I decided to buy my wife, Alean, a new car. For years she has blazed her way around town in a sporty, red, Ford Mustang. It was a cute car, and it was very fun to drive, but as she and I age, our center of gravity shifts and muscle aches rise, and we have come to realize that we need a vehicle that is much easier to enter and exit. The Mustang sits much too low to the ground.
In our search for a new vehicle, we narrowed it down to two Crossover models at competing dealerships situated directly across from one another on Auto-Row. To our surprise, neither of these vehicles was what Alean originally believed she wanted, and to my chagrin, the one we ultimately chose has only a 3 year warranty as opposed to the 10 year warranty on the option just across the street. Despite the rather startling difference in warranty periods, we believe we made the correct buying decision.
I like surety, guarantees, warranties. I like knowing that what I am purchasing is a solid product, and that what works today will continue to work tomorrow.
The Surety of Eternal Life
I find it distressing that so many Christ-followers are unable to identify such security in their salvation. When asked, “Are you right with God? Are you secure in your relationship with Jesus?” far too many answer with bewilderment, or something weak-sauce like, “I don’t know. I hope so.”
In speaking of his followers (you and me), his “sheep,” Jesus said:
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 10:28-29, ESV
Jesus, the author of life, has struck some power chords in that statement from John’s gospel, particularly as it pertains to the phrase “they will never perish.” Jesus used strong phrasing in the original tongue when he spoke this phrase, employing a double negative to add emphasis to this profound truth.
“ … and never not shall they perish to the age … “
This surety is proclaimed for those who “hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). It is critical that we listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd, and hearing it, that we follow it. There is no need to analyze it, or reason out what the shepherd is saying. Just follow the shepherd’s voice, and obey what it says.
The Timelessness of Eternal Life
It is almost painful for me to listen to people struggle to explain eternity, particularly when they use elements of time to do so. One of the most irritating for me is the story that runs this way:
“It’s like … imagine a seagull who picks up a grain of sand on a beach in California and carries it to Japan, and then flies back to get another grain of sand, and takes that grain of sand to Japan. By the time he moves all the sand from California to Japan, that’s like … like one second in eternity.” No! No! It is not!
Eternity is the complete absence of time. Eternity is outside of time. God is outside of time. Even describing eternity as “forever” is inaccurate because forever is a time-based statement. Outside of time, there is no such thing as a forever. Time-based analogies employed to define timelessness are meaningless and nonsensical. God lives in the “eternal now,” and when we offload this shackle of time, we will also live in the eternal now.
One theologian suggests the following as a close approximation of what Jesus was trying to say:
“They shall not, in no wise perish, no, not for eternity.”
The Safest Hand
“no one will snatch them out of my hand“
“no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand“
Some translations render those phrases as “no man” which is an unfortunate rendering, one more properly translated “no one” or even better yet, “no being.”
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12, NASB
Neither Satan, nor his minions are any match for our King Jesus, the mightiest warrior of all. We could not possibly be more secure than we are. Satan is powerless to snatch us from either the Father’s hand or the Son’s hand. Our only way out of either hand is to stand up and walk away – our choice.
Jesus values us, his sheep, with such ferocious love, a love that guarantees no created being can plunder us from his protective care. The Father even provides additional security, as we are in both the Father’s hand and the Son’s hand.
Note the final statement in this passage.
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. – John 10:28-30, ESV
Be at peace in the hand of the Father, the hand of the Son. “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).