Gospel of John OKC

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The Scripture we are looking at this morning has been misinterpreted and misapplied over and over again throughout history with devastating and misleading consequences. That’s why we are going to spend some time taking a look at it this morning. The tragedy is that this section of God’s Word offers for us some of the most powerful evidence of God’s Sovereign plan for His people, a plan that has been unfolding throughout history. I’m convinced that by the time we finish here this morning that you will be blown away by the Father’s love for you and all of His people. Let’s read our Scripture and then we’ll get started.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father– and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. (John 10:14-17 NIV)

Before we take a look at what Jesus was teaching, let’s first take a look at some of the ways Jesus’ words have been misinterpreted, manipulated, and misapplied. The first misapplication I want to highlight for us is found in John 10:16 where Jesus said, “…and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” We can understand what Jesus meant when He spoke these words, and we will understand it before we leave here this morning. Jesus’ words have been manipulated and misapplied by those who want to claim that their group or church is the “true church,” the only receptacle of truth, and the only path to God. There have been many movements throughout history that have made this claim. Some of those leaders and groups have made it pretty obvious that they were way, way out in left field. You may have heard of Rev. Jim Jones and the People’s Temple or David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco. Koresh and Jones held themselves up to be the true shepherd and their followers the one true flock. Other groups, denominations, and leaders aren’t quite as brazen in their claims, but if you listen long enough you will learn that they believe they have something the rest of the followers of Jesus don’t. They may acknowledge that there are other churches, but they are the one true church and their followers are the true flock of God. I want to encourage you to do something. If, at any point in your life, you are part of a fellowship of believers and the leaders claim to know something about God that nobody else knows or they claim that their group or church is the one true church of God, you need to get away from that leader and that group as quickly as possible. “One flock and one shepherd.” We’ll talk more about what Jesus meant by that phrase in just a minute, but I wanted to show you how leaders and groups have misused that phrase to manipulate well-intentioned people throughout time.

I want to show you one other phrase from our Scripture for this morning that has been misinterpreted by groups and leaders. Take a look at the phrase, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.” You may have had Mormon elders stop by your house and offer you, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Joseph Smith, the Founder of Mormonism, and all Mormons today believe that Jesus, after His resurrection, visited the Nephites in the Americas and these are the people Jesus was referring to when He said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.” More than one hundred years ago, James E. Talmage, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, wrote,

The ‘other sheep’ here referred to constituted the separated flock or remnant of the house of Joseph, who, six centuries prior to the birth of Christ, had been miraculously detached from the Jewish fold in Palestine, and had been taken beyond the great deep to the American continent. (Jesus the Christ, p.419).

I hope I don’t need to tell you that this is a misinterpretation of John 10:16. It is so important for you and me to study God’s Word, the whole counsel of God’s Word, or we will find ourselves falling under the sway of those who speak with conviction and passion, but who are so wrong about God’s Word. Let me give you just one more example of the misinterpretation of the phrase, “I have sheep that are not of this sheep pen.”

Many of you are probably familiar with the Jehovah Witnesses. They are the people who visit your house and offer to drop off material from The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Their understanding is quite different from the Mormons, but it’s still way out in left field. The Jehovah Witnesses believe that there’s a group of 144,000 people, those Jesus called, “the little flock,” who will rule with Him in heaven. In addition to the 144,000 there are the “sheep of another fold.” In the book, “The Fine Shepherd and the Sheepfolds,” we read,

Since the “other sheep” are “not of this fold,” they must be of another fold, a third one. These last two folds, or pens of sheep, have different destinies. The “little flock” in one fold will rule with Christ in heaven, and the “other sheep” in the other fold will live on the Paradise earth. Yet, despite being in two folds, the sheep have no jealousy, nor do they feel segregated, for as Jesus says, they “become one flock” under “one shepherd.” (The Fine Shepherd and the Sheepfolds. Chapter 80)

It needs to be said that this teaching of the Jehovah Witnesses wasn’t established by Charles Taze Russell, the Founder of the Jehovah Witnesses. There was no need for any extra space in eternity as long as the Jehovah Witnesses had less than 144,000 members. Once their membership grew beyond the 144,000 they had to make room for the additional members in eternity. Judge Joseph Rutherford took over as President once Charles Taze Russell died in 1916 and he created the necessary space for the growing membership of the Jehovah Witnesses on “Paradise earth.”

The Word of God is not something we toy with, interpret to fit our own program or selfish interests, or treat casually. It is the Word of God and it is imperative that you and I prayerfully seek to understand the original intent of the authors who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. With that said, let’s take a look at this powerful lesson for us today. Let’s read our Scripture again.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father– and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. (John 10:14-17 NIV)

As we’ve been studying John 10 we’ve identified the Shepherd of the sheep—He is Jesus. His “sheep” are those who hear His voice and follow Him. Today, I want us to focus on verse 16 where Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Before we can identify the “other sheep” we need to first identify the sheep that are of “this sheep pen.” “This sheep pen” is without a doubt the sheep pen of Judaism.

Throughout the Old Testament, God calls Israel His flock. The leaders over God’s flock were called His shepherds. God sent His Messiah, Jesus our Savior, first to the flock of Israel to declare the Good News of His salvation. When Jesus began His ministry, it was a ministry first to the Israelites. When He was speaking to a Canaanite woman who asked Him to heal her daughter, Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24 NIV) Jesus did heal her daughter, but we are reminded as we listen in to their conversation that Jesus came first to the Jews.

There were Jews who heard the Shepherd’s voice and followed Him out of the sheep pen of Judaism. All of Jesus’ disciples, except maybe Luke, were Jewish. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were Jewish believers. In John 12:11 we read that “many of the Jews were going over to follow Jesus and believing in him.” Jesus’ first ministry was to the Jews. When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples, He gave them strict instructions. Turn to Matthew 10:5-7 and let’s read together.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ (Matthew 10:5-7 NIV)

The Apostle Paul, when he wrote to the brothers and sisters in Rome, made it clear that the Gospel was first for the Jews and then for the Gentiles. Paul wrote,

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16 NIV)

I mentioned at the beginning of our study that I believe this section of Scripture will encourage you like crazy when you come to recognize the Sovereign plan of God that has unfolded throughout history. So many people today will characterize the Old Testament as God’s history of the Chosen People of Israel and the New Testament as God’s story of redemption through Jesus which birthed the Church, the Body of Christ. I want you to know that even though the Old Testament is the story of God’s Covenant with Israel, the Gentiles, you and me, were already part of God’s plan. Turn with me to Isaiah 42:6-7 and let me show you what I’m talking about.

6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6-7 NIV)

This is a prophecy of what the Messiah would do when He came. He would be a light for the Gentiles. That, my friend, is a thought that would have never even entered the mind of any of God’s Chosen People. The Gentiles, you and me, were beyond the reach of God’s grace in their minds. Let’s look at one more prophecy while we are in Isaiah. Turn with me to Isaiah 49:5-6.

5 And now the LORD says– he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength– 6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:5-6 NIV)

What’s really interesting about this Scripture from Isaiah is that the Apostle Paul quoted this text while he was preaching in Pisidian Antioch, in Acts 13:46-47. The Jews there rejected the Gospel and Paul told them, “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” (Act 13:46 NIV)

Who are the “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen?” That would be the Gentiles. What’s really interesting is that the mission to the Gentiles had not even begun and yet Jesus said, “I have other sheep…I must bring them also.” Jesus didn’t say, “I will have” or “I hope to have,” He said, “I have other sheep.” Those other sheep were Gentile believers who the Lord already knew even though they didn’t know Him.

As I’ve been thinking about this during the week it reminded me of another story that I read in Acts 18. Paul had left Athens and traveled to Corinth. He was just starting his ministry there and was facing opposition by some of the Jews, probably made worse by the fact that Crispus, a synagogue leader, became a follower of Jesus. Then one night the Lord spoke to Paul. Listen to this.

9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9-10 NIV)

Jesus said, “I have many people in this city.” Not, “I will have many people as a result of your ministry,” but “I have many people in this city.” There is a truth that is shared in God’s Word over and over again, but which we do not hear much about today because people don’t want to hear it, because it makes some people uncomfortable, and because we have that pioneering spirit that has convinced us that if it is going to get done we are going to have to do it. The teaching I’m referring to is what the Bible calls, “Predestination, Election, or the Sovereignty of God in Salvation.” The reason why this teaching has fallen on such hard times is because people immediately draw their conclusions without ever having studied God’s Word on the subject. The immediate reaction I’ve heard from many people is, “Well, that’s not fair. Why would God choose some and not choose others?” If the Bible is correct in saying that “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), that we were “enemies of God” (Romans 5:10), are at “enmity with God” (Romans 8:7), hostile towards God, and “dead in our sins” (Ephesians 2:1), then the better question is, “Why would God choose any of us?” The other question that I like to ask folks who bristle at the thought that God chooses is this, “How do you know God has not chosen you?” The Bible says,

9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

There has never been any greater proponent of the Sovereignty of God in salvation than Jesus. Over and over again He spoke about God’s Sovereignty to those in His day. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44 NIV) A little earlier in John 6, Jesus announced,

37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. (John 6:37-39 NIV)

I’ve shared with you before that when I was in college I use to speak at FCA gatherings. I would give my testimony of what my life was like before I “found” Christ and then share with them the difference He had made in my life. Somewhere down the road I had an epiphany, I realized that I didn’t find Jesus, He found me. He wasn’t the one that was lost, I was. In my lost state, doing my own thing, living for no one but myself, the Lord came and rescued me, reconciled me to the Father, and redeemed my life. He had known me all along even though I didn’t know Him. You can only imagine the joy that filled my heart when I read what happened to Jeremiah while he was just a kid and minding his own business. Jeremiah tells us,

4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5 NIV)

Just as God knew Jeremiah—God knows you. He has His hand on your life. The Shepherd who left the ninety-nine to go looking for the one lost sheep has been on your trail all of your life. You can continue wandering in the wilderness, closing your ears to His call to “come home,” or you can fall into His arms of grace and mercy this morning. Isn’t it mind-boggling to think that the God of the Universe, the Holy God who spoke Creation into being, is seeking you and me? Why would He love me so? You who have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I want you to know He loves you just as much. He wants you to recognize His love and fall into His arms of grace this morning.

Before we leave I want to address another question that I often hear from those who are followers of Jesus, but wonder if God’s Sovereignty means that we don’t need to share our faith. In John 17:18 and John 20:21 Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Isn’t it remarkable that Jesus would hand you and me the baton and send us into the world to share His message of grace, mercy, and forgiveness with the world?! Jesus has sheep that are not of “this” fold who are still out there wandering, searching for something even though they have no idea what, looking even though they have no idea who they are looking for, and we have been given the great and glorious ministry of going to them.

A correct understanding of the salvation and Sovereignty of God, the command to “Go!,” and the reality that there are sheep who are not of this fold has inspired some of the greatest ministries the world has ever known. Paul, though a Jew, spent his life sharing the Gospel with Gentiles. The great Puritan preacher John Eliot, born in England in 1601, heard the call to go and search for the sheep that were not of his particular fold. He spent his life teaching, preaching, and loving the Algonquin Indians in Massachusetts. Hudson Taylor was born in England, but he heard Jesus say, “I must bring them also” as a call to go to China where he would spend his life calling the Savior’s sheep. William Carey heard the call to “Go!” and went to India, David Livingston, to inland Africa. George Mueller heard the call to stay in the city where he had been and care for the orphans of Bristol, to share with them the Good News of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. During his life he started orphan homes that cared for more than 10,000 children, he started 117 schools to give kids who couldn’t afford an education the best Christian education possible. More than 120,000 kids were educated at one of Mueller’s schools. At the same time that he was caring for orphans, George Mueller pastored the same church for 66 years. Mueller died on March 10, 1898 at the age of 92. He had preached three times a week from 1830-1898; more than 10,000 sermons! I could go on and on sharing example after example with you of people who were convinced that it wasn’t enough that they had been made a part of the Shepherds flock while there were still other sheep out there roaming and wandering like sheep without a shepherd.

I don’t know whether the Lord has called you to stay in Oklahoma City or travel to the ends of the earth, but I do know that when Jesus was speaking about the sheep who were yet to know Him that it was His plan for you and me to go. You may ask, “Where should I go?” You can begin where you are. In your home, in your neighborhood, where you work, go to school, wherever you are pray for the Lord to use you to share His Good News with others. You can go with the confidence of knowing that Jesus’ sheep will know His voice and they will follow Him. It’s not within our power to convert the lost, but it is our responsibility to go.

Remember, Jesus said we will be one flock under one Shepherd. New sheep are being added to the flock every day. They are coming from the Jews and Gentiles. They are men, women, boys, and girls. They are people from every walk of life. They are from every nation on the planet. They speak every language known to humanity. As the Lord sends His servants they come and one glorious day, I don’t know when it will be, but I know that day is closer now than ever before. One day all of God’s people will gather around His throne. We can get a glimpse of what that day will be like when we read Revelation 7:9-10, where John wrote,

9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10 NIV)

Can you imagine? That pictures moves me to want to go and invite everyone I know to receive the gift of salvation and follow the Good Shepherd. How about you? You’re not here by accident this morning. The Lord has brought you to this place for just such a time as this. Won’t you invite Jesus into your heart this morning?

 

Mike Hays

Britton Christian Church

922 NW 91st

OKC, OK. 73114

August 9, 2015

 

 

 

 

One Shepherd. One Flock.
John 10:14-17
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