29 April 2007

Relishing believers' security in Christ

posted by Dan Phillips
The PyroManiacs normally devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. This selection, however, is not yet in the Archive.

The following excerpt is taken from a sermon titled "The Security of Believers; or, Sheep Who Shall Never Perish," originally delivered on Thursday e
vening, September 5th, 1889, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. Spurgeon's text was John 10:27-30 — "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one."

The sermon is especially dear to me. Particularly in my early Christian life, I had great and bitter struggles over assurance, and doubts as to my own salvation. In retrospect it is easier to see how Christ had laid His hand on me, turned my life around, changed my heart, headed me in a totally different direction. At the time, however, looking within, all I saw was corruption.

This sermon helped me see that I was looking in the wrong direction for assurance.
hey are safe ...by outer injuries being prevented. “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Many will pluck at them, but none shall pluck them away. The devil will give many a horrible pluck and pull, to get them away; but out of the great Shepherd’s hand he shall never take them. Their old companions, and the memory of their old sins will come, and pluck at them very hard, and very cunningly; but the Savior says, “None shall pluck them out of my hand.” So, first, here is their security: they are in his hand; that is, in his possession, and he grasps them, as a man holds a thing in his hand, and says, “It is mine.” Neither shall any take them away from being under his protection. Never shall they be plucked away from Christ. When he says this, he pledges his honor to preserve them, for if it could be that one were plucked out of his hand, then would the devils in hell rejoice, and say, “He could not keep them. He said that he would, but he could not. We have managed to pluck this one, or that one, out of the pierced hand of their Redeemer.” But such a horrible exultation shall never be heard throughout the ages of eternity. “They shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.”

Some one wickedly said, “They may get out of his hand themselves.” But how can this be true, when the first sentence is, “They shall never perish”? Treat Scripture honestly and candidly, and you will admit that the promise “they shall never perish” shuts out the idea of perishing by going out of the Lord’s hand by their own act and deed. “They shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” Who is to loosen the clasp of that hand which was pierced with the nail for me? My Lord Jesus bought me too dearly ever to let me go. He loves me so well that his whole omnipotence will work with that hand, and unless there is something greater than Godhead, I cannot be plucked away from that dear, fastholding grip.
C. H. Spurgeon

Amen!



40 comments:

donsands said...

And amen! What a blessing to read this!

My pastor was preaching on Romans 8:31-39 today.
here are a few quotes from his sermon.

"The most supremely valuable possesion of the Father is His Son. ... Yet, amazingly, the Father "gives Him up" to unimaginable horror and suffering for us!" -Greg Dutcher

"Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy--but the Father, for love!" -Octavius Winslow

"Will God's love for us ever fade away? Answer--No! ... we can be absolutely convinced that the God who has gone to such great lengths to love us will never let us out of His grip." -Greg Dutcher

Ricky Rickard, Jr. said...

Amen! This is the second sermon that I have heard on these verses. My pastor preached on these verses yesterday. What a blessed hope to trust that Christ will keep us secure in Him!

In Christ,

Ricky Rickard, Jr.

The Doulos said...

Thanks Dan for the great reminder of this eternal and secure truth. I encounter so many Christians today who do not have a grasp on this fact and that live in subconscious bondage to their own performance - or lack thereof - as a means of retaining that which God has done for them. I can only think that this lack of security in their saved position is a result of a lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God. Which is a result of their lack of understanding of God's sovereign and electing grace. Which is a result of a muddied pop-Christianity soteriology that is semi-Pelagian at best.

"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." - Philippians 1:6

Bluecollar said...

Thanks, Dan. I appreciate this selection of Spurgeon for today.

I shall now attempt to link to it in my blogroll.

Malcolm said...

Just wanted you to know that the Lord blessed me this morning with this post. I've never read your blog and stumbled upon it seemingly by chance through a link on another page, but upon reading it I see that this is exactly where God wanted me to be this morning, after spending time in prayer over this very struggle last night and this morning.

The battle with assurance is not one that I ever really fought until recently over the many years I have believed. But over the past year or so it has turned into a bitter struggle in my heart, especially regarding the fear that through my own wayward heart I myself might wander and "take myself from his grasp," or, perhaps worse still, the fear that I might not be a "sheep" at all, that I have deceived myself to think that I ever belonged to the Lord to begin with.

It's one thing to read the assurances of the scripture for yourself, but it is quite another to have them expounded upon by a wiser man, so thanks for posting this. I find myself unexpectedly encouraged in what has proven to be a rather obstinate fight...

DJP said...

Spurgeon, as a rule, is the most personally helpful I've found on the subject. He simply exults in God's promises and faithfulness, like a man plunging his hands into a pile of gold coins.

Glad that what has blessed me is blessing others as well.

Rhology said...

That whole "but can't they themselves pluck themselves out of His hand?" used to be tougher to answer.
Sigh, didn't read the context. "...they shall never perish..." Good call.

Thanks to this post from Spurgeon, I'm smarter now. And far more blessed.

DJP said...

Isn't that great? It was a real eye-opener to me when I first read it. Yep, all of the equivocating in the world about "none can pluck" founders on "shall never perish." If they perish, if even one perishes, His promise failed. He failed.

Which will never happen, praise God.

brentjthomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Looks like God wanted to drive this point home to me today. I was meditating on this very issue on the way to work ("can someone walk out of God's hand by themselves?"). I'm not personally struggling with this issue, but it was wonderful to bring up Pyro and see Spurgeon put this verse in its proper context.

I consider myself to be a pretty careful reader of Scripture, but I'm frequently embarrassed to find that I often interpret according to prior conditioning rather than according to the context. Sigh.

brentjthomas said...

Thank you for this post. I am grateful. A beautiful reminder. So glad that I visited.

SolaMeanie said...

I shared this long ago over at E-NO, but I repost it here for your amusement. The Arminian version of "Blessed Assurance."

"Not much assurance, maybe He's mine..
maybe I'll make it to heaven sometime.

Watching and waiting, wringing my hands,
never quite sure of just where I stand.

This is my story, this is my song..
feeling neurotic all the day long..."

I imagine I will probably be stoned for this lese majesty, but I couldn't resist.

Daryl said...

Hey all. As a relatively new reader of this blog (last couple weeks) let me thank you for the work you are doing. As for this bit you've selected from Spurgeon, well done!! As a lifelong Christian (40 years) who has come to believe the doctrines of grace just this past year I, like Rhology, have used that very arguement myself in times past. As a consequence I struggled long and painfully over the assurance of my salvation. Funny how when you're ready to hear something the old arguements seem so foolish...Thank God for his patience!!

donsands said...

"...Thank God for his patience!!"

Amen to that Daryl.

Even So... said...

sweetness...

Anne Marie said...

Some one wickedly said, “They may get out of his hand themselves.” But how can this be true, when the first sentence is, “They shall never perish”? Treat Scripture honestly and candidly, and you will admit that the promise “they shall never perish” shuts out the idea of perishing by going out of the Lord’s hand by their own act and deed.

I'm afraid this intrepretation does not line up with scripture. If it did Jesus would not have given us the parable of the prodigal.

DJP said...

That would be the prodigal who got saved in the end?

Best not to find a distant context that does unspeakable violence to the near context ("shall never perish").

Hermeneutical Safety Tip #27, no extra charge.

Anne Marie said...

It is for freedom that he set us free, he does not then enslave us, even if our will includes a rejection of his Grace.

The Lord's mercy endures forever, and is fresh ever morning, however our choice to take up our cross and follow Him is ours alone.

Scripture is not intended to be disected, the work is a whole body and one part can not reject another and say, "I don't need you".

jsb said...

Dear solameanie: don't quit your day job. :-)

Also, a little theological review is in order. On what basis do you claim Arminians are not assured of their salvation? Are "neurotic" all day long? Yeesh. If one believes, one is saved. The ground of assurance is the Word that tells us this.

So let us not cast aspersions, but glory in the security that is ours, remembring as well that "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." (Heb. 3:14)

Darrel said...

Be careful that you do not make your "free-will" into an idol and place the action of your will above that of our Father. If anyone is saved it is because the Father made His choice---He chose us, we did not choose Him. If you want to "unsave" yourself, then have at it. It is probably as hard to unsave yourself as it is to save yourself. When He keeps us inspite of ourselves, then HE gets all the glory. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be?

Daryl said...

Annemarie said...

"It is for freedom that he set us free, he does not then enslave us, even if our will includes a rejection of his Grace."

How does that square with Romans 6:22?

"But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."

Clearly we are enslaved. Our problem has never been slavery in general, it's been slavery to sin in particular.

Annemarie said...

"Scripture is not intended to be disected, the work is a whole body and one part can not reject another and say, "I don't need you"."

Not dissected perhaps, but certainly rightly divided. Yes, we are told to take up our cross and follow him and a host of other things on top of that. However,we are never told that we can do those things.(I know I can't...I've tried.) Rather we are told that, precisely because we cannot do them, Christ has done them on our behalf.

DJP said...

When Jesus said "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish," was He telling the truth, or lying?

That's really the issue. All the traditionalistic deductions and out-of-context Biblical semi-allusions in the world don't come close to touching that issue.

Anne Marie said...

Daryl Said:

"Clearly we are enslaved. Our problem has never been slavery in general, it's been slavery to sin in particular."

So true. So then are we to assume that believers don't sin. We know this is not true. Are we to assume that our personal sin does not damage our relationship with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit and further that our personal sin does not hurt our brothers and sisters as well?

We are told not to grieve the Spirit and that blasphemies against the Holy Spirit of God will not be forgiven. How then to reconcile with God?

Daryl said:

"Rather we are told that, precisely because we cannot do them, Christ has done them on our behalf."

Are we given liscense then to live as we please, no, we are not relieved of our personal responsibility to answer God's call to holiness. We do this by taking up our crosses in spite of our inability to do so. It is in so doing that God is glorified. God has always used flawed human beings as his agents on earth and he expects us to act as his agents when called to do so.

Were it not true Abraham’s faith, credited to him as righteousness would not have been tested by God with the request to sacrifice Isaac. Saul would have fallen off the horse and that would have been the end of it. Peter would have continued to hide rather than preach boldly of the risen Lord. Each of these men had faith in the lord, yet God asked more from them. Just as he does of us each and every day.

Christ has indeed reconciled us to God. He paid a debt he didn't owe, because we owed a debt we couldn't pay. This does not however relieve us of our responsibilities.

DJP said...

One more time, Ann Marie:

When Jesus said "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish," was He telling the truth, or lying?

Daryl said...

Annemarie,

Interesting answer...your comments addressed everything...except what I actually wrote. Where did living out the Christian life even enter the conversation? Where did I even hint that we don't sin anymore? I thought we were addressing Spurgeon's handling of God's ability to keep us vs. our ability to decide we'd rather not be kept.

Nothing you said applies even remotely to anything I said, or anyone else said, or anything the original post addressed. Did you read it?

DJP said...

your comments addressed everything...except what I actually wrote

Welcome to MY world!

(c;

SolaMeanie said...

Jsb,

1. It's a joke. Or was supposed to be.

2. Tell me, which Arminians believe in eternal security. That's a stripe of Arminian that I never knew existed. If you believe your salvation can be lost, that is neither assurance nor security. Right?

jsb said...

Dan:

"When Jesus said "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish," was He telling the truth, or lying?"

Not only was he telling the truth, but he was also speaking in context. He preceded the above by describing his sheep as those who hear his voice and follow him. Here is the real crux of the matter. Is the "following" fatalistic or free? Once we broaden into the entirety of Scripture, I think "free" carries the day.

solameanie: I just wanted your joke to be grounded in accurate theology. Arminians have assurance because they trust the Savior. By gosh, we're even happy about that.

And happy to get beyond these in-house dustups an emphasize what we hold in common!

DJP said...

Right. Once Christ sovereignly changes their natures from God-hating, enslaved-to-sin rebels, they freely follow Him.

Goats don't change themselves into sheep.

SolaMeanie said...

If they indeed trust the Savior for their salvation, then there should be no problem. However, most Arminians I have known all say to a person that "they hope they make it to heaven." That doesn't sound like blessed assurance to me. If it depends on me to make it to heaven, I can guarantee you that I won't be there. However, the Lord has promised to complete the work He began in me, and has further promised me that no one is able to snatch me out of his hand. He also promises that of all the Father has given Him, He will not lose one.

However, this little kerfuffle, dust-up, contretemps or flap has raged for centuries, and I have a hunch we won't settle it in the meta here.

Tim Brown said...

Thank you for this post. I can relate to this issue because it's one I've fought with to one degree or another for the past 9 years, a little less so lately.

For me, it is a mixture of subconcious performance orientation and perfectionism and wanting to gain God's "approval".

Some of it, also, comes from my past involvement in what I THOUGHT was Christianity. The time I previously thought I was "saved" was in the late 70's around the "I Found It" movement. "Just Pray the Prayer and wait for all your problems to disappear".

Well, in 98, I became very aware of my sinfulness (I was alone and listening to secular rock). Then my struggles began. So much of my doubting, I've found, has stemmed from the programming left from my earlier false conversion. Because I had expected seemless happiness, the fact that I found life so suddenly tough made me think "I'm still lost, I don't have an easy life".

That's what happens when you use Peace, Joy and Happiness as draw cards for salvation.

Here it is, 9 years later and I'm still deprogramming. It's a war, not a picnic.

donsands said...

"It's a war, not a picnic."

That's for sure. And the war is a blessing, though it doesn't feel like a blessing.

We can continue to grow stronger in our assurance of Christ's love, as we abide in His Word, and live by faith, praying without ceasing in the Spirit.

Our Father, who loves us, is faithful, even when we are not. He will do it.

MICHAEL said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

donsands said...

"I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins."

Thanks for sharing that Micky.

I was an unsaved Catholic until 1984, and the Lord saved me, and I was a saved Catholic.

Though within a couple years of reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible I became a Protestant, and had to leave the Catholic Church.

And the bottom line was salvation is of the Lord, from begining to end.

Surely he died for our sins and saved us while we were ungodly and unregenerate, so how more will He save us now we are new creations in the hands of the risen Lord, who will never leave us nor forsake us.

I want to leave one command from our Lord with you, and it's an honor, and a joy this command, but it is something Satan will fight to keep you from: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God".
This means we need to hear the Holy Scriptures preached and taught. And we need to read, study, and meditate on them for ourselves as well.

May the Lord make us hungry for His Word. And also to be doers of His Word, and not hearers only. Amen.

MICHAEL said...

I was saved, I am saved, and I am being saved.

MICHAEL said...

Tim Brown says…
For me, it is a mixture of subconcious performance orientation and perfectionism and wanting to gain God's "approval".

Well, in 98, I became very aware of my sinfulness (I was alone and listening to secular rock). Then my struggles began. So much of my doubting, I've found, has stemmed from the programming left from my earlier false conversion.

Greetings Tim
I needed to go back to the “chamber of horrors,” and recover that "inner child" who I abandoned, way back there - my childhood. Most of my SINFULLNESS was SUBCONSCIOUS and I needed to bring the unconscious to consciousness [METANOIA]. At the end of the day, I didn’t do anything [God did], all I had to be – was available. That INNER CHILD who I have recovered after years of therapy [REPENTANCE] is GOD.
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” [Luke 17: 21]. Making a conscious decision for Christ is fine, but one then needs to experience, THE LONG DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL.

Peace Be With You
Micky

Chas Carter said...

Without the promise of eternal security what peace could we have?????

Corinthian said...

How does this square with Hebrews 6? Is that not what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is?
I know the flip side of the coin is "If you fall away, you were never saved to begn with", but doesn't that equally undermine security. How do you know you will never fall away. After all, there are warning against apostacy. Are they just there for fun?

donsands said...

"After all, there are warning against apostacy. Are they just there for fun?"

That's a great question. And a deep one.

If you become a genuine, and true, child of God, then He will be your Father. And He is a holy loving Father, and we are sinful children, who have been adopted.

Surely we need to fear a father on earth, if we are disobedient, and how much more when considering a Father who is the God of creation?

He is our God, and we are His creatures. He is our Father, Lord, King, Master, Savior, and Friend.

The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God will shape our hearts, and renew our minds to all these truths of our relationship with our Lord.

There's onlt so far we can go, and that's also a blessing from god, to keep us at that point, because it says we are His.

MICHAEL said...

As St. Augustine wrote against the Pelagians, man is completely unable to avail himself in meriting the free grace of God, but his natural will can cooperate with this prevenient grace when it is quickened by the Holy Spirit.

And St. Augustine wrote against the Manichaeans, the mystery of election is in the hidden counsels of God and singularly unto salvation (not "double" unto reprobation); yet, anyone that enters hell does so by their unassisted "free" choice.

CALVINISM AND CATHOLICISM CONTRASTED
Calvin: God's sovereignty determines the will.
Catholic: God's sovereignty includes free will.
Calvin: Predestination as predetermination.
Catholic: Predestination as infallible foreknowledge.
Calvin: God desires only the salvation of the elect.
Catholic: God desires the salvation of all.
Calvin: God provides grace only to the elect.
Catholic: God provides grace to all, though not all accept it.
Calvin: Christ died only for the elect.
Catholic: Christ died for all men.
Calvin: God predetermines some for hell.
Catholic :Men merit hell by their own wickedness.
Calvin: The elect include all those born-again.
Catholic: The elect are those who persevere to the end.
Calvin: Grace co-opts human free will.
Catholic: Grace perfects the free will that cooperates.
Calvin: Those in grace (born-again) can't fall away.
Catholic: Those in grace can freely sin and lose grace.
Calvin: The elect will unfailingly persevere.
Catholic: The elect are those who have persevered.
Calvin: The elect are assured of their salvation.
Catholic: Yes, but only God knows who they are.
Calvin: Predestination eliminates merit and guilt.
Catholic: Predestination includes merit and guilt.
The Pelagian heretics held that man alone (apart from God's grace) is responsible for his salvation. Calvinists start with the opposite premise that God alone is responsible for man's salvation.

I understand more clearly the difference between Calvinism & Catholicism. I was saved, I am saved, and I am being saved. Yes, but only God knows who they are.

Peace Be With You
Micky

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