“We cannot present a reason for Christ to finally close off His heart to His own sheep. No such reason exists.
Every human friend has a limit. If we offend enough, if a relationship gets damaged enough, if we betray enough times, we are cast out. The walls go up.
With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resumé items that qualify us to approach Him. Nothing but coming to Him is required—first at conversion and a thousand times thereafter until we are with Him upon death.
Perhaps it isn’t sins so much as sufferings that cause some of us to question the perseverance of the heart of Christ. As pain piles up, as numbness takes over, as the months go by, at some point the conclusion seems obvious: we have been cast out.
Surely this is not what life would feel like for one who has been buried in the heart of a gentle and lowly Savior? But Jesus does not say that those with pain-free lives are never cast out.
He says those who come to Him are never cast out. It is not what life brings to us but to whom we belong that determines Christ’s heart of love for us.
The only thing required to enjoy such love is to come to Him. To ask Him to take us in. He does not say, ‘Whoever comes to me with sufficient contrition,’ or ‘Whoever comes to me feeling bad enough for their sin,’ or ‘Whoever comes to me with redoubled efforts.’
He says, ‘Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.’
Our strength of resolve is not part of the formula of retaining His good will. When my two-year-old Benjamin begins to wade into the gentle slope of the zero-entry swimming pool near our home, he instinctively grabs hold of my hand.
He holds on tight as the water gradually gets deeper. But a two-year-old’s grip is not very strong. Before long it is not he holding on to me but me holding on to him.
Left to his own strength he will certainly slip out of my hand. But if I have determined that he will not fall out of my grasp, he is secure. He can’t get away from me if he tried.
So with Christ. We cling to Him, to be sure. But our grip is that of a two-year-old amid the stormy waves of life. His sure grasp never falters.
Psalm 63:8 expresses the double-sided truth: ‘My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.’
We are talking about something deeper than the doctrine of eternal security, or ‘once saved, always saved’—a glorious doctrine, a true doctrine—sometimes called the perseverance of the saints.
We have come, more deeply, to the doctrine of the perseverance of the heart of Christ. Yes, professing Christians can fall away, proving that they were never truly in Christ.
Yes, once a sinner is united to Christ, there is nothing that can dis-unite them. But within the skeletal structure of these doctrines, what is the beating heart of God, made tangible in Christ?
What is most deeply instinctive to Him as our sins and sufferings pile up? What keeps Him from growing cold?
The answer is, His heart. The atoning work of the Son, decreed by the Father and applied by the Spirit, ensures that we are safe eternally.
But a text such as John 6:37 reassures us that this is not only a matter of divine decree but divine desire. This is heaven’s delight.
Come to me, says Christ. I will embrace you into my deepest being and never let you go.
Have you considered what is true of you if you are in Christ?
In order for you to fall short of loving embrace into the heart of Christ both now and into eternity, Christ Himself would have to be pulled down out of heaven and put back in the grave.
His death and resurrection make it just for Christ never to cast out His own, no matter how often they fall. But animating this work of Christ is the heart of Christ.
He cannot bear to part with His own, even when they most deserve to be forsaken.
Raise your objections. None can threaten these invincible words: ‘Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.’
For those united to Him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence.
You are not a tenant; you are a child.
His heart is not a ticking time bomb; His heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of His presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments.
It is who He is.”
–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 64-66.