The following is a transcript of the audio.
A listener named Kevin writes in to ask: “Pastor John, what does Jesus mean when he says in John 16:1: ‘I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away’?”
Jesus said, just like Kevin pointed out, John 16:1: “I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away.” And the next verses he says that suffering is coming and really perplexing suffering. Verse two: “You will be put out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is serving God.”
Now in those kind of situations we can easily feel like: God, where are you? Have you forsaken me? And he has already said Jesus already said in chapter 15: Remember—this is 15:20—remember the word that I said to you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. So what Jesus is saying is that his words, my words, his warnings, his promises are his means of preserving our faith in these painful situations. For example, he said in verse 13, just before chapter 16 started, 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, than that someone laid down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants for the servant doesn’t know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends. For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
So when we enter persecution we are supposed to remember his words. I loved you. I gave myself for you. This is the greatest love I could possibly show for you. I died for you. You are my friend. You are not a slave. I have taken you into the inner counsels of the godhead.
When are we persecuted we are supposed to remember these things and in remembering these things he keeps us from falling away.
So it will not be easy to believe in the midst of persecution that God loves us when we are being tortured for his name. It won’t be easy to feel loved when you languish in prison. It won’t be easy to feel loved when you are abandoned by friends. But Jesus says: I have spoken to you, to help you keep your faith. So may my words sustain you. May my words be the ropes by which I bind you to myself.
So here is where Kevin may be stumbling. He may have the idea that eternal security means we don’t need to fight the fight of faith or he may think that eternal security may mean that Jesus has made us secure and doesn’t need to do anything more to keep us secure.
Now I think both of those ideas are mistaken. We are eternally secure as his children. But the way we are eternally secure is that Jesus has promised to keep us secure. His present and future and keeping are as important as any past purchase of us. And the way he keeps us is by bringing his words to mind and helping us see them as true and beautiful and trustworthy and sufficient for all our needs. So eternal security, then, is not like a vaccination that we receive when we were six and don't have anything to do with now. No, it is like an ongoing therapy regimen and our doctor, Jesus, promises never, never, never to leave us, but always to help us and to keep us and, thus, our therapy, our ongoing daily therapy is the means by which we are preserved and kept and his words are an essential part of that.
So our part is to trust him every day that he knows what he is doing in this sometimes very painful therapy. And he has spoken to us so that we have promises to trust and warnings to heed. So, Kevin, we are secure. But we are as secure as the promises of God. As sure as they are true and as sure as they are se-cure and Jesus is faithful to us today and forever, that is what our security lies in, the ongoing keeping of Jesus applying his Word to our life and holding on to us with them.
Thank you Pastor John, and thank you Kevin for the excellent question. Related to this topic is episode #102, titled: “Can a Born-Again Christian Lose Salvation?” Check that out, episode #102. Well, Monday we will return to this topic of eternal security and ask how can eternal security be both certain and also conditional at the same time? Can it be both? You won’t want to miss that episode. Until then, like Kevin did, email your questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And visit us online at desiringgod.org to find thousands of books, articles, sermons, and other resources all free of charge from John Piper, and all intended to help explain why God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. I’m your host, Tony Reinke, have a great weekend.