Most religious people like to believe things that make them feel good about themselves. Most of us have heard stories about people literally cutting verses out of their Bibles with a pair of scissors because those particular verses made them uncomfortable. Even if they do not literally do this, in their mind they conveniently forget the portions of the Bible that might make them uncomfortable, or that might challenge them or loved ones to remove themselves from their present lifestyles. This mindset has made the “once-saved-always-saved” doctrine (A.K.A. “perseverance of the saints) a huge success in the religious world. This doctrine teaches that once a person is saved from his sins, he can never become lost in sin again. The word of God emphatically denies, time and again, the “once-saved-always-saved” doctrine (cf. Acts 1:25; 1 Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Heb. 4:11; 6:4-6; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; 2 John 8; Rev. 2:5; et al.). Bible believers have often been compelled to defend biblical truth in this regard in discussions with denominational friends.
Unfortunately, this defensive mindset has been carried to the far extreme by some, believing that a person cannot know he is saved while on this earth. I once had a discussion with a preacher who would not sing “When We All Get to Heaven,” but would always sing the words “When the Saved Get to Heaven” (to which some songbooks have changed the words to read). At first, I assumed he did not feel comfortable with singing “When We All Get to Heaven” because it might lead some in the assembly who were not saved to a false sense of security. However, his reasoning was in regard to his own perspective. He believed that he could not know for certain that he himself was saved at any particular point. His rationale seemed to be that it would be arrogant for one to presume to sing before the God of heaven and earth that he was saved when he might not be.
“Nevertheless, what saith the scripture?” Jesus said,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 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. I and my Father are one (John 10:27-30).
Some have erroneously attempted to force upon this passage that once a person becomes a child of God, he can never be lost. But notice certain attributes about Jesus’ “sheep” here discussed: (1) They hear Jesus’ voice; (2) They follow Jesus. If one ceases to hear or follow Jesus, he ceases to be provided the protection Jesus promises. A certain Baptist preacher with whom I had a discussion attempted to assert that “no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” included oneself. According to him, Jesus was saying that even if one wanted to be lost, he could not remove himself from God’s favor. Such a view would obviously contradict numerous biblical passages. And if “no man” automatically excludes oneself, Jesus contradicted Himself when He said, as recorded a few verses prior, “…I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (John 10:17-18, emph. LM). Of course, Jesus did not contradict Himself. When he said “no man” He did not exclude Himself. If “no man” excluded oneself, Judas could not have fallen from grace— he could not have betrayed Jesus and the Scriptures could not have been fulfilled (Acts 1:16-17).
However, just because some have attempted to hijack portions of Scripture to advance false doctrines does not mean the faithful follower of God needs to surrender those portions of Scripture to the perpetrators. Jesus was impressing upon the minds of those listeners that day, and of all who read this precious passage, that eternal security is promised. While one can choose to leave God’s good favor, no man can force another from it. The Father is all-powerful; and since Jesus is one with the Father, He likewise has all power. Therefore He has the ability to protect His sheep (again, those who hear His voice, whom He knows (cf. Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Thess. 1:8), and who follow Him. Those who are His sheep can be certain of this security and protection.
Jesus has proven His Deity and power through His resurrection (Rom. 1:4). Since He is God, He cannot lie and will perform His promises (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18). God (including all three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has proven continually that He will perform His promises (Gen. 3:15; 6:13; Exo. 3:8; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Isa. 7:14; 44:28; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; et al.). When Jesus promised, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), one can know that His power is sufficient and His word is truth; therefore there can be no doubt in one’s mind that he is saved when he has done this in the manner which Jesus commands. And he can know that no man can take him from God’s grace as long as he hears and follows Jesus.
Eternal security is not something one simply chooses to believe because it makes him feel good about himself—the Christian believes it because he knows it. As he approached the conclusion of his first epistle, the apostle John penned by inspiration,
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13, emph. LM).
Those things, preserved in the Bible, can provide certain knowledge for one that he is saved. John added, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). As long as we continue to abide in the New Testament doctrine, we can know for a certainty that we have eternal security.