I Give Unto Them Eternal Life
by G.J. Stewart
Here are seven things about the sheep of Christ; and wonderful things they are, as all that pertains to the blessed Christ of God is wonderful, inclusive even of His (otherwise poor) sheep.
1. My sheep hear my voice,
2. And I know them,
3. And they follow me:
4. And I give unto them eternal life;
5. And they shall never perish,
6. Neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.
7. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Now this is an unbreakable chain that binds the sheep, the Shepherd, and the Father that sent Him, all up together in the bonds of eternal life. Let us look at the several links of it.
1. The Shepherd came to seek the sheep, and the first thing the sheep knows is that it hears the Shepherd’s voice. Occupied with the ritualism of the Jewish fold, or the devilish ceremonies of heathenism, the sheep are all unconscious of their lost estate until that voice reaches them—a voice secured to them by the porter, the Holy Spirit, who opens to the Shepherd.
How that voice arouses from torpor and arrests the attention! How it stirs the spirit to its depths! What a magnetic attraction there is in it! But hark! it pronounces a name. It is the name of the sheep. For—
2. The Shepherd knows His sheep; and calleth His own sheep by name, and this to lead them out of all that with which they may have been connected previously; for He putteth them forth of that in which He finds them, as the blind man, in chapter 9, was cast out of the synagogue. And this is in order that—
3. They may follow Him. So when the healed blind man was rejected by the Pharisees, He who was before rejected found him and led him into deeper truth about the glory of His person as the Son of God, that he might be strengthened to follow Him, and to overcome the world.
How different this to man’s way!
“Have you any interest in this life?” was asked of a young man who had stood listening to an outdoor preaching, in one of the coast townships of Victoria, some few years ago.
“I should think I had as good a chance as any,” was the reply.
A reason for this confidence being demanded, he said—
“Well, I was baptized when a child, I have attended a place of worship since then, and have kept myself out of the hands of the police.”
What a foundation! Alas for man!
But it is not to such the life is given which the good Shepherd came to give. It is of His sheep He says—
4. “I give unto them eternal life.” Mark, in any case it is a gift, and He the giver. Blessed Shepherd! In order to give us that life, Thou didst lay down Thine own!
But notice here, that it is not said He imparts that life, as though He bestowed a share or portion of it upon us. He gives in a different way from that in which we give, as He says, “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). We give away; He takes us into union with Himself that we may share all He has, and is as man.
This life that He gives is the life that was and is in Him as its source (though He was ever God also), and is given to us as in Him. “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11).
5. “And they shall never perish.” There are no seeds of decay in this life. Adam’s life was capable of perishing, that is, his life as a man on earth; but the life given to Christ’s sheep is incapable of perishing, whether as a spiritual life, or as a life that shall quicken the mortal body in the coming day.
Think of it, ye sheep of Christ! A life capable of the closest intimacy of communion with Him who gave it. A life incapable of death, and that even as to the body presently, “Neither can they die any more.”
6. “Neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” Satan seduced Adam and caused him to lose the place God gave him. Christ’s sheep are held in His hand, and He says in almighty love, none shall pluck them thence. Notice there is no word for “man” here, for it is not man only that is in view, but any “creature,” angel, man, or devil! And this is the assertion of love, almighty love! None SHALL.
“Ah! but,” the tremulous soul may ask, “can He keep? How many have said to the object beloved, ‘None shall sever us’; but how powerless are they in the presence of the foe. Can, oh, CAN He keep?” Now the love of Christ is almighty, yet He would give a double assurance to the timid sheep, and so He puts them, as it were, back into the Father’s hand, and adds—
7. “My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Here omnipotent power backs almighty love; and thus assured, the sheep may be free to enjoy the wonderful communion for which they have been fitted, and which has been opened up to them.
Almighty love says, “None shall.”
Omnipotent power says, “None is able.”
Thus Christ and the Father are one. One in the gift of life to the sheep. One in pledging their security. One in desire for their affections. One as object for communion and worship.
Happy sheep! Rest in the security pledged to you! Feed in the pastures prepared for you!
Are you, my reader, a sheep of Christ?
The Gospel Messenger 1901, p. 97