ENTERING THE SHEEPFOLD, #609
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. (JOH 10:1-3).
As we approach our study on these verses several questions arise which must be addressed:
(a.) To whom is the Lord speaking when He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you"?
(b.) What circumstances provided the dark backdrop for this blessed picture of the true Shepherd of Christ's sheep?
(c.) What do we understand by His reference to a "sheepfold," and what do "climbing up some other way" into it mean?
So, first, to whom is the Lord speaking when He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you"? To understand to whom He was speaking, we must see the context in which the parable was brought forth. I want you to notice in JOH 9:40-41: "And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
The Lord Jesus Christ had just opened the eyes of one who was born blind. This man who was born blind had received his sight, which is a type and a symbol of one whom Christ has drawn, who was born spiritually blind. He received his sight to see the sinful nature of his own heart and to see his need of a Saviour. Jesus had anointed the mans eyes, and then told him to go wash; he did and he came seeing. He had to wash. When our eyes are anointed to see who we are by nature, it is by the washing of the water of the Word that our eyes are opened to see the blessed news of the gospel.
Now, these Pharisees failed to see what Christ was teaching. He told them He was the light of the world. They replied, "Are we blind also?" They did not understand their spiritual blindness. They had a heart that was as corrupt as a sepulchre filled with dead mens bones, and they never understood it. Their eyes had never been anointed to see who they were, and to see their need of cleansing from the pollution and stench of death.
So, these blind leaders of the blind claimed they could see. So what Jesus declares to them is that that which is before their very eyes was as obvious as the sun which shone in the sky to prove their blindness. The Lord speaks a parable now. He is talking to people who from the entire beginning of their history were shepherds.
The Lord Jesus is talking to shepherds to illustrate their blindness. He is using what is before their very eyes to illustrate the spiritual significance of the lessons He will teach them.
Now, you see, if I was going to talk to people who are farmers, or are dairymen, or are in the sheep business, they can intimately relate if I base my illustrations on aspects of their living and their trade. Have you ever heard two people in the dairy business visiting? Sit back and listen to them. You will hear all about how many pounds of milk, the quantity of butterfat, and all the proteins in their feed. Their conversation is about things they can all relate to so intimately. That is where their heart is.
See what we read of the Pharisees in JOH 10:6; "This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them." They were shepherds. The Jewish people were shepherds from the beginning of their history. Jesus used sheep and that which pertains to the care of sheep to illustrate to them the message He was teaching to show and prove to them their blindness; that they were spiritually blind. He said to them in JOH 9:40-41, " Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." In other words, if you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you claim that you see, therefore your sin remains.
Now, these Pharisees claimed to be the shepherds of the flock of God. They understood that. They understood that the leadership of the church was parallel to the office of a shepherd. So they should have understood this parable because they were shepherds from the very beginning of their history.
Notice the occupation of the people in GEN 47:3 when the children of Israel came into Egypt. "And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers." From the very beginning of the history of Israel they were shepherds. They should have understood this parable.
They claimed to be the children of Abraham and of him we read the testimony of his servant unto Rebekah's father in GEN 24:34-35. "And he said, I am Abraham's servant. And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold." In other words, he has given him flocks of sheep. He is a shepherd. We also read the same of Isaac in GEN 26:14, and of Jacob in GEN 32:5 that they were shepherds
The Pharisees claimed to be servants of Moses. They claimed to be his disciples, and he followed his father-in-law's flocks for forty years in the wilderness. It was by following the flock of sheep in the wilderness that Moses received his training to become the true shepherd of the flock of God. There he gained a right understanding of what a shepherd is, what his duties are, what his heart relationship is to the flock. These Pharisees understood the office of a shepherd. So the Lord Jesus used sheep to illustrate their blindness. They claimed to be Moses servants.
David was not only a shepherd from his youth, but see how he used the shepherd's position over the flock to illustrate the Lord's tender loving care for His flock. The Lord Jesus is pointing out that they had just excommunicated this one sheep, one of Christs true sheep, whose eyes the Lord Jesus had just opened. There was no tenderness in their heart; they were filled with hardness and bitterness. They had a heart filled with murder, and they were out to kill the Lord Jesus Christ. They were standing there with their hands full of stones to stone Him when He opened the eyes of one who was born blind.
Now Davids description in PSA 23:1-3 shows the heart of a shepherd toward his flock. The Lord Jesus is showing them that if they had the heart of a shepherd, they would have had a heart that is tender toward this man who they had so ruthlessly excommunicated. In PSA 23:1-3, David says: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. [He immediately attributes to the office of the shepherd that there will be no want.] He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. [David is showing the heart of a shepherd.] He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
David teaches us in PSA 23 that the heart of a shepherd is toward the welfare of his flock. The Lord Jesus is showing these ruthless Pharisees that they have not the heart of a shepherd.
These Pharisees who claimed to have insight into the oracles of God as the teachers of His flock should most certainly have understood the prophecies recorded in ISA 40:11 if they indeed were the true shepherds of the flock. They should have understood what was prophesied of the true shepherd of the flock in ISA 40:11. "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." See the tender heart that a shepherd has for his flock.
The Lord Jesus is illustrating to them the wrong attitude of their heart toward the flock. In other words, how they had been so ruthless in their attitude toward those who were the true flock of God.
Now, if these blind Pharisees had been able to see, as they professed, would they have said, "Are we blind also?" He said, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." JOH 9:41.
In other words, if you were blind, you wouldnt have any sin. You understood what you were doing wrong; you were sinning willfully. If it were because of ignorance, you wouldnt have sin, but because you say you see, you should have been able to recognize the true Shepherd of the flock of God. If they had been able to see, as they professed, then being so intimately acquainted with the habits and natures of both a shepherd and of the flock, they should have been able to recognize in Him. They would have recognized the tender love that He had for those who were on the outside, how He fed them, and carried the lambs in His arms. In other words, the Pharisees should have seen the love that He was reflecting toward those whom they were excommunicating. They should have been able to recognize the true character of a shepherd in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus used this parable to prove their spiritual blindness. So, now lets take notice what is written in JOH 10:6. "This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them." They did not see the parallel. A parable illustrates a parallel to make a point. He showed them the parable of how sheep were taken care of in their day to illustrate His point.
So, now on the second point: What circumstances provided the dark backdrop for this blessed picture of the true Shepherd of Christ's sheep? Now, I have explained before, in Christs art gallery, He paints a picture, so that you and I can see the beauty of Christ. He will sometimes first give us a picture of the heart of man and the corrupt nature of man to reveal the contrast between what we are and what He is. Then we are able to see the beauty of His love and His tenderness and the beauty of His unconditional surrender. We learn to see and understand how quickly we are frustrated over such trifling things. Then we see the blessed tranquility of Christ in His perfect submission before God.
Now we see this blessed backdrop in these circumstances. What were the circumstances we were dealing with? We were looking at the excommunication of the beggar by the Pharisees whose eyes the Lord Jesus had opened.
Look at JOH 9:34. They are talking to this man whose eyes were opened. "They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out." They threw him out of the synagogue. They threw him out of the church. They excommunicated him. Why? He was professing that Jesus was a prophet, and they wanted to label Jesus a sinner,
"He [the man born blind] answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." JOH 9:25.
Verse 30 continues, "The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes." Verse 33 proclaimed, "If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." How can a man who is a sinner do such great wonders? That is the question the man put to the Pharisees.
In JOH 9:16 we find the root of the Pharisees accusation. "Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them." The Pharisees made a right analysis when they said a man is not of God when he does not keep the Sabbath day. However, their analysis was wrong in what constitutes keeping the Sabbath.
Jesus was keeping the Sabbath for the glory of God as He says in JOH 9:4, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." It was manifesting the wonderful work of God on the Sabbath day that offended the Pharisees. Now, they came back to the man who was born blind and asked in JOH 9:17, "What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet."
The Pharisees became arrogant. They cast him out of the church because he was saying that Jesus was a prophet. So, in their blindness, in their wrong interpretation of the Word of God according to the commandments of men, they blinded their eyes so they were not able to recognize the true Messiah.
Again this proves how blind these Pharisees were to their own true character. They didnt see. They didnt understand. Their eyes had not been anointed to see their own true character. Throughout the gospels, the Lord Jesus Christ calls them hypocrites. John the Baptist calls them vipers. Do you know why? Jesus said their hearts were as a sepulchre filled with dead mens bones. In other words, their hearts were corrupt, and they never learned to see it. They never learned to understand their own true character.
This situation was prophesied of the times in which they lived. Now, if these chief priests, scribes and Pharisees had understood the Scriptures and the prophecies of the coming Messiah, they would have understood the prophecies of the signs of the times. The very thing that was prophesied of this time, when Christ should come, was being fulfilled before their very eyes, and they didnt see it.
I want you to see what was prophesied in EZE 34:2-5. "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered." The very flock of God, the very lambs of His fold, was scattered. They cut them off and drove them out of the church, because of their own pride, because they were feeding their own ego. They were feeding themselves upon the flock instead of feeding the flock.
It was in just such a time that the promised Messiah was to come. Take notice of EZE 34:23-24 and how that the Lord is saying that this condition would be upon the church at the time of the coming of the Messiah. "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it." In other words, Christ, the Son of David, Jesus of Nazareth will feed His flock.
"I will set up one shepherd over them" is the prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel. This was the condition the church would be in at the time of the coming of the Messiah, and they didnt see it.
Now, these professed shepherds of Israel had excommunicated, that is, they had driven out one of Christ's true lambs, and tore him with their words, force, and with cruelty. They were offended that Jesus spoke of their blindness to see the signs of the times. He spoke of their blindness to show them that they were actually fulfilling that very prophecy.
In JOH 9:39-40 we read, "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?" The Lord Jesus is using this parable of the shepherd and the sheep to show them how blind they were as to the true meaning of the Word of God.
Therefore, Jesus spoke the parable of our text to demonstrate a shepherd's heart toward his sheep. This parable was spoken that the true Shepherd of the flock is demonstrating a shepherds heart toward his sheep. It is to demonstrate the signs of the times they were living in. Now, look at JOH 10:3; "To him the porter openeth [to whom? To the true Shepherd]; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." Hes demonstrating the true Shepherd. Those sheep know His voice. They hear His voice, and He calls them by name and He leads them. He is not driving them out. He is not using force and cruelty to rule over them. He calls them by their name.
Now, I want you to see the difference between a shepherd and a cowboy. Today, we see many cowboys in the pulpit. These Pharisees were cowboys. They were not shepherds. Do you know the difference? A shepherd goes before the flock. They hear his voice and they follow him. If they get too tired to follow, they lay down. The shepherd comes back to the flock, and he waits for them until they have enough energy and enough strength to be able to follow.
A cowboy on his horse gets behind the animals with his dogs and his whip, and he drives them. He drives them with force and sometimes with cruelty. This is what the Pharisees were doing. They were not leading the flock. They were not speaking the Word of God and having the flock follow the shepherds voice. Yet they did not understand this. They did not understand the office of a shepherd. When the sheep hear the shepherds voice and he calls his sheep by name, one by one, they respond and follow him. They didnt understand.
Those who claimed to be teachers didnt understand the parable as we see in JOH 10:6. "This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them." They claimed to be the shepherds. They were the chief priests and high priests of Israel. They claimed to be the shepherds of the flock, yet they were spiritually blind to the qualifications of their office.
Now, it is very important that we understand the qualifications of that office of a shepherd of Christ. They are His under-shepherds, in other words, those whom Christ has sent to lead His flock.
Turn with me to HEB 5:1-3 to see where we see the qualifications of that office. "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins [now, watch the qualifications]: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins."
Now, it is very important that we understand this principle. We have to dissect that qualification a little. When the Apostle Peter was strong in himself, he could stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and say, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." MAT 26:33. What did the Lord do? The Lord allowed him to slip and fall. Verse 34 continues, "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
LUK 22:32 says, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Peter was so strong in himself he could stand there and say, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." Verse 33.
After Peter had fallen, after he had stood there cursing and swearing and denying that he had ever known his Lord, "The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." LUK 22:61-62.
I want you to understand why this is. When I have learned a little bit to understand my own sin, and I have learned a little bit to understand my own infirmities, now I will be as we read here in HEB 5:2, "Who can have compassion on the ignorant." Now, I dont come with force and cruelty. If I see somebody who in his infirmity has wandered out of the way, I can come to him as a tenderhearted shepherd and say, "My brother, I understand the power of sin. I understand the infirmities of our flesh, and I understand what it is that is drawing you out of the way." Then I can beckon him back and say, "The Lord turned and gave me a look of love."
Even in such a time, unless you have partaken of the bread, you cant break the bread for others. Until you have learned to understand a little bit of the nature of the fall of Adam in your own heart, how can you shepherd those who wander out of the way? How can you be a proper shepherd until you can intimately relate to the power of that sin which has drawn them away? You must first have a little knowledge of your own infirmities as it says in HEB 5:2. "Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."
There are the qualifications of a true shepherd. They must first have eaten themselves of that broken bread. In other words, they must understand their need of a Saviour for their own soul. They must first have had their eyes anointed with eye salve to see the nature of sin in their own heart before they can go forth to lead the flock of God. Now that voice of Christ, that Spirit of Christ, which comes forth in humility, is what the people can follow.
We can so intimately relate to the condition that they are confronted with. They hear that voice, and they follow because they see that you understand what it is being delivered. Now the congregation can walk behind such a man and follow because he is one of the under-shepherds of Christ.
Remember the story of the woman taken in adultery that we studied in a previous sermon. In other words, the Pharisees had come before Christ with a woman taken in adultery, and they started citing the Law, which said that such a one must be stoned. They asked Jesus what He would say. They wanted Him to condemn her and have her stoned to death. However, the Lord Jesus looked at them and He said that who among them is without sin should cast the first stone. Being convicted in their own hearts, they went out one by one. They saw in their own heart enough that they didnt have one stone left to throw. There is an example of the True Shepherd. Those who would come and bring such railing accusation against a brother or a sister did not understand their own heart. The Lord Jesus had reproved them of this.
It is apparent that their self-righteous spirit remained even after they had been reproved for their conduct with that woman taken in adultery. Now He is reproving them because they still hadnt seen in their own heart as is apparent in their excommunication of the beggar that was born blind.
In JOH 9:34: "They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out." Oh, they could see his sin, but they couldnt see their own. In other words, they said, "You were born in sin, do you teach us? We stand above you." That self-righteous, arrogant, spirit had never been broken. That is why they couldnt qualify as the shepherds of the flock; they have not to learned to see and have compassion on those who have sinned because they didnt see their own infirmities.
Thereby they proved their own lack of the qualification required in HEB 5:2: "Who can have compassion on the ignorant [they said, you were born in sin, are you teaching us? They had no compassion on that man, because they thought that they were more trained and more intelligent than he was.], and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."
What did they understand of the heart of the true High Priest? The Lord Jesus gave them this parable of the Shepherd to show them their blindness. They had no understanding of the heart of a true high priest. Now look at HEB 4:15 to understand the heart of a true High Priest. This is speaking of the heart of Jesus Christ. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
In His temptation, Satan had tempted the Lord Jesus Christ with every sin that you and I could ever be tempted with. He knew the power and the influence of temptation. He knew the design and the subtlety of it. So, when you and I come before Him and we have been tempted and we have fallen, He can so intimately relate to that trial and to that temptation because He was tempted. He didnt fall in it. He was without sin, but He understood the temptation. He understood the power of it. See how He was so fully qualified, and that qualification to be our Shepherd was fully met in Christ.
So now this brings us to our third point. What do we understand by His reference to a "sheepfold," and what is meant by "climbing up some other way" into that sheepfold?
Christ's reference to the sheepfold immediately points to the Pharisees claim to a pastoral position. Jesus talks about how the shepherds enter the sheepfold. Now watch what our text says: "I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd." The shepherd must enter in by the door. Since He is the shepherd of the sheep, He comes in through the door. So, what does He mean by this?
His reference to "climbing up some other way" into the fold denounces them as false shepherds and rebukes them for their conduct. Now, this is the dark backdrop for the blessed picture Jesus is about to present in His art gallery of the true Shepherd of His sheep. Hes showing a distinction of wherein they enter the sheepfold.
To rightly understand the meaning of the word sheepfold mentioned in this parable, we must consider the circumstances. Now we have to understand what it meant. We must distinguish between the divers doors mentioned. Jesus spoke of the door into the sheepfold as distinguished from Himself, the door of salvation, as we read in Verse 6. He is talking about two different doors here.
The sheepfold Jesus referenced for the purpose of His parable was the common property of the natives. Now, to understand this idea, we have to go into the history. During the time Jesus came there was a common sheepfold; it was the common property of the natives. They had a wall 10 to 12 feet high around a large area and a door into that. At night all of the shepherds would come with their flocks. The porter would open the door and the flocks would go in to the sheepfold. The flocks from all of the different shepherds were combined into one sheepfold.
All the neighboring shepherds would lead their flocks into this common pen for safety from predators and theft at night where they were left to the care of a porter who guarded the gate. Here they were all mixed together till the morning light. Now, in the morning the various shepherds returned and reported to the porter. I want you to see the history so we can see the beauty of it. After proper identification each shepherd was allowed to enter the sheepfold through the door and call each sheep by its name which belonged to his flock. They would hear his voice and they would follow him. They would respond to their own shepherd, by his voice, and he would lead them out to pasture. This common practice was the figure Jesus used for His parable.
What does this parable illustrate? It is the same principle that the Lord Jesus is talking about when He talks about the broad road that leads to hell. He is talking about the mixed multitude that is all combined in one flock. Now within this flock, within this sheepfold, there are some that will be called by name and will be taken out, and they will follow the True Shepherd. The True Shepherd will come to that door and He will call them by their name. "To him the porter openeth." To whom will the door be opened? He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The Lord is coming into this sheepfold where this professed Christianity is sheltered; they are all mixed in this one crowd, but in among those God has His elect. God comes and calls them by name and brings them out of this sheepfold, and He leads them out into green pastures.
Our text says in JOH 10:1-2, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep." So this climbing up another way is showing that there are shepherds who are not true shepherds. The Lord Jesus is showing you and me how to identify the true under-shepherds of the flock whom He has ordained to lead His flock. There are also those who have stolen in. They have not come in by the door.
The sheepfold here is not a reference to heaven. Some commentators say that this refers to heaven. That is not true. There are no thieves or robbers entering heaven! Therefore, He is not referring to heaven, nor is it the Church of Christ. This sheepfold does not illustrate the true Church of Christ. If it did, He would not lead His flock out of it. He would not lead His flock out of the true church.
The "sheepfold" referenced in this parable is clearly Judaism, or we will say, the mixed multitude of the professing church. That is the identity of the sheepfold. They are all brought together into one flock. It matters not which denomination. It matters not which person is at the head. They all are clumped together in one group. It is to the professing church that the Lord comes with His Holy Spirit; it is where the call of the Lord Jesus Christ comes, and He leads His own out. They can no longer remain in this professing church because they would starve to death. There is no feed in there. They have to come out of this sheepfold and follow the voice of their Shepherd. He leads them out to pasture. They would literally starve to death if they remained in that sheepfold. This is what the Lord is teaching us. They must be called out.
We must see the contrast between those shepherds who enter their ministry by the door, that is through Christ and His divine call, and who come in some other way. The true shepherds are those who have had their eyes anointed to see. There is a contrast between those who come in by the door, that is, by Christ and His divine call, and those who climb up some other way!
There are many people in the pulpit today who have come into the ministry by going to some theological school. They have had much training. They are coming in. If they have never known what it is to have their eyes anointed with eye-salve, they are not coming in through the door. They have never learned to see the sinful nature of their own heart. If they have never learned to see the blessed redeeming love of Christ applied to their own soul, they have used the schools of theology to climb up some other way, and now they come in and profess to be shepherds. They are the ones climbing over the wall.
Look at ROM 10:13-15. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" If we dont have the sending of the Holy Spirit, if we dont have the calling of the Holy Spirit into the office of a shepherd, we are climbing up some other way.
Now, our Saviour has clearly told us we must be very discerning. Our Saviour is telling us that we dont follow a stranger. If we dont hear their voice speaking of their own personal knowledge of the work of grace in their own soul, and their own deliverance, they are a stranger to His call. In other words, if they cannot come and intimately relate to the struggles that we go through and intimately understand our slips and our falls by the fact that they have experienced it themselves, we cant recognize their voice, and we are not to follow them. We must be very discerning who we follow for our under-shepherd.
First, Jesus warns us of the distinction between the strait gate and the broad way or the professing church. He says in MAT 7:15-16, "Beware of false prophets [How do we identify them? By the nature of what is in their hearts. Now watch this], which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" They are there to devour you. They dont understand the nature of the work of grace in the soul, and you will know them by their attitudes.
So, now the Lord Jesus goes on to help us identify these false shepherds. These false shepherds are the thieves and robbers who climb up into the ministry without the divine call of the Spirit. They preach Satan's gospel. I want to tell you what Satans gospel is. Satans gospel, what he preaches, might be one hundred percent true, except it is only half the truth. In Satans gospel, we hear the blood of Christ being preached for the remission of sins. In Satans gospel we will hear, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." These statements are true, but they are partial truths. A half-truth is a lie. In Satans gospel we will hear, "If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved," and "If you will accept Jesus, you are eternally secure." Do you know what that means? Now, you can fall out of fellowship with God, but you will never fall away from God. It is Satans gospel.
Do you know where the gospel of Christ begins? Repent. Satans gospel is half a gospel. It omits repentance. Now, I want to show you the proof in Scripture because the Lord Jesus Christ is talking about ravening wolves in sheeps clothing who are false prophets.
In MAT 7:19-21 the Lord Jesus Christ is telling us how to identify these false prophets. "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." The missing element in Satans gospel is "he that doeth the will of my Father." The teaching of sanctification and the teaching of repentance are omitted. Satan also omits the teaching of Christ formed in you, the hope of glory. That is whats missing. What they speak may be true, except it is only half a truth, and when you tell half a truth you make a lie.
Now, Jesus is cautioning us about this. They come in sheeps clothing, in other words, they come as though they are part of the flock, but He says, "Beware." You cant follow them because they are not teaching repentance. They are not teaching followers to turn from sin. They are not teaching that Christ came to redeem us from iniquity. Jesus came to save His people from their sins. The pretenders will teach that Jesus came to save you in your sins. You go ahead and continue sinning and you are still saved. Its a lie. He came to save us from our sins.
See what our Saviour says about those who claim to die in faith. Many people die believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that they are saved, and believing that they have salvation in the sacrifice of Jesus, but have never been redeemed from iniquity. In MAT 7:22-23 we read, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." What is that telling us? They have never known what it is to be redeemed from iniquity.
We like to hear the word Redeemer in relationship to Christ. Satan will tell you that Christ came to redeem you from hell, but what he doesnt tell you is that He came first to redeem you from iniquity. If you have never been saved from sin, you have been saved from nothing. The false ministers climb up through education, popularity contests, and gainsaying. They climb up another way; they do not come through the door opened by the porter. They have not come into the ministry through a divine call from the Lord Jesus Christ. They have never had their eyes anointed to see the true nature of sin. They have never had their eyes anointed to see the need to be saved from sin.
Our text says, "But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep." How do we know Him? "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." He leads them out of that sheepfold. He leads them out of sin and away from Satan and all his practices. When the Lord Jesus puts forth His own flock, He goeth before them. Do you know what the shepherd goes before them means? The "sheep" are to follow His example. Can you have a pastor or a shepherd who has a heart filled with pride and with bitterness and with hatred, like these scribes and Pharisees who deal with force and cruelty, and ask the flock to follow his footsteps?
The Apostle Paul said: "Be ye followers of me." That word followers in the original means a "co-imitator of Christ." When I am imitating Christ, then I can say: "Be ye followers of me." The word follower means to be an imitator. You can imitate me because I am imitating Christ that we may be co-imitators of Christ.
JOH 10:4-5 explains, "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." In other words, the Shepherd and under-shepherd set an example, going before us with a walk of life that you and I can use as a pattern. We must see that spirit of self-sacrificial love that radiates from the heart and from the actions and from everything that is done. They see that Spirit of Christ in us. They see Christ formed in us. We become the light of the world. Why is that? Christ is the light. Christ in you radiates out, and the world can see it. They see your spirit of love, your spirit of self-sacrifice. If that is not in the shepherd, it is not going to be in the flock.
"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." In other words, when the pastor speaks of the wonderful things Christ has done for his soul, they can relate to it. They can identify with that because they know that is in perfect harmony with what Christ has done for their soul. They can see that Spirit of Christ, they see him walking out before them, and they can follow that. They can hear his voice, and they follow him.
Now what do we see here in MAT 7:24-27? I want you to see that Christ commands us to come out of the sheepfold of the professing believers. We must follow Christ. We must come out of this sheepfold; the shepherds are ravening wolves, cf. MAT 7:15. If we stay in there we are going to starve to death. We will perish with them. Now watch what Jesus says in MAT 7:24-27. Ive heard many people talk about building on the rock and building on the sand, but I have never heard a pastor in my life that kept it in context that building on the rock is hearing and doing what the Lord Jesus is telling us to do. I have not heard them tie it in or make the connection that building on the rock requires obedience. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand." That is the missing link in the sheepfold. That is the missing link in the shepherds who do not have a divine call. They cant honestly tell the flock to follow them as they go before them.
The Lord Jesus said of the Pharisees that you might do what they say, but dont do what they do. We find this in MAT 23:3. "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." If we hear His voice and do those things that He says, we are building upon the rock. A true shepherd sets an example that reflects the light of Christ in their lives so the flock can hear their voice and follow them. What they do does not contradict what they say.
Now, our text says in JOH 10:1-3, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber [hes a false prophet]. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out."
Its a very important thing that a pastor knows his sheep intimately on a personal basis and that he can talk to them and visit them on a one-to-one basis. Christ said that he calls them by their name. In other words, he knows each one personally. It is very important that we understand the relationship that Christ identifies between Himself and His church. Amen.
This principle comes through as the apostles planted churches. In ACT 2:46-47 we read, "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." The Apostle Paul also set an example of how pastors are to learn to know the sheep on a personal basis in ACT 20:18-21. "And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Amen.
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