by Mike Ratliff
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. John 10:1-2 (NASB)
Just because someone claims to be a Christian does not mean that person is regenerate, justified, sanctified, or adopted into God’s family. Many base their standing as a Christian on religious acts they have done. Others claim salvation based upon their good words plus their religion. Tragically, there are also many, and more each day it seems, “Christian leaders” who preach and teach things that they portray as the Good News, but are, instead, only the result of marketing techniques.
I once attempted to listen to one of Joel Osteen sermons. I didn’t make it all the way through. I got really tired of his continual drawling out of his feel good message of doing good works and being positive about everything. While there was nothing wrong with what he was saying, the message was not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was an absolute value of zero of any theological value in what he was saying. He did not tell anyone that without God’s grace they were hopelessly lost in their sins. No, there was no preaching of the Good News. Sadly, the “church building” he uses now that used to be a basketball arena was packed full of smiling people eating up everything he was saying.
What is Jesus’ standard of being one of his shepherds? Look at the passage I placed at the top of this post. Who was Jesus speaking to when he made that statement? We have to back up a few verses for that.
35 Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. John 9:35-41 (NASB)
Jesus healed a man born blind. This happened on the Sabbath so the Jewish leaders were very upset. They taught that people suffered because of their sin. This man was born blind and they reasoned that it was because of the sins of his parents. Jesus disciples made this mistake as well. (John 9:1-5) No, God used this blind man for His glory. Jesus healed him and this created a point of contention between Him and the Pharisees. When they cast the man out of the synagogue, Jesus found Him. Then he believed. We will meet this man in Heaven. He is there with His Lord right now. Look what Jesus tells him, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Jesus not only healed this man, he also gave Him eternal life. Jesus used this point of contention to create “blindness” in those who professed to be the only ones who had righteousness. When Jesus speaks of false shepherds in Chapter 10 He is speaking to these Pharisees.
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a 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 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. John 10:1-6 (NASB)
The man Jesus healed was one of His sheep. He heard His Saviour’s voice then believed and followed Him. This man did not follow the dead theology of the Pharisees because they were not the shepherds of the sheep. Jesus was speaking this to those false shepherds who taught a works based theology of self-righteousness in which ones standing before God was measured in how blessed in this life people were. Their focus was on a literal kingdom in the here and now. Jesus’ focus was on the Kingdom of God, but only in the sense of it not having come into fulfillment here yet. It will someday, but now it is found manifest in the hearts of Jesus’ sheep.
7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
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 is not the owner of 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 is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
19 A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” John 10:7-21 (NASB)
The sheepfolds of Jesus’ day were little fenced in areas with no physical gate that would shut. Instead, the shepherd would sit or lay at the gate and would be the door of the sheep. The sheep could enter or exit only if the shepherd let them. The true shepherd lays his life down for the sheep. Like David taking a lamb from the jaws of the bear and lion, our Lord jealously guards His sheep from marauders. He also laid His life down at the cross as the propitiation for the sins of His sheep. Those sheep are His and will always be His. However, there are many false shepherds who are mere hirelings who care not for the flock. They are given the task of shepherding their sheep, but instead use the sheep for their own gain. They want larger sheepfolds. They desire their own personal earthly kingdoms. They use pragmatic approaches to ministry because they want larger churches. This ends up scattering our Lord’s sheep because their church home is no longer a church. Instead, it has become an earthly entertainment venue. Those who remain in these churches are not fed proper nourishment from God’s Word so they are spiritually sick and weak being temporally focused instead of being eternally focused through proper discipleship.
The Church in our time is very sick. There are bright spots to be sure, but there are also more churches dropping into apostasy seemingly everyday. Once solid ministries have been compromised by the doctrines of demons and the ways of men. The Great Apostasy is fast approaching unless God turns it around. The falling away has begun and only God can change it. What should we do? Those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear must continue to tell others the truth. We must never stop seeking to bring others from darkness into light, from churchianity into genuine Christianity. We must continue to do this until our Saviour comes to take us home. I have no idea when that will be, but I deeply desire to see Him. Even so…come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!