Jesus promised that His followers can’t be snatched from the Father’s hand. What does that promise mean for us today?
A most comforting and encouraging promise is found in John 10:27-29. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. … 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.”
Jesus is quite emphatic. His disciples have been given to Him by the Father, and no enemy is able to snatch them out of God’s hands.
Do we believe this promise given to us by Jesus? And what does God expect us to do to claim this promise?
Consider the first part of what Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
“My sheep hear My voice”: believing Jesus’ words
In the final hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father. He asked Him to sanctify or set apart His followers by His truth and added, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
It is through the Bible—the Word of God—that we come to know Him. We must hear the good Shepherd’s voice and follow Him—and choose not to listen to other voices or wander off. We must hear and believe the pure truth of God’s Word—and reject temptations to sin or to believe nonbiblical ideas.
Jesus Himself revealed how powerful and everlasting God’s words are by stating that heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s words will not (Matthew 24:35).
Therefore, we can know and be assured that what Jesus promised about God keeping His followers in His hand is sure.
As Christians, we must all be fully persuaded that God is able to preserve us. As it says in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
“They follow Me”: obeying God
It is of great value to believe in God, but the Bible says there is more everyone must be doing. Even the demons believe in God and tremble (James 2:19), but Christ’s followers are told to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). We must do what God commands.
The apostle John wrote, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him” (1 John 2:4-5).
Notice what the apostle Peter emphasized we need to do: “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19).
So we must be obedient to God’s way of life and believe that He will watch over us, just as He did the many men and women in the Bible who believed and obeyed God. They sought God as their refuge and focused on pleasing Him.
“No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand”
To those who believe and obey, Jesus made this wonderful promise that God will always faithfully do His part, and no enemy has the power to overcome God. God is all-powerful and completely trustworthy.To those who believe and obey, Jesus made this wonderful promise that God will always faithfully do His part, and no enemy has the power to overcome God. God is all-powerful and completely trustworthy.
This promise does not mean that no one will ever fall away from God, for we humans are fallible and will be judged in accordance with what we do (John 5:29). What this promise in John 10 is referring to is God’s faithfulness and omnipotence. God will not go back on His word, and no power on heaven or earth can alter God’s plan to reward those who in faith seek God and strive to live as He instructs.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy we find him alluding to Christ’s promise. He wrote, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Paul was fully persuaded that Christ was able to keep what he had committed to Him. And what was it that Paul had committed to Christ? It was his life!
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s Commentary suggests that the word translated “believed” in 2 Timothy 1:12 might be better thought of as trusted, “carrying out the metaphor of a depositor depositing his pledge with one whom he trusts.”
Paul knew that God is trustworthy.
Paul trusted Christ and was fully persuaded that He was able to resurrect him on the day of His return, when all those who are in Christ will be changed to spirit beings.
Thus Paul confronted his coming death with confidence: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
We battle against a strong adversary. Jesus tells us that the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and through moods and attitudes, he bombards everyone with negative, hateful and evil thoughts all the time.
Satan’s goal is to cause us to fail. He wants to rip us out of God’s hand. But God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore, if Jesus said that no one can pluck a disciple out of God’s hand, it is a promise that we can count on.
Satan can—and will—try to get us to doubt God and to wander away from God. But he can’t take us—only we can choose to leave. If we leave the protection of the Father’s hand, it is by our own choice. But God gives us all the help we need to avoid making that wrong choice. His analogy and His promise are intended to encourage and strengthen us to always make the right choice.
Jesus used the analogy of sheep to describe His followers. He said that they hear His voice and follow Him, the good Shepherd. And if we recognize Him as our loving and protective Shepherd, we will follow Him; and He will give us eternal life.
His promise to us is that no one will be able to remove us from either His or His Father’s hand. Let’s hang on to that promise!
For a further study on the promises found in the Bible, read “God’s Promises: Rock-Solid Hope and Assurance.”