Based on God's Word, we
can know that we have eternal life.
Assurance of salvation
and security of the believer has nothing to do with
our feelings, but everything to do with the
integrity of God. He wants to save us and He is
trustworthy. He has done everything possible to save
us through the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ. The moment we believe on Christ and receive
Him as our Savior, we can rest on His Word and the
witness of the Holy Spirit. "He who has the Son has
the life; he who does not have the Son of God does
not have the life. These things I have written to
you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so
that you may know that you have eternal life" (1
In God's mind, once a
son, always a son. God chose to adopt us, and that
is a permanent relationship with Him. Once you are a
child of God, you are always His child. Once you are
in the family of God by faith in His Son, you are
there to stay forever.
In this majestic stately
prayer Jesus reminds us that every believer has been
"given" to Christ by the Father. It is a just
description of every child of God. The Father
through the Holy Spirit has drawn us to Christ. Our
Great High Priest goes before the throne of God
bearing the names of His people upon His
breastplate. None of His are omitted. We are
continually remembered before the throne.
Both the Father and the
Son equally esteem believers. Believers are the
Father's property. He has made them His by adoption;
He has confirmed His interest in them by
regeneration; He esteems them as His peculiar
treasure. Moreover, Jesus has an equal propriety in
the believer. Will Christ lose the purchase of His
blood, and suffer His own members to perish, for
want of continual intercession and protection?
WE ARE ETERNALLY
SECURE IN THE SON
Jesus was praying for His
disciples the night before He went to the cross.
Jesus was not praying for the lost on this occasion.
He will reach the world through His disciples.
Everything will depend upon them after He ascends to
heaven. This is a crisis moment in the dawn of world
redemption. God's eternal purpose is at stake. The
crucial hour has arrived. No wonder He is praying
for the steadfastness of His disciples. The future
of the Church depends upon it.
The Father and the Son
are mutually interested and involved in redeeming
the lost world. "And all things that are Mine are
Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified
in them" (v. 10). Albert Barnes gives us the sense
of the passage, "Those who are my disciples are
Thine. That which promotes My honor will also
promote Thine. I pray, therefore, that they may have
needful grace to honor My gospel, and to proclaim it
"All I have" refers to
"those You gave Me" in verse nine. The disciples are
a mutual possession of the Father and the Son. "All
that is Yours is Mine, and Mine is yours." "I pray
for them because they belong to You." Jesus
repeatedly asserts, "They are Yours."
"I have been glorified in
them" (v. 10). Jesus' glory has already shone in His
disciple's faces, imperfect as they are. That offers
us hope, does it not? Not only is the reflection
seen, but Jesus uses a verb tense in the original
language that says and this will remain (perfect
tense). Their goal is to glorify Christ. "I have
been glorified in them." And when He is glorified
the Father is also glorified.
Now it is true that when
Jesus was praying, "I am no longer in the world" He
was in the midst of His disciples, probably in the
Mount of Olives, and perhaps before He prayed the
agonizing prayer, "Not My will; Thy will be done."
Perhaps the paradox can best be stated, "I am, as it
were, no longer in the world," or "very shortly I
will no longer be in the world." The departure of
Jesus is so near that He can use the present tense
to express the future. Even though His work will be
completed tomorrow on the cross when He declares,
"It is finished," He can pray tonight with
conviction that His work in the world is done. Jesus
speaks as if Calvary has already taken place. It is
a certainty in His mind and will. In His thought His
work is now finished and He is on His way back to
the Father. What a Savior!
He was leaving the
disciples to return to heaven. They would be left in
a hostile world system that was opposed to the
kingdom of God. The emphasis Jesus made in His great
high priestly prayer was that all whom the Father
has given to Him would come to Him; none will be
lost. "I am no longer in the world; and yet they
themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy
Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You
have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your
name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and
not one of them perished but the son of perdition,
so that the Scripture would be fulfilled" (John
Jesus prays for the
"I am not praying for the
world" (v. 9), meaning those who are in opposition
to God. Here He is specifically praying for those
whom the Father has entrusted to Him for keeping.
What would we expect Him to ask for their future
needs? Will He ask for financial security, personal
honor, a special place in heaven, or political
influence? No. He prays "that they will be kept from
evil, separated from the world, qualified for duty,
and brought home safely to heaven. Soul prosperity
is the best prosperity . . . is only real when it is
in proportion to the prosperity of the soul," says
Marcus Rainsford. The apostle John summed it up
wisely, "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you
may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul
prospers" (3 John 2). That is the emphasis that is
needed in our day. Are you prospering spiritually as
well as you are financially?
Jesus was keeping
"While I was with them, I
was keeping them in Your Name."
F. F. Bruce says, "In
themselves they were weak indeed, but the Father's
enabling grace and the guidance and illumination of
His Spirit, they would fulfill the mission with
which they were now being entrusted and bring glory
to their Master in fulfilling it. So confident of
this is He that He speaks in the perfect tense: 'I
have been glorified in them'" (John, p. 331).
Jesus says in His prayer,
"I was keeping them in Your Name" (v. 12). The
"Name" is the LORD God's covenant name, Jehovah or
Yahweh. In the Old Testament the "Name" of God
denotes His character and His power. The Name refers
to everything God is in His covenant relationship
with His people. Jesus had guarded the disciples as
a treasurer the Father had entrusted to him. He kept
the disciples who had been with Him for three years
in the Father's authority and power.
"While I was with them, I
was keeping them in Your name which You have given
Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished
but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture
would be fulfilled" (v. 12).
Remember these words of
Jesus in John 6:37, 39-40? "All that the Father
gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to
Me I will certainly not cast out. . . This is the
will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has
given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last
day. For this is the will of My Father, that
everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him
will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him
up on the last day."
"While I was with them, I
was keeping them in Your name which You have given
to Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them
perished . . . " (v. 12). Jesus literally said, "I
continued to keep." I continuously kept watch over,
protected, or shielded them (cf. vv. 6, 11, 12, 15).
Imagine the magnitude of
what Jesus is praying. The future of the Christian
church depended on those eleven men being kept
steadfast in the faith. This keeping ministry of
Jesus went on from day to day. Jesus kept them true
to the Father's name.
"To keep watch over," and
"to keep an eye upon" are synonymous here
reinforcing the protection of the disciples. Perhaps
the Shepherd allegory is in mind (10:28).
What about Judas?
Does the case of Judas
teach that a born-again person can be eternally
lost? No. Judas never belonged to Jesus. "I have
manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out
of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to
Me, and they have kept Your word. . . for the words
which You gave Me I have given to them; and they
received them and truly understood that I came forth
from You, and they believed that You sent Me" (John
17:6, 8). Judas was not one of those who believed.
Jesus called Judas the
"son of perdition." The word "perdition" means ruin,
loss, not extinction. Jesus is referring to Judas'
character rather than his destination. Judas was
characterized by "lostness," not that he was
predestined to be "lost," to catch the play on words
in the original language in verse twelve. The true
disciples are in safe keeping because they are in
Christ. They need not fear being lost. Phillips
tries to catch this play on words in regard to Judas
when he translates, "not one of them was destroyed,
except the son of destruction." The New English
Bible also tries to bring this out, "Not one of them
is lost except the man who must be lost."
E. W. Bullinger notes,
"the son of perdition" is referring to the person
thus spoken of as "belonging very emphatically to
that which they are said to be 'the sons of' . . ."
Here "the one who is lost is in a very emphatic and
terrible sense." Raymond Brown says, "the son of
perdition" is referring "to one who belongs to the
realm of damnation and is destined to final
destruction." Judas had the character of a
"destroyer." He was a traitor and murderer, utterly
lost and given over to evil. The terrible thing
about Judas' character was his deceit and deception.
He could kiss and kill at the same time.
Some of the Scriptures
that could possibly be referring to the fulfillment
in this passage are Psalm 41:9, 10; 109:4-13; 69:25;
55:12-15; Isaiah 57:12, 13.
Leon Morris stresses that
Jesus is not saying that Judas was an "automaton."
"He was a responsible person and acted freely. But
God used his evil act to bring about His purpose.
This is combination of the human and the divine,"
but here the emphasis is on the divine. "God's will
was done in the handing over of Christ to be
crucified" (Morris, NIC, John, p. 728).
John Calvin said, "It
would be wrong for anyone to infer from this that
Judas' fall should be imputed to God rather than to
himself, in that necessity was laid on him by the
F. F. Bruce writes,
"Judas was not lost against his will but with his
consent. . . he chose to respond instead to the
great adversary. Jesus has no responsibility for
Judas' fatal decision. Judas, like the other
disciples, had been given by the Father to the Son,
but even among those so given apostasy is a solemn
possibility" (p. 332).
However, "It does teach
what would happen if God did not regenerate the
person dead in trespasses and sins and then keep
them regenerated," says Boice. If it were not for
God, who could stand? Who could stand against the
onslaught of the world if God did not keep us? Note
the use of "son of destruction" in 2 Thessalonians
Are you "in Christ"? Have
you believed on Him as your Savior? The apostle Paul
wrote, "For I am confident of this very thing, that
He who began a good work in you will perfect it
until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). Has he
begun the good work of salvation in your life? If
you are not in Christ now is the time to trust Him
as your personal Savior. He died for you on the
cross to give you eternal life with the Father.
WE ARE ETERNALLY
SECURE IN THE FATHER
What Jesus was offering
those disciples and us is double security. None of
the disciples were lost. Jesus kept those whom the
Father gave Him. Now Jesus recommits the disciples
to the Father's safe keeping.
Jesus gives them
back to the Father
Now before His death
Jesus prays, "Holy Father, keep them in Your Name"
(v. 11). Apart from the Father's perseverance they
would all be lost. God does the keeping. What a
great relief to know that our salvation does not
depend upon us for saving or for keeping.
Jesus prays, "Holy
Father." Godet says the holiness in God the Father
is the "free, deliberate, calm, immutable
affirmation of Himself who is the good, or of the
good which is Himself." It "draws a deep line of
demarcation between us . . . and the world." God is
frequently spoken of as the Holy One. He is exalted
far above all the creatures. It contrasts with the
world which is unholy. Lenski notes, "God is holy in
that He is absolutely separated from and actively
opposed to all sin." He is utterly the opposite of
anything associated with Satan and his world system.
"Holy Father, keep them."
The word tereo is translated, "keep, hold,
reserve, preserve someone" or "something" unharmed
or undisturbed by or through something. Here it
probably means to keep them from evil, even though
the object is not stated. George Turner suggested to
keep the disciples "from" sin and "in" fellowship
with God. Jesus wants the Father to stand guard over
the disciples and protect them in His power. The
believer lives in a sphere of effective power to
protect Him and keep Him safe. We are kept by the
personal protection of the Father.
All of the disciples died
as martyrs, with the exception of the apostle John
who was exiled to the island of Patmos. But none of
them were lost.
The writer of Proverbs
describes our safety in the Father as being in a
strong fortress. "The name of the Lord is a strong
tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe"
(Prov. 18:10). Can anything touch us when we are
safe in God's fortress? Can anything touch us when
we are safe in Him? During graduate school Ann and I
lived in New Orleans. We would take a Saturday
afternoon off and enjoy visiting an old Spanish
island fortress with its dungeons, gun wells,
towers, etc. It was fun imagining what the soldiers
must have experienced in those strong stone towers.
Nothing can touch us when we are safe in the
Raymond Brown suggests
the disciples are to be "both marked with and
protected by the divine name that has been given to
Jesus. . . . Jesus asks God to keep the disciples
safe with the divine name that has been given to
Him. . . . If we are right in our contention that
for John the name is ego eimi, 'I AM', we
have an example of how this name protects the
disciples in John 18:5-8; for when Jesus says ego
eimi, those who have come to arrest Him fall
down powerless, and Jesus demands that they allow
His disciples to leave unharmed." The great I AM
then permitted Himself to be bound and led away (cf.
John 10:17, 18).
G. Campbell Morgan asked,
"What name?" "God has only one name according to the
Biblical revelation. God, is not a name. It is a
designation. The Lord is not a name; it is a title.
He has only one name, and His name is Yahweh—Jehovah
as we now render it. Jesus had borne that name,
linked with the thought of salvation; Jesus the
Greek for Jehoshua, Jehovah-salvation, merged into
one. 'I have manifested Thy name.' That first group
of men, as Hebrews, knew that God had one name. God
had said this is My name, My memorial name to all
generations. Now said Jesus, 'I have manifested Thy
name' to them."
The purpose of this
commitment to safekeeping is "that they may be one,"
or "that they may keep on being one." That unity is
demonstrated by their common love for Christ and for
one another. The apostle Paul stressed that this
unity can be possible only as believers are indwelt
and controlled by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:3). It is
brought about when God's people abide in the truth
of His Word and are Spirit-filled both individually
Our security is
Harry Ironside candidly
said, "you may be sure that whenever the Father
gives any one to Jesus, He gives him for time and
eternity. Such a one will never be lost. People call
this the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints,
but I rather like to think of it as the perseverance
of the Savior. He says, 'Those that You gave Me I
have kept.' If I had to keep myself, I would be
hopeless of getting through. . . . Something would
happen to me to lose my hold on Christ and be lost.
But it is His hold on me in which I rely. None can
pluck the believer out of His hand. I receive great
comfort from those words."
When all the saints
chosen of God arrive in heaven, Jesus will be able
to say to the Father, "Those that You gave Me I have
kept, and none of them is lost." Ironside adds, "You
may think you know of exceptions to this; but it
will be made manifest in that day that these
apparent exceptions were like Judas himself, never
really born of God."
James Boice writes, "We
are safe, not because of ourselves (for we are
weak), but rather because we are kept by the Lord
Jesus Christ and the Father."
There will always be
those who will reply that this is just an excuse for
sinning. "You are just going to give people an
excuse for sinning," is the usual cry of the
Let it be very clearly
stated with the apostle Paul that if you are
eternally secure, because you have been born again,
you really want to love the LORD God with all your
heart. The last thing you want to do is use grace as
an excuse for sinning. When we know the Father is
all for us we want to guard our heart from all evil.
We want to please Him with all our heart because He
loves us so much.
There are no hopeless
cases with God. He will not allow it to be hopeless
for us. Our heavenly Father is faithful. We can
trust Him with our lives for now and eternity. He is
our keeper, and He will keep us safe.
WHEN WE ARE
Why do sincere people
doubt their salvation?
There is sin in
Sin in the lives of
believers always produces feelings of separation
from God. It makes us feel isolated, alienated and
out of fellowship with Him. "If sin is the constant
bent of your life, you should wonder about your
salvation," writes Stanley. The apostle John said,
"No one who is born of God practices sin, because
His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because
he is born of God" (1 John 3:9).
If you sin and feel
absolutely miserable that is a good sign that you
belong to Christ. It should cause you to stop
immediately and ask God to forgive you and repent.
The true child of God experiences a loss of
fellowship when he sins. God has provided us with a
spiritual bar of soap that always restores
fellowship with Him. Use it frequently. "If we
confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9).
There is an
overemphasis on appearances and performances
There is usually an
emphasis on performance to keep your salvation. You
aren't working hard enough, or long enough, or good
enough, or doing the right things to keep your
salvation. You aren't perfect enough. How will you
ever know when you have worked hard enough or done
the right kind of works? You can't. Some religious
leaders use this to control and manipulate their
There is an
overemphasis on emotions
You either don't have
enough feelings or the right kind of emotions. If
you place the emphasis on emotions rather than the
teachings of God's Word you will not have assurance
of salvation. You cannot live on emotions. You live
They are not
abiding in God's Word
The Bible says, "Believe
on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved." Why do
you want to add to it, or change it? Is God
trustworthy? Do you accept His integrity? Then take
all of His Word seriously.
Satan will be more than
happy to whisper in your ear, or have someone else
do it for him, "You really are not good enough to be
a true Christian." "Look at you, you are not worthy
to be called a Christian." He is constantly pointing
his finger and accusing us. Who is the accuser of
the brethren? It is not the Holy Spirit.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
When we accept the
promise of the Savior we have double security in the
Father and the Son.
The words of Jesus in
John 10:26-30 summarize beautifully what He prayed
the night before He died. He begins by referring to
the Pharisees, "But you do not believe because you
are not of My sheep." Then Jesus gives several
characteristics of true believers. "My sheep hear My
voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I
give eternal life to them, 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."
His sheep are in the
habit of listening to His voice because He knows
them personally and they are in the habit of
following Him. When the Good Shepherd gives His
sheep eternal life they will never ever perish.
Jesus put a strong emphasis on the negative when He
said, "they shall never perish." It is a double
negative in the Greek. Furthermore, He said, "No one
shall 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." And if that is not enough Jesus adds, "I and
the Father are one" in essence or nature.
When you choose to take
God at His word you will have a sense of perfect
peace with God and security.
God has demonstrated His
trustworthiness and integrity over and over again
down through the centuries. God is "not willing that
any should perish but that all should come to
repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). That is why Jesus Christ
gave His life as a ransom for sinners (Matt. 20:28).
"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross,
so that we might die to sin and live to
righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1
Peter 2:24). Jesus Christ died in our place so we
could spend eternity with Him. The Father desires
that all men be saved by simple faith in Christ. He
is "not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). He has
provided everything we need for Him to save us. All
that we need to do is believe. That is our
responsibility. "But as many as received Him, to
them He gave the right to become children of God,
even to those who believe in His name, who were
born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor
of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). The
apostle John said, "He who believes in the Son has
everlasting life." Do you believe? Have you asked
Him to be your Savior? "Truly, truly, I say to you,
he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me,
has eternal life, and does not come into judgment,
but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
Put your own name in John
3:16. "For God so loved the world (____________),
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever
(that you, me, anyone) believes in Him shall not
perish, but have eternal life."
What an awesome thought
that God knows everything about me and still loves
me and wants me to spend eternity in heaven with
Charles Stanley writes:
"Based on His wonderful Word—all of it—we can know
that we have eternal life. It has nothing to do with
feeling. But it has everything to do with the
trustworthiness of God. He wants us saved. He has
done everything possible through Christ to make that
happen. Once we receive Him as our own, we can rest
on the Word of God and in the witness of the Spirit.
Once you're in the family of God, by faith in His
Son, your name is written in the Book of Life" (The
Glorious Journey, pp. 143).
Ask yourself these three
Do I believe the Word of
God? Are you willing to take God at His Word—all of
Do I have the inner
witness of the Holy Spirit that I am saved?
The apostle Paul stressed that the Holy Spirit would
bear witness that we are believers. "The Spirit
Himself testifies with our spirit that we are
children of God" (Rom. 8:16).
Am I walking like a
believer in Christ? Has Christ made a difference in
my life? Our salvation is not a feeling, or an
emotional state; it is a fact based on the finished
work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. "Once a family
member, always a family member." "Once a son, always
a son." Then live like a member of His family.
"For I am convinced that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to
come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other created thing, will be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
Let's go back to our
opening verses from the First Epistle of John. "He
who has the Son has the life; he who does not have
the Son of God does not have the life. These things
I have written to you who believe in the name of the
Son of God, so that you may know that you have
eternal life" (1 John 5:12-13). Have you been born
again? Do you know that you have eternal life? If
you have lingering doubts you can settle it once and
for all right now. Just stop and get on your knees
and pray this thing through with God. Acknowledge to
Him your insecurity, confess all known sin to Him,
claim the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse you
of all sin, and if you have never done so ask Jesus
Christ to be your Savior. He will save you right now
if you will trust Him alone for salvation. If you
already know Him He will make your heart right with
God, and restore the broken fellowship.
Title: John 17:9-12
How May I Know I Am Saved?