Sheep and Shepherds

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 7:26 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Hear My Voice.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 10 (Selected vv. ESV).

Thieves and Robbers

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

A thief is “one that steals especially stealthily or secretly” (M-W). To steal is “to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice” (M-W). Jesus referred to the false shepherds of the people as thieves because they had not come in among the people to help them, nor were they present among them to give them true hope and healing, but they were there to rob them of any true hope, and to fill their minds with what is false and misleading. Jesus said that these false shepherds do not come through the gate, but they climb in by another way. Jesus also said that he is the gate (the door). So, he was referring to those who give off the appearance of being true shepherds of the people, but they have not entered into the sheep pen through Jesus Christ. We have many such false shepherds in our churches here in America today.

So, how do you recognize a false shepherd? There are many ways, one of which is by the lifestyle he lives, although we must be careful that we are not testing him against human traditions and rules, but against the word of God. There are several passages which list the qualifications for elders and deacons, and which give us insight into the type of lifestyle an elder or a deacon should live as his consistent way of life, though not in absolute perfection.

He must be above reproach, i.e. he must live an exemplary lifestyle free from legitimate accusation. In other words, he should not be involved in a sinful lifestyle either through conscious acts of sin or via allowing himself to be entertained by others’ sinful acts. He must be self-controlled, not over-bearing, not quick-tempered, holy, respectable, hospitable, and not quarrelsome, etc., and he must manage his own family well. He must also “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” so he can “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” This is a BIG ONE in today’s world. He must not be “greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to” him, “but being examples to the flock” (See: 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-11). Amen!

The other big way we can recognize a false shepherd is by what he teaches and practices, which goes back to these qualifications where it states that “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Tit. 1:9). So many “shepherds” of God’s flock today no longer hold to the deep truths of the faith (a.k.a. “sound doctrine”) as was taught by Jesus and his apostles, but they have gone the way of the world, and the way of following after the teachings and philosophies of humans, instead, perhaps mostly out of greed, because they want to make names for themselves and build big “businesses” in order to compete with other churches (businesses). Some of these do hold to some of the fundamentals of the faith, though, while denying the others, so their gospel is only half true, which makes it false and misleading.

So, we must be regularly in the habit of testing everything we hear against the Word of God to see if it is consistent with the teachings of Christ and his apostles, and whether it is consistent with God’s divine character and will, and to test to see if it is actually teaching what is in direct opposition to the teachings of the apostles, which many are doing. We may be characterized as disunifiers, troublemakers, hatemongers, bigoted, judgmental and intolerant for holding to the deep truths of scripture, and for testing what we hear against God’s holy word, but that is ok. The lies need to be exposed and the truth needs to be revealed, for many are buying into a false grace gospel which does not save its hearers.

The Good Shepherd

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 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, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, 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. I and the Father are one.”

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. He laid his life down for his sheep when he died on the cross for our sins. He crucified our sins with him, buried them, and then rose triumphant over sin, death, hell and Satan. He did this so we could go free from the curse of sin, and free from the control of sin over our lives; so we could have eternal life with God, and so we would be free to no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and in the power and working of the Spirit in our lives. Amen!

He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). His grace that brings salvation teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14). He said that if we want to come to him, we must deny our self-life, die daily to sin and self, and follow him in obedience (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6-8; 1 Pet. 2:24-25). This is what Jesus taught, and it is what the apostles taught.

Believing in him is not a one-time decision we make at an altar, but it is a continuous action of believing in him, which involves repentance and obedience to his commands (instructions). Jesus said his sheep listen to him, and they follow (obey) him, and he gives them eternal life, and no one can snatch them out of his or the Father’s hands. Amen!

They Picked up Stones

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

When we refuse to follow after these false shepherds of the people, and we expose their lies, and we teach what is true, and what is in accord with sound doctrine, and we test what is false against the Word of Truth, we will be hated and rejected even by our fellow Christians and by many of these false shepherds of the people because they won’t like it that we expose what is false and that we teach what is true, because that stands as a threat to their business plans and objectives in trying to build Christ’s church man’s ways. So, they may come out and attack us openly and try to discredit us, and try to turn other believers away from us, because they will be protecting their own territory, as they have been trained to do by those over them or by those who taught (instructed) them in the way they should shepherd the people and build their ministries (businesses) according to man, not God.

So, we need to rest in our Lord and trust in his Word, and call upon him in full confidence of faith, and rely upon him and his trustworthiness to us so that we do not become disheartened or discouraged when we come under attack from these false shepherds and/or from their followers. Our God will never leave us or forsake us. He will always be there to bring comfort, hope and healing to us. Even when others forsake us, he will receive us. So, be of courage! Be strong in the Lord! Put on the full armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against you, and then rest in the Lord for He is Good, all the time!

Hear my Voice / An Original Work / July 9, 2012
Based off Psalm 27

The Lord is my great salvation.
He’s the stronghold of my life.
When my enemies attack me,
My heart will not fear at all.
Though a war break out against me,
Confident in Christ I’ll be.
Of the Lord, I ask that I may
Live with Him eternally.

Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you.
Merciful to me You’ll be.
Though my relatives forsake me,
My Lord God will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O my Jesus.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
I will sacrifice to my Lord.
I will sing with joyfulness.

I am confident that I will
See the goodness of the Lord.
All the richness of His blessings,
My Lord has for me in store.
He asks me to be of courage;
To be strong and to take heart,
Patiently as I wait for Him,
And from Him to ne’er depart.