Have you ever considered how precious is this precious promise of Jesus?
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 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)
Every one of Jesus’ sheep are safe and secure in the grip of the Good Shepherd who put the choke hold on death and crushed the head of the serpent. This security, grounded in the covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son before the world began, does not mean we are free from dangers, absent from the threat of wolves, or immune from the plotting of thieves and robbers. Indeed, not only are we not free from them, our Good Shepherd sends us in the midst of them. To His disciples, Jesus says:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves . . .. (Matt. 10:16)
This promise of security and eternal life is precious because we are sent in the midst of people who want to take our lives from us! We are sent in the midst of wolves for the sake of rescuing other sheep. Is this not what Jesus means when he refers to in John 10:16?
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:16).
How will Jesus bring those other sheep who are not of this fold if it is not done through his sheep who are being sent in the midst of wolves? The salvation and deliverance of other sheep will come through the sent living of his sheep who are not afraid to go into the heart of the wolves den and embrace suffering as their calling.
Additionally, Paul reminds God’s people of the promise of God’s triumphant love communicated to them in the midst of suffering. He writes:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).
Inasmuch there is no snatch of the sheep from the hand of the Shepherd, though they are sent in the midst of wolves, so no one will be able to separate the slaughtered sheep from the love of Christ. Jesus’ sheep have courage to live sent because they are eternally secure in the Shepherd’s hands. Jesus’ sheep have courage to suffer because they are eternally loved by their Shepherd Savior.
We need to rescue the promise of eternal security from the nominalism of evangelical Christianity that says all you need to do is pray a prayer, walk an aisle, and occasionally attend church. Eternal security is intended for those sheep who walk through the valley of the shadow of death because they are sent in the midst of wolves. It is intended for those sheep who, in the presence of their enemies, are supplied the abundance of God’s presence and experience His precious promises. Security is for those sheep who are sent on mission for other sheep and suffer on behalf of their shepherd who laid down their life for them.
For these, Jesus tells them. You will never perish. You will never perish. No one can snatch you out of my hands. No one. Follow Me on the path of suffering. As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you. As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. You are My sheep, and I am your shepherd, and on this dangerous journey to rescue other sheep, remember that I will be for you all that you could ever need. So rejoice that you are secure, remember that you are sent, and resolve to suffer for My name that you may share in My glory.