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 a person claims to be a Christian does not mean that he or she 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 listened to part of a “sermon” by Joel Osteen several years ago. My wife had left the room as I came in. I had to wait for her to come back so I could run an errand for her. She had been in the process of changing channels when I came into the room and for some strange reason it stopped right on Mister Osteen drawling out 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 folks. 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 very 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!
It is a scary time, Mike. Only trust in God’s promises that He will bring us through these times gets us through from one day to the next. Actually, it always gives me joy when I remember that it is He who is orchrastating all the events in the church and in the world which will fulfill His plan…and then He takes the time to reassure us of His promises!
A very excellent and thought provoking post. I have always loved this passage about the man born blind. This man who had more insight into spiritual truth than the blind religious leaders who were doing all of the persecuting.
What breaks my heart are the dear confused souls that I have left behind when God opened my eyes to the false teachings I was following when I met them. Most of these poor souls go from one horrible heresy to the next. There seems to be no rest for them. They are truly always searching but never finding and when the “new” wears off because it does not deliver what was promised, they are onto the next newest thing. They are always hopeful that this new thing or “now” word will do the trick and they can come into rest but that does not happen. What is most heartbreaking is that they have had what will work and what will give them rest all along.
It is the voice of our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to us through His Holy Word. It has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion but I am beginning to think that these poor souls cannot hear the voice of our dear Shepherd and this is very sad. They think they belong to Him and they are very pleased with their “spiritual” superiority. I remember being called too intellectual because I wanted to know where such and such was found in the Bible and I was hesitant to trust my feelings over the Word.
I remember saying that I thought much of the formulas that were stated repeatedly seemed more like an attempt of doing magical abbra-ca dabbra than something God would be pleased to have us doing. These poor blind souls.
I praise God once again for the edification and light He is shining in the darkness of this age. By faith in Christ and on His grace alone we stand, having come to an understanding of our uttter hopelessness outside of Him.
The false assurances given by the teaching of this other gospel of works and of a kingdom of this world is alarming. Millions are being told that they are saved for all the wrong reasons! May we be strong in Him to help spread the light.
Thanks again, and the Lord uphold you and us all in this task.
Well spoken Mike! Thanks for your post.
It seems (nearly?) all megachurches are delivering this feel good message to draw more people (and money!) to their churches. I even have my doubts about certain shepherds that seem very orthodox on the surface. That has probably to do with my past that caused me to throw away all books that I wasn’t really sure about. I had come to believe certain (hyper?)charismatic teachings and saw that they led me away from the Good Shepherd. So I threw away all that I felt was standing between me and Messiah. That also included books written by authors who endorsed certain teachings or teachers.
When you said “The Church in our time is very sick.”
I have listened to Mr. Osteem a few times and both times I felt an ache in the pit of my stomach. The smile…the words seemed so phoney. The frightening part is there are so many churches out there just like that.
Thanks for the post. It IS getting harder as the deception mounts. The enemy is so subtle. As a former Mormon I have seen how LDS doctrine, demonic though it is, is being presented more and more as orthodox Christianity. The modern church has lost its ability to discern in part because of its biblical illiteracy and in part because of its compromised holiness.
I just finished reading DR Lloyd-Jones’ book on authority. He addresses the issue of revival. It must be a work of God and never a function of man centered techniques, programs or theologies. To that I offer a hearty amen and a prayer for God to send the Holy Spirit among us. Wendy
You’ve got it! Yes indeed, our Lord is our source and supply and our protection. He feeds us from His Word. We don’t need the words of men or any of their input. All we need is the nourishment we get from Him then, of course, we must obey Him in all things. That really is it. Nothing complicated. Nothing dramatic or cool or whatever. We just need to get into the Word and obey it. Well said!
You made the right decision. Let nothing come between you and our Saviour. The words of men merely tickle the ears, but do not feed the Soul. Just stay in the Word and obey it. That is all we need.
Amen, yes, there are way too many copying what Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are doing. Very sad and it must be contemptible in our hearts. Our affection must be for our Lord, not men.
Amen Wendy! I praise God that you have been delivered from the LDS.
I have friends who go to one of those “feel good churches”–a church that jumps on every fad that comes down the pike. There is an element of Pharisee-ism in that if you are not involved in more than one of the church’s programs, you are ostracized. I’ve heard my friends talking about people in their church and they say with a self-righteous air “well, they’re not INVOLVED.” Nothing about salvation, beliefs, theology, condition of the heart…just involvement in works seems to matter to those people. When I questioned my friends on all the programs and “good works,” they defend it by saying that Jesus says to help the needy. True enough, but that’s ALL they’re doing…they’re not sharing the gospel…they’re not praying with sinners to salvation…they are not doing anything different than a lot of secular charities other than they’re doing it under the name of a church.
I do believe that you have discernment my sister! 🙂
We live in an eccelsiastical world that is obesessed with fixing your self esteem, your marriage, your finances, your career, and everything about your earthly life. But most do not want to deal with the very core of the problem, sin.
It is man’s hoorific sin that has offended a Holy God, and with that sin comes an offer of atonement and justification. It is offered by faith, real faith, self denying faith. What we have today is Dr. Phil with Jesus’ name sprinkled in. It is as you say, Mike, apostate.
The church has counted the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing and has mixed the sacred with the profane.
The body of our Christ is in deed sick but ALL is open and naked before him! He shall perfect that concerning ALL of us and everything that we say and do will be judged ..nobody is exempt!! Let us continue to stand faithful in prayer because we need one another . The body of Christ is fitly joined together and the hand can not tell the foot that I have no need of you! God has been dealing with me about the fruit of his Spirit and walking in the fullness of all his fruit is what he desires. May our love for one another continue to compel us uphold one another, May Love’s Joy, Peace, Long-Suffering,Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Meekness, Temperance govern how we entreat one another and may the God of all Peace dwell in you RICHLY my brethern! Blessings..
Mike have you ever look into Craig Groeschel? I thought all the big churches were in Texas. He is in OK. Turns out he runs largest multi site church complex in US, over 100,000 twice the size of Osteen’s. Recently came up in my radar, due to his “Leadership” enterprise. He was trained in marketing, he must have mastered that, then went to Phillips for theology. His church is now called Life.Church, it’s a website lots of TV & online visitors.. They are also part of Second Life a virtual reality world. Also a new book….Winning the War in Your Mind.
I notice Michelle Leslie ran something on him last year..but her links are to discussions from 5-10 years ago. Way back, there was some on him on Ken Silva’s site, were you involved with any of that?
You ever look into him in detail recently? Frankly I’m surprised I had not read about his ministry earlier.
Life Church is a big deal here in Oklahoma. People go there so they don’t have to be involved in “church stuff.” It is mostly impersonal. The pastor is at one location and the remote places just shows him preaching on the screen. We have one of the Life Churches here in my home town in the old Moose Lodge. Honestly, it is a lot like what many of our churches have been doing with all the Covid restrictions. We go to church with Zoom or Youtube. Our small group meets that way mostly. Since I am the High Tech guy in our group I get to manage that. However, since nearly everyone in our group is almost done with our vaccinations (We are all either just under 70 or older than 70) we are about ready to start meeting together again. Can’t wait!!! In any case, What Groeschel is doing is creating a version of the church for people who don’t like church. Think about it.
LikeLiked by 1 person