John 17:9-12 – “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
During His final week before dying on the cross, Jesus stopped to pray His longest recorded prayer. In it, Jesus speaks of Christians retaining their relationship with God not by their own effort or merit but rather by God the Father “keeping them”. In this way, the assurance and perseverance of our salvation are in the faithfulness of God so that we continue walking with God who continues to walk with us.
God is our Father. Our Father both loves his children and is sovereign over them (as he is over the entire world), so we can be assured that our future is secure, that we have hope now and forever. Our Father loves us and is “keeping” us.
Assuring true believers that our relationship with God and eternal life are secure, Jesus says, “Not one of them has been lost”. Jesus says that none of the elect were ever lost during his ministry.
This is more cause for hope. It speaks to the enduring concern of the convicted Christian. Can we lose our salvation?
The answer is No.
We maintain our relationship with God because God keeps us. It is not maintained because we have it all together, walk faithfully, keep our chin up. We do persevere, we do work out our salvation, as Philippians 2:12 tells us, but the next verse reminds us that it is God who works in us. Salvation is a work God does in us, and our obedience is a work God does through us, as the fruit of Christ’s perfect life grows in us in the power of the Holy Spirit. God is a good Dad who promises to keep us. Hebrews 13:5 tells us that God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Jesus told his followers that nothing can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
Over the years, I have had the blessing of traveling a lot and taking the family with me around the world. Every place we’d go, we’d end up mingling with lots of crowds in strange places where we do not speak the language. I have learned to keep an extremely watchful eye on my five kids. Throughout the day, it is an unending effort to keep them all accounted for. Grace and I end up counting 1 to 5 thousands of times a day. But the result is that they are kept together. And they are kept together not because they stay in lockstep and follow closely. They are kids. They wander, they get distracted.
For some of our kids, I had to hold their hand. Now, some of them I could not lose if I tried. I cannot lose one son. He was always there. If I could see him, it is because he was too close, actually, right behind me and up against my legs. He’d stick extremely close. But some others do not. They see something shiny: they are gone. Some are compliant, some wander wherever they want. But they are all kept together not by their effort, but mine. They are kept accounted for because Grace and I keep a close eye on them. We watch over them and keep them. God is the same way. Some of his children wander more than others, but we are all kept by the same hand and watchful eye: His. We are not lost because he keeps us found.
How has God brought you back from wandering away from Him?