect is not less certain than the power of God is invincible.”
Pastor Buke Parsons concludes, “To believe that those who have truly trusted in Christ alone for salvation can be finally lost is to imply that the Lord is not strong enough to hold onto us, which calls His omnipotence into question. If we truly believe that God is all-powerful, we will believe that no one who actually rests in Christ will ever be lost.”
A friend of mine, who was primarily responsible for mentoring me as a new believer in Christ, often remarked to me that John 10:28-29 could be personalized by substituting our own names in place of the personal pronouns found in the text. Therefore, the text would read as follows: “I give them (Tom) eternal life, and they (Tom) will never perish, and no one will snatch them (Tom) out of my hand. My Father, who has given them (Tom) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them (Tom) out of the Father’s hand.”
Take time today to claim the promise Jesus makes in John 10:28-29 is yours. May this text bring you lasting and blessed assurance.
Soli deo Gloria!