Of election and predestination

Scripture

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
John 10:25-30

Observation

Context

  • Jesus, walking along Solomon’s Colonnade during the Feast of Dedication is speaking to the Jewish leaders who have come out to question Him and push Him to make a public statement about His claims
  • This would be the last effort Jesus makes toward the unbelieving Jewish leaders before His crucifixion
  • Every discourse Jesus has with the Jews and Jewish leaders have ended with hostility and division:
    • The hostility that Jesus has met with are attempts to challenge him (John 8:13), seize Him (John 7:30, 44, ) or stone Him (John 8:59)
    • The people are divided about who Jesus is, many believing (John 7:41), just as many unbelieving (John 7:20) and perhaps even more believing with preconceived ideas of the Messiah (John 8:31-32)
  • The cummulated hostility and questions have brought the tension between Jesus and the Jewish leaders to it’s peak at this point
  • This is the pinnicle of Jesus’ explaining Himself, it does not get any clearer than this
  • So far, Jesus has not scooted around the question of His divinity, He has many times spoken of His connection with God and divine identity (John 8:18, 42, 54) 

Passage

  • “I did tell you, but you do not believe.” Jesus gets right to the heart of the issue (v25)
    • The issue wasn’t ignorance, they were not asking as if they didn’t know. They have been told multiple times before and in a direct manner (John 8:58)
    • They were very familiar with Jesus’ claims but they simply refused to believe.
  • “The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me,” the logic here is this: if you don’t believe my words (John 8:13), at least believe my actions (v25)
    • They have stumbled over this logic multiple times, they have asked themselves “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:21) , “How can a sinner perform such signs?” (John 9:16), but their unbelieving minds could not comprehend their own logic
  • “but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” Jesus backtracks to the core reason for their unbelief (v26)
    • It is not illogical thinking that has clouded their minds; it isn’t the devil deceiving them; it isn’t their selfish nature that hinders their belief; these things play a part and are obvious on the surface, but right at the core, that is not the reason
    • The core is a matter of election and predestination
  • “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” this verse sums up the whole of John 10:1-18 (v27)
    • This verse perfectly describes our election and calling (“my sheep listen to my voice”) and transformation that takes place in lives in word and deed (“they follow me”)
    • At the heart of all that is “I know them”, a two way relationship that is mirrors God’s own relationship with His Son (John 10:14-15)
    • This is the core of our belief, that God himself initiated our salvation by electing and calling us; the transformation that happens in our lives (in word and deed) is no more than a response to Him that is centered around a relationship with Him
  • “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish”, here He makes perhaps the boldest claim of the last 3 chapters – to give eternal life, something that only God grants (v28)
    • This is a reiteration of the eternal safety of the sheep fold and the eternal providence of pasture, that is life eternal (as opposed to death eternal which is without safety and providence)
    • The word “perish” here obviously does not mean natural death, but eternal death, in the same way that “eternal life” does not mean an eternal natural life
  • “no one will snatch them out of my hand.” this is the most comforting truth about salvation – eternal security in Christ (v28)
    • This is the best support for Calvin’s Perseverence of the Saints (“Once saved, always saved”) in Jesus’ own words, often used by proponents of this theology
    • Our salvation is entirely dependant on God and not on our actions, words or deeds; there is nothing that we (or anyone else) can ever do that would take us out of His hand
  • “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all”, even more, our salvation is hinged on God the Father, who is God in every sense of the word (v29)
    • We need to take this verse as it is, when Jesus says “greater” that is simply what it means, it means God is bigger, stronger, ultimately more powerful, more all knowing than everything
    • As hard as it is to comprehend “greater than all”, we should never take God to mean less than He is; “all” literally means “all”, no less
    • If my salvation is dependent on the one who is “greater than all”, there is only full confidence and no fear
  • “no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”, this is a parallel verse to v28 (v29)
    • This verse confirms Jesus’ divinity and one-ness with the Father in the mystery of the Trinity – by implication “my hand” equals “my Father’s hand”
  • “I and the Father are one.” the answer to the Pharisees does not get any clearer, this is the truth about Jesus’ divine identity and the mystery of the Trinity
    • This brings us back all the way to John 1:1-3, He is and has always been God

Application

Be sure. Be very sure. Because my salvation rests in the hands of Jesus Christ, who is the God that is greater than all. I need not be plagued by fear, worry or stress that I won’t make the mark because it is not dependent on me making the mark at all.

Be thankful. Be very thankful. Because if God did not set up salvation in this way, all of humanity would be doomed.

Prayer

Father, I thank You that You, the greater than all God, holds me in Your hands. I could not ask for anything more. Remind me daily that my salvation is as sure as You are great.

Amen.

 

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply