After God found me in the Fall of 1988 for two years I struggled with some difficult questions. “Am I permanently and truly His? Can I lose my salvation and my eternal life if I sin?” I just dared to hope that if I died, my soul would go to Heaven, and I faintly wished that one day I would be resurrected. By then, I had lived 20 years without God. When I finally became a Christian, my life did not change immediately on all areas. I failed many times, and with the failures came questions, uncertainty, and doubt.
Over the next thirty years, teenagers and young people asked me the same question. “Can I be sure of my eternal life? Can I lose my salvation? What will happen to me if I commit a big sin as a Christian? Do I fall out of grace If I turn my back on him? Can God leave me? I don't feel like I'm going to heaven, and I don't deserve it — so what should I do now?”
There are many ways to answer these questions. Perhaps the warmest and friendliest response comes from Jesus in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. Here, the Master replied to those who opposed his ministry in every way possible.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and 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." (John 10:27-29, ESV)
In this text, Jesus compared himself to the sheep’s owner, to a shepherd and his followers to the sheep. What are sheep like? Contrary to popular belief, they're not stupid at all. They can communicate a wide range of emotions, they are surprisingly intelligent, they have better memories than many people, and they recognize not only the face but also the voice of the shepherd. They can decide what they want, but they do not realize what they really need. That their shepherd knows best. The shepherd feeds, cares for, protects, and guides his sheep. Without him, they are lost. The shepherd knows his sheep; If they're lost, he'll go after them, because they are his valuable property.
It is precisely the fact that the sheep are owned by the shepherd that answers the introductory questions of many. In the parable of Jesus, sheep are in the possession of the shepherd. This is what we find in the first few words of the text and the fact that no one can take them out of the hands of Jesus and the Father further confirms it. How is it then? Are the sheep in the hands of Jesus and the Father at the same time? Yes. Just as the farmer and his only son keep all the wealth of a family farm in their hands, Christians are in the hands of Jesus and the Father. If the sheep in the story could speak, they would shout out: "I am the sheep of the good shepherd! I am the property of the good shepherd and his father! No one can take me away from the good shepherd and his father, for they take care of me."
Can a sheep lose its owner? Hardly. But even if that sheep were to wander away, the shepherd, the owner of the sheep would go after them, he would find them, and he would take them back to safety. Can a sheep in Jesus' flock lose his or her Shepherd? Of course not. Jesus never loses sight of his own sheep, and as we can read in the short story, there is no power, there is no creature that can take away His possessions from His hands.
Dear Reader, if you are in any doubt that you have lost or you can lose your salvation, remember this: when you came to faith, you became the property of Jesus Christ and the Father once and for all. Jesus paid a heavy price personally for you — he paid the punishment for your sins with his own life. And since He rose from the grave, you received eternal life once and for all. From that day on, you became the property of Jesus Christ and the Father. You will never be lost, they will never lose you, no one or nothing can ever get you out of their hands. So do not worry about losing your salvation or your eternal life. Rather, out of your gratitude decide to serve Him faithfully.
After the Fall, there is the promise of the Seed to come, who would defeat the Serpent and rule with humanity (Gen. 3:15-16). This promise is traced through the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3; 15), Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7), and New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). The Seed is identified as Jesus, the Abrahamic Descendant through whom all the world is blessed (Gal. 3:8; 16). The Davidic King who will rule on earth (Luke 1:32-33). The one through whose blood the New Covenant is inaugurated (Luke 22:20). And finally, the one who will return and rule with humanity over a new creation (Rev. 21-22). This overarching narrative is carried through all of Scripture, along with many other themes and patterns, such as the Melchizedekian priesthood (Gen 14:18; Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:5-10; 6:19–7:22).
This unity of message and themes requires a single author. Yet, we know the Bible was written over 1500 years, by around 40 authors, in three languages, to different audiences, for various purposes. How do we put this together? The answer is that the Bible has many authors who were "carried along" by the Divine Author (2 Pet. 1:21). Their writings are diverse in their genres, emphases, and purposes, which shows that the authors are not forcing a unity of message. The unity of the message is coming from God.
This unity in diversity is a strong argument that the Bible is God's Word. And if it’s God's Word, then it’s trustworthy. I am so convinced of this that I have given my life to studying and applying God’s Word – you should too.
About the authors
The blog is created by many different people at WOL Bible Institute Hungary: Bible teachers, students, alumni, staff and guest teachers.