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John 6:37-44 (ESV)

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 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. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 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 10:11-18 (ESV)

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 10:25-30 (ESV)

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 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.”

How do those who believe that salvation can be lost make sense of these passages? How can salvation be lost if the good shepherd knows his sheep, the sheep know him, and no one is able to snatch them out of his hand?

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    We can lose our own souls by not being diligent about our salvation . We could gain the whole world, saith Jesus, and lose our own souls. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    May 11 at 15:38

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The phrase "salvation can be lost" can be a tad misleading, as "lost" has connotations of unwillingness, ie that you did not want it to be lost. Proponents of this view, however (such as myself), would rather say that salvation can be given up. No-one can snatch us away, ie take away our salvation by force, but we can willingly leave the Father's hand and deliberately turn away.

For John 6:37-44, the key is I think the word "will". Generally speaking, God has 2 wills: His perfect will, which reflects what a perfect sinless world would be like, and His antecedent will, which is more or less what we refer to as God's plan - the way God planned things to go taking into account the Fall and sin. For example, God's perfect will is that no-one would sin - sin is not something He wants. However, His plan includes every sin that has ever occurred, because Man with free will is corrupt and cannot live sinlessly.

It seems quite reasonable to me that this passage reflects the former; what God perfectly desires. In other words, God's perfect will is that all should be saved (after all, have not all things been given to Jesus?), and Jesus serves that purpose, by turning none away, even though not everyone will actually be saved.

Verse 44 simply states that being drawn is a prerequisite to be saved, but as John 12:32 tells us, all men are drawn.

The last passages could be referring to those who will persevere until the end - those who will actually be saved, as opposed to those who may be genuine believers but He knows will ultimately fall away.

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  • Just food for thought, In John 6:37 Jesus says "all that the Father gives me will come to me", so all who are given do in fact come to Christ for salvation, (See John 6:37-40). John 12:32 on the other hand cannot contradict John 6:37, so John 12:32 can be interpreted in more than one way. 1st Interpretation: All of mankind is drawn, and some reject. 2nd Interpretation: All men without distinction are drawn & all accept, see (Rev 5:9). 3rd interpretation: All mankind is irresistibly drawn to Christ (3rd interpretation is lacking in biblical support). Again, for your consideration.
    – Cork88
    May 12 at 1:32

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