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Let it be noted, that to be safe in Christ's hand, and so never to perish, is one thing ; but to feel that we are safe is quite another. Many true believers are safe, who do not realize and feel it.
Musculus observes that our Lord does not say in this verse that His sheep shall lose nothing in this world. They may lose property, liberty, and life, for Christ's sake. But their souls cannot be lost. He also observes that all Christ's sheep are in Christ's hand. His hand holding them, and not their hand holding Him, is the true secret of their safety and perseverance.
The importance of the doctrine contained in this text cannot, in my judgment, be overrated. The Christian who does not hold it is a great loser. It is one of the grand elements of the good news of the Gospel. It is a safeguard against much unsound doctrine. Perseverance can never be reconciled with baptismal regeneration. The advocates of an extravagant view of baptismal grace, it may be observed, always have a special dislike to the doctrine of this text.
Hengstenberg wisely remarks, “It is cold consolation to say, if and so long as they remain my sheep they are secure, and shall never perish. The whole strength of our soul's desire is for a guarantee against ourselves. That there is such a guarantee is here
assured to us.” 29.—[My Father who gave, etc., etc.] Our Lord here strengthens
the mighty promise just made, by declaring that His sheep are not His only, but His Father's : His Father gave them to Him. “My Father, He declares, is almighty,' or greater than all; the Possessor of all power. No one is able to pluck anything out of my Father's hand, so that my sheep's safety is doubly secured.” Let it be noted that the word “them,” in the last clause of our English version, is not in the Greek.
It is probable that both in this verse and the preceding one, there is a latent reference to the case of the man whom the Pharisees had lately “cast out” of the Church, or excommuni. cated. Our Lord seems to say, “You may cut off and tear away from your outward Church-membership whom you will : but you can never pluck away any of my people from Me.”
Let it be noted here that the Father is just as much interested in the safety of believers as the Son. To leave out of sight the Father's love, in our zeal for the glory of Christ, is very poor theology.
Melancthon dwells on this promise in a passage of singular beauty. He specially dwells on it as a ground of comfort against the invasion of Europe by the Turks, the persecution of truth by 80-called Christian princes, and the furious strifes and controversies of teachers of the Church. There is a Church which nothing can harm.
Calvin remarks, “Our salvation is certain, because it is in the hand of God. Our faith is weak, and we are prone to waver : but God, who hath taken us under His protection is sufficiently powerful to scatter with a breath all the power of our adversaries. It is of great importance to turn our eyes to this.”
Musculus observes that it is said the Father “gave” the sheep to Me, in the past tense. Believers were given to Christ before
the foundation of the world. 30.-[I and the Father are one.] In order to explain how it is that
the Father should take as much interest in the sheep as the Son, our Lord here declares in the plainest and most explicit terms, the deep truth of the essential unity between Himself and His Father. Literally translated, the sentence is, “I and my Father are one thing." By this, of course, He did not mean that His Father and He were one Person. This would overthrow the doctrine of the Trinity. But He did mean, “I and my eternal Father, though two distinct Persons, and not to be confounded, are yet one in essence, nature, dignity, power, will, and operation. Hence, in the matter of securing the safety of my sheep, what I do, my Father does likewise. I do not act independently of Him."
This is one of those deep and mysterious texts which we must be content to receive and believe, without attempting to pry too curiously into its contents. The cautious and exact words of the Athanasian Creed should be often remembered : “Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. There is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost: but the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.”
Augustine remarks that this text alone overthrows both the doctrine of the Sabellians and the Arians. It silences the Sabel. lians, who say there is only one Person in the Godhead, by speaking of two distinct Persons. It silences the Arians, who say the Son is inferior to the Father, by saying that Father and Son are “one.”
Let it be noted that the doctrine of this verse is precisely the same that our Lord had maintained on a former occasion (in the fifth chapter) before the Sanhedrim. There it was expounded fully : here it is briefly asserted. And the interpretation put on His meaning, in both cases, by the Jews, was exactly the same. They regarded it as a claim to be regarded as “God.”
The practical use of the text to a believer in Christ is far too much overlooked. It shows the entire childlike confidence with which such an one may look at the Father. “He who hath the Son hath the Father.” The remark is only too true that while some ignorantly talk of the Father, as if there was no Christ crucified, others with no less ignorance talk of Christ crucified as if there was no God and Father of Christ, who loved the world!
Chrysostom observes, “That thou mayest not suppose that Christ is weak, and the sheep are in safety through the Father's power, He addeth, 'I and the Father are one.' As though He had said, I did not assert that on account of the Father no man plucketh them away, as though I were too weak to keep the sheep. For I and the Father are one. He speaks here with reference to power, for concerning this was all His discourse ; and if the power be the same, it is clear that the essence is also.”
Ecolampadius remarks, “He does not say we are one in the masculine gender,—that is one person ; but one in the neuter gender,—that is one in nature, power, and majesty. If you were to say one Person, you would take away both, and leave neither Father nor Son."
Maldonatus quotes a saying of Augustine's, "that it is invariably found in Scripture that things called 'one' are things of the same nature.”
It is fair to admit that Erasmus, Calvin, and a few others, think the "oneness” here only means unity of consent and will. But the vast majority of commentators think otherwise, and the Jews evidently thought so also.
JOHN X. 31–42. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again for blasphemy; and because that thou, to stone him.
being a man, makest thyself God. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not works have I shewed you from my Fa written in your law, I said, Ye are ther; for which of those works do ye gods? stone me?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom _33 The Jews answered him, saying, the word of God came, and the scripture For a good work we stone thee not; but I cannot be broken ;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father, 39 Therefore they sought again to hath sanctified, and sent into the world, take him: but he escaped out of their Thou blasphemest; because I said hand, am the Son of God?
40 And went away again beyond Jor37 If I do not the works of my Fa- dan into the place where John at first ther, believe me not.
baptized; and there he abode. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not | 41 And many resorted unto him, and me, believe the works : that ye may said, John did no miracle: but all things know, and believe, that the Father is in that John spake of this man were true. me, and I in him.'
42 And many believed on him there.
We should observe, in these verses, the extreme wickedness of human nature. The unbelieving Jews at Jerusalem were neither moved by our Lord's miracles, nor by His preaching. They were determined not to receive Him as their Messiah. Once more it is written that “they took up stones to stone Him."
Our Lord had done the Jews no injury. He was no robber, murderer, or rebel against the law of the land. He was one whose whole life was love, and who “went about doing good.” (Acts x. 38.) There was no fault or inconsistency in His character. There was no crime that could be laid to His charge. So perfect and spotless a man had never walked on the face of this earth. But yet the Jews hated Him, and thirsted for His blood. How true are the words of Scripture: “They hated Him without a cause.” (John xv. 25.) How just the remark of an old divine : “ Unconverted men would kill God Himself if they could only get at Him.”
The true Christian has surely no right to wonder if he meets with the same kind of treatment as our blessed Lord. In fact, the more like he is to his Master, and the more holy and spiritual his life, the more probable is it that he will have to endure hatred and persecution. Let him not suppose that any degree of consistency will
deliver him from this cross. It is not his faults, but his graces, which call forth the enmity of men. The world hates to see anything of God's image. The children of the world are vexed and pricked in conscience when they see others better than themselves. Why did Cain hate his brother Abel, and slay him? “Because,” says St. John, “his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.” (1 John iii. 12.) Why did the Jews hate Christ? Because He exposed their sins and false doctrines; and they knew in their own hearts that He was right and they were wrong. “The world,” said our Lord, “hateth Me, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John vii. 7.) Let Christians make up their minds to drink the same cup, and let them drink it patiently and without surprise. There is One in heaven who said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John xv. 18.) Let them remember this and take courage. The time is short. We are travelling on towards a day when all shall be set right, and every man shall receive according to his works. “There is an end : and our expectation shall not be cut off.” (Prov. xxiii. 18.)
We should observe, secondly, in these verses, the high honour that Jesus Christ puts on the Holy Scriptures. We find Him using a text out of the Psalms as an argument against His enemies, in which the whole point lies in the single word “ gods.” And then having quoted the text, He lays down the great principle, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” It is as though He said, “Wherever the Scripture speaks plainly on any subject,