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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Basic Necessities (A Thanksgiving Sermon)

Basic Necessities (A Thanksgiving Sermon)
Terry Lee Hovey

Around this time of year, it would be my hope that just about every child in an American school would be able to tell you something of what happened in December of 1620.

I say this, because this month, being November... and Thanksgiving Day being celebrated this month on the 4th Thursday...

I would think that teachers in classrooms around the country would be decorating their classrooms with Fall colors and posters or other types of cardboard pictures of turkeys... cornucopia... and Pilgrims dressed in their tall hats and boots with big buckles. These teachers are probably also recounting the story of these Pilgrims and their landing on Plymouth Rock.

They might go into some of the history surrounding the Pilgrims leaving the “old world” for the “new world”... and tell of their desire for “religious freedom”, but with the way the world is today, I doubt they go much deeper than that.

I say this, because the Pilgrims that landed on Plymouth Rock, and then founded Plymouth Colony, were a deeply religious people. They were Puritans, who, as their name implies, desired to live pure and holy lives... unimpeded by the state church in England.

They had left England for the Netherlands in 1608, where they found refuge. Then in 1617 they decided to go to the New World where they would have even greater religious freedom... and after making the necessary arrangements, they set sail in September of 1620 and as I mentioned earlier... landed at Plymouth Rock in December of the same year.

Now... in my mind... there couldn't possibly be a worse time of the year to arrive in the New England area to begin building a new colony. After all, December in Massachusetts isn't like December in Texas.

And... December, in this hemisphere, is only the beginning of winter. Snow has more than likely already fallen a time or two prior to their arrival... and even if there were no snow on the ground when they came ashore (and I don't know if this was the case or not)... we can be pretty sure that it was cold and the ground was hard.

As we think of New England, 1620... and we try to visualize ourselves in their situation... we quickly realize that there are no established settlements in the area that can assist us with what we need to survive the coming winter.

There's no Best Western anywhere to be found. No grocery store where we can go to buy food. There's no water well with a pump or spigot we can turn to get water.

All those things that are necessary for basic human survival... shelter... food... and water... though, in 1620, they're all around... they're only in their most basic and primitive form. They're not readily usable yet... and being December... there's precious little time to make it so.

History tells us that the winter of 1620 in New England, was relatively mild. What that probably means is that there was only 1-2 ft of snow rather than 5-6 ft.

Many of us may also know that the first year in the New World though considered mild by New England standards... was a hard year for the Pilgrims because out of the 102 souls who had landed at Plymouth... 46 had died that first winter. Only 56 remained.

And... many more would have died had it not been for the neighboring Wampanoag tribe who helped the Pilgrims that first Spring by showing them how to plant and cultivate some of the native crops so that by the Fall of the following year, 1621... they had a good harvest

Then, in celebration of that good harvest and God's Providence... they had a 3 day celebration of Thanksgiving which involved not only the 56 remaining Pilgrims (only 4 adult women survived), but it also included the Wampanoag Indians who brought the venison...

* * * * * * * * * *

This is the back story behind our modern national holiday, Thanksgiving. It's a story of deep faith in God and trusting in His Providence. The Pilgrims knew that God is the Creator of all things and that as Creator, He is also the Sovereign who sustains all the things He has created.

He provided what was necessary... when it was necessary... and through perseverance and hard work... the colony survived and thrived.

And God's Providence is still at work today, and those of us who trust in our Creator can see His hands at work everyday in our own lives... providing us those same basic necessities of life...

Such as...

I. The Basic Necessity of Shelter

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psa 18:2 NKJV)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." (Psa 91:1-2 NKJV)

You know, I have often thought about building a log cabin somewhere... and I can almost picture myself doing it... but if it ever happened, it'd be in the Spring or Summer... I would NEVER undertake something like this in the winter.

Beloved... I don't even want to change the oil in my car during the winter. I seriously dislike being cold and doing things outside in the cold...

But this is exactly what those Pilgrim's faced. From the moment they landed at Plymouth, the requirement for shelter was urgent. They had to build shelter that would be adequate for 102 people... and they had to gather firewood for heat and cooking.

Webster's defines “shelter” as: 1. That which covers or defends from injury or annoyance. 2. The state of being covered and protected; protection; security

Both of the verses that we read from the Psalms say that the Lord is our “fortress”, and Psalm 91:2 says that He is also our “refuge”.

Those who “dwell” in Him, have the Sovereign of the universe as their protection... their covering... their security.

There is no thing and no one who can lay siege against the walls of our fortress and prevail!

The walls around the ancient city of Babylon were said to be anywhere between 35 to 85 ft thick... depending on which ancient historian you believe Clitarchus or Herodotus

But the point is... even with protecting walls so thick that you could drive 3-4 chariots over it, side by side... they weren't strong enough to keep the Persians out who conquered Babylon in 539 BC.

The walls around Jerusalem couldn't keep the Babylonians out some 48 years earlier in 587 BC... and then again in 70 AD to the Romans. Both of these events occurred as judgments... because the Jews had forsaken God.

They had turned to pagan idols and false gods before God brought judgment against them through the Babylonians... who took them into captivity.

And because they had turned away from their promised Messiah some 620 years later and hung the Son of God on a cross. Judgment would come again... 37 years later through the Roman general and future Emperor Titus.

But beloved... those who “trust” in the Lord... and “dwell” in the Most High... are residing within an impenetrable fortress. Walls that cannot be scaled or torn down.

There is absolutely nothing that the devil can do to us that will amount to anything because He has absolutely no ability to enter into the hallowed halls of this fortress in which we reside.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me," Says the LORD. (Isa 54:17 NKJV)

Every weapon of war which is designed to hurt and destroy the people of God... shall be rendered useless... not one of them shall prosper in the hands of the enemy...

Every tongue that rises against those who abide in Christ and tries to bring a false accusation or an evil charge will have no real power over us... because we trust in the Lord.

The only power the enemy can have over us is what we give him. That wall around Babylon... the enemy was shown a back way in. The Great Wall of China that kept the enemy at bay... was breached several times because they were let in through a gate by someone inside...

We must trust in the One who “covers” us. For as the Scripture says... He is our Rock... our Deliverer... our Strength... our Shield... and our Stronghold...

We are to “trust” in Him, and as Paul says in Ephesians... “nor give place to the devil.” (Eph 4:27 NKJV)

Or as the ESV puts it... “and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Eph 4:27 ESV)

II. The Basic Necessity of Food

And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (Joh 6:35 NKJV)

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." (Joh 6:48-51 NKJV)

Now, I'm sure that when the Pilgrims landed, they had some food remaining which they had brought with them from the Old World. We don't know how much they had on hand... or how pressing their need was...

We do know that there is no way they could have carried enough food stores to last them indefinitely... so, they probably had to eat what food that remained while trying to hunt and forage for food at the same time.

It'd be sensible to do this... And I'm sure that they were grateful many times for the Wampanoag who showed them what plants were edible and what wasn't...

And as crucial to human survival as food is... our Pilgrim forefathers... and we ourselves know that there is a food that is even more crucial for life!

Jesus told us that in the gospel of Matthew that... "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD.' " (Mat 4:4 NKJV)

So He tells us that a source of nutrition even more important than physical food... the Scriptures nourishes our spiritual needs in such a way that will benefit us eternally.

In the same manner in which He tells us that we shouldn't concern ourselves so much with the clothing and raiment of this life... (Remember the “birds of the air” and “lilies of the field” illustration He gave in Mat 6:25-34?)

We are to rather, concern ourselves with feasting on that food which will satisfy our souls with eternal life.

You see... in the first part of this 6th chapter of John... we see that Jesus had just provided physical nourishment to 6,000 men with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish.

Then later that night He walked on water... and the next day, the Jews that had caught up with Him and the disciples asked for another sign so that they might believe!

The Jews bring up the fact that Moses had fed the fathers in the wilderness with bread from heaven... not the simple and plain barley loaves like You just fed us with... (Can you imagine the arrogance there? Having participated in that miracle... they dismiss it... like it was nothing.)

But Jesus' response was that yes... Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. (Joh 6:49 NKJV) You ate the barley loaves I fed you, and that may sustain your life for a little time... but you also will die... just like your fathers did...

But if you want to live... then know this... I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever (Joh 6:51a NKJV)

The bread that I have to give is so much better that the manna that our fathers ate. If you eat THIS bread... you will live forever!

and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. (Joh 6:51b NKJV)

If you want to live... then you must believe in Me!” This is what He's been saying throughout this chapter... Believe in ME and you will live!

"This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." (Joh 6:29 NKJV)

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (Joh 6:47 NKJV)

If you eat of this Bread that I offer... If you believe in Me... you will live forever!

III. The Basic Necessity of Water

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (Joh 4:10-14 NKJV)

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Joh 7:37-39 NKJV)

Next to the immediate need of shelter... finding drinkable water would be absolutely critical... Though man can go without food for weeks... he can go without water for only a few days.

Now it's possible that the Pilgrims could have melted some snow for drinking water... but we have to remember that unlike the Texas panhandle... New England has no shortage of rivers and streams... so it might not have been necessary.

But the water the Pilgrims found here in the New World... is just like the water Jesus spoke of at the well in Samaria. Anyone who drinks of it... will get thirsty again.

Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again (Joh 4:13a NKJV)

But there is water that He has to offer that will satisfy the thirsty soul for eternity! He tells us in the remaining verses...

but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (Joh 4:13-14 NKJV)

This water that Jesus has to offer us isn't the stale and stagnant water that's drawn up from a well or cistern...

It's a “fountain” and it “springs up”... it's active... it's alive... And how can anyone ever thirst again who has within them a living and active spring of living water... bubbling up from within?

And as we'll see in the 7th chapter of John... this fountain of living water is the Holy Spirit.

Because when Jesus speaks of water again... it's in Jerusalem, during the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth. This was another of the 3 Feasts that required all males to come to Jerusalem to celebrate.

It was an 8 day celebration in which everyone lived in “tents”... and on the last day... the culmination of the feast... the Priest would go to the pool of Sloam to fill a golden vessel with water and then take it to the altar...

Next... they would fill another golden vessel with wine... and then both vessels, the water and the wine, would be poured out together into the basin.

The mixed water and wine would then flow down a conduit which carried the water to the Brook of Kidron located across from the eastern wall.

This ritual symbolized the prayer for the Fall rains upon which Israel depended...

It also pictured the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom in which the Holy Spirit would be poured on Israel and believers of all nations.

It was at this point that Jesus stood and cried out... "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (Joh 7:37b-38 NKJV)

...and then we read the explanation of what Jesus just said in the following verse...

But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Joh 7:39 NKJV)

What a picture. Jesus uses the very symbolism of the Jewish feast to declare to them that, “Here I am!” “Your Messiah is here!”

Believe on Me and that Holy Spirit you're waiting for will come upon you and will flow out of you... and He will be as a fountain within you... springing up into eternal life!”

* * * * * * * * * *

We can have those 3 basic necessities of life in this world. We can build a house for shelter... but it will eventually decay and go back into the earth... overgrown with weeds, vines and thistles...

We can also go to the store... or to McDonald's or Burger King and fill our bellies... but we'll only get hungry once again...

We can dig a well or turn the tap to get a drink of water whenever we desire... and that's a good thing... because we WILL desire it again, and again, and again...

Any of these basic necessities that we fill under our own power... and using our own hands... can only be temporary in nature...

It's only in Jesus that we find shelter that can never be destroyed.

It's only in Jesus that we find the bread that will give us eternal life.

It's only in Jesus that we can partake of that Living Water which He pours out upon all who believe.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Eternally Secure, pt 1

Eternally Secure, pt 1
Terry Lee Hovey

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 anyone snatch them out of My hand. 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. I and My Father are one.” (Joh 10:27-30 NKJV)

I have been a Southern Baptist all of my life. My father was a Southern Baptist pastor until he retired... Mom...the Southern Baptist pastor's wife...

I grew up with the King James Bible... Royal Ambassadors... Bible Drill Team... and singing in the choir.

You could say that I'm “Southern Baptist born and bred.” And for much of my life that was quite literally true. I was Southern Baptist because that's how I was raised.

Now, however, I'm Southern Baptist because I've studied... the Bible, Southern Baptist doctrines... and other denominational doctrines... and I've come to see that the Southern Baptist doctrines are right and correct.

But... to give you an illustration of just how Southern Baptist I was... It wasn't until maybe 20 years or so ago that I realized that there were other kinds of Baptists! I always just took it for granted that all Baptists were of the Southern variety...

Those people who called themselves Baptists and lived up North... well, I just didn't know what to think of them.

But this realization that there were other kinds of Baptists didn't dawn on me until Terri and I had moved to Bowling Green, KY back in 1997. We were looking for a church home and I saw in the phone book a listing for some “General” Baptist churches. Well, I had just recently come to terms with the idea of “Missionary” Baptist... but “General” Baptist? I was curious.

So I called one of the churches and talked for a bit with the pastor. I told him our situation and that I was curious about “General” Baptists... He told me that they pretty much believed the same thing as Southern Baptists, except that they believed that a person could lose their salvation...

I was shocked! The very idea! But I kept my cool. I said, “Uh... Ok... So, you're Methodist.”

He said, “No, we're Baptist”. And I again, “But you said you believed that you could lose your salvation?” He said, “Yes.” So again I said, “So, you're really Methodists?” Again he said, “No...we're Baptists...”

Well by this time I was beginning to think that he really didn't know exactly what he was... Because I knew for a fact that Baptists believed that if a person has truly been saved...

If they have been faced with the fact of their horrible sinfulness before God... and repented and trusted in the finished work of Christ on the Cross...

Well... there is just no way that that person who had been bought by the precious blood of Christ and now had been (to borrow a phrase from an old song) “signed, sealed and delivered” into the hands of Christ... could EVER turn away from the Lover of their Soul and lose their salvation. It just ain't gonna happen.

So... it was at this point that it began to dawn on me that there were some Baptists out there who had fallen into that semi-Pelagian / Armenian error that teaches that a person's salvation isn't sure... that it's mostly up to YOU to keep it... or lose it.

Now... I had run across this belief before from my Methodist and Pentecostal brothers in Christ (and yes... they ARE my brothers in Christ, though I know they are in error on this issue)... but this was the first time I had experienced this from someone who claimed to be BAPTIST!

I was just flabbergasted.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now... the reason I bring this up at all is because I have recently been inundated by friends and acquaintances on this issue. One friend who recently moved back up North from Pampa... just started to argue with me on Facebook about it.

After a couple of responses back and forth, I had to close the discussion down because I've found that Facebook arguments NEVER get resolved.

The only thing people get from arguments on Facebook is angry. And because I'd rather keep friends than lose them... I shut the discussion down.

But this was only one instance of several that I've had in the last few weeks... either run ins like the one I just mentioned... but many times just listening to others make disparaging, or snide remarks concerning the doctrine of Eternal Security... and then moving on before I can respond...

It's frustrating because I know that this is the truth of the Word of God... and I just can't understand why people who otherwise claim to believe the Bible... every word of it... refuse to accept this truth.

* * * * * * * * * *

Take for instance, our opening passage from the Book of John. It starts out by saying... “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (Joh 10:27)

In ancient times in the Middle East, the life of the Shepherd was bound up in the life of his flock. He would take them out in the morning to find pasture... periodically during the day he would move the flock to water... and then back to the pasture again... over and over throughout the day.

The Shepherd would make his bed at night among the sheep... he'd provide protection from wild animals 24/7... and his sheep would know him, his scent, and his voice and they will follow him... no one else.

But what's even more important than knowing the Shepherd... is the Shepherd knowing them! He knows how many He has... He knows them by name... and He keeps a close eye on each and every one of them so that none can walk too far away from the flock... or get carried away from the flock...

His rod and his staff not only are tools he uses to keep the sheep in the flock together... but it's also the weapon he uses to fight off anything that would harm ANY of HIS SHEEP!

Do you think that it would be possible for Jesus... as our Shepherd... to lose ANY of His sheep? He's not the “hireling” that's mentioned in verses 12 and 13...

But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (Joh 10:12-13 NKJV)

No! He's not the hireling! He's the Shepherd who laid down His very own life for His sheep!

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (Joh 10:11 NKJV)

The very notion that the Good Shepherd... after giving His very life for His sheep... would allow any harm to come to any of them is not only ludicrous... but it borders on outright heresy because it says that He is not sufficient to properly Shepherd His sheep!

And if any harm did come to any of them... He would have to had either allowed it... or it happened without His knowledge due to negligence...

But the Good Shepherd who died for His sheep would truly do everything possible to protect His sheep. He would allow no harm. He would never be negligent.

Furthermore... take a look at what else Jesus says concerning His sheep in vs 27...
He says, “...and they follow Me.” (Joh 10:27b NKJV)

He doesn't say that “they may follow Me...” or “...they follow me...most of the time” or “...they follow me whenever they feel like it”

No... If you're a sheep... If you're part of the Shepherd's flock... you follow the Shepherd. If you're not His sheep... you won't follow Him, will you?!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now... as with any flock... from time to time a sheep might wander a little too far away from the the flock and get lost.

This isn't due to rebellion on the part of the sheep, or anything like that. The sheep simply had its head down and was grazing... moving here and there... nibbling a small patch of grass here... wandering over to that other little patch over there...

The sheep is all the time concentrating on where its next little nibble of grass is coming from... moving from here to there... until the point that it finally raises it's head and it can no longer see the flock or the Shepherd...

Folks... if you don't keep your eyes on the Shepherd... you will end up end up in trouble...

And like any lost sheep will do... it starts to cry out for the Shepherd... baaaaaa... baaaaaa... baaaaaa...

Oh how many times have I found myself out of sight of my Shepherd... and then I cry out... “Lord... Help me... Where are you?” “Baaaaa” “Baaaaa”

And like the Good Shepherd He is... He left those 99 and went looking for me... and found me... Once He found me... He picked me up and carefully laid me across His shoulders... and carried me back to the flock.

Had I lost my salvation? Absolutely not. Because I was... am... and forever will be... one of His sheep.

If I no longer were His... I wouldn't have cried out for Him to begin with... because I wouldn't have known that I was lost! I wouldn't have wanted to get back to that flock... because I preferred my own flock... or my own kind...

Let me illustrate this a little differently... Let's say you're a sheep on a ranch somewhere in Texas... and because the ranch has sheep... it'll also have plenty of pasture to support the sheep.

But this ranch also has some pigs on it... and because there's pigs... there will also be some mud... because that's how pigs cool themselves. They wallow (or like we say in Texas... they “waller”) in the mud.

Well... a sheep... in it's grazing... may venture too close to the mud hole... and maybe by accident, or possibly, just not understanding what it is... the sheep gets trapped in the mud.

Now... if a sheep gets in a mud hole...what's the first thing it's going to do? It's going to try to get out, isn't it? Why does it want out? wants out because it's not a pig... waller'n in mud isn't part of it's nature... so it just right and natural for it to want out, isn't it?

But if you're a pig... you wouldn't want out of the mud... would you?
Well, in a similar way... if we're actually sheep... and we're a part of the Shepherd's flock... He'll come looking for us.

And let me make this perfectly clear... When the Shepherd comes looking for one of His sheep... He finds them!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now... to emphasize His point that the Shepherd will never lose any of His sheep... Jesus goes on in verse 28...

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (Joh 10:28 NKJV)

Now how anyone could make this say anything other than what it says, is beyond me.

First He puts an emphasis on the scope of this life that He gives to His sheep by using a positive statement and then two negative statements.

He says that, “I give them eternal life”. This is a life that isn't limited in any way, shape, or form. It's eternal. And what does eternal mean? (Forever, Perpetual, Never-ending...) But it really means so much more than even these adjectives might describe.

Because eternal... just like eternity... has no beginning in time. It's outside time...

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (Eph 1:4-5 NKJV)

Do you get it? It's eternal life because it's from eternity! Before... not at the foundation of the world... but before the foundation of the world... we were chosen in Him to be holy and without blame... being predestined to the adoption as sons...

And all of this was according to the good pleasure of His will... not mine... His. Simply because He wanted to do it “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” (Eph 1:6a NKJV)

Then Jesus goes on to reinforce what He had just said with the first negative statement by saying, “and they shall never perish” (Joh 10:28b NKJV)

Let me ask you this... If you were to make a statement to describe the absolute and eternal security of the believer... how else would you state it? What words would you use to make your point any clearer?

...and they shall never perish.” Folks... there are no dropouts along the way! The highway to heaven is straight and narrow with no room for any U-turns.

We are just as certain for heaven at the beginning of the ages as we are at the end of the ages.

* * * * * * * * * *

neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (Joh 1:28c NKJV)

Now, a good friend of mine named Leland Lewis... who used to be the pastor at the First Assembly of God in Pampa (but he's fallen asleep now)...

We were talking about the Southern Baptist doctrine of the Security of the Believer... (you'll notice I said Southern Baptist again because now I know there are some Methodist/Baptist's out there...)

Anyway he said... that this doesn't say that a person can't jump out of His hand...

Well, I was a little taken aback with this because I had never heard this particular argument before. It's a similar argument that other friend of mine who recently moved back North used.

His statement was... “It says 'snatch' them out...” implying that though we can't be “snatched”... we CAN jump. (Or, at least I think that's where he was headed with this. But like I said...we shut the discussion down to save our friendship.)

But... after Leland first used this argument with me the answer was obvious. He was right. It doesn't say that we can't jump out of His hands.

The problem though... is that this is building an argument from what God's Word doesn't say... rather than what it DOES say. (This is called “arguing from silence” and it's not a valid argument because it actually proves nothing.)

What it DOES SAY is that “no one is able...” In the same manner that those who are Christ's sheep... follow Christ.

And in the same way that eternal means eternal and never perish means absolutely NEVER...

So also... no one means NO ONE... and NO ONE includes me. I am as much a no one as everyone!

To borrow from a TV commercial...if you think you're in good hands with Allstate... You're in REALLY good hands when you're in Christ's hands!

And furthermore... Jesus goes on to tell us that we're not only in His hands but also in His Father's hands!

He says in verse 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. (Joh 10:29 NKJV)

Now how secure is that?! Not only are we secure in the hands of Jesus... but we're also secure in the Father's hands!

That folks... is top to bottom... com'n and go'n... ain't no way out kind of secure! (Not that any of His sheep would ever want out anyway.)

Let me illustrate this in another way... How many in here have a tattoo? Can you remove that tattoo without leaving some sort of scar?

Well let me tell you something... You... as one who has trusted in Christ and have been saved by His blood which He shed for YOU on Calvary...

You're not just tattooed in the palm of His hands... but you are “engraved”... you are “branded” in the palm of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands... (Isa 49:15-16a NKJV)

The word that's used for “inscribed” means to “hack” or “cut” as in stone...

Just as the Good Shepherd knows His sheep... so also the Lord knows us... His people. Our names are carved into the palms of His hands.

They can never be erased... No surgery can ever remove them... No tattoo can ever cover them...

Because we were carved into the palm of His hands by the nails that pinned Him to the Cross...

* * * * * * * * * *

Folks... our salvation doesn't depend upon anything we could do. Our salvation rests entirely upon the finished work of Christ.

The scripture makes this abundantly clear...

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph 2:8-9 NKJV)

We have been saved by God's grace through faith... and that not of ourselves...

Neither the grace... nor the salvation... nor the faith... are from us... they are the gift of God...

If any of it was from me... then I'd have reason to boast. I'd be able to say... “I did that.” But the truth is... it's all from Him. And that's why our salvation is eternally secure.

In our unregenerate state... we don't have what it takes to have faith in Christ because the Scripture tells us that we are dead.

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (Col 2:13 NKJV)

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Eph 2:5 NKJV)

Dead means “no life”. If there is any life... even a little spark... it isn't dead.

We are dead in our trespasses until the Holy Spirit moves upon our hearts and we come to saving faith in Christ... Like it says... He makes “us alive together with Christ”

This doesn't rest in me... but in Him.

Is He... Is the Holy Spirit moving in your heart today? Have you placed your faith in the Son of God?

You have an opportunity now to not only make your faith in Christ public... but to also follow His command to be baptized.

So, as we sing a hymn of invitation... you're invited to come forward and declare that you too... are His sheep.

Would you stand with me as we pray...