Jesus Christ is our faithful shepherd. He leads, guides, protects, teaches and feeds us with His glorious Word. He delivers us from the enemy and sets our feet upon the Rock of His glorious love and provisions. Praise our Heavenly Father for blessing us with every blessing through His Son Jesus Christ.
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
There are times when I have great consternation over what passes for the church of the Living God. It is difficult to share with others the gross departures from godliness and sound doctrine that vex those who falsely claim to serve Jesus Christ and His church. It can also be disconcerting to realize that the leadership within the evangelical church says little to next to nothing about the evil and apostasy that has gripped the visible church. Why don’t those who claim to love Jesus Christ and His beloved bride speak out loud, clear and long about those who abuse the title of pastor for their own nefarious gains naming names?
Do you ever have a time of listening to or studying God’s Word when His Holy Spirit makes a passage that has always puzzled you completely clear? That happened today as I was listening to the Bible on CD while running errands. There in the midst of my mundane endeavors the Lord clarified a portion of His Word that answers my question from the previous paragraph. That answer is found in the Gospel of John chapter ten.
1“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” 19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” 22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do you keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone 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 My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” John 10:1-30
This passage answers many questions we may have about the condition of the visible church. The first point to remember is that the visible church is full of sheep who do not belong to Jesus Christ. How do we know this, because they do not listen to His voice spoken to them through His Word, the Bible. They would much rather listen to the words of men, to the words of strangers, than go to the Word of the Living God for nourishment and vitality of faith in Christ. These sheep have never repented of their sins and obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have not believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins and rose again from the dead to please His Father and give His sheep eternal life so they will never perish. Just like the Jews who blasphemed Jesus Christ and disputed His claim to be God, the Son of God, these lost sheep might believe He was a good teacher, or that His sacrifice and resurrection are insufficient to remove their sin and reconcile them to God, or they disbelieve the testimony of Scriptures and deny the power of God. Christ’s sheep know Him, listen to Him and follow Him. They believe and obey His Word and have seen His power at work in their lives. They know experientially that abundant life that He gives to all who repent of their sins and place their faith in Him, believing that He died in their place upon the cross and rose again from the dead for their justification. They hear His voice and follow Him.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:7-12
Many have entered the sheep fold without going through the door, Jesus Christ. Those who do so are the false prophets, false teachers, charlatans, and religious phonies. Great religious institutions harbor great multitudes of these thieves and robbers. Christ’s sheep do not listen to them, yet there are those who belong to Christ deceived by deceivers who will lose their reward. The sheep who do not belong to Christ, of course, are led astray by them, are sorely abused by them and they will suffer eternal damnation.
1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’’’ 3 Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” Ezekiel 13:1-3
In another place in the passage from John chapter twelve, Jesus Christ calls those who attack the sheep wolves. These wolves, Jesus tells us, catch the sheep and scatter them. Those who have watch care over the sheep, the hirelings, do nothing to protect the sheep from this evil attack, but instead flee. My beloved brethren this is the state of Christ’s church at this time. We are scattered because of the evil wolves who have attacked us through apostasy and wickedness. Those who are supposed to warn, protect and drive off the wolves are hirelings. They are only associated with the sheep because of the pay that it brings in. They don’t love the shepherd nor do they love the sheep. They reject the truth by their cowardly rejection of the divine command to protect the sheep from the enemy. This is the reason why the evangelical leadership does not speak out against the apostates and evil doers, they are hirelings. This came home to me today with crystal clarity as the Holy Spirit taught me from His Word in John chapter ten. This truth is truly grave, but Christ warned us about the evil that would attack His church and He has promised to lead us triumphantly to spend eternity with Him. Praise God for His goodness to us His dearly beloved sheep through our glorious Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ who has laid down His life for us His sheep. Praise God for the small band of faithful men who are serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by loving and protecting His flock, which they count as their own. Lord God Almighty please bless them mightily for this day!
28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you and inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:28-32