22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
– John 10:22-29
Yet Another Reason Why I am Not an Arminian
In my dealings with Arminians, what should be a point by point exposition of pivotal texts typically turns into the Arminian slinging ridicule and isolated verses of Scripture at me while I try to get them to address the text in question. This is unfortunate, because it allows for a double standard in one’s hermeneutic. See, if an Arminian would disallow cultists to employ this “method” of defense and instead urge the proper use of Scripture, according to immediate context and the broader context of Scripture as well, then what justifies his use of this “method” of defense?
John 10:22-29 demolishes Arminianism, if one only heeds the context of the passage, presenting each of the five points of Calvinism in some form or another. These points have been summarized, for practicality’s sake, in the acronym T.U.L.I.P – Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints. Let’s turn to our text.
vv. 22-25 – Total Depravity
Contrary to the Arminians, what we read here is not that the Pharisees saw the signs that Christ had performed and believed, but that they did not believe in spite of the signs He performed. The issue here is not the presentation of the Gospel in a dialect, so to speak, like unto their own, or in a manner that would appeal to their best sensibilities. The Pharisees are unable, completely unable, to come to faith in Christ on their own, in spite of the overwhelming evidence He gives them. They do not believe because they cannot believe. And why can’t they believe? Well…
vv. 26-27 & 29 – Unconditional Election
Here we see that the identity of the individual precedes their belief or disbelief. If one becomes Christ’s sheep by believing (as Arminians teach), then why does the Lord God Himself say that it is only His sheep that can and will believe? The Lord clearly shows us here that His sheep believe and those who are not His sheep do not believe. The identity of the individual precedes his act of believing or disbelieving, which means that those who believe were given to Him by the Father and those who don’t believe were not given to Him by the Father (past tense). When those who have been given to Christ in eternity past hear the voice of the Lord Jesus, they without fail come to faith in Him. Why? Because they are, already by dint of the Father having elected and given them to Christ, His own sheep.
One is not a sheep because one believes;
one believes because one is a sheep.
vv. 26 & 28 – Limited Atonement
This point is tied into unconditional election, for if the Father has already given the elect to Christ, and Christ died for those who are given to Him, that Christ only died for those who have been given to Him by the Father. Many do not like the doctrine of particular atonement, but this is exactly what the Lord God is here saying. He says, in effect, “Those whom the Father has given me, will come to me, and I will give them eternal life.” Eternal life is not given to those who are not sheep – that is to say: Only the sins of the elect, i.e. the sheep whom the Father has given to Christ, are atoned for here, and not the sins of the non-elect, i.e. the non-sheep that the Father has not given to the Lord Jesus.
vv. 27 – Irresistible Grace
This too follows the above points, for those whom the Father has given to Christ will come to Christ. I mean…I don’t what else there is to say here…lol. The grace of God in calling His sheep to Himself, on this basis, cannot be resisted. All who are the sheep of Christ will come to Him.
vv. 27 – 29 – Perseverance of the Saints
We need to look at this passage again, now, in light of the above points and elaborate on what is implicit here, for vv. 28-29 are the capstone of the life of the sheep who belong to Christ. Let’s look at this closely.
i. The Sheep have been elected to be sheep. [Past tense]
ii. The Sheep hear and follow. [Present tense]
iii. The Sheep shall never perish (i.e. come into judgment), nor shall anyone snatch them out of the Father’s hand or the Son’s hand. [Future tense]
In all three cases, what we see is that salvation is the work of God alone. In the past, God elected some to belong to Christ. In the present, those who are His hear His voice and follow Him and are given eternal life. In the future, they shall never perish, i.e. fall away to perdition. Those who have been given to the Lord Jesus will come to faith and will persevere. Why? Because salvation is not the work of man at all (Eph. 2:8-9), but the work of the Triune God who elects and calls (Rom. 8:28-29), regenerates (John 3:8), gives faith (Phil. 1:29), and preserves His own (Rom. 8:30).