Where are His sheep?

Are some of God’s sheep in hell?

If so then how does John 10:27-30 make any sense?
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, 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. [30] I and the Father are one."

Or John 6:37-40 :
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

So, if He loses none then can we say that those that are in hell were not His sheep?

John 17 is another chapter pretty much saying the same thing. Everybody that the Father gave to the Son, the Son dies for and give eternal life to.

How can that promise fail?

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Dear Corey:

Thank you for your question. I am Margaret Manning Shull, and I am one of the folks answering questions for our ASK RZIM section of RZIM Connect.

While there are different views about hell within Christianity, I find that the view espoused by C.S. Lewis to be very helpful in wrestling with this issue and texts like the one’s on which you’ve based your question. Lewis wrote in his novel The Great Divorce , “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ’ Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it.” He elaborates further in his book The Problem of Pain : “I willingly believe that the dammed are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man ‘wishes’ to be happy; but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary states of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved; just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.” So, Lewis suggests here that the only folks who will populate hell are those who have chosen it for themselves. I think it is contrary to say of God that GOD desires to send people to hell - that is simply in conflict with the Scriptural witness to God’s nature. But, there is the possibility, for those who continually and consciously reject God’s offers of grace that in the end they will be granted the freedom of their choices to be away from God. And anywhere, away from God is hell.

If you want to do additional reading besides the two Lewis works noted above, I recommend the book by C. Stephen Evans on Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith . One chapter in particular, on the problem of evil addresses these issues of hell. So, you might want to find this book through your library loan center.Zondervan has published a book called Four Views on Hell in which all the positions are explored. This book is available on Amazon.com or at Thriftbooks.com for less than 10.00!

I hope this might be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Margaret Manning Shull
Adjunct, RZIM Speaking and Writing Team

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@Corey I believe you are correct in your question. When Jesus refers to his sheep, he is referring to those who believe in him. I believe these verses are a promise to us who believe that he will not let us fall away and that we will not go to hell.
Those who go to hell were never his sheep, or were never truly born again (John 3).
I hope this answers your question.

Here is a thread on whether a Christian can lose their salvaiton, if you would like to read a little more about that topic.


This link is also shared in the thread:

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@Corey Hey bro - hope you are well :slight_smile: Could you help me understand your question a bit? By definition, none of God’s sheep are going to suffer God’s wrath. When Jesus told the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, He makes it clear that all the sheep go to the same place. So no - there are no sheep who will face God’s wrath - period.

Is this the question you are asking?

  • Can someone who has become one of God’s sheep ever cease to be a sheep and become a goat? (can someone lose their salvation?)

If so, you may find some of the following threads helpful:

If your question is more focused on Hell, @Margaret_Manning’s response is great and you may consider checking out this thread.

Christ grant you wisdom and peace :slight_smile:

Hello, thanks for your response. I appreciate you. So, with what C.S. Lewis says, though I am not a man near his intellectual ability, I cannot agree with his statement:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ’ Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it.”

I believe that God does command things that He knows that we cannot do (for one example Matt.5:48). This is why the Savior comes. To save sinners. Is it demanded of Him to save everybody? Does He have to be fair with everybody ( again we don’t want Fair because if God were to be fair then we should all go to hell. That’s what makes Grace so amazing)? Is it possible redemption or particular Redemption? When I read “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”, I don’t see and room for that to fail.

Maybe I am really black and white. I don’t see between the lines. Yes, I hear the arguments. People want to mention Hebrews 6:6-7 and
2 Peter 3:9 and 1Timothy 2:4. OK…! But He loses none! Hallelujah! To me that doesn’t really seem like it gives any room for His sheep to not hear His voice (which is what happens in regeneration) and respond (which is what happens when we have faith) And because we are new creatures in Christ we do not jump out of His hands (the hands that are so tightly wrapped around us who are in Christ; John 10:28-29). I look at Adam as our Federal Head, representing all of humanity perfectly. We are willing rebells. We’re not drowning and reaching up for God. We are dead in the bottom of the sea, lifeless. This reminds me of Romans chapter 3:10-12 “There IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” We are not owed mercy, or patience from God, nor are we owed any Grace from the King of kings and Lord of lords. He would have been just in leaving us to ourselves; and left to our own devices we would have ran straight into the lake of hell gladly because we were His enemies (as all people are if they have not repented and believed in the Son for salvation). Enemies of God are running as fast as we can away from Him not seeking Him out for salvation. That’s what makes His Grace so awesome.

I need help to understand C.S. Lewis’s theology. The statment makes it seem like there is something outside of the supremacy of the King’s will. I do not believe that He chose men and woman to go to hell. But, I do believe that He does not have to choose them to go to heaven and I do believe that for anybody to make a choice for Jesus they would first have to be regenerated. Yes, I am saying that I believe that before somebody can have faith in Jesus they first have to be regenerated because everybody is running away from God. Nobody seeks God. Not one. If people are seeking God it is because they have been made alive first.

To me it seems that C.S. Lewis categorizes people this way : those who make a better choice than other people are His sheep and and those who make a choice to not make a choice for Jesus and follow God’s will are not His sheep. That makes the ultimate decision lie on the human will. All of the sudden somebody’s destiny lies in their hands and if somebody does not want to be saved they can triumph God’s will. Then we could say, “God is willing that people make a willing decision for Him”. And I say, “they did and their choice was to disobey God, willingly”. That’s why I mentioned Adam acrimg as our federal head. But it wasn’t just his sin imputed to us it was our own sin that we, by nature, chose to be and have indulged in sin by choice. Now who’s running the show? God or man? The saying goes something like this : God can’t overcome our unbelief. Or: it’s not that God can’t overcome our unbelief but He won’t because He’s a gentleman and doesn’t force His will on anybody.

Those arguments, to me, are very shallow and I don’t believe they give legitimate answers when we come across Scripture verses that says He does exactly that - overcomes our will
(Saul turned Paul on the road to Damascus was a good example of that). Paul writes in Galatians 1:15-17:
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

That’s amazing that he’s set apart even from his mother’s womb but still was allowed to live the life he lived and even started persecuting the church (those of the Way) all the way up until his conversion.

We are dead in transgressions. Not half alive seeking God but in complete rebellion running full speed away from God. He’s the One that seeks us out (sorry I know I said this before and I’m getting repetitive). I don’t believe He just makes it possible (Provisional Redemption). He does the whole act of Salvation, than says “it is finished”, that is, paid in full. For who… ? All who believe! Who believes and follows? All His sheep! Can He lose His sheep? No! Conclusion: those that are in hell were not His sheep because He loses none. If they didn’t believe… they were never His. They don’t turn from sheep to goat; From goat to sheep; then back from sheep to goat. Yes, I believe in Particular Redemption or Definite Redemption. But I do struggle with the mystery that is involved in this debate. The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man . Furthermore, I do not believe we should try to harmonize them because I believe we do great harm in trying to harmonize them. Just because we cannot understand these truth claims in Scripture does not mean we should solve this dilemma - which is only a dilemma because it’s in our finite mind. To God it is not a problem. Scripture doesn’t try to solve the claims so we shouldn’t.

Margaret, and everybody on the team below who has answered… Thank you so much because all of your responses helped me greatly.

I know I have to learn to be comfortable with not knowing the mystery in these two parallel truths: God’s Sovereign will and man’s responsibility to God. As SeanO said, did the chicken come first or the egg (did God choose us first and that’s why we are saved or did we have to choose God first to be saved - God looking down the path of time and seeing that we were going to choose Him so He chose us because we made a better choice then others). My belief is that nobody can be saved unless God Sovereignly chooses them out of the world ( John 6:37; 17 ; Eph. 1:4-5; Acts 13:48; 1 Pet. 1:1-2 and many more). Everybody already choose not to follow, in so doing , chose to be on the road to Eternal Damnation. All Those whom the Father gave to His Son comes to the Son and the Son grants eternal life to them, manifests His name to them, and none of them will be lost.

This helped me think about this topic a little clearer:

DIVINE ELECTION

The doctrine of election raises serious problems in the human mind, so we must consider more fully what the Bible does (and does not) teach on this subject.

First, it teaches that God does choose men to salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). It addresses believers as those who are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Pet. 1:2). It teaches that people can know whether they are elect by their response to the gospel: those who hear and believe it are elect (1 Thess. 1:4-7).

On the other hand, the Bible never teaches that God chooses men to be lost. The fact that He chooses some to be saved does not imply that He arbitrarily condemns all the rest. He never condemns men who deserve to be saved (there are none), but He does save some who ought to be condemned. When Paul describes the elect, he speaks of them as “vessels of mercy which He had prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:23); but when he turns to the lost, he simply says, “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Rom. 9:22). God prepares vessels of mercy to glory, but He does not prepare men for destruction: they do this for themselves by their own unbelief.

The doctrine of election lets God be God. He is sovereign, that is, He can do as He pleases, although He never pleases to do anything unjust. If left alone, all men would be lost. Does God have the right to show mercy to some?

But there is another side to the story. The same Bible that teaches sovereign election also teaches human responsibility. No one can use the doctrine of election as an excuse for not being saved. God makes a bona fide ( genuine; real ) offer of salvation to all people everywhere (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; Rom. 10:9, 13). Anyone can be saved by repenting of his sins and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if a person is lost, it is because he chooses to be lost, not because God desires it.

The fact is that the same Bible teaches election and free salvation to all who will receive it. Both doctrines are found in a single verse: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). The first half of the verse speaks of God’s sovereign choice; the last half extends the offer of mercy to all.

This poses a difficulty for the human mind. How can God choose some and yet offer salvation freely to all men? Frankly, this is a mystery. But the mystery is on our side, not on God’s. The best policy for us is to believe both doctrines because the Bible teaches both. The truth is not found somewhere between election and man’s free will, but in both extremes. W. G. Blaikie summarizes:

Divine sovereignty, human responsibility and the free and universal offer of mercy are all found in Scripture, and though we are unable to harmonize them by our logic, they all ought to have a place in our minds.(the Believers Bible commentary on Divine election)

I believe this sums it up very well.

Thank you for your response and for all of your responses. This is very helpful and it also helps me to understand that we are all trying to understand our faith in Christ and we are all used greatly in the body of Christ. Somebody mentioned on one of the responses that I’ve read that Wesley and Whitfield divided over the doctrines of Grace. I have not done my research on this so I don’t really know but one thing that they said was that they were both Mighty Men and this is one of the things that caused them to divide. I thought of Paul and Barnabas. Just my thoughts.