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The Other Sheep

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The Other Sheep

November 16, 2008

John 10:14-18

 

I’ve often joked about being dumb sheep, haven’t I? Well today we finally arrive in John 10 where Jesus calls us His sheep. We’ll see from the Scripture how the image of sheep is used by Jesus. But before we start, I want to read “Return to God” That is the theme of the July 5th devotional from Experiencing God Day-by-Day. Here is what Henry Blackaby had to say: In Zechariah 1:3 we read:

“So tell the people: This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Return to Me”—[this is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts—“and I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts.”

God places much of the burden of what we will become on our response to Him. If we have drifted from God, His call is to return to Him. God promises that if we will return, He will immediately renew His relationship with us. James 4:8 promises that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. Matthew 7:7 guarantees that if we seek Christ, we will find Him. Much of the Christian life rests upon our response and our desire to experience God to the fullest.

Why is it that some Christians seem to go so much deeper in their walk with God than others? Why have some had such powerful intercessory prayer ministries that have changed the courses of nations? Why has God chosen to anoint the words of some so that, when they speak or pray or preach, it is obvious that their words are consecrated by God? It is because these individuals have committed themselves to pursue God until His presence is powerfully real in their lives. They have decided to settle for nothing less than a vibrant relationship with God, and He has honored their desire.

Have you become complacent with your relationship with God, or are you hungering for more? Don't become satisfied with a relationship with God that is broken by sin and void of the power of the Holy Spirit. You have just as much of God's powerful presence available to you as the greatest saint in Christian history! Return to God. There is so much more in store for you if you will return to Him. He awaits your response. As the chosen sheep of His pasture let’s see what Christ has for us today.

Please turn in your Bible to John, chapter 10 and follow along as I read starting with verse 14. I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

I want us to focus on verse 16 because it is such a clear statement of the authority and power of Christ to multiply his church. Jesus says,  I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. Today I’ll show you how this statement is related to our calling to evangelize our world. But before I do, I want to set the scene. The sheep scene!

Let's clarify some of Jesus' terms here. He says, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold." "This fold" refers to the fold of Israel. Christ was sent by God first to Israel. That’s where His ministry started, but by no means did it end there! He is saying that he has sheep that are among the Gentiles, the nations. They are not Jews. They do not belong to the Jewish fold. Jesus said, “I begin gathering my sheep from the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; 10:5–6). “But I have sheep that are not in Israel which I must gather also.” That’s a good thing for us isn’t it? For if the words of Jesus were for only Israel, where would that leave us?  

But he also clarifies that not all Jews are his sheep. Some are and some aren't. When Jesus says in verse 15, "I am the good shepherd; and I know my own, and my own know me," he was implying that some sheep (in this fold) are Christ's and some are not. This is pretty much the same image that we have in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31–46). Some are His, some are not! Notice this more clearly in verses 3b–4 of John chapter 10: He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.  . . . he calls HIS OWN sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them. And how does He identify His own? Look at verse 14: I am the good shepherd; I know MY OWN and MY OWN know me. His own are those who know Him. And the same is true today. If your truly KNOW Him, the you are His own and He knows you. That is why Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Isaiah 43:10 says we are to know Him – that’s what He chose us for: to know Him. We only have relationships with those we know well.

So, not all the people in the fold of Israel belonged to Christ. Some were his sheep. Some were not. Look what Paul wrote in Romans 9:6, "Not all those from Israel are Israel."  

Now this raises the question: How is it that some sheep inside the fold of Israel are not Christ's sheep and some people outside the fold of Israel are Christ's sheep?

The answer is that God has chosen some people from Israel and some from the nations; And these are his sheep. He then gives them to his Son. You can see this clearly in John 17:6. Jesus says to his Father, "I have told these men about you. They were in the world, but then you gave them to me. Actually, they were always yours, and you gave them to me; and they have kept your word.

So before the disciples came to Jesus, they belonged to God. God had chosen them. This is the deepest reason why the sheep come to Christ. It's even clearer in John 6:37, All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.

Those who come to Jesus come because they have been given to Jesus by the Father. They were his by his design and choice, and they come to Jesus because they are God's own. (See 6:39, 44, 65; 17:9, 24; 18:9.) 

Be sure you see the staggering implication of these verses. God chose us. He gave us to Jesus. They are designed to fill us with hope that Christ will multiply his church triumphantly. "All that the Father gives me will come to me." And these verses are designed to humble us and nullify all our presumption that we could have or would have ever come to Christ on our own. Look at verse 27 in John 10: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Why did you recognize the voice of Jesus when he called you? Because you were his sheep. It's not the other way around.

Being one of Christ's sheep enables you to recognize your shepherd and respond to his call. But responding to his call does not make you one of his sheep, you already are one of his sheep, chosen by the Father. You come to the Son because the Father gives you to the Son. In John 6:44 & 65 As it is written in the Scriptures, `They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me. Then he said, "That is what I meant when I said that people can't come to me unless the Father brings them to me."

That is the startling thing about this chapter. It reveals to us the presumption that the final determination of our life lies in our own power. In John 10:24 unbelievers were demanding of Jesus that he tell them plainly who he is. Jesus said in verse 25 that he had already told them plainly enough. So why hadn't they believed? Listen to Jesus' answer in verse 26: You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.

Make sure you get the order right here. He does not say, "You are not my sheep, because you do not believe." He says, "You do not believe because you are not my sheep." The final boast of unbelief is destroyed by the sovereignty of God to choose his sheep before they believe, according to his own grace and wisdom.  As 2 Timothy 1:9 says: It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began—to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus.

 Now on the basis of that great free and sovereign grace consider how full of hope verse 16 is for our mission as a church. "I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also; and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd." "I am God Almighty, be fruitful and multiply" rings powerfully from this verse.

John 10:16: A Basis For Hopeful Evangelism

Start with these words: "I have other sheep that are not of this fold." Christ has people in the world besides those already converted—other people besides us. There will always be people who argue that the doctrine of God's sovereignty over the will of man makes local evangelism and foreign missions unnecessary. If God chooses his sheep before they believe, why evangelize the lost in Saskatchewan?  But the fact is, the sovereignty of God over the wills of men doesn't make evangelism unnecessary; it makes it hopeful.

John Alexander, a former president of Inter-Varsity said in a message at Urbana '67, "At the beginning of my missionary career I said that if predestination were true I could not be a missionary. Now after 20 years of struggling with the hardness of the human heart, I say I could never be a missionary unless I believed in the doctrine of predestination." It gives hope that Christ most certainly has a people among the nations. "I have other sheep."

There are numerous motives for pressing on in evangelism in Saskatchewan and among the nations—for persevering and pleading and preaching and praying for the lost. One of them is the confidence that God has other sheep, and they will respond. It was precisely this truth that encouraged the apostle Paul when he was downcast in Corinth.

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9–10) He was saying to Paul; "I have other sheep that are not of this fold." It is a promise full of hope for those who dream about pressing on in evangelism here and about new fields of missionary labor.

Here's another evidence of this hope-filled purpose of Christ to gather other sheep into his fold. Look at John 11:51–52. Caiaphas, the high priest, has given a prophecy which John now interprets like this: He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Christ died to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. These scattered children "other sheep that are not of this fold." World evangelizationis the ingathering of the children of God—that is, the finding and saving of the "other sheep" that are not of this fold.

As we just read, John 11:52 says Jesus died to gather into one the scattered children of God. John 10:15 says, Jesus laid down his life for the sheep Gathering in the sheep of God is as positive and sure as the blood of Christ is precious to the Father.

Another encouragement in John 10:16 that our evangelism will not be in vain is that the Lord himself has promised to bring his lost sheep home. He promises to do it. "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also; they will hear my voice." HE will bring them. They will hear HIS voice. But how? How today, when Jesus is not physically here? How will Jesus voice be heard? Ahh! Now we come to your part!

The answer is: through your word. And through His people. As the Father sent the Son to seek and to save the lost, so the Son sends his people. The key verse is found in Jesus' prayer in John 17:20, "I do not pray for these [his disciples] only but also for those who believe in me through their word." "Through their word!"

This is the text that everyone has to deal with who would say, "Well, if Christ calls his own sheep and if Christ gathers the children of God, and if the sheep and the children are already chosen, then we don't need to spread the gospel." The simple fact is Jesus uses us to call his sheep and gather God's children.

Just as Jesus called his sheep with his own lips in Palestine, so he still calls them today with our lips, and in hearing the gospel message they hear his voice and follow him. 1 John 4:6 tells us But we belong to God; that is why those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.  He does it. But not without us!

This is the wonder of the gospel message. When it is spoken truthfully in the power of the Spirit, it is not merely the word of man. It is the word of God! In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 we read And we will never stop thanking God that when we preached his message to you, you didn't think of the words we spoke as being just our own. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it was. And this word continues to work in you who believe. And in Romans 10:18, But what about the Jews? Have they actually heard the message? Yes, they have: "The message of God's creation has gone out to everyone, and its words to all the world."

In other words even today it is just as true as it was in Jesus day, "My sheep hear MY voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). It is Christ who calls people through  the gospel. It is Christ who gathers. We are only ambassadors speaking in his stead. So we can take heart: all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Son of God and he declares, "I must bring in my other sheep." He will do it. "I am God almighty, be fruitful and multiply." He is the One who has the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

Which implies one brief, word of confidence from the text: if he brings them, they will come! Verse 16: "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and THEY WILL HEED MY VOICE." None of Christ's sheep reject his word. He allows some of his sheep to resist the word for a long time. But never do they reject it. Isn’t that a great relief for us? When we plant the good seed of the gospel message, He causes the increase (1 Cor 3:6-9). When we water the good seed that someone else has planted, Hw will make it grow. They will heed His voice!

One of the hardest things in the world to unlearn is exclusiveness. Once a people gets the idea that they are specially privileged, it is very difficult for them to accept that the privileges which they believed belonged to them and to them only are in fact open to all men. That is what the Jews never learned. They believed they were God's chosen people and that God had no use for any other nation. They believed, at the best, other nations were designed to be their slaves, and, at the worst, they were destined for elimination. But here Jesus is saying that there will come a day when all men will know him as their shepherd. God is not exclusive. He is inclusive!

Even the Old Testament is not without its glimpses of that day. Isaiah had that very dream. It was his conviction that God had given Israel for a light to the nations (Isa 42:6; Isa 49:6; Isa 56:8). God was not the exclusive property of Israel, but Israel’s destiny was to make God known to all men, to be the light for ll the nations.

At first sight it might seem that the New Testament speaks with two voices on this subject of inclusiveness; and some passages of the New Testament may well trouble and perplex us a little. As Matthew tells the story, when Jesus sent out his disciples, he said to them: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 10:5-6). When the Syro-Phoenician woman appealed to Jesus for help in Matthew 15:24, his first answer was that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Sounds pretty exclusive doesn’t it? But there is much to be said on the other side of this issue. Jesus himself stayed and taught in Samaria (Jn 4:40); he declared that descent from Abraham was no guarantee of entry into the kingdom (Jn 8:39). It was of a Roman centurion that Jesus said that he had never seen such faith in Israel (Matt 8:10); it was a Samaritan leper who alone returned to give thanks (Lk 17:18-19); it was the Samaritan traveller who showed the kindness that all men must copy (Lk 10:37); many would come from the east and the west and the north and the south to sit down in the Kingdom of God (Matt 8:11; Lk 13:29); the command in the end was to go out and to preach the gospel to all nations (Mk 16:15; Matt 28:19); Jesus was, not the light of the Jews, but the light of the world (Jn 8:12).

What is the explanation of the Scriptures which seem to limit the work of Jesus to the Jews? The explanation is in reality very simple. The ultimate aim of Jesus was the world for God. But as any great commander knows he must in the limit his first objectives. If he tries to attack on too wide a front, he only scatters his forces, diffuses his strength, and gains success nowhere. In order to win an ultimately complete victory he must begin by concentrating his forces in one place. That is what Jesus did. Had he gone here, there and everywhere, had he sent his disciples out with no limitation to their sphere of work, nothing would have been achieved. He deliberately concentrated on the Jewish nation at the beginning of His ministry, but his ultimate aim was the gathering of the whole world into his love.

There are three great truths in this passage.

First, it is only in Jesus Christ that the world can become one. Egerton Young was the first missionary to the First Nations people. In Saskatchewan he went out and told them of the love of God. To the people it was like a new revelation. When the missionary had told his message, an old chief said: "When you spoke of the great Spirit just now, did I hear you say, 'Our Father'?" "Yes," said Egerton Young. "That is very new and sweet to me," said the chief. "We never thought of the great Spirit as Father. We heard him in the thunder; we saw him in the lightning, the tempest and the blizzard, and we were afraid. So when you tell us that the great Spirit is our Father, that is very beautiful to us." The old man paused, and then he went on, as a glimpse of glory suddenly shone on him. "Missionary, did you say that the great Spirit is your Father?" "Yes," said the missionary. "And," said the chief, "did you say that he is our Father too' Father?" "I did," said the missionary. "Then," said the old chief, like a man on whom a dawn of joy had burst, "you and I are brothers!"

The only possible unity for men is in their common sonship with God. In the world there is division between nations; in nations there is division between class and class. The only thing which can cross the barriers and wipe out the distinctions is the gospel of Jesus Christ telling men of the inclusive  fatherhood of God.

The second great truth comes after  "There shall be one flock". It is even better, There shall be one shepherd." The unity is not that all the sheep are in one fold, but that they have one Shepherd. They all hear, answer and obey the one shepherd, Jesus Christ. The fact that there is one flock does not mean that there can be only one Church, one method of worship, one form of ecclesiastical administration. But it does mean that all the different churches are united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd. One flock! One Shepherd!

 Now for the third truth from John 10:16
This is where Jesus becomes very personal; for it is a vision which each one of us can help Jesus to realize. Men cannot hear without a preacher; the other sheep cannot be gathered in unless someone goes out to bring them in. Here is set before us the tremendous missionary task of the Church. And we must not think of that only as foreign missions. If we know someone here and now who is outside Christ’s love, we can gather him or her for Christ. The vision of Christ depends on us; it is we who can help him make the world one flock with him as its shepherd. As Mark 16:15-16 states: And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. And Matthew 28:19 & 20: Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

My purpose this morning has been mainly to give you encouragement and hope to press on confidently in the great work of personal evangelism, but I close with a word to those who are not yet believing. If you say, after, how shall I know if I am one of Christ's sheep, or one of the children of God scattered abroad, the answer is: Do you hear the voice of your Shepherd? I speak on behalf of the Good Shepherd this morning:  Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest; I lay down my life for all who come; I welcome all who come; I give you eternal life and you shall never perish, and no one shall snatch you out of my hand.

Do you hear his voice? Do you recognize your Savior and Master and Friend? If you do, you will come. I began this morning with a Henry Blackaby devotional called “Return to God” and I want to end with repeating part of it. Have you become complacent with your relationship with God, or are you hungering for more? Don't become satisfied with a relationship with God that is broken by sin and void of the power of the Holy Spirit. You have just as much of God's powerful presence available to you as the greatest saint in Christian history! Return to God. There is so much more in store for you if you will return to Him. He awaits your response. As the chosen sheep of His pasture let’s see what Christ has for us today. I urge you: Come, return to God!

As we conclude, consider these words from John 4:35 : Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest. Look around, the fields are ripe for harvest; the need for Savior has never been more acute! So, turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and follow along as I read: I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. What did I just read? This is the gospel of Jesus Christ! This is what we need to share with our family friends and neighbors. This plus our story, our testimony of our life before Christ, how we received Christ, and the difference it has made in our life. Oh yes, we need to love them too! Otherwise our message doesn’t mean much!

And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to him. Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting covenant, signed with his blood. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
                                                                                        

 Let’s pray:  Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus, we pray that you would grant to us all boldness as we share your Word. We pray that we would have freedom to open our mouths to boldly proclaim the mystery of the good news of the Gospel – that we would declare it boldly as we should.

Father, I believe that we have already received that boldness now in the name of Jesus. Therefore, we have boldness to enter into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus. Because of our faith in Jesus, we dare to have the courage and confidence of free access to Your throne – an unreserved approach to You with freedom and without fear. We can draw fearlessly and confidently and boldly near to your throne of grace and receive mercy and find grace to help for our every need.

We will be bold toward Satan, demons, evil spirits. Sickness, disease, and poverty for Jesus is the Head of all rule and authority – of every principalilty and power. Disarming those who were ranged against us, Jesus made a bold display and public example of triumphing over them. Thank you that we can say, “Satan you are a defeated foe, for our Jesus reigns.

You are our Helper, we will not be afraid. What can man do to us? We can be bold as lions for we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! We are complete in Him! Praise the name of Jesus!   Amen.                                                                         

 

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