Has anyone ever disowned you? I don’t mean the kind of idle threats that people make when you’re planning to do something that displeases them. I mean have you ever actually, for real, been disowned? Excommunicated? Renounced? I know people who have. Some dear friends of mine, the Lee family, have experienced this, first hand. They were once Amish, living their Amish life, working hard for God’s acceptance. Then, put simply, Eli and his wife Leah, met Jesus, were both born again, led their children to Jesus, and because they now believed that salvation was a work of God’s grace alone, they were excommunicated from the Amish community. Abandoned. Renounced.
You can be passively disowned as well. What does that mean? If you’ve ever had a parent, a sibling, who stopped coming around, and never showed up again on their own volition, that’s a kind of passive disowning. I’ve experienced that. Many of us have. In some ways, many of us have experienced a kind of disowning through those kind of relational abandonments. You might also be the one who has disowned someone.
It’s no wonder that we find the love of God so difficult to accept. It is so freely given, so simple to receive, it seems too good to be true. Read the words of Jesus and let these words wash over your soul:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
Read closely. Do you read any indication of abandonment? Any hint of disowning? No. There is none. The love of God toward his children cannot be broken. This is excellent news! At the same time, it runs contrary to much of our experience. If you’ve been disowned, it can be hard to believe that any love could be so unwavering.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
If you’ve trusted Christ for salvation, you are one of his sheep, and he knows you! For as much emphasis as we place on knowing Jesus, Jesus emphasizes that he must know you. And here’s more good news if you haven’t trusted him yet, but you have a sense that he is drawing you, calling you out, you can become one of his sheep by simply trusting him alone, by faith, to give you salvation. And the most excellent news of this is that his sheep follow him. If you belong to him, even though you stumble, even though you are always screwing up, you follow his voice. His work in you is a guaranteed work that he will finish (Philippians 1:6)
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,
Eternal life is not something you can acquire through doing enough good works. It is given, not achieved. If you do not receive it as a gift, then it must be earned as a wage. And the bad news for everyone is that you simply can’t earn it. To earn it would mean perfect execution of God’s law, in word, thought, and deed for every moment of your entire life. That’s why Jesus came as the God-man. He lived as a human for thirty three years, fully tempted because he was human, perfectly executing the law of God because he was also Divine, and dying a death that he did not owe so that humanity could finally have a way to receive eternal life as a gift. (Romans 6:23)
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
Now you’ve gone too far Jesus. You’re saying that once we belong to you, nothing can separate us from your love? No one can take me away from your grip? No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand? This is where a lot of people derail. This is where some people begin calling the grace of God a dangerous doctrine. If God’s grace, through faith, (Ephesians 2:8) is the means by which we’re saved, the apostle Paul tells us that it’s also that same grace that keeps us saved (Galatians 3:1-6). Your salvation is secure, not because you work much and perform well, but because the grace of God, through faith in Christ, has removed your sin debt, placed it on Jesus, and in exchange has given you the righteousness of Christ! And if you have Christ within, who cries out “Abba, Father,” (Romans 8:15) then you can rest assured that he will never disown you because to do so would be to disown his Son!
I and the Father are one.
This was their plan from the beginning. Jesus wasn’t making this up on the fly. From eternity past, this was the plan of God, the Father, the Son, the Spirit, to save a people for Himself (Ephesians 1:3-6). And from eternity past, it was the intention of God to never lose anyone who believed by faith that Christ is Lord and through Him alone, salvation is found.
I’ve heard some people protest this because it means that you can therefore get saved and continue living however you like. But, they forget that Paul refutes this notion.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
The simple meaning of what Paul is saying is this: If you get “saved” but you still desire to live the way you always have, you likely weren’t truly born again. Oh you understood the facts of the Gospel. You agreed to the conclusions of what the Gospel means. You wanted to go to heaven and not hell after you die, and even understood how that can happen. And you may have even prayed a prayer and received baptism. But, you never experienced the new birth. Salvation is a transformation. Ezekiel prophesied very clearly what happens in salvation.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Salvation is changes your bottom lines. It does it in three ways. First, being born again gives you a new heart. Where before the bottom line in your life was about you and your needs, now the bottom line is about what pleases the heart of God. You have a new heart that has new desires to please God. Second, in the new birth you receive a new spirit. Where before, your old self had a dead spirit, when salvation comes, God gives you a new spirit. In Christ you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! With a new heart and a new spirit, you are suddenly able to please God through these amazing gifts! But it doesn’t stop there. Third, you receive the Holy Spirit who also dwells within, and he recreates you into the likeness of Christ. He causes you to obey because he is constantly molding and shaping the new man within you into a person who obeys His voice.
Whew! That was a lot to say, but it’s important. You will not be disowned. You cannot do anything to be disowned! Neither will you walk away because the new man will never walk away! The Apostle John says that the ones who walk away never belonged to Christ to begin with (1 John 2:19). There is an incredible security that believers in Jesus Christ possess because he holds us in His grip! In His grip, there is peace, acceptance, and forgiveness that transforms us and renews us inwardly, day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16)!
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)