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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

John 10

Verse 27

The Sheep and Their Shepherd

by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 .

Christians are here compared to sheep. Not a very flattering comparison you may say; but then we do not wish to be flattered, nor would our Lord deem it good to flatter us, While far from flattering, it is, however, eminently consoling, for of all creatures there are not any more compassed about with infirmity than sheep. In this frailty of their nature they are a fit emblem of ourselves; at least, of so many of us as have believed in Jesus and become his disciples. Let others boast how strong they are; yet if there be strong ones anywhere, certainly we are weak. We have proved our weakness, and day by day we lament it. We do confess our weakness; yet may we not repine at it, for, as Paul said, so we find, when we are weak then are we strong. Sheep have many wants, yet they are very helpless, and quite unable to provide for themselves. But for the shepherd's cure they would soon perish. This, too, is our case. Our spiritual needs are numerous and pressing, Yet we cannot supply any of them. We are travelers through a wilderness that yields us neither food nor water. Unless our bread drop down from heaven, and our water flow out of the living rock, we must die. Our weakness and our want we keenly feel: still we have no cause to murmur, since the Lord knows our poor estate, and succours us with the tenderest care. Sheep, too, are silly creatures, and in this respect likewise we are very sheepish. We meekly own it to him who is ready to guide us. We say, as David said, "O God, thou knowest my foolishness;" and he says to us as he said to David, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go." If Christ were not our wisdom, we should soon fall a prey to the destroyer. Every grain of true wisdom that we possess we have derived from him; of ourselves we are dull and giddy; folly is bound up in our heart. The more conscious you are, deer brethren, of your own deficiencies, your lack of stamina, discretion, sagacity, and all the instincts of self-preservation, the more delighted you will be to see that the Lord accepts you under these conditions, and calls you the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. He discerns you as you are, claims you as his own, foresees all the ills to which you are exposed, yet tends you as his flock, sets store by every lamb of the fold, and so feeds you according to the integrity of his heart, and guides you by the skilfulness of his hands. "I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God." Oh, what sweet music there is to us in the name which is given to our Lord Jesus Christ of "the good Shepherd"! It not only describes the office he holds, but it sets forth the sympathy he feels, the aptness he shows, and the responsibility he bears to promote our well-being. What if the sheep be weak, yet is the shepherd strong to guard his flock from the prowling wolf or the roaring lion. If the sheep suffer privation because the soil is barren, yet is the shepherd able to lead them into pasturage suitable for them. If they be foolish, yet he goes before them, cheers them with his voice, and rules them with the rod of his command. There cannot be a flock without a shepherd; neither is there a shepherd truly without a flock. The two must go together. They are the fullness of each other. As the church is the fullness of him that filleth all in all, so we rejoice to remember that "of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." That I am like a sheep is a sorry reflection; but that I have a shepherd charms away the sorrow and creates a new joy. It even becomes a gladsome thing to be weak, that I may rely on his strength; to be full of wants, that I may draw from his fullness; to be shallow and often at my wit's end, that I may be always regulated by his wisdom. Even so doth my shame redound to his praise. Not to you, ye great and mighty, who lift your heads high, and claim for yourselves honor: not for you is peace, not to you is rest; but unto you, ye lowly ones, who delight in the valley of humiliation, and feel yourselves to be taken down in your own esteem to you it is that the Shepherd becomes dear; and to you will he give to lie down in green pastures beside the still waters. In a very simple way, we shall speak about the proprietor of the sheep. "My sheep," says Christ. Then, we shall have a little to say about the marks of the sheep. After that I propose to talk awhile about the privileges of the sheep. "I know my sheep:" they are privileged to be known of Christ. "My sheep hear my voice." I. Who is the proprietor of the sheep? They are all Christ's. "My sheep hear my voice." How came the saints to be Christ's? They are his, first of all, because he chose them. Ere the worlds were made, out of all the rest of mankind he selected them. He knew the race would fall, and become unworthy of the faculties with which he endowed them, and the inheritance he had assigned them. To him belonged the sovereign prerogative that he might have mercy on whom he would have mercy; and he, out of his own absolute will, and according to the counsel of his own good pleasure, made choice severally and individually of certain persons, and he said, "These are mine." Their names were written in his book: they became his portion and his heritage. Having chosen them of old so many ages ago, rest assured he will not lose them now. Men prize that which they have long had. If there is a thing that was mine but yesterday, and it is lost today, I might not fret about it; but if I have long possessed it, and called it my patrimony, I would not willingly part with it. Sheep of Christ, ye shall be his for ever, because ye have been his from ever. They are Christ's sheep, because his Father gave them to him. They were the gift of the Father to Christ. He often speaks of them in this way. "As many as thou hast given me:" "Thou hast given them me," saith he, over and over again. Of old, the Father gave his people to Christ. Separating them from among men, he presented them to him as a gift, committed them into his hand as a trust, and ordained them for him as the lot of his inheritance. Thus they become a token of the Father's love to his only begotten Son, a proof of the confidence he reposed in him, and a pledge of the honor that shall be done unto him. Now, I suppose we most of us know how to value a gift for the donor's sake. If presented to us by one whom we love, we set great store by it. If it has been designed to be a love-token, it awakens in our minds many sweet memories. Though the intrinsic worth may be of small account, the associations make it exceedingly precious. We might be content to lose something of far greater value in itself rather than that which is the gift of a friend, the offering of his love I like the delicate sentiment of the poet, as it is expressed in that pretty verse

"I never cast a flower away, The gift of one who cared for me; A little flower a faded flower, But it was done reluctantly."

Yet, oh, how weak the words of human passion! but, oh, how strong the expressions of divine ardor, when Jesus speaks to the Father of "the men whom thou gavest me out of the world"! "Thine they were," he says, "and thou gavest them me; and those that thou gavest me I have kept." Ye sheep of Christ, rest safely; let not your soul be disturbed with fear. The Father gave you to his Son, and he will not lightly lose what God himself has given him. The infernal lions shall not rend the meanest lamb that is a love-token from the Father to his best Beloved. While Christ stands defending his own, he will protect them from the lion and the bear, that would take the lambs of his flock; he will not suffer the least of them to perish. "My sheep," says Christ. They are his, furthermore, because, in addition to his choice and to the gift, he has bought them with a price. They had sold themselves for nought; but he has redeemed them, not with corruptible things as with silver and gold, but with his precious blood. A man always esteems that to be exceedingly valuable which he procured with risk with risk of life and limb. David felt he could not drink the water that the brave warriors who broke through the host of the Philistines brought to him from the well at Bethlehem, because it seemed to him as though it were the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives; and he poured it out before the Lord. It was too precious a draught for him, when men's lives had been hazarded for it. But the good Shepherd not only hazarded his life, but even laid it down for his sheep. Jacob exceedingly valued one part of his possessions, and he gave it to Joseph: he gave him one portion above his brethren. Now, you may be sure he would give, Joseph that which he thought most precious. But why did he give him that particular portion? Because, he says, "I took it out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow." Now, our blessed Shepherd esteems his sheep because they cost him his blood. They cost him his blood I may say, he took them out of the hand of the Amorite with his sword and with his bow in bloody conflict, where he was victor, but yet was slain. There is not one sheep of all his flock but what he can see the mark of his blood on him. In the face of every saint the Savior sees, as in a glass, the memorial of his bloody sweat in Gethsemane, and his agonies at Golgotha. "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price." That stands as a call to duty, but it is at the same time a consolation, for if he has bought me, he will have me. Bought with such a price, he will not like to lose me, nor suffer any foe to take me out of his hand. Think not that Christ will suffer those to perish for whom he died. To me the very suggestion seems to draw near to the verge of blasphemy. If he has bought me with his blood, I cannot conceive he cares nothing for me, will take no further concern about me, or will suffer my soul to be cast into the pit. If he has suffered in my stead, where is justice gone that the substitute should bear my guilt, and I should bear it too? and where is mercy fled, that God should execute twice the punishment for one offense! Nay, beloved, those whom he hath bought with blood are his, and he will keep them. "My sheep," says Christ. They are his, or in due time they shall become so, through his capturing them by sacred power. As well by power are we redeemed as by price, for the blood-bought sheep had gone astray even as others. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way," but, my brethren, the good shepherd has brought many of us back with infinite condescension: with boundless mercy he followed us when we went astray. Oh, what blind slaves we were when we sported with death! We did not know then what his love had ordained for us: it never entered our poor, silly heads that there was a crown for us; we did not know that the Father's love had settled itself on us, or ever the day-star knew its place. We know it now, and it is he that has taught us; for he followed us over mountains of vanity, through bogs and miry places of foul transgression; tracked our devious footsteps on and on, through youth and menhood, till at last, with mighty grace, he grasped us in his arms and laid us on his shoulder, and is this day carrying us home to the great fold above, rejoicing as he bears all our weight and finds us in all we need. Oh, that blessed work of effectual grace! He has made us his own, he has defeated the enemy, the prey has been taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive has been delivered. "He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron asunder," to set his people free. "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" "My SHEEP," saith Christ, as he stands in the midst of his disciples. "My Shepherd," let us one and all reply. All the sheep of Christ who have been redeemed by his power, become his by their own willing and cheerful surrender of themselves to him. We would not belong to another if we might; nor would we wish to belong to ourselves if we could; nor, I trust, do we want any part of ourselves to be our own property. Judge ye whether this be true of you or not. In that day when I surrendered my soul to my Savior, I gave him my body, my soul, my spirit; I gave him all I had, and all I shall have for time and for eternity. I gave him all my talents, my powers, my faculties, my eyes, my ears, my limbs, my emotions, my judgment, my whole manhood, and all that could come of it, whatever fresh capacity or new capability I may be endowed with. Were I at this good hour to change the note of gladness for one of sadness, it should be to wail out my penitent confession of the times and circumstances in which I have failed to observe the strict and unwavering allegiance I owe to my Lord. So far from regretting, I would fain renew my vows and make them over again. In this I think every Christian would join.

"'Tis done! the great transaction's done: I am my Lord's, and he is mine: He drew me, and I follow'd on, Charm'd to confess the voice divine.

Now rest, my long-divided heart; Fix'd on this blissful center, rest: With ashes who would grudge to part, When call'd on angels' bread to feast?

High heaven, that heard the solemn vow, That vow renew'd shall daily hear: Till in life's latest hour I bow, And bless in death a bond so dear."

And yet, brethren, though our hearts may now be all in a glow, lest they should presently grow cold, or the bleak atmosphere of this evil world should chill our devotion, let us never cease to think of the good Shepherd in that great, good act, which most of all showed his love when he laid down his life for the sheep. You have heard the story told by Francis de Sales. He saw a girl carrying a pail of water on her head, in the midst of which she had placed a piece of wood. On asking her why she did this, she told him it was to prevent the motion of the water, for fear it might be spilt. And so, said he, let us place the cross of Christ in the midst of our hearts to check the movement of our affections, that they may not be spilt in restless cares or grievous troubles. "My sheep," says Christ, and thus he describes his people. They are Christ's, his own, a peculiar property. May I hope that this truth will be henceforth treasured up in your soul! It is a common truth, certainly; but when it is laid home by the Holy Spirit it shines, it beams, not merely as a lamp in a dark chamber, but as the day-star rising in your hearts. Remember this is no more our shame that we are sheep, but it is our honor that we are Christ's sheep. To belong to a king carries some measure of distinction. We are the sheep of the imperial pastures. This is our safety: he will not suffer the enemy to destroy his sheep. This is our sanctity: we are separated, the sheep of the pasture of the Lord's Christ. This is sanctification in one aspect of it: for it is the making of us holy, by setting us apart to be the Lord's own portion for ever. And this is the key to our duty: we are his sheep: then let us live to him, and consecrate ourselves to him who loved us and gave himself for us. Christ is the proprietor of the sheep; and are the property of the good Shepherd. II. Now, let us commune together awhile upon the marks of the sheep. When there are so many flocks of sheep, it is necessary to mark them. Our Savior marks us. It has been very properly observed, that there are two marks on Christ's sheep. One is on their ear, the other is on their foot. These are two marks of Christ's sheep not to be found on any other; but they are to be found on all his own the mark on the ear: "My sheep hear my voice." the mark on the foot: "I know them, and they follow me." Think of this mark on their ear. "My sheep hear my voice." They hear spiritually. A great many people in Christ's day heard his voice who did not hear it in the way and with the perception that is here intended. They would not hear; that is to say, they would not hearken or give heed, neither would they obey his call or come unto him that they might have life. These were not always the worst sort of people: there were some of the best that would not hear Christ, of whom he said, according to the original, as translated by some, "Ye search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." They would get as far as curiosity or criticism might allure them; but they would not go any farther: they would not believe in Jesus. Now, the spiritual ear listens to God. The opening of it is the work of the Holy Spirit, and this is a mark of Christ's chosen blood-bought people, that they hear not only the hollow sound, but the hidden sense; not the bare letter, but the spiritual lesson; and that too not merely with the outward organ, but with the inward heart. The chief point is that they hear his voice. Oh, if all that heard my voice heard Christ's voice, how would I wander down every street in this city to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ; but, alas! the voice of the minister is utterly ineffectual to save a soul, unless the voice of Christ reach the conscience and rouse its dormant powers. "My sheep hear my voice;" the voice of Jesus, his counsel, his command, clothed with the authority of his own sacred sovereign utterance. When the gospel comes to you as Christ's gospel, with demonstration of the Spirit, the invitation is addressed to you by him. You can look upon it in no other light; so you must accept and receive it. When his princely power comes with it being mighty to save, he puts saving power into the word then you hear Christ's voice as a fiat that must be obeyed, as a summons that must be attended to, as a call to which there must be a quick response. O beloved, do not ever rest satisfied with hearing the voice of the preacher. We are only Christ's speaking-trumpets: there is nothing in us: it is only his speaking through us that can do any good. O children of God, some of you do not always listen to Christ's voice in the preaching. While we comment on the word, you make your comments on us. Our style, or our tone, or even our gesture, is enough to absorb I might rather say, to distract your thoughts. "Why look ye so earnestly on us?" I beseech you, give less heed to the livery of the servant, and give more care to the message of the Master. Listen warily, if you please; but judge wisely, if you can. See how much pure grain, and how much of Christ, there is in the sermon. Use your sieve; put away all the chaff; take only the good wheat; hear Christ's voice. Well were it if we could obscure ourselves that we might manifest him. I could wish so to preach that you could not see even my little finger; might I but so preach that you could get a full view of Jesus only. O that you could hear his voice drowning ours! This is the mark, the peculiar mark of those who are Christ's peculiar people: they hear his voice. Sometimes, truly it sounds in the ministry; sometimes it thrills forth from that book of books, which is often grossly neglected; sometimes it comes in the nightwatches. His voice may speak to us in the street. Silent as to vocal utterance, but like familiar tones that sometimes greet us in our dreams, the voice of Christ is distinctly audible to the soul. It will come to you in sweet or in bitter providences; yea, there is such a thing as hearing Christ's voice in the rustling of every leaf upon the tree, in the moaning of every wind, in the rippling of every wave. And there be those that have learned to lean on Christ's bosom, till they have looked for all the world as though they were a shell that lay in the ocean of Christ's love, listening for ever to the sonorous cadence of that deep, unfathomed, all-mysterious main. The billows of his love never cease to swell. The billowy anthem still peals on with solemn grandeur in the ear of the Christian. O may we hear Christ's voice each one of us for ourselves! I find that language fails me, and metaphors are weak to describe its potent spell. One point is worth noticing, however. I think our Lord meant here that his sheep, when they hear his voice, know it so well that they can tell it at once from the voice of strangers. The true child of God knows the gospel from the law. It is not by learning catechisms, reading theological books, or listening to endless controversies, that he finds this out. There is an instinct of his regenerate nature far more trustworthy than any lessons he has been taught. The voice of Jesus! Why there is no music like it. If you have once heard it, you cannot mistake it for another, or another for it. Some are babes in grace: others are of full age, and by reason of use, have their senses exercised; but one sense is quickly brought out the sense of hearing. It is so easy to tell the joy-bells of the gospel from the death-knell of the law; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. "Do, or die," says Moses. "Believe, and live," says Christ: you must know which is which. Yes; and I think they are equally shrewd and quick to discriminate between the flesh and the Spirit. Let some of the very feeblest of God's people sit down under a fluent ministry, with all the beauties of rhetoric, and let the minister preach up the dignity of human nature, and the sufficiency of man's reason to find out the way of righteousness, and you will hear them say: "It is very clever; but there is no food for me in it." Bring, however, the best and most instructed, and most learned Christian man, and set him down under a ministry that is very faulty as to the gift of utterance, and incorrect even in grammar; but if it is full of Jesus Christ, I know what he will say: "Ah! never mind the man, and never mind the platter on which he brought the meat; it was food to my soul that I fed upon with a hearty relish; it was marrow and fatness, for I could hear Christ's voice in it." I am not going to follow out these tests; but certain it is, that the sheep know Christ's voice, and can easily distinguish it. I saw hundreds of lambs the other day together, and there were also their mothers; and I am sure if I had had the task of allotting the proper lamb to each, or to any of them, it would have kept me till now to have done it. But somehow the lambs knew the mothers, and the mothers knew the lambs; and they were all happy enough in each other's company. Every saint here, mixed up as he may be at times with parties and professors of all sorts, knows Christ, and Christ knows him, and he is therefore bound to his owner. That is the mark on the ear. You have seen sometimes in the country two flocks together on the road, and you say: "I wonder how the shepherds will manage to keep them distinct? They will get mixed up." They do not; they go this way and that way; and after a little commingling they separate, for they know their master's voice; "and a stranger will they not follow." You will go to-morrow, many of you, out into the world, some to the Exchange, others to the market, and others again into the factory: you are all mixed. Yes; but the seeming confusion of your company is temporary, not real and permanent. You will come right again, and you will go to your own home and your own fellowship. And at the last, when we shall have ended our pilgrimage, the one shall wend his way to the glory land, and the other to the abyss of woe. There will be no mistake. You will hear the Master's call, and obey. There is a mark on the ear which identifies every saint. Christ's sheep hear his voice obediently. This is an important proof of discipleship. Indeed, it may serve as a reproof to many. Oh, I would that you were more careful about this! "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them," said Jesus, "he it is that loveth me." "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings." How comes it to pass, then, that there are certain commands of Christ which some Christians will suffer to lie in abeyance? They will say, "The Lord commands this, but it is not essential." Oh, unloving spirit, that can think anything unessential that thy Bridegroom bids thee do! They that love, think little things of great moment, especially when they are looked upon as tokens of the strength or the tenderness of one's regard. It may not be essential, in order to prove the relation in which a wife stands to her husband, that she should study his tastes, consult his wishes, or attend to his comfort. But will she the less strive to please, because love, not fear, constrains her? I trow not. And can it be that any of you, my brethren, would harbour such a thought as your negligence implies? Do you really suppose that after the choice of Christ has been fixed on you, and the love of Christ has been plighted to you, you may now be as remiss or careless as you like? Nay, rather, might we not expect that a sacred passion, an ardent zeal, a touch of inspiration would stir you up, put you on the alert, make you wake at the faintest sound of his voice, or keep you listening to do his will? Be it ours, then, to act out with fidelity that verse we have often sung with enthusiasm:

"In all my Lord's appointed ways My journey I'll pursue."

However little the precept may appear in the eyes of others; however insignificant as compared with our salvation, yet doth the Lord command it? then his sheep hear his voice, and they follow him. Christ has marked his sheep on their feet as well as their ears. They follow him: they are gently led, not harshly driven. They follow him as the Captain of their salvation; they trust in the power of his arm to clear the way for them. All their trust on him is stayed; all their hope on him they lean. They follow him as their teacher; they call no man "Rabbi" under heaven, but Christ alone. He is the infallible source of their creeds; neither will they allow their minds to be ruled by conclaves, councils, nor decrees. Hath a Christ said it? It is enough. If not, it is no more for me than the whistling of the wind. They follow a Christ as their teacher. And the sheep of Christ follow him as their example; they desire to be in this world as he was. It is one of their marks, that to a greater or less degree they have a Christ-like spirit; and if they could they would be altogether like their Lord. They follow him, too, as their Commander, and Lawgiver, and Prince. "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it," was his mother's wise speech; and it is the children's wise rule: "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." Oh, blessed shall they be above many of whom it shall be said, "These are they that have not defiled their garments." "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Some of his followers are not very scrupulous. They love him. It is not for us to judge them. Rather we place ourselves among them and share in the censure. But happiest of all the happy are they who see the footprint the print of that foot that once was pierced with the nail and put their foot down where he placed it, and then again, in the selfsame mark, follow where he trod, till they climb at last to the throne. Keep close to Christ; take care of his little precepts unto the end. Remember, "Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Do not peril being least in the heavenly kingdom though it is better to be that than to be greatest in the kingdom of darkness. O seek to be very near him, to be a choice sheep in his chosen flock, and to have the mark distinctly upon your foot! I will not stay to apply these truths, but leave each one of you to make such self-searching enquiries as the text suggests. Have I the ear mark? Have I the foot mark? "My sheep hear my voice," "and they follow me." I hope that I am among the number. III. The last point, with which we now proceed to close, is THE PRIVILEGE OF CHRIST'S SHEEP. It does not look very large, but if we open it we shall see an amazing degree of blessedness in it. "I know them," "I know them." What does it mean? I have not time now to tell you all it means. "I know them." What is the reverse of this but one of the most dreadful things that is reserved for the day of judgment? There will be some who will say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils?" And he shall say, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I never knew you; depart from me, ye cursed." Now measure the height of that privilege by the depth of this misery. "I never knew you." What a volume of scorn it implies! What a stigma of infamy it conveys! Change the picture. The Redeemer says, "I know them," "I know them." How his eyes flash with kindness; how their cheeks burn with gratitude, as he says, "I know them "! Why, if a man had a friend and acquaintance that he used to know, and some years after he found him a disreputable, abandoned, wicked, guilty criminal, I feel pretty sure he would not say much about having known such a fellow, though he might be driven to confess that he had some years ago a passing acquaintance with him. But our Lord Jesus Christ, though he knows what poor, unworthy ones we are, yet when we shall be brought up before the Lord, before the great white throne, he will confess he knew us. He does know us, we are old acquaintances of his, and he has known us from before the foundation of the world, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called." There are riches of grace in this; but we will consider it in another way. Our Savior knows us, our Shepherd knows us. Beloved, he knows your person and all about you. You, with that sick body, that aching head, he knows you and he knows your son with all its sensitiveness; that timidity, that anxiety, that constitutional depression he knows it all. A physician may come to see you, and be unable to detect what the disease is that pains or prostrates you, but Christ knows you through and through; all the parts of your nature he understands. "I know them," saith he; he can therefore prescribe for you. He knows your sins. Do not let that dismay you, because he has blotted them all out; and he only knows them to forgive them, to cover them with his righteousness. He knows your corruptions; he will help you to overcome them; he will deal with you in providence and in grace, so that they shall be rooted up. He knows your temptations. Perhaps you are living away from your parents and Christian friends, and you have had an extraordinary temptation, and you wish you could go home and tell your mother. Oh, he knows it, he knows it; he can help you better than your mother can. You say: "I wish the minister knew the temptation I have passed through." Do not tell it; God knows it. As Daniel did not want Nebuchadnezzar to tell him the nature of his dream, but gave him the dream and the interpretation at the same time, so God can send you comfort. There will be a word as plainly suited to your case as though it were all printed and the preacher had known it all. It must be so. Depend upon it, the Lord know's your temptation, and watches your trial; or be it a sick child, or be it a bad matter of business that has lately occurred; or be it a slander that has wounded your heart, there is not a pang you feel but God as surely sees it as the weaver sees the shuttle which he throws with his own hand. He knows your trial, and he knows the meaning of your groans: he can read the secret desire of your heart, you need not write it nor speak it: he has understood it all. You were saying: "O that my child were converted! O that I grew in grace!" He knows it: he knows it every whit. There is not a word on your tongue, nor a wish in your heart, but he knoweth it altogether. O dear heart, he knows your sincerity! Perhaps you want to join the church, and your proposal has been declined, because you could not give satisfactory testimony. If you are sincere, he knows it; he knows, moreover, what your anxiety is. You cannot tell another what it is that is bitter to you the heart knoweth its own bitterness he knows it. As his secret is with you, so your secret is with him. He knows you: he knows what you have been trying to do. That secret gift that offering dropped so quietly where none could see it he knows it. And he knows that you love him. "Yes," you are saying in your soul, "if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now." No, you cannot tell him, nor tell others; but he knows it all. So, now, in closing, let us say that in the text there is mutual knowledge. "I know them, but they also know me, because they hear my voice, and recognize it." Here is mutual confession. Christ speaks, else there would be no voice: they hear, else were the voice not useful. "I know them;" that is his thoughts go towards them. "They follow me;" that is, their thoughts go towards him. He leads the way, else they could not follow. They follow, however, whom he leads the way. Being the counterpart of each other, what the one does the other returns through grace; and what grace puts into the sheep the shepherd recognises, and makes a return to them. Christ and his church become an echo of each other: his the voice, theirs is but a faint echo of it; still it is a true echo, and you shall know who are Christ's by this. Do they echo what Christ saith? Oh, how I wish we were all sheep! How my soul longs that we may many of us who are not of his fold be brought in. The Lord bring you in, my dear hearers. The Lord give you his grace, and make you his own, comfort you, and make you to follow him. And if you are his, show it. These, dear brethren and sisters, here at this time, desire to confess Christ in your presence. If they are doing right, and you are not doing as they do, then you are doing wrong. If it is the duty of one, it is the duty of all; and if one Christian may neglect making a profession, all may do so, and then there will be no visible church whatever, and the visible ordinances must die out. If you know him, own him, for he hath said: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." God bless you, for Christ's sake. Amen.

Verses 27-30

Eternal Security (The Security of Believers; or Sheep Who Will Never Perish) September 5, 1889 by

C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)


© Copyright 2002 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.

Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION © 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

A copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available on Audio Tape Cassette or Audio CD at


“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." [John 10:27-30 ]

Our Savior did not hesitate to preach the deeper doctrines of the gospel to the masses gathered before him. When he began to preach where he was brought up, they all gathered around him with admiration, until he preached the doctrine of election; and then, immediately, they were so angry with him that they wanted to destroy him. They could not bear to hear that the widows of Israel were passed by, and the widow in Zarephath chosen; nor of a heathen leper healed, while the many Jewish lepers were left to die. Election seems to heat the blood and fire the wrath of many. Not only did they not really care to be chosen by God themselves; but they also wanted to keep other people from having the privilege. Not even the bad attitude of these Jews prevented our Lord from sharing these critical truths of the Word. Here, when addressing the Jews, he did not hesitate to speak, even to a rude crowd, concerning that glorious doctrine. He said, “You do not believe because you are not my sheep.” [John 10:26 ] He does not lower the standard of doctrine; but he holds his ground, and carries the war into the enemy’s camp. The notion that certain truths are not fit to be preached to a mixed gathering of people, but are to be kept for the special gathering of the saints, is, I believe, horribly wrong. Christ has not commanded us to keep a part of our teaching secret; reserved from the common folk, and set aside only for the spiritual elite. He is for openly proclaiming all truth. “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” [Matthew 10:27 ]

There is no truth that we need be ashamed of, and there is no truth that will do any harm. We admit that every truth can be twisted; but even this would be a lesser evil than the concealment of it. Whatever the doctrine may be, ungodly men can pervert it according to their own desires; and if we have to stop preaching a doctrine because of the possibility of perverting it, we shall never preach anything at all, for every truth may be perverted, and made to be the mother of infinite harm. Our Savior did not teach his disciples to keep certain things for the instructed few who were able to receive them; but he commanded us to make known all the great truths, since they are necessary for conviction, for conversion, for edification, for sanctification, and for the perfecting of the people of God. Even to his rough opponents he spoke boldly. Right in the faces of his adversaries he preached this great, but humbling truth, “You do not believe because you are not my sheep.” [John 10:26 ] Your unbelief is evidence that you were not chosen, that you have not been called by the Spirit of God, and that you are still lost in your sins.

The Jews had said to him, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” They professed that they just wanted to know for certain that he was the Messiah. This was a vain pretense, for he had told them all they needed to know, and they had not believed him. Therefore he answered them to a large degree by making them know more about themselves. Sometimes the point in which a man is lacking is not in his understanding of the gospel, but rather his own need of it. He may know all of Christ that is needful for his salvation, but he may not know enough about himself and his own lost condition; and therefore Christ does not appear precious to him, because he is ignorant of his deep and terrible need of a savior. So the Savior began to talk to them, not so much about himself, but rather about his people, and what they were to be. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

I pray that God, the Holy Spirit, will bless the word to many, that they may learn more about the work of Christ in their hearts, and more about their need of it, and thus may be led to seek Jesus, and find him tonight as their Savior and their Shepherd.

There are two things in my text which will suffice for our meditation. First, here is a description given of the Lord’s people. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” And then, secondly, there is a privilege guaranteed to them, namely, their everlasting, unquestionable safety. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”

I. I can say very little on this first point, considering the vast scope of the subject, let us notice THE DESCRIPTION HERE GIVEN OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD.

They are first described as a unique possession: “My sheep.”

All men are not sheep, for some are foxes, or voracious wolves, and others are compared to dogs and lions. All persons who might be called sheep are not Christ’s sheep. All do not belong to his flock. All are not gathered into his fold. There is a uniqueness of possession. There may be many sheep, but the Savior speaks of “My sheep,” those whom he chose to be his before the world was created, those who were given to him by the Father, those who have been bought with his blood, redeemed from among men, and in due time have been ransomed by his power, for he has bought them back from the hand of the enemy, and therefore claims them to be his own. “The Lord’s portion is his people.” Other lords have their portion, and Christ takes his portion. His people are his inheritance. He speaks of “my sheep” as a special heritage, whom, as a shepherd, he claims for his own. Of these he is the sole Owner. He is not merely their Custodian, but their Owner. We read of the hireling or mercenary shepherd, “whose doesn’t own the sheep”; but in the case of our good Shepherd, “he brought out his own [sheep].” [John 10:4 ].

There is a unique character about them. They are “my sheep.” They are dependent, timid, trembling, obedient, teachable; they are made sheep by his own Spirit.

They have received a nature which is not that of the canine world, nor that of the swine multitude, nor that of the wolfish persecutor; but that of men indwelt by the Spirit of God, who are therefore clean, gentle, loving, and gracious. He calls them “My sheep,” for they have a special relationship to him: they are like Jesus. Being his sheep, he has become their Protector as well as their Owner, and they look up to him as such. They are sheep to him, and he is a shepherd to them.

We may judge ourselves tonight by considering whether or not we are Christ’s sheep. Do we acknowledge ourselves as belonging to him, spirit, soul, and body? Do we regard ourselves as being, in relationship with him, no wiser, no stronger, than sheep to a shepherd? I know some who are certainly not sheep of Christ’s flock, for they will be led by nobody in heaven, or on earth; but must have their own sweet way. They are critics of the Bible, not disciples of it. They might be very good dogs, but they are very abnormal sheep. They would make very respectable wolves, for they are great with destructive criticism; but they certainly are not sheep; and their disposition and spirit are such that they would scorn the character, if they understood it. “What! to go where I am led? To lie down where I am told to lie down? Not to choose my own way? Just to see nothing, and know nothing; but to have my eyes always on the Shepherd, and my wisdom subject to his? To be shepherded by another mind than my own? Is it so? Am I to be nothing but a sheep to the Lord Jesus?”

Yes, it is true; and therefore the modern wise man and woman are indignant, and proudly repudiates the character of a sheep. As for us, we accept all that the name implies. O brothers and sisters, we can act as a man or woman before other people, but when we come before our Lord, as the sheep is a mere animal in comparison with its shepherd, so we feel ourselves to be less than that. How often have we cried with David, “I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” [Psalms 73:22 ] O my Lord, in your presence I sink as low as low can be, and you become very high, yes, everything to me, the Shepherd of my weak, vacillating, trembling spirit! There is a uniqueness, then, about these people in the description. I have only time to hint at it.

A chief characteristic of Christ’s people is attention to their Lord, “My sheep listen.”

They can hear, because they have had spiritual ears given to them. Once the Shepherd could have spoken all day long, and they would not have heard him; but it is not so now. Even from the cross our Lord’s mournful cries were not heard by them; but now he has given them spiritual capacity and perception, and they can hear, and they do hear what his dying love would make them know and understand. Their Lord has spoken to them. They have heard his voice, and have known it to be his; they still hear it, and they distinguish between his voice and other voices. “They will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.” [John 10:5 ]

Don’t you say, sometimes, to a child that is disobedient, “Didn’t you hear what I said to you?” In the same way, Christ may say to many who hear with the ear, but who will not yield obedience, that they have not heard him; for indeed they have not listened with the inner ear. Their ear does not reach down to their heart; and thus, for spiritual purposes, it is not an ear at all. It is an awful thing when the ear is a closed passage, shut against the voice of the Savior. You can tell who the sheep of Christ are by the type of ears that they have, “My sheep hear my voice.” They may not hear a lot that other people hear; they may even be glad to be deaf to it. There are many invitations that are like music to carnal ears, which have no charms for them. They try to be deaf to some voices from which they could gain nothing but temptation; but they hear Christ’s voice. They are all there when he speaks: their soul sits at the door to hear his softest whisper. They try to hear: they are very careful that they never miss a sound from heaven. They do hear; but they long to hear yet even more completely, and to be more obedient to that voice which rings through their soul. Oh, how sometimes, we have listened very carefully to Christ! I have heard him with my body, my soul, my spirit; at least, I have thought so; but whether in the body, or out of the body, I could not tell. If in the body, every pore has been an ear for my Lord’s sweet voice. As though my blood were tingling from the crown of my head to the sole of my foot, so has my spirit been wholly and entirely affected by the charming tones of the voice of the Lover of my soul. Oh, that he would speak tonight! Can’t you hear him? Oh, my brothers and sisters, isn’t he now calling to us now? Don’t you rejoice to hear him?

No music is like his charming voice, Nor half so sweet can be.

So, we see, that a significant uniqueness of the elect ones lies in their attention to Jesus, their Shepherd. He calls in vain to others; but his sheep hear his voice.

Another characteristic of the Lord’s people is intimacy. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them.” “I know them.”

Yes, the Lord discerns them. He singles them out, for “the Lord knows those that are his.” Sometimes we do not know them; but he says, “I know them.” In the dark times of life the child of God may begin to doubt who they are; but Jesus says, “I know them.” When a child of God does not know whether he is a child of God or not, his Father knows his own children, and the great Shepherd knows his own sheep. His is a discernment which never fails. The hypocrite cannot get into the true fold of Christ. He may get into the visible fold; but not into the real spiritual fold of Christ; for Christ does not know him, and tells him to depart. This is the very seal of their salvation- “The Lord knows those that are his.” His eyes discern between the righteous and the wicked, between those that fear God and those that do not fear him; his is a knowledge of quick and positive discernment.

But this might make us tremble if we did not know that the expression, “I know them,” literally means a knowledge conveying warm approval and praise. “I know them,” says the Shepherd; “I take a delight in them. I know their secret sighs and times of tears. I hear their private prayers. I know their praises in the silence of their hearts. I know their dedication, and their aspirations to walk in holiness. I know the longings of their heart and their love for me. I know how they delight in me. I know how they trust my promises. I know how they look to my atoning blood. I know how in their inmost souls they rejoice in my name. I know them, and approve their secret thoughts.” Brothers and sisters the Lord’s people have an intimate relationship with their Master-Jesus foreknew them in his sovereign grace before the creation of the world; and now he personally knows them by taking a delight in them.

This divine contentment leads to a very intense observation of them. “He knows the way that I take.” “The Lord knows the way of the righteous.” He has an eye on them, and notes their paths. His ears are open to their cry, and he hears their petitions. Though the entire world is before him, for his omniscience to consider, yet he looks on each one of his saints as much as if they were the only person in the universe, Oh, to think of this! “I know them,” sounds like music in this sense. He that knows the stars, and knows the infinite multitude of living creatures in the universe, has a special and intimate knowledge of his own chosen ones. “I know them,” he says; and he means that he knows them by intense observation. Now, beloved, examine your heart, right now, to see whether you are part of the people that Jesus speaks of, when he says, “I know them.” Does the Lord know you as his own? Does he have a personal and intimate relationship with you, and you with him? Or will he have to say to you at the end of your life, “Depart from me, I never knew you”? Why, some of you have made yourself known to him! You have gone to him in such trials, and in such troubles, and you have cried to him in such bitterness and such anguish, that, if he asks your name, you can say,

“Once a sinner near despair Sought your mercy-seat by prayer; Mercy heard, and set him free; Lord, that mercy came to me!”

When you helped me in my great need, when you forgave me my great sin, then you knew me, O my Lord! “Do you ask me who I am? Oh, my Lord! You know my name.” Just as some men clearly know the name of the persistent beggar who is often at their door, so the Lord also certainly knows some of you, for every day you go begging at his gate, and you constantly receive grace from his hand. Besides that, you go every day thanking him for the mercies you receive. He knows your name: the name of one who is drowned in debt to his infinite bounty. He can never forget your groans and cries; and day by day your praises are a memorial to him.

By his love, and pity, and compassion, he is sure to remember you. A woman can sooner forget her nursing-child than your God could forget you.

Well, these characteristics of the Lord’s sheep are things well worth remembering-uniqueness, attention, and intimacy. Are these yours?

But here is one more characteristic of the Lord’s people: actual obedience. How does he put it? “I know them, and they follow me.”

All the Lord’s sheep are clearly marked as his. “They follow me.” That is to say, they openly affirm him as their Shepherd. Other shepherds come, and other sheep go after them; but these sheep know the Lord Jesus, and they follow him. He alone is their Leader. They are not ashamed to confess it. They take up the cross, and follow the Cross-bearer, and they bear his name.

More than that, they live out their confession, and they follow him in daily life, copying his example. They not only say, “He is my Leader,” but they follow him. Christ’s sheep try to follow in the track that the Shepherd marks for them. Christ’s people are never so happy as when they can put down their feet where Christ put his feet down. We desire, all day, and every day, to follow the very marks that he has left by his bleeding footsteps. Beloved, be very careful to do this! Do what Jesus did, according to your ability and power. This is what the people of

God try to do. If you do not endeavor to be like Christ, you are not his sheep; for it is true of his sheep, “I know them, and they follow me.”

And this is personally true of each one of them. I could not tell you exactly in English words, but the Greek word here gives a kind of personality to the whole flock. “My sheep listen to my voice,” that is, the whole of the flock of God. “I know them,” that is, again, the whole flock of them, altogether. But, “they follow me,” is in the plural number. It is as though it said, “They, each one, follow me.” We, who are the Lord’s chosen, hear en masse, and the Lord knows the whole church, for, as a whole, it is redeemed by Christ; but we individually follow-each one for himself, through grace. We each one follow him. “They follow me.” I like that singular personal pronoun. It is not written, “They follow my commandments,” though they do. It is not said, “They follow the route that I have mapped for them,” though they do that. But, “they follow me,” distinctly. In their individual personality they follow their Lord in his individual personality. They have recognized him beyond his words, beyond his ways, and even beyond his salvation. “They follow me,” he says. This is a great mark of a Christian, not merely a life of morality, a life of integrity, a life of holiness, but a life of all these in connection with Christ.

They follow him, not holiness, nor morality, nor integrity, apart from Christ, but they follow their Lord. A good life is good in any man. We cannot speak evil of virtue, even when we find it in the ordinary moralist; but this is not the complete mark of Christ’s sheep. The virtues of Christ’s sheep are in connection with Christ himself. The Christian is holy, and all that, but that is because he follows his perfect Master, and stays close to him. This is one of the distinctive and unfailing marks of the child of God.

Now, I have run through, very briefly, the description, and I now leave you to meditate on it when you are alone. This description of the sheep of Christ is worthy of reading, noting, and inwardly digesting.

II. But my main object tonight is to show you THE GREAT PRIVILEGE CONFERRED ON THE PEOPLE OF GOD. Christ has secured for them the priceless blessing of eternal security in him.

No sheep of Christ shall ever be lost. None that he has purchased with his blood, and made to be his own, shall ever wander away so as to perish in the end. This is the doctrine of the verses now before us. At any rate, if I wanted to express that doctrine, I could not find words in which I could set it forth more definitely, nor more completely, than is done by the words before me.

1. The security of the people of God lies, first of all, in the character of the life which they have received. Listen to this: “I give them ETERNAL LIFE.”

All the spiritual life which every sheep in the flock now possess has been given to them by their Shepherd. Never was there another flock of which this could be said. No shepherd but this one can give life to his sheep; but he gave them all the true life that they have. No, stop: he not only gave them life, but he sustains that life by a constant gift. Observe, it is not written, “I gave them eternal life,” but “I give them eternal life.” They are always living by virtue of the life which he is always giving. They are constantly receiving life from him, according to that assurance, “Because I live, you also will live.” What he always gives they must always receive, and therefore it cannot cease.

Notice the nature of that life. “I give them eternal life.”

Now, you all know what “eternal” means, however, none of you can form an idea of eternity which can fully grasp its endless duration. You only know this, that it has no end, and therefore cannot ever cease to be. If anybody said that he had eternal life and lost it, he would be flatly contradicting himself. It could not be eternal, or else he would still have it. If it is eternal, it is eternal, and there is no end to it; and thus there is an end of further argument about it. If the life that Christ gives us, when we are born again, can die, then it is not “eternal” life, or else words have ceased to have any meaning at all. In its nature, as being the work of the Holy Spirit, and emanating from God, the life bestowed in regeneration is an everlasting one. Hasn’t the Holy Spirit described us as “being born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”? The life of God imparted by the Holy Spirit must live forever. And just as the gift is continuous, and it is always being given, and as it is in itself eternal life, therefore it must always exist.

But, principally, I dwell on the glorious character of the Giver. “I give them eternal life.”

The life that Christ gives is not that poor, paltry life which lasts the person professing faith in Christ only about three weeks, and then dwindles down, and dies out; or, say, three months, and then the revival is over, and the convert returns to his old ways, and has to begin again. Such is the religious life which is energized by men; but it is not so with the life which comes from God. I said that the false convert begins again, though how he begins again I don’t know, because I read in Scripture of people being born again; but I have never read of their being born again, and again, and again, and again. I am told that some evangelists and revivalist have had their people converted and born again more times than they can count; and I heard that a woman had been born again twelve times down at a certain revival meeting; but he who stated the fact said shrewdly that he feared that she was not truly born again the last time. No, I do not think she will ever be truly born again in that way. He that is born again, according to Scripture, has received eternal life; and this is the only life worth receiving. I would not preach my very soul away in order to proclaim such a cheap, meaningless, temporary salvation as that; but to preach the Lord Jesus as giving eternal life is worth living for and dying for.

I tell you, it is this that brought me to Christ. While I was still young, and thinking things over, I saw young men that were brought up with me, excellent in character, who left their homes to start their own careers, and after a while the temptations of the world overcame them, and they went astray, and had no religion at all. But when I read that Christ gave his sheep eternal life, I looked at it as a kind of moral life insurance for my soul, and I came to Christ, and trusted him to keep me to the end. I will suffer a grievous disappointment if I ever find out that the life of God in me is not eternal, and that the new birth does not assure final perseverance. I did not buy a ticket for a quarter of the distance to heaven; but I bought a ticket for the entire trip. I trust, no, I know, that according to my faith, it will be done to me. I am very glad to have my non-stop ticket with me, and I believe that unless the train of Almighty grace gets derailed-which it never will-I shall get through to the Celestial station as surely as ever divine power can draw me there; for so it is written, “I give my sheep eternal life.”

Now, depend upon it, it is what you hold out to people that has much to do with how they behave themselves afterwards. Tell them that if they believe in Christ, they are going to get, not eternal life, but life for a little while-life for as long as they take good care of it, and I fear it will prove to be so. It may do them good to get the poor little change you offer them; but as surely as they are converted to a temporary life, they will die out before long. You told them that they would. You did not propose any more to them. But when you propose to them this-“Here is everlasting life to be had by believing in Christ. It is not temporary, but eternal life”-why, then they accept it as such. They believe in Christ for that, and according to their faith it is done to them; and the Lord and Giver of life is glorified in giving to them this great and splendid gift, the gift of all gifts. “I give my sheep eternal life.”

I don’t know another way to preach from this text than the way in which I am preaching from it. Somebody says, “Oh, that is Calvinism!” I don’t care what it is. It is Scriptural. I have this inspired Book before me, and I cannot see any meaning in the words before me, if they do not mean that those who have received life from the Lord Jesus have an endless inheritance. I cannot make them mean anything else. “I give my sheep eternal life,” must mean that believers are eternally secure.

Someone cries out, “It is dangerous doctrine.” I have not found it dangerous, and I have tried it these many years. I believe that it would be far more dangerous to tell people that they could be truly converted, and yet the work of grace would end in six months, and then they could come back again, and begin all over again, and do so as many times as they liked; whereas the Word of God tells them that if they fall away, it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance. Men may fall and be restored; but if they utterly fall away, there remains no other work which can be done for them. If this everlasting life could die, the Holy Spirit would have done his best, and nothing more would remain to be done. If it were true that this salt which is good should lose its saltiness, how could it be made salty again? See what a great gulf opens before you. Do not look for a salvation which will not endure every possible strain. Oh, that you may get this eternal life!

So we take a step further. Again, the children of God are safe, not only because of the life they receive, but because of the inner dangers which are averted.

Take the next sentence-“And they shall never perish.” They have a tendency to spiritual sickness, but their Shepherd will minister to them so that they shall never perish. They are sheep, and have a tendency to wander; but their Shepherd shall keep them so that they shall never perish. Time tries them, and they grow old, and the novelty of religion wears off; but they shall never perish. Think what you will of them, “they shall never perish,” for so the promise stands.

The first statement, “I give them eternal life,” is as broad as it can be, and this is broader still-“they shall never perish.” The rule has absolutely no exception. All of the Lord’s sheep shall be preserved. Let them live to be as old as Methuselah; they shall never perish, whatever temptation may assail them. They may be tried, and troubled, and broken down, so that they may be hardly able to live; but they shall never perish. “Never” is a long day; but it is not longer than grace will last. Blessed be God, this grand promise stands firm-“They shall never perish.”

Now we must go a step further. We have no time to drive these arguments home with any more detail. The sheep are safe, next, by outer injuries being prevented. “No one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Many will tug at them, but none shall snatch them away. The devil will give many a horrible tug and pull, to get them away; but he shall never take them out of the great Shepherd’s hand. Their old friends, and the memory of their old sins will come, and tug at them very hard, and very cunningly; but the Savior says, “No one can snatch them out of my hand.”

So, first, here is their security: they are in his hand; that is, in his possession, and he clutches them, as a man holds something in his hand, and says, “It is mine.” Neither shall anyone take them away from being under his protection. Never shall they be snatched away from Christ. When he says this, he pledges his honor to preserve them, for if one could be snatched out of his hand, then the devils in hell would rejoice, and say, “He could not keep them. He said that he would, but he could not. We have managed to snatch this one, or that one, out of the pierced hand of their Redeemer.” But such a horrible exultation shall never be heard throughout the ages of eternity. “They shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Some one wickedly said, “They may get out of his hand all by themselves.” But how can this be true, when the first sentence is, “They shall never perish”? Treat Scripture honestly and candidly, and you will admit that the promise “they shall never perish” shuts out the idea of perishing by going out of the Lord’s hand by their own act and deed. “They shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Who can loosen the grip of that hand which was pierced with the nail for me? My Lord Jesus bought me at too dear a price to ever let me go. He loves me so much that his whole omnipotence will work with that hand, and unless there is something greater than the Godhead, I cannot be snatched away from that dear, tight-fisted grip.

Now, to make His promise even more secure, and to pile on the comfort, the Savior goes on to add the care and power of God the Father. Our Lord says, “My Father, who has given them to me.”

The saints of God are safe, because the Father gave them to his Son. He did not give him a temporary inheritance. He did not bestow on him something which he might in time lose. Will the Lord Christ lose what his Father gave him? You know how people say, “Oh, I hope that, if a burglar takes anything from my house, he will not take that cup, which is an heirloom. My father gave it to me.” If a man had to defend his property, he would be sure to take care of that which was a very special gift, given in his honor, as a memorial of a great work. So is it with our Lord Jesus: he values that which his Father gave him. I delight in the thought. I picture my blessed Lord looking at each one of his believing people, and saying, “My Father gave you to me.” That poor woman, that struggling young man, that decrepit old lady, that man who is half-starved, but who loves his Lord-Jesus says of each one, “My Father gave this soul to me.” He cannot lose what his Father gave him. He would sooner die again than he would lose them. His death has made their salvation safe beyond all jeopardy. He laid down his life for the sheep. The lion came, and leaped into the fold; but the Shepherd met the lion; yes, he grabbed him with his pierced hands and held him down. It was a terrible fight. The Shepherd sweat great drops of blood as he held the monster; but he overpowered him, and he hurled him to the earth, and said, “It is finished:” and it was finished. He has so saved all his flock until now that we are sure that he will never lose one of those whom his Father committed to his trust. “My Father gave them to me.”

Then he goes on to say that his people are kept by the Father’s power; for he says, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

Beloved, although God gave us to Christ, he did not cease to care for us himself! I must bring to your memory our sweet text from last Sunday night. I could not fully preach from it, but the text was enough without a sermon: “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” [John 17:10 ] We tried to show you how we were none the less the Father’s because we were the Son’s, and none the less the Son’s because we belonged to the Father. So here Jesus in effect says. “My Father gave you to me; yet he takes care of you none the less, but all the more, because he is determined that what he gave to me shall be mine, the Father will put forth his wisdom and power to preserve you.”

Let me illustrate the latter words of the text. There lie the children of God in the hand of Christ. Do you see that tightly fisted hand? They are safe enough there. Jesus says, “No one can snatch them out of my hand.” But see the Father, he puts his hand over the hand of Jesus! There, now: you are inside two hands, “And no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Oh, the serene security of those who hear the voice of Christ, and whom he calls his sheep! A double-handed force keeps them safe against all danger. Tug away, Satan! You will never snatch them out of the hand of Jesus, and the hand of his Father! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” It is impossible to be done.

And then the Savior finishes everything by saying that, while he has spoken of the Father and himself as two-and two they are as persons-yet in their divine essence they are but one. He says, “I and my Father are one;” and especially one in love to his people.

“The Father himself loves you,” even as he loves his Son; and, while you read of the love of Christ in his death, you must also read of the Father’s love just as much in that great sacrifice. It is true of our Lord Jesus that-“He loved the church, and gave himself for it;” but it is equally true of the Father-“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” They are one in an infinite love to all those who, called according to the divine purpose, are following Christ, and listening to his voice. I fall back with great joy on this blessed conviction-that he will not allow those to perish whom He has given eternal life. Of course, if you have only taken temporary life-if you only believe in that-you will get no more than you believe. Your gift will be measured by your faith. But if you say, “I gave myself up to Christ that he might be the Alpha and Omega to me; and I wholly trust myself to him without reservation, throughout all my life, to save me,” he will do it; for “I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”

You are safe in Christ’s hand. Know it, and feel the joy of it. “Oh,” says one, “but if I thought that was true, I would run into sin!” I am sorry for you: things act very strangely on you. Nothing binds me to my Lord like a strong belief in his unchanging love. “Oh,” but you say, “that it would be far safer to tell your listeners that they may be overcome by sin, and perish!” I will not tell them what I do not believe. I will not dishonor my Lord by a lie. Shall I come home to your house, and tell your children that, if they do wrong, you will cut their heads off; or that, if they disobey you, they will cease to be your children. If I were to propound that doctrine, your children would grow angry at such a slander on their father. They would say, “No, we know better than that!” I would rather say to them, “My dear children, your father loves you; he will love you without end, therefore do not grieve him.” Under such doctrine true children will say, “We love our ever-loving father. We will not disobey him. We will endeavor to walk in his ways.”

“‘Tis love that makes our willing feet In swift obedience move.”

Our loving Lord will not cast away those to whom he is bound by the bonds of marriage.

“Well, but suppose we sin.” He will chasten us, and restore us

“If I believed that doctrine, I would live as I pleased,” says one. Then you are not one of his sheep, for his sheep love holiness, and will not love iniquity. The change brought about by the new birth is such that a man will not return to his old ways of sin and folly. This is the doctrine; and how can you make it to be an indulgence to sin? True saints never turn the grace of God into an excuse to ignore the very commands of God, but the very mention of eternal love leads them to careful obedience.

One thing I must say at the end. Some ministers preach a gospel with a very wide door to it, but there is nothing to be had when you get inside. I am sometimes told that I make my door a little too narrow. It is not true, for I preach the gospel to every creature under heaven, with all my might; but if the door is narrow, there is something worth having when you enter through it. Even if the way is narrow, once you get in, you have found eternal life, and you shall never perish, neither shall any one snatch you out of Christ’s hands. Sinner, come and have an eternal blessing! It is worth having. Come and have it! If you believe, you shall surely be saved. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved;” saved from sin so as never to go back and live in it again; so saved as to be made holy; so saved as to be preserved in holiness. Holiness shall be the main current of your life, until, made perfectly holy, you shall dwell with God above. Into his hands let us commit our spirits tonight, and we may rest assured that they shall be eternally safe. Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 10". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.