Christians find much comfort from these words of Christ: “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…” Many evangelical, eternal security/once saved always saved teachers, however, quote Jesus in this passage as if He had said, “They shall never perish whether they follow me or not.”
While defending the Christian gospel against the Galatian legalists, Paul warned, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal 5:4). No effect? Fallen from grace? Once in grace, but no longer? That someone who was in Christ may yet be severed from Him is surely not popular in today’s tolerant culture. The question to my mind (and perhaps yours), however, is not whether or not an idea is popular, but whether or not it’s true.
Please note that in Galatians 5:4, as previously quoted, Christ became of no effect, denoting that He once had an effect. “The phrase [is become of no effect],” notes The Pulpit Commentary, “combines the two ideas- separation, and the cessation of a work.” James Strong says that the term “usually denotes separation, departure, cessation, completion, reversal.” Logically speaking, it seems reasonable to conclude that if I am separated from something, I must first be connected to it. If a work has ceased, it must first have begun. These challenging words fell, not from the lips of some obscure heretic or biased, modern theologian, but from those of the Apostle Paul.
Many of the doctors of the modern church, however, can not tolerate such intolerant notions. They believe that one’s actions, choices or lifestyle can never cause Christ to “become of no effect” as Paul taught. Consider this brief thought from Dr. Anthony T. (Tony) Evans: “A fleshly or carnal Christian is caught between two worlds. He believes Christ is real and genuinely believes in His sacrifice on the cross. Even so, he clings intentionally to his worldly ways… though he is saved.”
Not even those in Dr. Evans’ own tradition, however, share such notions. D.L. Moody, in the sermon Heaven: Its Inhabitants, declared,“No unrepentant sinner will ever get into Heaven, unless they forsake their sin they cannot enter there.” Mr. Moody never claimed to be a theologian, yet this very humble servant of God understood the simple truth that saving faith is always working faith. Sadly, many in our day who preach, teach and write under the banner of his name overlook this critical truth. Mr. Moody was right when he wrote in the same sermon that “if the unrighteous man says: ‘I will not turn away from sin; I will hold on to sin and have heaven,’ he is deceiving himself.”
The one who holds onto sin is deceiving himself? “Mr. Moody,” some may ask, “I thought you believed in the eternal security of the Christian?” “I thought D. L. Moody believed in the doctrine “Once Saved Always Saved?” “How can he say that the one who holds on to sin can not have heaven?” Gentle reader, Mr. Moody indeed believed in the security of the Christian as any honest bible student should. The promises of Christ to his sheep are undeniable and lend needed assurance and confidence to every saint.
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.
Indeed friend, such assurance to the followers of the Shepherd of souls is quite comforting. However, the security enjoyed by those who follow the Lord should never be applied to or confused with the biblically inevitable insecurity of every hypocrite who may “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him” (Titus 1:16). Christian security belongs to Christians, not to hypocrites, as “he that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:8). The assurance of John 10:27, 28 applies only to those who follow Christ, as the text plainly states. Many teachers quote Jesus in this passage as if He had said, “They shall never perish whether they follow me or not.”
[This post was taken from the Articles Factory website.]