CAN SALVATION BE LOST? (PART II)


“No Sheep Snatched Away”

By Akin Ojumu

Very often, contemporary Christians tend to believe that the doctrinal disputes that arise within the modern-day Church are something new that the early Christians never had to deal with. They buy into the erroneous notion that thorny questions about Christian doctrines are so unique they require reinventing the wheel to come up with novel answers.

What they fail to appreciate is the applicability of the axiom, “there’s nothing new under the sun,” to issues confronting the modern-day Church. Whatever doctrinal conflicts that arise today had also been dealt with in the past. In fact, most of the New Testament Epistles were written to address specific theological disagreements in the early Church.

One of those age-old doctrinal disagreements is the subject of this commentary. The question of whether or not a Christian could lose his salvation was hotly debated among the forerunners of Christianity. The reason we know this is because it’s a subject that featured prominently in the writings of the early Christian fathers.

One of those writings is John 10:27-30, which we started discussing last time.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

From this passage, we understand that it is God who chooses His sheep and not the other way round. The sheep chosen by God listens to and follows Him. To listen and follow God is to believe in and obey Jesus. Believing, in this context, is much more than having an intellectual concept about the existence of Jesus or the claims of the Gospel. True belief involves trusting and committing to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The evidence that a man has this trust and has made this commitment is borne out by the fruits he bears. Trust and commitment always produce a change of heart and transformation of the soul. The true believer becomes a new man with a new nature i.e., God’s nature, and has forsaken his sinful way of life and has now embraced the godly way of life, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

John 10:27-30 also tells us that God knows how to keep the sheep He has chosen. He keeps them safe, and they cannot be lost or snatched away. Just as God predestined and chose them to become His sheep, i.e., to obtain salvation, He also, in His absolute sovereignty, promised to preserve them.

This astounding assurance becomes even more profound when we read John 6:37-40.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Every person chosen and drawn by God is a gift from a loving Father to His only begotten Son. With gratitude, the Son receives the love gift, and He holds on to them, never losing any of them. None of God’s love gifts to His beloved Son will be lost because the Son will not fail in keeping them safe. He will preserve them and raise them to eternal glory.

From these emphatic words, we know it’s by God’s sovereign will that the sheep are chosen. And it’s by the same sovereign will that they are kept and preserved until the last day for eternal life. Since the sheep didn’t choose God in the first place, they cannot preserve themselves either. Just as salvation is the grace of God, preservation unto eternal life is by the self-same grace also.

Next time, we’ll attempt to tackle that rather difficult texts, Hebrew 6:4-6.

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