THE SHEEPHERD OF THE SHEEP, #611
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 10:2-3).
As we pointed out in a previous sermon, the chapter before us distinguishes between three separate doors. In verse 1 it speaks of the door into the sheepfold. Verse 7 speaks of the door of the sheep, and Verse 9 speaks of the door of salvation.
Now to grasp the context of our text, we must recall the circumstances that furnished the occasion for the lesson Jesus is teaching. It is so vitally important to understand the meaning of a passage of scripture that we take the context in which it is brought forward. And we must see the context that furnished the occasion, to see the circumstances for this lesson that Jesus is teaching.
So turn with me back to JOH 8: 12-13; "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true." We need to see and understand that the Pharisees were contending with His credentials. They were denying that He in fact was the true Shepherd of the flock. They were not accepting what He said. "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." They are saying, "Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true."
This is the setting; this is the attitude that He is confronting as He brings forth this parable. The Lord Jesus, after being so totally rejected by the religious leaders of Israel for every reason they could contrive, is still condescending to once more reveal His credentials. You and I need to understand the legitimacy of the credentials of Christ as the Messiah. And this is what the parable is set forth to do. He is bringing forth His credentials before an unbelieving religious leadership.
Look at JOH 10:2-3, "But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep." What He is trying-I dont like to use the word "trying" when I speak of what Christ says. I will retract that. What Christ is saying, what He is teaching, is how to distinguish and how to identify His calling as being the true Shepherd. He is saying: "He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth." Now what Christ is showing us here is how we unmistakably identify His office as the true Messiah, as the true Shepherd. He is the true Shepherd of His flock. He did not climb up some other way. He is not a robber or a thief as we see that He identifies these scribes and Pharisees in verse 1.
Our Saviour's entrance was made in God's ordained way. Now, we need to notice that the Jews and the Pharisees were contending with Christ over the fact that He was not coming in the ordained way. And this is what He is setting forth. His entrance was made in God's ordained way, that is, in a lawful manner in strict accord with what all the Scriptures had taught of the coming Messiah. He is pointing out and teaching that He came in at the door, meaning in Gods ordained way. He was born of a virgin, as it was prophesied. He was of the covenant people, as it was prophesied. He was of the tribe of Judah, as it was prophesied. He was born in the royal city of Bethlehem, as it was prophesied. Throughout the Scriptures, throughout the entire New Testament we find it repeatedly written "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." He came to fulfill every jot and tittle that was prophesied of the Messiah.
Jesus conformed to everything God had required of an Israelite. Throughout the Old Testament there are many things that God required of the Israelites. In every instance the Scriptures were fulfilled in His coming. Jesus was "born under the law." Notice that in GAL 4:4, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." He fulfilled this.
Jesus submitted to the covenant commands. God made a covenant with Abraham, the covenant of circumcision, and He met all these requirements under the covenant that God made with Abraham. Look at LUK 2:21, "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb."
In GAL 4:4 we read, "made of a woman, made under the law." When He was circumcised, He became a debtor to do the whole law. And He became a debtor to do the whole law for His Church. He was made under the law. He had not omitted anything that was prophesied or that was required of an Israelite.
Jesus was presented unto the Lord in the temple according to the law at the purification of His mother. Every male that opened the womb was to be presented to the Lord, which was to typify what happened in Christ.
We see this was fulfilled in LUK 2:22, "And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord." What Jesus is telling us in this parable is that He entered in by the door, in other words, by the Word of God. He entered in by fulfilling every jot and every tittle of the law, and every prophecy and everything that was written concerning Israel.
Our Saviour was not presented unto the religious leaders of Israel as a stranger. The Lord Jesus says in His parable in verse 5, "A stranger will they not follow." He was from among the brethren and fulfilled every prophecy that was written of Him. Look at DEU 18:18, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren." He fulfilled that. He was from among them. He was of the seed and stock of Israel. He said, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth [that was fulfilled]; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
Now, Jesus affirmation of His fulfillment of this very prophecy in their presence caused their rage against Him. They came against Him saying He had a devil. Why? Because the Lord had put words in His mouth, and He spoke unto them all that the Father had commanded Him.
Turn with me to JOH 7:14-17, and I want you to notice how that in fact the Lord did put His words in Christs mouth. "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me."
Do you see how that very prophecy of DEU 18:18 was fulfilled? "and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." And here we see Jesus said, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." He had the words of the Father put in His mouth. He spoke that which the Father spoke to Him. He fulfilled every prophecy. He entered by the door. In other words, He came in by Gods ordained way.
Verse 17 continues, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." His emphasis throughout His teaching that was brought into controversy by the Jews and the scribes and the Pharisees was that He did not come to do His own will. He did not come to speak His own words. He came to speak the words that were given Him of the Father. "And if any man will do his will." He is saying, I am doing the will of the Father, and therefore I know His doctrine. He is entering by the door. When you and I learn to understand what Jesus is saying here and how the true Shepherd is identified, how is it? By speaking what God spoke.
Jesus did not say, "Well, I believe, and teach a doctrine that is all put together of private interpretations." That was the practice of the Pharisees. Jesus was faithful to speak the Word that He had received from His Father.
Our text speaks of the Porter. I want you to notice this in JOH 10:3, "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." Now in the first instance, the "Porter" in this parable was John the Baptist. The porter, John the Baptist, ran before Him, opened the door, introduced Him to the sheep and identified Him as the true Shepherd of the flock.
JOH 1:6-7 says, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." John the Baptist was the prophesied Elijah who was to come.
LUK 1:17 explains, "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." In other words, to prepare the attitude of the church, to get that law of love understood in the church, to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist was His forerunner. In other words, he was the porter who ran before Him to open the door that Jesus might come in and call His sheep by their names.
John not only identified the true Shepherd to Israel, but he presented the true Shepherd to the sheep. He made that introduction. Now take notice of JOH 1:29-31; "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." John came to open the door of the hearts of the people to present the Lamb of God unto this religious nation that had so forsaken the ways of the Lord. So John, in the first instance, is referred to here as the porter.
However, in the spiritual sense, the "Porter" is the Holy Spirit. He is the One who officially affirms the credentials of the true Shepherd, and who presents the Saviour to each of God's elect. Now, we want to notice that the Saviour is here among the chosen Israel of God. The Saviour has come into their midst and is being rejected. They picked up stones to throw at Him and to kill Him.
There was a man born blind who came to see the light when Jesus restored his sight, and what did the scribes and Pharisees do but cast him out. The very Shepherd of the flock now stands in their midst and yet I want you to see how in the conclusion of the previous chapter, JOH 9:40-41, this took place. "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." They were the blind leaders of the blind. The porter, the Holy Spirit, had not opened the door of their hearts to receive Christ.
Continuing into Chapter 10, we see that it says in Verse 3, "To him the porter openeth." The porter is the Holy Spirit. When Christ comes to call a sinner to repentance, the Holy Spirit opens the door of the heart. The Holy Spirit makes the person willing in the day of His power to will and do of His good pleasure.
It is the Holy Spirit who opens the way. The shepherd comes, the porter opens, and the sheep hear his voice. Now, the sheep will hear the voice of Christ, but until then their hearts are fast closed to His words. It is the Holy Spirit who opens the hearts of Gods elect for the voice of Christ. You can bring the greatest multitude under the soundest preaching of the Word, and they will leave as they came, with their hearts untouched. There is only one way that the voice of Christ becomes effectual in any mans heart, and that is, when the Porter opens the door and the Shepherd comes in and they hear His voice, "and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." JOH 10: 3.
As I explained last week, the sheepfold is a symbol of all this mixed multitude of professed believers. This sheepfold was a big corral or a big pen, where all of the shepherds brought their flocks for safe keeping at night. In the morning the shepherd would come, the porter would open the door, and the shepherd would call his sheep by name. They hear his voice, they recognize his voice and the sheep come to their own shepherd, and they go out to pasture. Now, what we see here is when they hear the voice of the true Shepherd, He leads them out of this religious world. He leads them out of this professed religion, and He brings them where they begin to feed in the pastures, the green pastures of His Word. Now, it is no longer a matter of following a denomination or following a pastor or following a man, but they are now following the Lord Jesus Christ. They are following Him where? They follow Christ into the pastures of His Word. They hear His voice. They hear His Word. Now, His Word becomes effectual in their hearts, and they are no longer following a man. They are following the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Saviour's parable for these blind religious leaders of Israel manifests three glaring evidences that He was the true Shepherd of the flock.
FIRST, as I pointed out, He entered in God's ordained way, i.e., by "the door," not by climbing up some other way. He did not take a short cut. Satan offered Him a shortcut as we see in MAT 4:8-10. "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
The Father will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, but He did not take a short cut. He did it in Gods ordained way. He will wait for Gods ordained time, and He will have His rightful kingdom and His rightful sway, but He did not take a short cut. In JOH 9:4 we read, "I must work the works of him that sent me." He came to obey His Fathers will."
In the second instance, when He came to the door of the poor beggar's heart, the "Porter" opened the door. He illustrates by restoring the sight to this man born blind while the Pharisees were standing with their hands full of stones to stone Him to death, while He was passing in among them. Jesus had hidden Himself from them when He anointed the eyes of one who had been born blind. The Holy Spirit opened the door of that one mans heart, that one man out of this entire mixed multitude. He received his sight. He came into the obedience of faith, and he received a Saviour for his soul.
In JOH 9:35-38 we read, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." The Lord Jesus is saying, "Now the Porter has opened his heart, and he has seen the Lord Jesus Christ."
Now, the third thing we want to notice as evidence is that he recognized and responded to his Shepherd's voice. What did he say in Verse 38? "He said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." One, out of that entire multitude came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Now, on the contrary, the Pharisees were resisting the true Shepherd, and attacking the flock. The Lord Jesus is showing the distinction between the true Shepherd and those who professed to be the shepherds of Israel.
The Jews demanded of the parents of the man that was born blind as we see in JOH 9:19. "Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?" I want you to see the fear, and I want you to see the bondage that over-ruled the flock under the leadership of these purported shepherds. See how the parents responded, and why they responded the way they did. The fear and the bondage under which the Pharisees were ruling were with force and with cruelty.
They responded in JOH 9:20-22, "His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews [They knew who had done it, their son had told them. They lied.]: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." They didnt dare to come out and admit the truth because of the fear and the bondage that the Pharisees and the scribes had instilled in the hearts of the flock. They were leading them with fear, force, and cruelty.
They were ruling with an iron hand, and they were ruling according to their own doctrines of men, but the Porter had not opened their hearts; they did not hear the voice of the true Shepherd.
Now, our text says, "The porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice." Who are the sheep? Is that this big multitude of religious profession that we have today? I was talking to a man a week or so ago. He holds the doctrines of Arminius. He believes in the free will of man, but do you know what he was telling us? He said: "I see so many people, they will hold up their hand, they will make a decision for Christ. They will accept the Lord Jesus, but they continue living in sin." He said, "They are not saved at all." Even those who are walking in this mixed multitude, who do not rightly understand the doctrines of grace, do not rightly understand the sovereignty of God, see there is deception. They see that the mixed multitude is not hearing the voice of God. He pointed out that it was so necessary to understand what the word repent means. He started to understand that by what he saw.
Now, let me show you something. We have here a mixed multitude, but the Porter opened only one out of that multitude. The great multitude thronged about Jesus, but it was to only one in that mixed multitude unto whom Jesus said, "Who touched my clothes?" We have the Lord Jesus walking and a multitude is thronging Him. The Porter had opened the heart of only one person out of the multitude.
We read about this in MAR 5:31-34, "And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? [They ridiculed Him for asking, Who is it that touched me? There was only one sheep in that flock who understood. There was only one in that mixed multitude who understood His question.] And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." There was one in that whole multitude whom the Porter had opened the heart and had brought her to understand that He was the true Shepherd of the flock, and she came trembling before Him. If she could but touch the hem of His garment, she knew she would be made perfectly whole. She wanted to follow Him in the way.
Jesus was the true Shepherd, but the Porter opened the door. It was the Holy Spirit who enlivened her heart and enlightened her eyes to know and to realize that Jesus was the true Shepherd of the flock and that drew her to Him if she might but touch the hem of His garment.
Is it not so when we meditate upon God's Word? Havent we all experienced reading the Word, and in a short time we do not even recall what we read. Even you and I, when we come before the Word, until the Porter opens our heart and brings the Word of God home with power to our souls, that passage of Scripture doesnt reach our heart. When the Porter opens the door of our heart, Scripture comes home in our heart and it feeds our soul. Then we have a blessing. We can search the Word, sometimes for weeks on end, and never really hear the voice of God. The Holy Spirit takes a passage of Scripture and applies it to our heart and it feeds our soul because it is so perfectly applicable to our circumstances. The Holy Spirit gives it to us with power.
Now, when the Porter opens some special passage to our hearts, we can say with David as we see here in PSA 66:16-17. When the Porter opens our heart and we hear the voice of Jesus, then the words of Christ become effectual and they become personal, and they feed our soul. "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue."
The first porter's message, i.e., of John the Baptist, began with the exact same words as the Saviour began His call of the gospel. Notice how identical the message of John the Baptist was to that of the Saviour. Look at MAT 3:1-2, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Now, see where our Saviours gospel also began with the identical call to repentance in MAT 4:17. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This is significant. When the Porter comes to open our heart, the first call is a call to repent. If we have missed the Porters call to repentance, we better question whether we have received any entrance at all. That is the first call. When the Porter opens the heart, the first call is a call to repentance.
We begin to see the sinfulness of sin. We start to see that which has separated our God and us and what has caused us to be on the outside. We start to understand why our hearts are as a cage of unclean birds. We start to have a change of mind and see sin as sin. We no longer have a love for sin. That is the Porters first call. It is the first call of the gospel. It is the first call of the Holy Spirit.
When the multitudes came unto John's baptism on the basis of their circumcision covenant, he directed their attention to their need for repentance. When John the Baptist was in the wilderness, many multitudes came to him to be baptized. What did he say to them? In LUK 3:7-8 we read, "Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance."
He was the first porter and he called for repentance. He could not administer baptism or an admittance into the flock of Christ. He could not allow them to claim salvation without repentance. Baptism is a public profession that you have become dead to sin and alive to Christ, and until you have become dead to sin and alive to Christ, you are not a candidate for baptism. If your heart is still filled with a love of the world, if your heart is still filled with the things of this life, you have no place for Christ. If you have never heard the Porters voice or have never had the Porter open your heart, you have never heard the voice of Christ speaking effectually to your soul. You are not a candidate for baptism, and that is what he is saying here, "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance."
"And begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham," MAT 3:9. In other words, dont come and claim a right to baptism on the basis of Abrahams covenant. Dont try that. He says, I want to see repentance before you claim a candidacy for baptism. What he wanted, the first call, was the call of repentance. When the Holy Spirit comes and opens your heart for the gospel, you will hear the call to repentance.
Now, John taught how every person must examine their own heart based upon their personal circumstances to see wherein repentance is necessary. It is so important that we understand this principle. We cannot just come with a blanket term and say sins and miseries. No. No. No. What the Lord is teaching us here is that every person in his individual circumstances must identify his personal sin. Specific sin must be identified. We cannot use a shotgun approach and just talk about sins and miseries. We must identify as in, "Lord, I am a proud man. Humble my pride." That sin must be identified, and each person under his or her individual circumstances must identify their sins. Now, you see, every person has his own sins that he must deal with and must repent of considering their own circumstances.
I want you to follow very carefully what is being taught in LUK 3:10-14 so you understand the principle. "And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? [John the Baptist had said, "I want to see fruits worthy of repentance."] He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none." In other words, you who have the things of this life, impart to those who are in need. Now that is identifying a person in a given set of circumstances and a sin that he may be overlooking. Seeing the necessity of his fellow man and living in greed is one set of circumstances. Now, that doesnt pertain to everybody, but he said unto them, he that hath two coats, in other words, that person that this pertains to, dont forget that principle.
Verse 11 concludes, "And he that hath meat, let him do likewise." In other words, when you see somebody who is in want and you have the wherewithal to share, if you dont do it, you need repentance on that point. Now, we are identifying the sin. We are putting the cross hair of our rifle right on the heart of that given target. There is what you need to do.
Now John the Baptist goes into another sin in Verses 12-13. "Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you." In other words, dont be covetous of something that doesnt belong to you. Now, we have a different set of circumstances. A different person is in a different position. One person may be in a situation where he has to repent of this sin, and the next person may have a to repent of a different condition. So the Lord is telling us that each one must examine his or her heart. Wherein do we need to repent? That is the question. They said unto him, "Master, what shall we do?" In other words, wherein must I repent? In effect He says, "Well, you are a publican, a tax collector. Dont take any more than you are supposed to take." In other words, covetousness is a sin.
Next he is talking to the soldiers. "And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man." V: 14. I want you to notice that in every set of circumstances you and I could be exposed to an area of temptation. We need to examine that set of circumstances to see what temptation is, and we must repent if it pertains to our circumstances. We must use the law of love, doing unto others as we would that they do unto us. In LUK 6:31 Jesus said, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
Now, do you start to see when the porter opens? John the Baptist was that first porter who came to open the door of the heart that Christ might enter in. He said to the soldiers, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages," V: 14. Quite a thought isnt it. Are we content with our wages? The Lord gives us the necessities of this life. How many people are there who strive and who vex their soul to obtain more than what is needed for bread and for the comforts of this life? He says, "Be content with your wages." The Lord is coming as the Porter to open our understanding, then the voice of Christ will be heard. It is very important that we see these things.
So it is also when the Holy Spirit, as the "Porter" of Christ's sheep, opens the door of our hearts for Christ to enter in. He begins with the call for repentance upon our conscience. Our conscience now will identify the areas in which we must repent. When the Holy Spirit, the Porter, comes to open the door of our heart, our conscience will begin to identify the areas in which we must repent before we can expect Christ to enter in.
Until the "Porter" opens the door of our heart, even Jesus stands without. The Lord Jesus Christ stands there pleading and calling unto you and me as we see in REV 3:19-20. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. [Why?] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Until there is repentance, there is no entrance of Christ. Do you see how important it is that we repent?
The Shepherd will enter in at the door. He doesnt climb up any other way. He will enter in at the door that has been opened by the Porter, and until that door has been opened by the Porter, the Lord Jesus Christ stands outside. He says, "I stand at the door, and knock." Now, how many hard knocks do we need before the door is opened? How many hard knocks do we need before we can understand that it is Jesus who is knocking? It is quite a thought isnt it? He is knocking on our door. He says, "If any man hear my voice." As the Porter opens the door of the heart He says, "Open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." The Lord Jesus says He will sup with us. He will come into our heart and He will dine with us. He will feed us with the fat things of His Word. He will give us the blessed nearness of His presence when the door is opened. The door cannot open until there is repentance. He says, "I stand at the door, and knock," but before that He says, "Be zealous therefore and repent," REV 3:19.
Our text not only speaks of Christ as the true Shepherd of His flock, but also of the under-shepherds. Our text also speaks of the under-shepherds, that is, Christ's true ministers who have the call of the Spirit, who have not tried to climb up by any other way. How are you going to identify those who are the true, sent ministers of Christ? Where do they begin? Do they omit repentance? The Lord sent John the Baptist before the Lord Jesus Christ to open the door of the heart and where did he begin? Repent. The Lord wants our heart. The Lord has no pleasure in a compulsory service. The Lord has no pleasure in you and I doing His orders if it is not with a perfect delight to do His pleasure. The Lord wants our heart, and if we climb up any other way, we are not the true shepherds of the flock.
I want you to see the message in ACT 14:27. "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles." I cannot give you Christ. The Porter must open the door. The Holy Spirit opens the heart, and the under-shepherds of the flock who are faithful to the Word hear the voice of Christ. When those who climb up some other way and they start proclaiming their private interpretations of the Word, they are not the true shepherds of the flock. They are trying to get you into Christ some other way. They are trying to by-pass repentance. They are trying to open a different door.
In 1CO 16:9 it says how He had opened the door of faith. "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." I want you to understand it is an effectual door. It is the effectual call of the gospel that is effectual to your salvation; that effectual call of the gospel begins with the word repent. He was showing is that there are many adversaries to the gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ was giving this parable to show the distinction between the adversaries of the gospel and the true Shepherd of the gospel.
Look at 2CO 2:12; "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord." The Lord opens the door. You and I can go out and witness to the whole world without the Holy Spirit opening the door of the heart, and there would be no fruit in it. It is the Lord who opens the door. In COL 4:3-4 we read, "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."
Now there is another point. When we talk about the under-shepherds, whom Christ has sent, I dont preach something that the denomination handed down where they said, "This is what you preach on and these are your points and this is what you say." I have explained to you before and this is so true, every time I leave the pulpit, I have to say that that barrel of meal has been fully exhausted. The cruse of oil is empty, and I am nothing but an empty vessel, but every time the Lord again restores. It says here a door of utterance must be opened unto me, "to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." It is also the Holy Spirit who opens that door. That door of utterance is essential because I would stand here speechless if the Holy Spirit didnt unfold His Word for me.
Now, these teachings of Christ's under-shepherds are recognized as being from God, as they bring out the Word of God. When it is the Word of Truth that is brought forward, it is indeed the voice of Jesus Christ. Now, the sheep can hear the voice of Christ. It is that voice of Christ that the flock hears and comes out to feed in those green pastures of His Word.
In JOH 10:4-5 we read, "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." Do you know what this is telling us? They will not come out of that sheepfold until it is the voice of Christ they hear, and there is only one way they are going to hear the voice of Christ. It is out of the Word of God. It is not by any private interpretation. It is not by me telling you what I believe. It is when I preach: "Thus saith the Lord."
It is as the Word of Truth unfolds that Christ is formed you, and therein we learn to see how He goes before us in all our temptations and trials. It is as the Word of God is unfolded before us that we start to see the footsteps of our Saviour going before us in all our trials and in all our temptations that we go through in this life. It is the Word of God that shows us how in LUK 22:28-29, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me."
We learn through all the trials that we go through to see that it is Christ who is out before us. We see that we are with Him in His temptations and that He is with us in our temptations. Then we start to learn to understand He has appointed unto us a kingdom. Now, we start to look beyond this veil of tears, for that blessed kingdom that He has prepared, "as My Father has appointed unto me."
When the Porter opens our eye of faith to see the foot prints of our Saviour in the path we are called upon to tread, then we learn to realize the truth of what we read in our text, "he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." As He leads, we are able to see His footprints. I have found in my own experience so often that when I come to my wits end, then the Holy Spirit opens my understanding and I see that I am following in the foot steps of Christ. Then He takes those precious things of Christ and lays them out before our eyes of faith, and we see that we are only following in His footsteps. He calleth His own by name and leadeth them out. Then we learn to understand that the Lord prepared the trial for us.
In 1PE 2:21 we read, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps." So it is also with those under-shepherds whom the Spirit has called. You should be able to follow their footsteps. If they are not living according to what they are preaching, youve got a problem.
Now consider PHI 3:14-18; "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me [that word followers means co-imitators of Christ.], and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [If our under-shepherds are not an example, we cant follow them.] For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
Our text says in JOH 10:2-3, "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." Amen.
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