This message will be different from others. I do not have an outline. But like other messages, I am using a lot of Scripture. I am asking you to turn in your Bibles with me. I want to teach the Bible this morning and this is my text book. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” (Acts 17:11-12) We should do this with every message. We should see what God said. Our theology is based on this book.
Have you ever wondered at what Jesus prayed for? We know that prayer characterized the ministry of Jesus. He lived in prayer. He taught on the subject of prayer. The Gospels teaches us that there were times he set Himself apart from others just to pray. He prayed before He chose His disciples. This high priestly prayer of John 17 is a prayer He made after He taught the disciples in John 13-16.
The key two verses in this chapter, 9 and 20, show us who He prayed for. John 17:9 (KJV) I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. John 17:20 (KJV) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That means you were on the mind and heart of Jesus just before His crucifixion.
The way He prayed is important. The Bible says that “He lifted up his eyes.” “The request of our Lord thus given in John’s seventeenth chapter is clearly no prayer of an inferior to a superior: constantly there is seen in it the co-equality of the Speaker with The Father. The Two have but one mind… Where the Son speaks He is not seeking to bend The Father to Him: rather is He voicing the purpose of the Godhead.” (Trench). When we pray we bow our heads and close our eyes in humility. We are not His equal. We are inferior. Although we can come boldly to the throne of grace we must do so reverently.
His prayer to glorify the Father is far different from our prayers: How different are most our prayers. “In one form or another we are constantly asking the Father to glorify us. Glorify me, O Father, we cry, by giving me the largest congregation in the town; by commencing a great revival in my mission, by increasing my spiritual power, so that I shall be greatly sought after. Of course, we do not state our reason quite so concisely; but this is really what we mean. And then we wonder why the answer tarries.”
His prayer is very specific in the beginning. Verse two is a clear statement of Divinity. Jesus has power over all flesh, He has authority to give eternal life. He was to glorify the Father by giving eternal life. Herein lies the topic for the message. No one but God could pray this way. I want to use this message as an argument for eternal life.
As Baptists we will often use the expression, “Eternal Security.” I understand what is being taught when we use these words. I do believe in once saved always saved. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) He did not say, “I knew you at one time.” To never know someone is to never know someone. When a person is born again they cannot be unborn again. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3-7)
I prefer to use Bible language to teach Bible doctrine. In this prayer Jesus uses the words “eternal life” and “life eternal.” John 3:16 also uses the words, “everlasting life.” “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 1:24) When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security. It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation.
My favorite illustration for eternal life was given by Jesus. John 10 is filled with the richness of the Deity of Christ. You will notice that His keeping and Divinity are tied together.
“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:22-33)
The people wanted Jesus to be clear about His divinity. So He tells them that He gives eternal life. This gift means that a man who has eternal life will never perish. This does not mean that he will never die. Physically, we all will die. This, of course, is under the assumption that Jesus does not rapture us away. Life is more than physical. Man is also spiritual. We have body, soul, and spirit. Our soul is who we really are. Our soul will never perish. He illustrates this by saying that we are in His hand and in our Father’s hand. A child is safe in His parent’s hands. Who could rip us out of their hands? Then He claims to be equal with the Father, and this is how He prayed in John 17. Jesus is coexistant, coeternal, coequal with the Father. This is why they wanted to kill Him. They disagreed with the Theology of our Lord.
I have referenced John 3:16 earlier. Let’s go there for a moment.
“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:15-17)
We learn that whosoever, and I like that word, believes in Jesus will have eternal life. This is a promise. Think of who made this promise. Jesus, who is God. Can God lie? “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:2) If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error. That would make God a liar.
When we think of theologians in the Bible we think of two people. Of course we think of Jesus. There is no greater theologian than God. We also think of Paul. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) We are saved by the Lord who loves us. What can you do to make Him stop loving you? The obvious answer is nothing. You cannot maintain your salvation. You are kept the same way you were saved. Jesus saved you and He keeps you. This is because He loves you.
I realize that many would argue against this great doctrine by saying that there is nothing that will prevent you from living in sin. This argument says that when a person sins they stop being a child of God. Just as it is natural for a man to think that he must earn his salvation, it is also natural for a man to think that he must maintain his salvation. This “gut feeling” is not right.
If a person believes that they could lose their salvation then I would question if they believe in the substitutionary death of Christ. That means Jesus died to pay for all of our sins. All means all. Not part of our sins were laid on Christ, all of them were. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6) He died before we were ever born. All of our sins were in the future. Denying eternal life is a denial of the substitutionary death of Christ.
If you could get lost after you get saved, what can you do to get lost? Commit sin? I do not know one man who is without sin. Some might say that they just have not sinned enough. How much is enough? What verse tells us about the limit of sin? There are no verses that put a cap on sin. What if you quit trusting? What would cause you to quit trusting Jesus? When you came to Jesus you trusted Him. The longer you know Him the more you trust Him. He is the assurance of our faith in Him.
Let me tell you what happens if a Christian sins. He does not lose his salvation. If he did he was never saved. Our fellowship with God is broken, but not our relationship. When David had committed adultery and murder, he prayed in confession to God, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12). He did not pray, “Restore unto me thy salvation.” He did not need to, David’s relationship with God had not been altered, just his fellowship and joy.
Not only is the fellowship broken, but chastisement comes. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7) Eternal life does not condone sin. Eternal life must also be linked up with our personal accountability to God.
Here is another Bible Word that teaches us about eternal life. That word is “preserved.” “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:” (Jude 1:1) When I read that word “preserved” I think pickled. We’re not pickled. Preserved means to guard or prevent from escaping. It implies a fortress. Jesus Christ is our fortress. A mighty fortress is our God. Is our enemy stronger than our fortress? There is no breach in our fortress. No, our enemy is already defeated. Read the book of Revelation. Jesus has preserved us.
I go back to our text. Jesus prayed that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given me. This is part of how Jesus prayed before He died as our substitute payment, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and three days later was resurrected out of that tomb. He prayed that way because that is what He paid for. He knew what He wanted. He paid for you to have eternal life. I have sought to lay out the Biblical case for eternal life. Let me read two more verses so that I may ask a pointed question.
“And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:38-39)
Eternal life is a Bible doctrine. I do believe in once saved always saved because that is what the Bible teaches. Based on this I must ask this question. Do you believe? Another way of asking this question, “Are you born again?” Let me ask it another way that will force a direct answer. If you were to die today, and you would stand before God and He would ask you, “Why should I let you into Heaven?”, what would you say? If you do not know the answer then during the invitation I will invite you to come forward and we will take the Bible and show you how you can know that you are saved. You can know and you should know. You can have eternal life.
If you’re a Christian, and you know the answers to this most important question, let me extend the invitation to you in this way. Are you living a life that can produce doubt. Believers doubt because of sin. Sin does create doubt. Doubt does not mean you’re not saved. Doubt could mean that there is something in your life that has taken the joy of your salvation away. Come to the altar and come clean before God. Do not give the devil a tool to cause doubt.