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HE WILL HOLD YOU FAST!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, June 28, 2015

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).


I remember hearing a preacher say that this promise should never be preached to unbelievers. He said that lost people would be overconfident. This would lead them to sin. They had to be kept in an uneasy state, never fully certain that they would be able to “hold out” to the end. For a while I believed this. I know many sincere Christians hold that view. Preachers who believe that are often afraid of this text.

But we should look at the people who heard Christ preach this in the first place. According to verse 31 they “took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:31). They hated Christ for saying this. Christ preached this message to unbelievers. I am sure there are some unbelievers here among us. We work hard, and pray hard, to have unsaved people in every service. I will say to you the same thing that Jesus said to that angry mob of unsaved men,

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

“I give unto them eternal life.” The context tells us that “them” refers to Christ’s sheep. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). “I give unto them eternal life.” We cannot read the minds of people to tell whether or not they are Christ’s sheep. But the verse before our text tells us how to know who are God’s people. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” The marks of a true Christian are these – they hear Christ, they know Him and He knows them, and they follow Him in obedience. These are the marks of a real Christian. And it is of them that Jesus speaks.

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

“Faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6) is the mark of Christ’s true sheep. It is to them that Jesus says, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “In Christ we are not in a state of probation, and there is no possibility of our falling from grace” (Assurance (Romans 5), The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971, p. 236).

Someone may say, “I’m in the Gospel vise. I know I must come to Christ, and at the same time I know I cannot. I must but I can’t. What should I do?” The answer is simple, submit to Christ. Cry out to Him. He will answer all your questions. He will break the Gospel vise with a hammer and save your soul. You say, “I don’t understand that.” Of course not. This is a mystery. The Greek word is “musterion.” It means something that cannot be understood by man’s mind, but which is nonetheless true in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world...” (I Corinthians 2:7). Throw yourself on Christ. Trust Him. All your questions will be answered in Him. He will save you by His Blood and righteousness. And He will keep you to the end. He will keep you through it all. You will be one of Christ’s sheep!

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

The three clauses of our text give three reasons for believing in the eternal security of Christ’s sheep.

I. First, there is Christ’s gift.

First the Saviour says, “I give unto them eternal life.” Eternal life comes to each one of us as a gift. We did not possess eternal life when we were born. We were born as children of Adam. We were born to die. We did not earn it by some act. We cannot earn it by doing good. We cannot earn it by learning Bible verses. We cannot earn it by saying the words of a prayer. It is a gift. Since it is a gift it cannot be earned. When a person receives eternal life into his soul, it is a free gift. We do not receive it as a reward. It is a free gift.

God knows the end from the beginning. When He gives eternal life to a man, He knows every imperfection and failing in the man. He knows beforehand how the man will sometimes fail. He would never have given the man eternal life and then take it away because of some failure – since He knew what failures the man would have before He gave Him the gift.

How can it be possible that you should be given eternal life and then die? When Jesus says “eternal” He means “eternal.” Spurgeon said, “It is not possible for me so to sin as to lose that spiritual life by any means whatever.” It is “eternal life.”

When Christ spoke to the woman at the well He said,

“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

The Reformation Study Bible says, “Living water in the Old Testament [speaks of] running water – employed figuratively as a reference to [God’s] activity.” “Springing up” shows its abundance; “eternal life” is endless and flows plenteously forever! It is the very life of God within the soul of man! Jesus gives His sheep the endless life of God within their hearts – always springing up – never ending – always flowing! It is a gift. It cannot be earned. It is a gift from Christ. He never takes back what He gives!

Someone says, “But what if I can’t hold out? What if I give up?” Oh, friend, you are still thinking like a medieval Catholic! It is not earned by you! How could it be? You are “dead in sins.” How could a dead man hold out? How could a dead man do anything at all to earn salvation? Thank God, the Bible says,

“Even when we were dead in sins [God] hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:5).

Eternal life is given to a dead soul. Eternal life is a gift, given to men and women who are dead in sin! That is the good news of the Gospel! Praise the Lord! “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).

He’ll not let my soul be lost, He will hold me fast;
   Bought by Him at such great cost, He will hold me fast.
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
   For my Saviour loves me so, He will hold me fast.
(“He Will Hold Me Fast” by Ada R. Habershon, 1861-1918).

Spurgeon said, “We expect the believer to hold on to the end, because the life which God has implanted within him is of that nature that it must continue to exist, must conquer all difficulties, must ripen...must bring him to eternal glory” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Perseverance Without Presumption,” MPT, Number 1,055). It must! It must! It must bring you to eternal glory! It is a gift! It is the gift of Jesus Christ! He says, “I give unto them eternal life.” Praise His holy name! He gives us eternal life! We pay nothing for it. Jesus paid for it by His death on the Cross! Jesus got it for us by rising from the dead!

Hallelujah, ‘tis done! I believe on the Son;
I am saved by the blood of the crucified One!
   (“Hallelujah, ‘Tis Done” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

Eternal life is Christ’s gift.

II. Second, there is Christ’s promise.

I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish...” He says, “I do this.” What a wonderful promise! “They shall never perish.” I am glad He said that. Some people have said that they may go out by their own decision. They may decide to go away from Him. But this phrase does away with that idea – “they shall never perish.” This includes all time. “They shall never perish.” Are they young believers who have little knowledge? Is their faith small because they are new converts? “They shall never perish.” When they are older and the problems of life crowd out their early faith, will they become worldly and lose their faith? “They shall never perish.” They would perish if worldliness could destroy them. They would perish if evil could again enslave them, but it will not. “They shall never perish.” All time is shut out by the word “never.” What if they are greatly tempted? “They shall never perish.” What if they grow so cold that their love and zeal are gone? “They shall never perish.” Sin will never again completely control them. “They shall never perish.”

I have been a Christian for fifty-four years. There were times when God seemed far away. There were times when I even doubted my own salvation. There were times when I thought my foot would slip and I would be lost forever. But Jesus always brought me through. Jesus always brought me back from the edge of despair. I was not raised in a Christian home. I did not have good examples to follow. The winds of terror blew around me. I was almost gone. I had seen so many others fall away. I felt that I would be swept away with them. I was too weak to go on. I felt like an outcast. I felt like David when he was in a cave, hiding from his enemy, King Saul.

“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

“When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up” (Psalm 94:18).

I know it by experience. “When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.” I know by experience that Jesus told the truth. “They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” This is not just a doctrine to me now. It is a living truth – from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ. “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.”

I could never keep my hold, He will hold me fast;
   For my love is often cold, He must hold me fast.
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
   For my Saviour loves me so, He will hold me fast.

Young people, I have been young and now I am old. I know the promise of Jesus is true. I know it is true in the very marrow of my bones! “When I said, My foot slippeth, thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.” I know Jesus told the truth,

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

He has held me up. He has held me fast. I know He can do the same for you! That is why I can boldly tell you to trust my Saviour, Jesus. I trusted Him long years ago, and I have never perished. If you trust Him, He will never let you perish either! That is the promise of Christ Himself!

III. Third, there is Christ’s power.

“Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28b). Notice that the word “man” is in italics in the King James translation. That means the KJV translators put in the word “man” – because it is not in the Greek text. The Greek word is “tis.” It means “anyone” (George Ricker Berry) or “any person or object” (Strong). Thus the great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson says of this verse, “The sheep may feel secure...no wolf, no thief, no bandit, no hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck [snatch] the sheep out of my hand” (Word Pictures; note on John 10:28). Dr. Robertson gives a reference to John 6:39,

“And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39).

Again, Dr. Robertson gave a reference to John 17:12, “I kept them...those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost...” And again he referenced Colossians 3:3, “your life is hid with Christ in God.” The New King James has it, “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.”

Spurgeon said, “You know in the text before us we need not read the word ‘man,’ for it is not in the original [Greek]...and so we may read it – ‘neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.’ Not only – any ‘man,’ but any devil either...It does not merely include men, who are sometimes our worst [enemies]...It also includes fallen spirits; but none shall be able to pluck us out of his hand. By no possibility shall any be able, by any of their schemes, to remove us from being his...property, his dear sons, his protected children. Oh what a blessed promise!” (ibid.).

Remember Pastor Wurmbrand. Maybe you wonder why I read his book, Tortured for Christ, over and over. You may wonder why I love to read such an awful book. Here is the reason. I do not read it out of a morbid interest, or love of blood and gore. I read his books because they attract me by showing the power Jesus has to keep His promise. The Communist fanatics tortured Pastor Wurmbrand for preaching the Gospel. They beat the bottoms of his feet until he could not stand to preach. When he spoke here in our church he had to take off his shoes and sit in a chair because of the deep scars on his feet. They put eighteen deep holes in his body with red-hot irons. They made him stand for hours. They starved him. They locked him in a rat-infested cell. They put him in solitary confinement where he never heard a human voice for months. Yet he came through it all – and spoke several times in our church. You say, “He must have had an iron will.” No, he would be the first to tell you he was a very weak man. He came through all that torture because Christ’s promise is true!

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

I know it is true, because I also have experienced the truth of it in the smaller troubles of my own life. Rest in Jesus and you will have eternal life. Jesus cannot lie.

Now I must end by quoting great Spurgeon again, “I saw while yet I was [young] many promising boys who made total shipwreck early in their lives by falling into gross vices [and sins]. I felt in my soul a [hatred] of the sins I heard they had committed. I had been kept from them [by my parents]. Still I feared that the sins these young men had gone into might master me. The depravity of my own heart led me to distrust myself. I was convinced that unless I was converted, born again, and received a new life, I had no safety. Otherwise I might eat the devil’s bait. I was afraid I would morally disgrace myself, as some of the boys I knew had done. The thought horrified me. But when I heard that Jesus would keep me from falling the doctrine charmed me and made me hope that he could save me. I thought, ‘If I go to Jesus and get from him a new heart and a right spirit, I will be kept from the sin into which others had fallen; I shall be preserved by him.’ That thought attracted me to trust Christ. I was glad to hear that Jesus was a faithful keeper of all those who were committed to him; that he was able and willing to take a young man and make him cleanse his way and keep him even to the end. O young people, there is no life assurance like believing in Jesus Christ” (C. H. Spurgeon, ibid., somewhat simplified by Dr. Hymers for modern hearers).

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall [anyone] pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

One more thought may come to you. I said no human enemy and no demon can pluck you from the Saviour’s hand. “But,” you say, “What if I myself turn away from Jesus? What if I myself leave the church and go back to the world?” Dear friend, “I myself” is included in the word “anyone.” I know that many others who had false conversions left and went back to worldliness. But I also know they never had the marks of Christ’s own sheep. They never heard His voice. They never were known by Him. They never followed Him. They just made a superficial decision, and then took it back. But I am not asking you to do that. I am asking you to come to Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. I am asking you to trust Him and rest on Him. Spurgeon said, “Oh! sinner, mayest thou be led today to rest on Jesus and on Jesus only, and then take the text. Do not be afraid of it – ‘I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand’” (ibid.).

He will hold you fast, He will hold you fast;
For my Saviour loves you so, He will hold you fast.

Father, I pray that someone hearing or reading this sermon will find rest by trusting Jesus, who will give them eternal life. In His name, Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: John 10:22-29.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann: “He Will Hold Me Fast”
(by Ada R. Habershon, 1861-1918).


THE OUTLINE OF

HE WILL HOLD YOU FAST!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

(John 10:31, 27; Galatians 5:6; I Corinthans 2:7)

I.   First, there is Christ’s gift, John 10:28a; 4:14; Ephesians 2:5.

II.  Second, there is Christ’s promise, John 10:28a; Psalm 142:4;
Psalm 94:18.

III. Third, there is Christ’s power, John 10:28b; 6:39; 17:12;
Colossians 3:3.