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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Imperative of Preaching By Marco Gonzalez | Main | Owen on the Holy Spirit »

    The Preservation of the Saints by Pastor John Samson

    John Chapter 6:
    34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread."
    35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
    36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
    37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
    38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
    39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day."

    In this passage of scripture, Jesus presents the big picture perspective regarding salvation. His words are altogether clear and unmistakable, as He portrays the complete sovereignty of God in salvation. The crowd that was following Jesus "believed" in Him as a miracle worker and as the Messiah. John 6:14 states, "Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

    However, Jesus makes it clear that this crowd did not possess true living faith - a faith that saves. They instead possessed a temporary "belief" or affection for Christ, but as the rest of the chapter shows, when Jesus finished preaching this latest message, most in the crowd were no longer following Him. John 6:66 says, "As a result of this ("this" meaning Jesus' own words) many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. "

    This then is the context. Jesus is addressing this unbelieving crowd and seeks to explain to them why it is they do not believe. Lets allow Jesus to tell the redemption story from His perspective, in His own words.

    Jesus starts by saying "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe." If there was ever a claim to true faith, Jesus dismisses that idea out of hand, telling them that they did not in fact believe in Him, and He knew it. He then goes on:

    "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me."

    Each word here is vitally important. As we meditate on these words, we should notice the order Jesus gives us. All that the Father gives to Jesus - every single one of them - will come to Jesus. It is not the coming to Jesus of a certain group of people that prompts God to then give them to the Son. No, according to Jesus, its the other way round. Firstly, the Father gives a group of people to the Son, who will then come to the Son. It is the Father's giving that takes place before the people's coming. Jesus teaches us, in verse 37, that there is never the possibility of a single person being given by the Father to the Son who will not come to the Son.

    Why do only some come?

    If we believe the words of the Master, we would have to say that the answer lies in the Father's Sovereign choice. The Father does not draw every human being to the Son, and remember He is addressing the crowd that does not believe in Him. It would seem the necessary implication that the reason these people had not believed was because they were not part of the group that the Father had given to the Son. Why? Because Jesus is talking directly to them and telling them they did not believe, and here He is explaining why: All that the Father gives to the Son, come to the Son, and those in this crowd had not come to the Son in true faith.

    According to Jesus in John 6: 44, no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws them, and all those drawn in this way will be raised up to eternal life. Jesus confirms this in verse 65, saying that no one can come to Him unless it is given to them by the Father.

    The Giving and the Coming

    Jesus says that all that the Father gives to Him, will come to Him.

    Of course, it is imperative that people come to Christ to be saved. But here Christ gives us the insight on why some come and others do not. It is the Father's gracious act in giving people to the Son that will without question, mean that each of these will come to the Son.

    As we move from verse 37 to verse 38, Jesus explains the security of the relationship possessed by those who come to Christ. He says that He will never cast them out. In the original language, the aorist subjunctive of strong denial is used, which makes it clear that it is absolutely impossible for Jesus to reject anyone who comes to Him. He will never do it! There is no one who genuinely comes to Christ who will ever be rejected by Christ.

    Why is this the case? Jesus continues, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."

    So, what exactly is the will of the Father? "That of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day."

    Jesus' words are both remarkable and plain. There is no possibility whatsoever that Christ will fail to perform all of His Father's will. Such a thought is unthinkable. Christ is the obedient Son of His Father, and is also, as God, omnipotent in power, so that no opposition or force could stop Him from achieving His desired goals. There is simply no way at all that the Son will fail to fulfill the will of His Father. This being the case, we have Christ's own testimony that all those given by the Father to the Son, will without fail come to the Son, and will never be cast out, but raised up at the last day to eternal life.

    The Basis

    The basis for all this is not found in us at all. Jesus makes this very clear. He gives us a God centered Gospel, and His declarations here leave us in the arms of a Father who chose a people for Himself, and gives them as a gift to the Son. These then will, in time, come to the Son. Our confidence is found in knowing that the Father's will is that none of those given by Him to the Son be lost.

    These clear words give us complete and assured security in the Father (He gives His elect to His Son as a gift) and security in the Son (He will never fail to do His Father's will). God is the Redeemer. Man is the recipient of the gracious working of God. Man is the object of salvation, but it is God, and God alone who acts to save man. That is the basis of our confidence. Like Paul, we can say, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6)

    How Can We Know If We're Among The Elect?

    To the question, "can a person know they are eternally secure?" I would answer, "most definitely, yes." That's because all those given by the Father will come to the Son, and be kept by Him and raised up to eternal life. Not one of the elect... absolutely no one, falls through the cracks. But the question then becomes, "how do we know if we are numbered amongst the group?" Well, that's a fairly easy question to answer, believe it or not.

    As we've seen, Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me." Let me ask you, "have you come to Christ?" I mean, have you genuinely come to the biblical Christ, repenting of your sin and putting your faith in Him to save you? And how about your affection for Christ? Do you have a genuine love for the Lord Jesus Christ?"

    If you can in all honesty say "yes" to these questions, and have indeed come to Christ, then scripture is clear that you could not have come unless you were first amongst those given by the Father to the Son (John 6:37).

    If you have come, then without doubt you are numbered amongst this great company of the elect. Only the elect genuinely come. Only the elect genuinely love Christ. You would have no measure of affection for the biblical Christ unless God had first done something in your heart. By nature, we do not seek God or want Him. But the fact that you love Him, albeit imperfectly, indicates that you are one of Christ's sheep.

    As you allow the clear words of the Master here in John 6:37-45 to sink down deeply in your heart and mind, your spirit will rejoice in the amazing grace He has lavished so freely upon you. As the Apostle John exclaimed, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are." (1 John 3:1)

    "Salvation is of the Lord" Jonah 2:9. To God alone belongs the credit and the glory.

    Posted by John Samson on October 27, 2005 02:15 AM

    Comments

    I believe that there have been questions by some toward the doctrine of Preservation of the Saints from this passage in second Peter though.

    1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

    This is from Calvin's Commentaries: Even denying the Lord that bought them. Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness ,and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed. Hence, that the doctrine of the gospel may remain whole and complete among us, let this be fixed in our minds, that we have been redeemed by Christ, that he may be the Lord of our life and of our death, and that our main object ought to be, to live to him and to die to him. He then says, that their swift destruction was at hand, lest others should be ensnared by them. 2

    This is from "The New Testament Commentaries" by William Hendricksen and Simon J Kistemaker

    The clause who bought them presents difficulties for the interpreter. Can those whom Christ has redeemed ever be lost? Did the false teachers lose their salvation? Some commentators assert that “Christ bought them at the tremendous price of his blood to be his own forever.”
    6 But the fact that the teachers faced swift destruction
    contradicts this interpretation. Commenting on this clause, Henry Alford confidently states, “No assertion of
    universal redemption can be plainer than this.”
    7 But if Jesus had given these teachers eternal life, they would never have fallen away. Scripture clearly teaches that those people to whom Jesus has given eternal life “shall never perish” (John 10:28; also see
    Rom. 8:29–30, 32–35; Eph. 1:3–14).
    Although Christ’s death was sufficient to redeem the whole world, its efficiency comes to light only in God’s chosen people. Were the false teachers recipients of
    God’s saving grace? Apparently not, for they repudiated Christ. If we look at the words “denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” in the light of the broader
    context, we discover a clue. We notice that at one time these false teachers professed the name of Christ, for they said that they knew him and the way of righteousness (2:20–21). They made it known that Jesus had bought them, but they eventually rejected Christ and left the Christian community. As John writes, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us” (I John 2:19; and see Heb. 6:4–6; 10:26–
    29). Hence, their denial of Christ showed that they were not redeemed.

    Matthew Henry says this in his commentary: Those who introduce destructive heresies deny the Lord that bought them. They reject and refuse to hear and learn of the great teacher sent from God, though he is the only Saviour and Redeemer of men, who paid a price sufficient to redeem as many worlds of sinners as there are sinners in the world.

    John Piper says this: The first thing we learn about them is that they are denying the Master who bought them. What does this mean? As with most heresies, Jesus Christ is in some way being diminished. Some aspect of his personhood or his work is being denied.

    John MacArthur says this in his commentary: "who bought them". Doctrinally, this analogy can be viewed as responsibility for submission to God which the false teachers had refused. Thus, the passage is describing the sinister character of the false teachers who claim Christ, but deny His lordship over their lives.

    And finally this is what the Geneva Study Bible says: "denying the Lord who bought them" Peter is not saying Christians can lose their salvation, but is describing the false teachers in terms of their own profession of faith. By teaching and practicing immorality they despise the lordship of Christ and prove their profession to be false.

    I fully believe that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Fearing not our eternal state, for if we have truly submitted to Christ's Lordship and have confessed Him as our savior then we will be saved. But we should fear in a way that we are reverent to His authority over us and that we need to make a commitment to witness to His glory and to pursue holiness. Through our trials and our co-operation in our sanctification we are strengthened and our salvation becomes ever more sure. What a blessing are the passages of John 35-39 to us. How wonderful it is to know that we are kept by His mighty hand and that we are assured of our eternal reward. Amen!

    Dave.

    Dave,

    Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, what this kind of theology that teaches the regenerate can fall away amounts to is that we have to maintain our own justification before God, as if Christ's atonement was insufficient. Auburn Avenue theology currently teaches what you are suggesting.

    Of course we all must affirm that the gospel teaches that we have to persevere and work out our salvation with fear and trembling, but passages like John 15:16 ...right after it reads that we MUST bear fruit or be cut off, also qualifies it with the statement, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit , and that your fruit would remain.

    So not only must we persevere, but he promises that he will preserve us that we may do so. Christ's prayers of intercession for His people do not fail. There may be people within the covenant (received baptism, communion) that fail but not the children of promise.

    The following is a great little essay showing how we must both persevere and that we will persevere:

    Can a Christian Lose His or Her Salvation? by Greg Johnson

    Hi Dave,

    In addition to John Hendryx's comments above I would point you to a full treatment of the 2 Peter 2 passage by Simon Escobedo III at the following link. I think you will find this helpful. http://aomin.org/2PE21.html

    Hello,
    I just thought that I'd mention that the name of Michael Haykin's blog has been changed to "Historia Ecclesiastica." On the monergism site he's listed under his old name, "Tolle Lege".
    Thanks!

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