IF YOU ARE CHRIST’S SHEEP THEN YOUR SALVATION CANNOT BE FORFEITED
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
“Forfeitures are the woes of sinful men, but salvation is the work of Christ, Who has most willingly become Surety for His people’s debts (Heb.7:22), and to say that salvation can be forfeited is to say that this blessed surety has defaulted in his work as surety, which is nothing short of blasphemy. A “forfeit” is something that is taken from a man because of his failure to meet his obligations in the arrangements by which he acquired that particular thing. In normal conditions, if we forfeit something, it is because it was never ours to start with. The man may be driving the car, but is it his? If it is, then forfeiture is impossible.” – Matthew Pacifico
In my unregenerate days every once in a while I would run into one of my buddies who had just bought a flashy new motorbike, and when I would congratulate them for the purchase, sometimes their response would be – “Well, it’s not yet mine buddy! I’m still paying the installments!”
And rightly so! A thing is not thine own until you have purchased it having paid for it in full and it has become your ‘possession’ in the legal sense of the word! Oh what a word is that concerning the Church of God – “until the redemption of THE PURCHASED POSSESSION!” [Eph 1:14]
All the sheep that Christ owns in time He owned from eternity. No one ‘becomes’ a sheep in time and joins Christ’s fold. Those who join His fold in time were always a part of His flock from eternity, but in the wisdom of God were lost through the fall. All that the Great Shepherd does is seek and save that which originally belonged to Him by divine decree!
One of the important facts which many miss out when studying the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son is that in all three cases the ‘seekers’ sought for that which was ALREADY THEIRS! [Luke 15:4-32]
The Shepherd HAD a hundred sheep, and the woman HAD ten coins and the father was looking out and patiently waiting, not for a stranger but for HIS OWN SON!
God’s elect do not start out as goats and later become sheep by accepting Jesus! The sheep are sheep from ETERNITY! They are KNOWN and loved by the Father from BEFORE TIME BEGAN!
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, WHICH WAS GIVEN US IN CHRIST JESUS BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN!” [2Tim 1:9]
But to return, Christ cannot ‘forfeit’ the Church which He hath purchased, for He purchased it having paid THE FULL COST that it required to purchase her! And therefore it is now His rightful ‘possession’ or property if you will. The Apostle says in three simple words – “Ye are Christ’s!” [1Cor 3:23] It would indeed take many volumes to set forth all that is implied by those three simple words. But please allow me to quote below what the well instructed J.C. Philpot said concerning these words –
“The words are very full, large, and comprehensive, so that I feel I can scarcely grasp them; but they clearly mean that the saints of God are Christ’s property, his possession, his inheritance; that they belong to him and are his, as a man’s estate or wife and children are his. If you can find any other word, or figure to convey the idea of full, entire, and absolute right, possession, and enjoyment, do so. No words, no figure, can be too strong to express Christ’s property in his people.
But they are His in three different ways:
FIRST, THEY ARE HIS BY GIFT. God, in his infinite wisdom and in the boundless depths of his love and grace, chose from all eternity a vast number, yea, an innumerable multitude of the human race unto eternal life. But though he chose them individually, he did not choose them distinct from the Son of his love, for we are expressly told that, “he chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4.) Having chosen them, he gave them to his only begotten Son, that they might be his kingdom, his inheritance, his everlasting possession.
Thus, Jesus loved his people as the gift of the Father, besides loving them himself as a Person in the Godhead, as there is but one mind and one will; for as there is but one God, there can be but one love. But what a security does this give to the church of Christ! Can any one of his sheep, then, be lost? When at the great, day he will say to his Father, “Behold I and the children which thou hast given me,” can anyone be missing? No, not more than he himself. Will he not be able to say, “Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none?” (John 18:9.)
BUT THEY ARE HIS ALSO BY PURCHASE. As the apostle says, “Ye are bought with a price.” And what price was this? The apostle Peter shall tell us:–“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18, 19.) The church fell in Adam; she sank into the depths of all his guilty crime; for he being her federal head, she was in his loins, and thus partook of his sin and shared in the same penalty. Thus she became a prisoner under the law, amenable to its curse and condemned by its sentence. But it was provided by the Mosaic law that a captive Israelite might be redeemed by one of his brethren. (Levit. 25:48.) This was typical of the redemption of his captive brethren by Christ their elder brother. But he must pay a price for him, for without that there was no redemption. So Jesus redeemed the Church with his own blood, and she became his by actual redemption price.
When we pay a price down for a thing, it is ours; and generally speaking, the more we pay for it, the more valuable it is and the more highly we prize it. But what can be compared in value to the suffering and sorrows of the Son of God? What can be put upon a level with his precious blood? This was the ransom price he paid for the church. The Scripture is very express here:–“Feed the church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:20.) “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:14.) As thus redeemed, the church is Christ’s own property, and it is therefore called His “purchased possession.” (Eph. 1:14), and His people “a purchased people.” (1 Pet. 2:9, margin.)
BUT THEY ARE CHRIST’S ALSO BY POSSESSION. A person may purchase a house, and it may be in very bad condition. The walls may be covered with filth; the paper-hangings all dropping to pieces; the boards all broken; from every corner may be hanging the spider’s web, and the whole place a scene of dirt and confusion. But the buyer, for his own ends and purposes, has fixed his eyes upon that house, and he therefore purchases it and pays down the money for it. Now no sooner is the key put into his hand than he takes possession of the house, and begins to put it into repair that he may live in it.
But taking possession is the first step after paying down the purchase money. So it is in grace. What are we by nature and practice but like this old, dirty, miserable house, bearing all the stains and marks of sin, dilapidated from cellar to roof, and fit only for tramps and gypsies! But directly does the gracious owner take the key in his hand–for “He hath the key of David” (Rev. 3:7) – and puts it into the wards of the lock, the heart melts and moves at the sound (Cant. 5:4), for it knows that He has “the right of redemption,” and is come to take possession.
The owner of the house will not live in it until he has made it a fit abode for his own permanent residence. But much must be done before this can be. It is with the soul as with the leprous house spoken of in Leviticus. The plague is in the walls; the hollow streaks, greenish or reddish, manifest how deep seated is the plague of leprosy. The worst stones must be taken out and cast into an unclean place, and new ones put in; the walls thoroughly scraped and plastered. (Lev. 14:40, 42.) This is done by that work of grace on the soul whereby the Lord prepares it for his own habitation; for he has graciously said–“I will dwell in them and walk in them.” (2 Cor. 6:16.)
When, then, Christ visits the soul with his presence and sheds abroad his love therein, he takes full possession of the heart and affections and makes the body the temple of the Holy Ghost. But remember that there is a taking an initial, and a taking a full possession of a house. The initial, or first possession, is when the key is put into the lock before the walls are scraped; the full possession is when the house is furnished for the owner to live in. Thus the Lord may havebegun the work upon your soul, and so taken initial possession. He may have planted his fear in your heart, given you a spirit of prayer, separated you from the world, and brought soft feelings into your conscience. He may have with the hammer of the law knocked away the leprous stones and scraped the walls from their filthy as well as Pharisaic mortar; but there is something yet lacking.
You have not received the desired manifestation: the furniture of His grace, the bed of His love (Cant. 3:7) is not yet in the house; and above all the Master is not there. This causes you doubts and fears and misgivings, and you are often sunk into trouble and distress of mind because Christ does not manifest himself. “O, when wilt Thou come unto me?” (Psa. 101:2) is often your cry. But He will surely come, “for yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (Heb. 10:37.)
Wherever there is a beginning of a work of grace upon the soul, there will be a carrying on; and where there is a carrying on, there will be a completion. The Lord will never suffer his children to rest short of himself. This is what they are sighing for – what they inwardly desire; and unless they are enabled to realize this, they can neither happily live nor comfortably die.
But our text gives a reason as to WHY the saints are Christ’s. They are Christ’s because – “Christ is God’s.” [1Cor 3:23] These are remarkable words, and need to be fully and reverently opened up. The fullness of the mystery is beyond our grasp. Look, then, once more at these glorious truths. “Ye are Christ’s” because by donation, purchase, and possession ye are members of his body. “Christ is God’s” as Son, as Servant, as Mediator, as Head of the church. Then ye too are God’s, because ye are Christ’s; for the members are always one with their covenant Head.”
Praise the Lord!