Losing Your Grip

During my vacation, I took the boys hiking to Hanging Rock. Catherine was a little nervous for Samuel. He has “low tone” in his muscles that leaves him more prone to trip than other little boys his age, and she feared he might wander too close to the edge, and trip into the stuff of nightmares. The danger was real, and I did what any competent father would do: When we got near the dangerous sections at the top, I extended my index finger in Samuel’s direction and said, “Son, here’s my finger. Hold on!”

If you are paying attention, you know that is not what happened. What father would trust his son’s life to his son’s grip? No, when we got near the hairy parts of the trail, I looked at my son and said, “Sammy, give daddy your hand. I’ve got you, and I’ll not let you go!”

Earlier today, I was reminded of this story in a discussion I had with a local student. He was of the opinion that the same choice that brought a Christian to Christ could take that Christian from Christ… Forever. This, of course, is the classic Arminian position: Salvation hangs on our choice, not God’s, and if we choose to walk away, God will let us go. It’s like a little child holding on to his daddy’s finger. All is well, as long as the lad doesn’t let go!

Such a doctrine holds little comfort for a man like me. If I could choose to be delivered from one enemy, and only one, without question, I would cry out, “Lord, save me from myself!” I am my own worst enemy, and every time I give in to temptation, compromise my faith, or choose sin over God, I only have myself to blame. Shallow comfort then, if salvation addressed every other enemy but this, my most personal and most dangerous of foes.

Thanks be to God, however, that salvation shuts us up to mercy. There are no back doors to God’s kindness. As the Psalmist said, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindess shall surround him” (Psalm 32:10). What comfort to know, when it comes to grace, God has us surrounded.

“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 the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27–30).

Eternal security is one of the Shepherd’s gifts to His sheep, and once given, it can never be taken away. But, the Arminian will argue, “What if we stop believing?” God won’t let the true Christian take that step. As Peter so warmly reminds us:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5, NKJV).

God’s mercy is abundant— there is no want here. Unlike the power supply in some developing countries, God’s supply will not fail us when we need it most. Our inheritance in Heaven is quite secure because God’s power works through our faith to keep us kept unto salvation. And though at times the power of unbelief can amaze me, it is no match for the power of God.

Fear not, my dear brother or sister, just like with Sammy up on the mountain, our comfort never comes from the fact that we have a hold on God, but that God has a hold on us. Like a Terrier with a tug-toy, once this God has you in His grip, He will never let go.