Suggested further reading: Revelation 7:1-8
Believers are `given' to Christ by the Father, according to an
everlasting covenant made and sealed long before they were born,
and taken out from the world by the calling of the Spirit in due
time. They are the Father's peculiar property, as well as the property
of the Son. They were of the world and nowise better than
others. Their calling and election out of the world to be Christ's
people, and not any foreseen merit of their own, is the real foundation
of their character.
These are deep things, things to be read with peculiar
reverence, because they are the words of the Son addressed to the Father
and handling matter about believers which the eternal Trinity alone
can handle with positiveness and certainty. Who those are who are
given to Christ by the Father we can only certainly know by
outward evidences. But that all believers are so given by the Father,
predestined, elect, chosen, called by an everlasting covenant and
their names and exact number known from all eternity, is truth
which we must reverently believe and never hesitate to receive. So
long as we are on earth, we have to do with invitations,
promises, commands, evidences and faith, and God's election never
destroys our responsibility. But all true believers, who really repent and
believe and have the Spirit, may fairly take comfort in the
thought that they were known and cared for and given to Christ by an
eternal covenant, long before they knew Christ or cared for him. It is
an unspeakable comfort to remember that Christ cares for that
which the Father had given him.
Our Lord continues the description of his disciples and
names things about them which may be seen by men as well as God.
He says, `They have kept, or observed, or attended to, the word of
the gospel, which thou didst send them by me. While others would
not attend to or keep that word, these eleven men had hearing ears
and attentive hearts and diligently obeyed thy message.' Practical
obedience is the first great test of genuine discipleship.
For meditation: `For those God foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the likeness of his Son
those he justified,
he also glorified' (Rom. 8:29-30).