“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.” John 10:27-29
First off, in this passage Jesus identifies those sheep whom He makes the security promise to. He says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” In this we see one part divine and two parts the responsibility of the individual.
• “I know them” – the divine part (v27)
• Those who are His sheep “hear” His “voice” and “follow” Him – the individual’s responsibility (v27)
Those who seek to spread the “once saved always saved” heresy use John 10:28-29 to their advantage and conveniently ignore the preceding words of Christ in verse 27. Verses 28-29 are promises of security to those who are currently hearing His voice and following Him. Many ignore the previous qualifying words (v27) of Jesus where Christ tells us that only those who are hearing His voice and following Him are promised that they are secure and will never perish. There is a condition to being secure in Christ – knowing Him – which requires continuing to abide in Him, hear His voice and follow Him (see also John 15). In this John 10 passage used by the unconditional eternal security crew to peddle their wares, some neglect to look closely at verse 27 to see who Jesus was specifically speaking to when He promised “they shall never perish.” “They” refers to those who “hear my voice” and “follow me.” According to verse 27 the promise of eternal security is conditional. Assurance of salvation is only to those who are presently following Christ. In verse 27 we learn that protection from judgment to come is only to those who are currently 1) hearing His voice, 2) known by Him, and 3) following Him. This is consistent with the message seen in the whole of Holy Writ.
According to these words of Christ, those who “know” Jesus and “follow” Him are given the promise that they will “never perish.” As long as the follower hears His voice and follows Him, they are assured “eternal life.” This is exactly what the Son of God taught just a few chapters later in John 15 where He says that if a branch that is in Him does not remain or abide in Him, that person will be cut off and cast into the fire (of hell ultimately).
Those who abide or remain under the shadow of His holy and protective wing shall remain secure in Him (Ps. 91:1). The Good Shepherd here said “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” No man can pluck us out of His protection except ourselves by our own decisions. We who are abiding are protected from the snare of other men drawing us away as we remain walking with the Son of God. If you’re tucked you won’t get plucked. If you’re not tucked under the wing of intimacy with Jesus, you will, can, and are likely to be plucked out of His holy hand by your own sinful unbelief. The LORD told us “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3:11)
Jesus taught repeatedly that some would not continue to follow Him and hear His voice and would consequently “fall away.” There is record of some who once believed and then stopped believing (Lk. 8:13; 13:23-30; Jn. 6:66; Acts 8:14-23).
Sign up here to begin receiving the Moments with My Master email sent out 2-3 times weekly to edify Christ’s people.