A Rhapsody of Sovereign Grace

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.

John 10:26-30

I borrowed my title today from my dear friend Elder Michael Gowens. In his very able commentary on the Gospel of John, He declares this section to be “A Rhapsody of Sovereign Grace.”

A rhapsody is a style of music that brings together several different themes to present one glorious piece of music filled with power and awe.

I think this is a fitting title for what Jesus says here.

Jesus will declare the doctrine of sovereign grace in short, easy to understand, and comforting terms. This is not the doctrine of Calvin nor even of Paul for it did not have its origins from either of those men. This doctrine came straight from the Son of God Himself!

T – Toal Depravity

In verse 26, Jesus begins with man’s inability to hear and respond because of his natural born depraved state. When a person is dead in sin, it is not a question of his will to hear and follow the Lord. He not only does not have the desire to follow, he does not have the ability.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1st Corinthians 2:14

U – Unconditional Election

Jesus declares that there are some people that are His sheep and some that are not. This is clearly referring to election. The Apostle Paul explains to us how someone becomes a “sheep of Jesus.”

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Ephesians 1:4

L – Limited Atonement

Just prior to this section, Jesus declares:

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14-15

Jesus died for the elect. Some may object to this teaching but it is plainly taught throughout scripture. And if you are squeamish about the term “limited,” consider this. The doctrine that teaches that Jesus died for everyone limits God’s power to actually saving no one! It is left up to the sinner to save himself. And remember by-the-way, those sinners are dead in sin and cannot move toward Jesus!

I – Irresistible Grace

Jesus then declares that He knows His sheep. He calls them by name and they respond. The group under consideration is all of the elect of God, so this must be teaching something that all of them do. This is responding in the the new birth and in the resurrection. In both of these cases, it is the voice of Jesus that calls them (not His words preached by a man), and the call is irresistible.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

John 5:25-29

P – Preservation of the Saints

Finally, Jesus declares that His sheep, the elect of God, are secure in His and His Father’s hand. This means that our eternal security is not based on our choice or fidelity in our walk. We are secure by the same work that got us in His hands – the complete and finished work of Jesus Christ! The fact that they will never perish tells us that the second death has no power over them. They are predestinated to be adopted in the resurrection!

The Apostle Paul will later write this same teaching in the Golden Chain of Salvation:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Romans 8:29-30

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