“They Shall Never Perish” (John 10:27-28

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I. Introduction. A. Orientation. 1. Last week, we considered one of the main reasons we might not be able to enjoy God’s peace: fear. a. Obviously, not the godly fear the Lord calls us to have that will actually strengthen our peace by making us turn more from our sins and more to God. b. But the fear that our sins aren’t forgiven, the fear that we’re still in danger of hell. 2. We also saw how to overcome this fear: a. If it’s due to melancholy, then we need to stay away from the things that contribute to it and focus on the promises of Christ. b. If it’s because we haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ to save us, then we need to ask God to help us hate our sins, and turn from them to Christ. c. If it’s because we think our sins are so great the Lord could never forgive us, then we need to remember the infinite price the Lord paid out of His infinite love to cleanse away those sins and redeem us to Himself. d. And if it’s because we think we’ve committed the unpardonable sin, we need to remember the fact we’re concerned about it means we haven’t committed it – those who have are so hardened they no longer care. B. Preview. 1. One last thing that can destroy our peace is the fear of falling away from the Lord. a. The Lord tells us in His Word that once He saves us, we are forever safe. b. Though this truth is undeniable, many of us still fear that we won’t make it to heaven, for several reasons: (i) Maybe we doubt the Bible teaches the eternal security of the believer. (ii) Maybe we believe it does, but we doubt whether we have saving faith. (iii) Maybe we’ve fallen into a spiritual rut we can’t seem to escape, and we believe this means we don’t have any real grace in our lives. (iv) We’re going to look at these concerns, and a couple more, and apply the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints to strengthen our comfort and peace. 2. This evening, let’s consider: a. First, that the Lord tells us His children will never fall away. b. And second, the reasons we may think we won’t make it to heaven.

2 II. Sermon. A. First, let’s consider the Lord tells us His children will never fall away from grace and be lost in the end. 1. This deals with the first fear that the Lord doesn’t guarantee the perseverance of the believer. a. If our entrance into heaven depends on our faithfulness, we will fear our whole lives. (i) We’ll always wonder whether we’ve done well enough. (ii) Since we never will, we’ll always be anxious. b. But if on the other hand our salvation depends on the faithfulness of God, on His work and promise, then we can be certain. 2. There are several passage that show if you truly trust in Jesus, you will never fall away. Let’s consider just a few. a. The first is our text: John 10:27-28, “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.” (i) Jesus says His sheep – His elect – hear His voice – receive the inward regenerating call of the Spirit – and He knows them – He loves them – and they follow Him – are willing to embrace the conditions of discipleship. (ii) If this is true, the Lord has given them eternal life – not just a never ending life, but a relationship – they know the Father and Jesus Christ (John 17:3). (iii) If this is true, they will never perish – this settles the question – they will never be cast into hell, they are safe forever. (iv) No one can snatch them away from Him – His Father has given them to Christ as a reward, and no one has the power to wrestle them out of His grip (v. 29). (v) And they can’t get away from Him either, because they will never want to: He has so changed and overwhelmed their hearts with His love that they would never want to. b. Romans 8:29-30 is also quite clear on this point: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (i) Notice that Paul is speaking here of a very select group of people: those whom the Lord foreknew – notice, not what He foreknew, but those whom He foreknew. This refers to His loving them beforehand. (ii) What is true of these He foreknew? He predestined (or predetermined) them to become conformed to the image of His Son; He called them; He justified them, and He glorified them. (iii) Those He foreloved/chose, He will bring to glory: it’s so certain He refers to this as though it’s already happened (past tense).

3 (iv) Notice there is no slippage: all who are in the first category make it to the last c. The reason this is true is because this work ultimately depends on the Lord, not on us: Paul writes, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). (i) The saints have their part to play in sanctification: work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). (ii) But they will do this because it is God who is at work in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (v. 13). (iii) Those whom the Lord chooses, whom He sends His Son to live and die for, whom He gives His Spirit to make alive, who trust in His Son and receive His righteousness, who are adopted into His family, will never be lost, but will ultimately be glorified. B. Second, let’s consider some of the reasons we might be afraid that we won’t make it to heaven. Why a true believer might fear falling away? 1. We’ve already dealt with one of the main reasons: Fear that the Bible doesn’t teach the eternal security of the believer. a. It does in fact teach that a true believer won’t be lost. b. We should never be afraid of this. 2. What if you believe you don’t have saving faith? a. Anything short of a true trust in the Lord can’t save you. (i) If your faith is only historical, if you only believe the facts and aren’t trusting in Christ so as to turn from your sins, that faith won’t save you. (ii) If you’re only deceiving yourself, you will perish in the end. b. You need to understand there are many more true believers who think they’re hypocrites, than hypocrites who believe they are. (i) The only way you can overcome this fear is to make your calling and election sure; this requires self-examination. (ii) If you can answer the following questions affirmatively, then you are a true believer; but if not, then you need to seek the Lord for His mercy: (a) With regard to your sin: Do you want to get rid of your sins? Are you afraid of offending and dishonoring God when you sin? If there was a switch in your soul that would turn off sin, would you use it? (b) With regard to holiness: Do you want to read God’s Word and hear it read and preached so you’ll know His will, that you might do it? Do you want to please Him? Are you grieved when you fail to obey Him? Are you willing to let the Word search your heart and convict you of sin? Are you willing to repent of any sin that it exposes in your life? If there was a switch in your soul that would give you the ability to obey God perfectly from the heart, would you use it? If you really loved your sins, you couldn’t. But if you loved God, you could and would.

4 (c) With regard to the Church: Are you happy when you see other Christians walk in the truth? Does it grieve you to see other believers disobey, suffer, or believe things that can harm them? Do you love those who love God? (d) With regard to your neighbor: Do you hate the sins you see in unbelievers? But do you still love them and want to see them come to faith in Christ? (e) Are you resolved to seek heaven with the strength your Lord supplies no matter what you might have to face? (f) If you can answer yes to these questions, then you are a true believer. (g) And if you are a true believer, you can know you will never perish. 3. Are you afraid that because you used to be more spiritual and more assured that you were a Christian than you are now, that you’re not a true believer? a. Do you see yourself going backward, instead of forward as the Lord says you should? (i) You used to be more like Christ, had more peace and joy, were bearing more fruit. (ii) But now you don’t have as much love for the Lord, zeal for His work, and comfort that you are His. b. You need to realize that this can happen to a true believer. (i) When Peter denied Christ, his spirituality and assurance went flying out the window. The same was true of David when he committed adultery and murder, and of John Mark when he left Paul and Barnabas and abandoned the missionary field. (ii) These men recovered, by God’s grace, and went on to be useful to the Lord. c. We also need to bear in mind that something similar can happen without the loss of grace, but rather by its gain. (i) When you’re first converted, your love can seem very strong. (a) You can’t see much of your sins, only part. (b) Your experience of grace was so new and unlike what you’d experienced before, that it seemed so powerful. (c) When you first move from darkness to light, from death to life, that light and life can seem so powerful because of what we were before. (ii) But as you grew in the Lord, you seemed to go the other direction. (a) You more you learned about sin – the more your sins were provoked and stirred up – the more you could see it in yourself. (b) The closer you grew to Christ and the clearer you saw His holiness, the more you saw how far short you fell of His character. (c) As a result, you began to feel like less of a Christian and more of a sinner.

5 (iii) But remember Paul: (a) When he reached his greatest maturity, he saw himself as the greatest of sinners: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim. 1:15). (b) You may actually have more grace now than you did then; but now that you’re used to it, it doesn’t seem as powerful. (iv) Don’t forget as well that the Lord doesn’t subject you to everything you’ll later face when He first converted you. (a) He keeps you in the greenhouse for a while to let you put down some sturdy roots before He subjects you to the spiritual warfare that will make up most of your life. (b) Once the warfare comes, it’s not quite the same as it was: the Battle can wear you down, the wounds can smart – it can feel like less grace, when in fact you have more. 4. Are you afraid because others have fallen away from the faith, you might fall away as well? a. We all likely know one or more who professed to be Christians, who seemed grounded in the faith, and very fruitful and mature, who have fallen into serious sins and fallen away from the Lord. If that could happen to them, how can you know you’re not going to end up the same way? b. You can know because of the way you respond to their fall: (i) If you use their sins as an excuse to sin, then you should be afraid. (ii) But if their sins and their falls make you afraid that you might do the same, if they make you more watchful, if they make you pray more for strength, then you can know you’re a true believer and won’t fall away. (iii) Those who fell into sin and fell away from the Lord did so because they weren’t afraid, they weren’t watching and praying. (iv) Those who fall entirely away from the Lord weren’t His to begin with. John writes, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). (v) If their fall has the right effect on you, not only will you have no reason to be afraid, you will have every reason to be encouraged that you are a true believer. (vi) Don’t forget as well that the Lord often doesn’t give you the strength to resist the temptation until the temptation comes. (a) Those who died as martyrs were given the strength to stand in that hour, not before. (b) If you can, by God’s grace, lay down your life now and follow Jesus Christ, He will give you the strength to seal your testimony with your blood, if He should call you to do so.

6 5. Finally, are you afraid that you’re not a true believer because you don’t see the marks of His grace clearly in your life? Maybe you weren’t sure whether you could answer yes to the questions we looked at earlier and so aren’t quite sure whether these other things apply to you. a. It’s true that the more grace you have and the stronger your faith is, the more you will see these marks in you and so have a stronger assurance. b. But you need to remember that even when you can’t see God’s grace, it can still be there. (i) Weak faith can become so small as to not be seen. (ii) Sin can obscure what little faith we have as the clouds can cover the stars at night. (iii) But even though you can’t see it, you can still know it’s there. All you need to do is remember when you could see it – if you ever have, you still have it, you are still safe. Remember, Jesus said if you trust in Him, you will never perish. (iv) Better yet don’t rely just on what you saw in the past. Repent of every sin and use the means of grace diligently, and the clouds will break and the light of God’s grace will again shine through. (v) May the Lord help us to apply this Word to our hearts to bring us comfort. Amen.

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