No separation from God’s love
In the preface to Pilgrim Homes’ new book Could it be dementia? Dr Gaius Davies writes, ‘I recall hearing Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones telling us medical students that the Christian believer, however much disease of body or mind later affect him, was still “in Christ”’. That isn’t ‘pie in the sky’ or some vague hope. It is truth – biblically based and gloriously true.
Speaking to Jewish people who were very suspicious of him, Jesus warned that their adverse attitude was based on the sad fact that they rejected him, their Messiah. He then went on to paint a marvellous portrait of the true believer – one who is prepared to listen to him and respond. ‘My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall any man snatch them out of my hand’ (John 10:27-28).
‘Eternal life’ means ‘perpetual life’ – that which has no ending. Paul uses the same word in 2 Corinthians 4:18 in contrast to all that is temporary, that which has limited time. One might think that Jesus’ words in John 10:28 would be sufficient to convince the trusting soul that he or she will live for ever. Surely ‘eternal life’ means exactly what it says!
But Jesus knows our human frailty only too well. He knows how easily we give place to doubt and fear. So, in his great mercy he adds that no living person anywhere in the universe can undo the work he has completed for repentant sinners. Not only will they never perish but they cannot be snatched away from the strong hand of the Saviour.
And if that were not enough, he then adds ‘no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand’ (v.29). Why does Jesus say this? Because the ‘sheep’ are a gift from the Father to the Son.
What we have here is a picture of an Eastern wedding and the father giving a bride to his son. The Son here, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ and the father is our heavenly Father. The bride is the redeemed church.
This picture of the bride is enhanced in the book of Revelation. In chapter 21, John saw the ‘new Jerusalem … prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (v.2). The apostle John tells us that in that vision he saw ‘the bride, the wife of the Lamb’ (v.9). Two chapters earlier, John says he heard the praises of heaven accompanying the ‘wedding of the Lamb and his bride’ (19:7).
What a glorious picture! This is the fulfilment of the Father’s gift to his Son – the final blessedness of all the saints – and don’t forget, every believer redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb is a saint. That is the teaching of the New Testament, clearly and unmistakably presented.
Turning back to John 10, where Jesus assures the children of God that no one will snatch them from the Father or himself, no such loss is possible, because Christ sealed their salvation once and for all when he paid the penalty for their sin on the cross. Sin has been dealt with once and for all. The writer to the Hebrews says, ‘Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people’ (9:28).
Finally, why did Jesus say that nobody could snatch the redeemed from either Father or Son? Verse 30 gives the answer – ‘I and the Father are one’. The everlasting three-in-one is not only involved in the believer’s salvation (the Spirit conveys the life of God to the soul) but is committed to bringing each and every redeemed soul to glory.
Dementia, forgetfulness, physical pain and disease can never separate the believer from Christ and the joyful expectation of the perfection of heaven. Every experience in this life (even dementia) is God’s preparation for the mansions above. The Son of God is himself preparing that home. Because that is fact, simply tell it to the suffering saints, even if their memories have gone. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
© Pilgrim Homes Quarterly 2008.1