Focal Passage: John 10:7-14, 25-30
One of the major theological distinctives we hold as Southern Baptists is the eternal security of the believer. According to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, “All true believers endure to the end.
Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end…. they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (Article V).
Some have labeled this teaching, “Once saved, always saved,” but I prefer the description, “Once saved, always following,” because it indicates that true salvation is evidenced by a life that follows Jesus until the end. But such a comforting doctrine isn’t grounded on our personal hopes and wishes. Rather, it’s based in part on the teaching that Jesus shares with us in John 10, where He details how He is the “good shepherd.”
To understand this passage, we must look at the wider context extending back to chapter nine. In the previous chapter, where Jesus heals a man blind from birth, the Pharisees threaten to “put out of the synagogue” anyone who confess Jesus to be the Christ (John 9:22).
They make good on their threat by later casting out the healed man after he gave credit to Jesus. However, this account gives us an inside look at the corrupt practices of the Pharisees, who considered themselves as gatekeepers of salvation. If one didn’t meet their false standards and obey the law to their approval, they would remove them from the synagogue, which was essentially excommunication.
Therefore, in the minds of many, if you didn’t submit to the crooked authority of the Pharisees, you couldn’t have salvation.
Following the healed man’s desertion by these religious leaders, Jesus gave him eternal hope by telling him about the love and grace he has for his people. Jesus famously said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me … and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).
Unlike the wicked Pharisees, who were false shepherds, Jesus is one who deeply cares for His people, even sacrificing His life on the cross to ensure they are with Him for eternity.
After a person trusts in Him through faith, Jesus cares for their needs, protects them from the enemy, sympathizes with their weaknesses and restores them when they fail.
However, a troubling reality for believers is the human tendency to give up on those who fail again and again.
We often project this mindset onto Jesus, thinking that one day He will finally get tired of dealing with us and we will be removed from His kingdom. But Jesus dispels all fear by assuring us of His eternal love for those who are united to Him by faith.
Later in the passage, Jesus says, “No one will snatch them out of my hand … my Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (vv. 27-30).
In other words, the only way a person could lose true salvation is to overpower God. Therefore, being known by Jesus is the most secure reality we have in life. Soli Deo Gloria! B&R