John 10:27-30 ESV
“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. I and the Father are one.”
My sheep hear my voice
This is not speaking of literal sheep, but “sheep” is being used figuratively here to symbolize Jesus’ followers, i.e., those who are believing in him for their salvation from sin and for eternal life with God. We are the sheep of his pasture, and he is our shepherd (the one leading and guiding us).
His sheep hear (listen) to his voice. And to listen is more than just audibly hearing with our ears, but it has to do with paying attention and heeding what we hear, whether we hear audibly or in our spirits. It means we take what we hear seriously, and we act upon it, and we don’t ignore it.
And how do we hear Jesus’ voice? We hear it through the written word of God, and not just through Jesus’ words he spoke while he was on this earth, but through the apostles and what they taught, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And we hear it through the writings of the prophets of old, too.
But we don’t just hear him through the written word, but we hear him through his Holy Spirit who is indwelling the lives of those who believe in Jesus. He speaks to our hearts and he counsels, comforts, corrects, instructs, teaches, comforts, encourages, and guides us in the right way.
Also, we hear our Lord speaking to us through his creative works (Romans 1), and through our everyday circumstances, and through music and art and clouds and rain and children, etc. For, if he is living within us, he is speaking. We just have to be listening and heeding what he is saying.
I know them
Jesus Christ has a personal relationship with his sheep. He knows them personally and experientially because they are in relationship with him. This knowing has to do with intimacy, as well. There is a closeness in this relationship like between a husband and a wife.
So, what has to take place for this type of intimate relationship to take place between us and our Lord? Is there anything which might prevent this type of intimate relationship from taking place?
Jesus Christ first had to die on a cross for our sins, paying the price for our sins so that we could be delivered from slavery to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. Then, by faith in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin and we are raised with him to newness of life in him.
We are now delivered from our slavery to sin so that we can become slaves of God and of his righteousness. Now we no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit. For, if we are still walking according to the flesh, we don’t know God and we don’t have eternal life with God, and we aren’t in relationship with him.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 14:23-24; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Matt 7:21-23; Matt 10:33; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8]
They follow me
To follow Jesus means that we are now his disciples, and we are cleaving steadfastly to him, being conformed to his divine nature, doing what he says to do in practice. It means we are obeying him. We are going where he sends us, and we are saying what he commands us to say.
We are following his example for how to live the Christian life in the power of his Spirit, and we are doing and saying the kinds of things that he said and did. He is our husband, and we are his bride. So, our desire is for him, to be with him, to please him, and to enjoy sweet fellowship with him.
It means we are walking in the fear of the Lord, and Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and our lives are surrendered to him, to doing his will. Therefore, we honor God with our lives, we show him respect, we follow his leading, and we live our lives in conformity with his will for us.
I give them eternal life
They will never perish
Yes, the Scriptures teach that those believing in/on Jesus Christ have eternal life with God, but what does it mean to believe in him? It isn’t just words that we repeat after someone else in a prayer, and it isn’t just a public confession of him as Lord or a verbal profession of him as Savior.
The faith that God requires for our salvation comes from God, for we can’t even believe in Jesus unless God the Father first draws us to him (persuades us to put our faith in him). So, we submit to Christ as Lord, and die with Christ to sin, and live to Christ and to his righteousness in obedience.
For, if we walk in sin and we don’t live in obedience to our Lord, we don’t have eternal life with God, the Scriptures teach. For, we must continue in Christ and in his word and abide in him and walk in obedience to his commands until the end of time, too, to be assured of eternal life with God.
Remember that Jesus’ sheep listen to him, they heed his words, and they follow him in obedience, and he knows them intimately, and they will have eternal life with God. And they will never perish. So, this promise is not for those who make a cursory confession of Christ as Savior and Lord.
No one can snatch THEM out of my hand
Many people are quoting vv 28-30 and they are leaving out verse 27, and they are applying these promises broadly to all who make a claim that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. But that isn’t saying what they are saying it is saying.
The promises of verses 28-30 apply to those who fit the description of his sheep in v. 27. We are those who are paying attention to what our Lord says, who are heeding his word, we are putting the word of God into practice, and we are following the lead of God’s Holy Spirit.
And this isn’t a one-time thing and then it’s over. This is ongoing until the day that we die. For the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Daily by the Spirit we must be putting sin to death.
So, if we are paying attention to the word of the Lord, and if we are following him in obedience, as a matter of practice, and we are continuing in him and in his word, and we are not continuing to live in sin, then we will not be snatched out of our Lord’s hand.
But if all we do is profess him as Savior and Lord and then we continue on in our sin, only now without guilt, and we ignore our Lord’s commands (New Covenant), and we live for ourselves instead of for him, these verses here don’t apply to us. This is not a promise we can claim.
For, faith in Jesus Christ is more than words. It is living out the faith we say we have in Jesus Christ by doing what he says to do. Jesus wants more than words from us. He wants our hearts surrendered to him forever.
[Rom 12:1-2; Tit 2:11-14; Eph 2:10; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Eph 4:17-24; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15]
More Than Words
BETTENCOURT, NUNO / CHERONE, GARY F.
Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel…
Hold me close don’t ever let me go
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
Cos I’d already know