Did Jesus Lie or Fail?
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” -John 6:39
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” -John 6:44
There is a lot going on in these two verses, but I’d like to look at what they have to say about whether or not a person can lose his or her salvation. God’s will is that Jesus should lose nothing of all that the Father has given the Son, but that the Son raise it up on the last day (6:39). And after Jesus says that only those the Father draws to the Son can come to the Son, He says, “And I will raise him up on the last day.” Those the Father draws to the Son, the Son promises to raise up on the last day.
What this means for whether or not a person can lose his or her salvation, a.k.a. the perseverance of the saints, is gargantuan. This means that if a person can lose his or her salvation, then Jesus either lied, and what He said was the will of the Father was not the will of the Father. Or He failed to keep His promise to raise up all that His Father gives Him on the last day.
The apostle John defends the perseverance of the saints in 1 John 2:19:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
In light of these verses, the Bible clearly teaches that a person cannot lose his or her salvation. The problem is that we all know people who appear to have lost their salvation. If a person can lose his or her salvation, then Jesus either lied or failed. Therefore, when a person appears to lose his or her salvation, Jesus appears to be a liar or a failure.
I don’t know the exact stat, but I have heard that there have been an enormous number of people who were raised in the church, made a profession of faith, were baptized, and have now strayed from the faith. This should be devestating news to Christians. One person losing their salvation is all that it would take to make Jesus either a liar or a failure. So these multitudes of people who appear to have lost their salvation appear to prove Jesus to be either a liar or a failure.
Those of us who believe that Jesus was neither a liar or a failure can say with 1 John 2:19 that all those who stray from the faith prove nothing other than the fact that they “were not of us.” Although they appear to have lost their salvation, the truth is that they never had true saving faith to begin with.
But, I would like to think through the implications of so many people’s appearing to prove that Jesus either lied or failed.
The Bible tells us that God is absolutely capable of doing everything that He pleases (Psalm 115:3, Psalm 135:6). The Bible also tells us that God is, “not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). The question that I have, and one that I think we should all be asking, is this: If God is able to do all that He pleases, if He is “not wishing that any should perish,” and if He clearly does not want Jesus to even appear to have lied or failed, then why does He allow so many people to appear to lose their salvation?
I believe that John 16:14 gives us a hint toward the right direction, when Jesus tells that the Spirit will glorify Jesus. He also tells us in John 3:8 that the Spirit goes where it will, like that wind, and in John 3:5 that a person must be born again by the Spirit to “enter the kingdom of God.” This leads to another question, however: If the Spirit goes where it will and glorifies Jesus, why is the Spirit not causing these people to be born again who are professing faith in Jesus and getting baptized?
The answer to both questions is found in the Old Testament, and the reason that God allows people to appear to lose their salvation when He is able to save them, and the reason that the Spirit does not cause these people to be born again so that Jesus would not appear to lie or fail is the same reason that God rejected Israel in the Old Testament. Because the Israelites were not giving God His due glory, they put Him in a position where He had to choose between their salvation and His glory. Because they were not giving Him glory, saving them would glorify them, rather than Himself.
When we trust in human means to save people rather than trusting in God, we put God in a position where saving people would glorify the human means. Notice how this passage ends. God will not give His glory to another:
1Hear this, O house of Jacob,
who are called by the name of Israel,
and who came from the waters of Judah,
who swear by the name of the LORD
and confess the God of Israel,
but not in truth or right.
2For they call themselves after the holy city,
and stay themselves on the God of Israel;
the LORD of hosts is his name.
3“The former things I declared of old;
they went out from my mouth, and I announced them;
then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
4Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass,
5 I declared them to you from of old,
before they came to pass I announced them to you,
lest you should say, ‘My idol did them,
my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’
6“You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known.
7They are created now, not long ago;
before today you have never heard of them,
lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’
8You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel.
9 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
10Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another. -Isaiah 48:1-11
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