"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one
will 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.
Where does your assurance come from? Is it from the strength of your own grip, or is your confidence completely in the strength of the grip of the one to whom you cling? Religion says your assurance comes from the strength of your own grip. In other words, your confidence is based on your performance. If you are standing upon solid ground, it is because you picked yourself up by your own boot straps. I often fall into this trap of basing my relationship with God on how strongly I am holding onto him, or how I am performing spiritual.
But, the Gospel tells us quite the contrary. Jesus says his sheep know him, not because of how smart they are, or how strongly they cling to him. Rather, they know him and follow him because 1) they were given to him by his Father and 2) because his Father is greater than all, and no one can snatch his sheep out of his strong grip. Therefore, our trust should not be in our ability to hold on to God, but it should be in the strength of the one who holds onto us.
This idea of God eternally choosing sheep to be his own, and sovereignly gripping them unto the end should cause great wonder and adoration. This is because, when we think about it, in our sinfulness, we were never able to hold onto God unto salvation. We are weak and broken, we had gone astray. Yet, God is so loving, that he died on the cross, as the lamb of God, innocently slaughtered for his people, for his sheep. The only way we could know God and follow him is if he sovereignly chose us, and maintained his eternal grip on us until the end. This should cause praise, adoration, humble service, self-sacrifice, and thanksgiving.
Though we are weak, he is strong. Christians have the ultimate hope; not they will themselves will be strong enough to grip onto God and follow him, but that they have been chosen and loved by a God who has snatched them from death, given them life, and says he will never let go.