Monday, May 17, 2010

Following the Shepherd

John 10:27 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.

27 τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἐμὰ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούουσιν, κἀγὼ γινώσκω αὐτὰ καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσίν μοι, 28  κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου.

Jesus continues the shepherding metaphor that He began in yesterday's passage.  Here He describes the nature of His sheep.  If I were preaching this I would point out three areas of action.  We see what the sheep do, what Jesus does, and what others cannot do.  The sheep hear and follow.  What does that mean to us today?  It means that we read God's Word and we obey it.  In other words, we fear God and keep His commandments.

What does Jesus do?  He gives us eternal life.  The phrase καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται describes what it means to give eternal life.  It is as if to say, "I give them eternal life.  That means that they will never perish."  Jesus uses the construction οὐ μὴ, which is the strongest way to negate something in Greek.  He is saying that there is no way that His sheep will ever perish.  We have had discussions on this blog about the future of the soul.  It seems pretty clear that there is a way to eternal life and a way to eternal destruction.  I suppose an argument could be made for annihilationism, but I think that only works if you take this passage out as a proof-text.

Finally we get blessed assurance of what Calvinists call "perseverance of the saints."  It is impossible for someone to be snatched out of Jesus' hand once they are His.  This means that someone living in wanton sin is either regenerate and backslidden, but will return or that person was never regenerated.  Many college students "recommitting their lives to Christ" are in this latter category, for example.

Where are you?  Are you one of His sheep?  If so, does this passage fill you with hope?  Are you blessed with the assurance that comes from being one of His sheep who He holds steadfastly in His hand?  Or are you one who will perish apart from Him?  If so, I urge you to become one of His sheep.

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