DISCUSSIONS ON DISPUTED TEXTS
7. ‘SHOULD NOT PERISH”
This is yet another negative cause of Christ’s coming: that believers should not perish. The same is stated in verse 15 as well. As noted in our earlier discussion on John 6, Christ came to save the elect to the uttermost. They need not worry about losing their salvation, for they should not perish, but “we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). If the elect can perish, then all above which we have said regarding the Father and Christ’s purpose in coming would amount to Christ being a failure. But praise God, Christ said, “they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). If John 3:16 is clear, which it surely is, then it’s even clearer that the object of God’s love will never be lost. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). If Christ didn’t save those that were lost, then He failed. Whoever has the audacity to admit such blasphemy (whether directly or indirectly [by saying He still won’t violate our freewill]) surely knows not God and is far from Him.
The elect will persevere, for “we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39). They will not perish, but everlastingly be saved because Christ “is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). God’s work of faith worked in us, and this good work will be performed in us unto Jesus Christ comes again (John 6:29; Philippians 1:29, 6).
The salvation of the elect is secured once and for all, no matter what, by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father has given us the gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8, 9) and eternal life (Romans 6:23). God has given us other gifts as well, such as faith (Philippians 1:29). The Bible also tells us that, “by the righteousness of one [Jesus Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18). These gifts (which would include all good things given to us, James 1:17) “of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29). Even His calling is without repentance (Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9). In Romans 8:30, His calling that is without repentance results in the glorification of the one called as well. Those same that are called are the same that will be glorified. They will not lose their salvation, but will be kept until the day of Jesus Christ. Once they are given their gifts and are called, they are never taken away. We have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). Our security is based on nothing more than Christ’s person and work. It is for Christ’s sake that we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32). The Lord our God “forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever” (Psalm 37:28). The Father chose us in His Son (Ephesians 1:4) and we are part of His body (1 Corinthians 12:13). To be taken out of Christ’s body is to mar the body of Christ. God promised us eternal life (Titus 1:2) and we shall receive it (John 10:28; 1 John 2:25).
The work of the Son has been sufficiently dealt with in this discussion already, as well as eternal security by Him in passages such as John 6. But we wish to speak of those things that we may not have mentioned. Christ said His sheep would never be plucked out of His hand (John 10:29). Such a statement is one that presents us with the doctrine of preservation. Paul showed his faith in this promise when he stated, “the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). Paul probably refers back to the promise in the Psalm 121:7, where it is said, “The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.” The elect are said to be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). The power of God is said to be Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:24). Whether one takes Him to be so in 1 Peter 1:5 or not, the fact remains that we shall be kept. We mentioned above the giving of the elect to Christ. They are Christ’s. All who are given to Christ will be kept by Him and raised at the last day, as we saw in John 6. To further affirm this, 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the resurrection and speaks of the resurrection of those that are Christ’s (verse 23), “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming.” The elect of God will be kept and resurrected in the last day.
fter Christ rose from the dead, He told the apostles that He was going to send them the Comforter. The Comforter is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) and is said to be abide with God’s people “for ever” (John 14:16). After hearing and believing the gospel of truth, “ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). We are not sealed for a short time, but we “are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Regarding the Holy Spirit, it is said, “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts;” “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit;” “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14). The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance. If we can ever perish, then we shall never obtain this inheritance. But praise the blessed and almighty God of heaven! The Holy Spirit is our earnest. Strong’s defines an earnest as, “money which in purchases is given as a pledge or downpayment that the full amount will subsequently be paid.” John Gill aptly commented on this verse:
…an earnest, is what confirms an agreement, and assures the right to the thing agreed to, and is a part of it, and lesser than it, and is never returned; so the Spirit of God certifies the right to the heavenly inheritance, as well as gives a meetness for it; he is the firstfruits of the eternal glory and happiness, and of the same kind with it; and as he is enjoyed in measure by the saints now, is lesser than the communion which they shall have with him, and with the Father, and the Son, hereafter, for the best things are reserved till last; and being once given into the heart as an earnest, he always continues, he never removes more, or is ever taken away.”
The saint of God ought to praise the God in heaven for such a wonderful earnest indeed. Those who reject the saints’ preservation are no more than blasphemers of God’s precious work. We wish also to make known that He is our earnest “until the redemption of the purchased possession.” If all individuals were redeemed by Christ on the cross, then surely they will take part of the blessing herein mentioned. But such is not the case. Those whom the Lord redeemed are not their own, for they are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20), the price being God’s blood (Acts 20:28). And if this blood were shed for all, then all would be redeemed at the day of redemption “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54). But this is only true of those that shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).
Christ is the “finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), but if we perish, what hath He finished? Nothing, but Christ “is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Jude also tells us that we are “preserved in Jesus Christ” (verse 1). To perish indicates being placed in a state of condemnation once more, but we can’t be condemned. Our text, John 3, indicates this, because Christ died for us.
Paul makes it even more abundantly clear in Romans 8, where he asks, “Who is he that condemneth?” (verse 34). He simply answers, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” He goes on to say, “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verses 38, 39). The work that Christ hath begun in us will be continued on throughout our life, so if one says that unbelief is not mentioned, it only reveals their utter depravity and blindness. The act of unbelief would be something present or something to come, yet nothing in those time periods will be able to separate us from the love of God. The act of unbelief would be an act performed by us, but we’re creatures, and no other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God. And even “if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13; not to say that the elect ever will become atheists, but used rather to emphasize God’s faithfulness in securing the salvation of the elect). He’s faithful to His promise of eternal life, which we shall next consider. But be that as it may, to say the elect will perish is to make the work of Christ of non-effect, useless and vain. To say such an one can be saved who believes such a thing is to endorse their falsehood. May it never be!
"But Have Everlasting"