Summary: Christ presents two great truths regarding the relationship of the Shepherd – Christ, and the sheep – the born-again child of God. Preservation and perseverance. One is performed by God alone, the other by the believer with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Preservation and Perseverance
Jesus said He is the Great Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. He knows them and calls them by name. The sheep He spoke of are those who have received His grace by hearing and responding to His call by yielding their lives to Him and following His leading. In verses 27-30, Christ presents two great truths regarding the relationship of the Shepherd – Christ, and the sheep – the born-again child of God. These truths are preservation and perseverance. There is a great difference between perseverance and preservation and we must not confuse the two. Only God can perform the one while the believer with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit is enabled to do the other.
A. John 10:28-29 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand
B. Some years ago at the great Keswick Convention in England, a brother said to the Rev. George Silwood, "Is it not blessed to be safe in the arms of Jesus?" "Yes," said Brother Silwood, "but I am safer than that." "Why," said his friend in astonishment, "how could you be safer than in the arms of Jesus?" "Why, I am as safe as an arm of Jesus," said the preacher; nor did he over-emphasize this great and glorious fact, "for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones" (Ephesians. 5:30).—P. W. Philpott, in Moody Church News.
C. Psalm 121:4-8 “Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
D. Webster's 1828 dictionary gives the following definition for preserve, “to keep or save from injury or destruction; to defend from evil, to uphold, to sustain.” Strong’s Concordance gives the following definition, “to guard; to protect, attend to; to save, i.e. deliver”.
E. John 5:24 ““Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
F. Eternal life is not something we get in the future or pie in the sky by and by. It is something that we have the very moment we receive the grace of God by faith. By its very nature, eternal life must last forever, or it could not be eternal.
G. Kept every day from morn to night,
We know His promises are sure.
Kept by His truth, His power and might
No jot shall fail, while words endure.
Kept all the way from youth to age,
Thus far the Lord hath sheltered me.
Kept from the fangs of Satan's rage,
Safely we'll cross life's troubled sea.
Kept all these years by God's own hand,
To Him be praise and homage given.
Kept by His grace we'll hope to stand.
At evening time, in sight of Heaven.
Kept from the power of hell and sin.
Home of the pure in heart we'll see.
Kept by His love we'll here begin
The life that fills eternity.—Copied
A. John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”
B. John 10:3b-5 (NKJV) “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
C. Webster's Dictionary defines perseverance in the following words: "To persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement."
D. Perseverance is not giving up. It is persistence and tenacity, the effort required to do something and keep doing it till the end, even if it's hard.
E. 2 Timothy 2:4-5 (ESV) “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”
F. Perseverance is one of the best evidences of one’s salvation.
1. John 10:27 “…they follow me”
2. 1 John 2:3-4 “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”