The Double Fisted Hand of God

”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 10:25 – 30 (ESV)

There are two major themes in the above short passage; sheep and eternal life. We are told that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and instinctively follow him. We are also told that the Good Shepherd (Jesus) gives his sheep eternal life and that they shall never perish. Major discussions have taken place over both themes, some of which have resulted in questionable behavior (for believers that is) on both sides of centuries old debates. We could frame the two major debates with a few questions.

1. Who are the ‘sheep’?

2. What is meant by ‘eternal life’ and ‘never perish’?

3. When does ‘eternal life’ begin?

Here is where I wax hypothetically and use a lot of “IFs”. That’s so actual opinions of real people are extracted from the dialogue and objective discussion based on ‘words on a page’ might be possible. Note that I said ‘possible’

As to the first question “Who are the sheep?”, we can know  a few things based on the text. The sheep belong to the shepherd, know his voice and when they hear it, they instinctively follow him. So the sheep are Christ followers. If we say that the sheep represent believers (and we do), we can say that they belong to Jesus, know his voice and instinctively follow him. We also know from the text that Jesus gives his sheep (believers) eternal life and that they will never perish, bringing us to the second question.

What did Jesus mean when he said “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish”? Assume for a minute that ‘eternal life’ means ‘eternal life’ and ‘never perish” means ‘never perish’ (read wake up in Hell). IF the words mean what they say, once a person has eternal life, there is not a chance in the universe of ever NOT having eternal life. Once you have eternal life you have it forever. That leaves us with one more question.

When does ‘eternal life’ begin? That is not answered specifically in the text, but Jesus does provide us an answer, in the same book, just several chapters earlier during his encounter with Nicodemus. It’s the same encounter where the most loved and most often quoted verse in scripture was spoken, and by Jesus (John 3:16…”For God so loved the world……”). Just two verses later we find this passage: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18 (Emphasis mine). If those words mean what they say, if ‘not condemned’ means ‘never perish’, eternal life begins at the moment of belief in the Son.

To reinforce his point about eternal life and never perishing, Jesus  then tells us that no one can snatch us out of his hand, nor can we be snatched out of the Father’s hand. Imagine being first enclosed in the had of Christ which is enclosed in the Hand of the Father. That’s where the double fisted hand of God comes in. Just as the Father is never separated from the Son, we will never be separated from Christ.

Yes, there was a time when I thought that although no one else could snatch me from the double fisted hand of God, I could somehow ‘jump out’ of those strong hands myself. But then I bump heads with the simple phrase “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” If those words mean exactly what they say, there ain’t gonna be no snatchin’ and there ain’t gonna be no jumpin’ out of the double fisted hand of God!

There’s a lot more that can be said about this, Everyone in this room has probably had numerous discussions/debates about eternal security and whether or not salvation once attained could ever be lost. I’ve had a few myself and trotted out a lot of scripture to make the case for what I believe. I don’t debate it much any more because it’s too painful in more ways than one. Most times the discussion does get to the whole ‘snatch’ v. ‘jump’ thing, but I just merely repeat Jesus’ words:

”I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Words & Music: Phil­ip P. Bliss, 1875

2 responses to “The Double Fisted Hand of God

  1. AMEN! Our eternal security is based on Christ’s work not ours. If we were able to lose our salvation, it would be a reflection on Christ’s insufficiency not ours. If we can be lost again, Christ’s work on the cross was insufficient to save us from our sins.

    When we look at things this way, to believe we can lose our salvation comes very close to blasphemy. God forbid!

    Lord bless!

    Like

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