Posts Tagged ‘Good Shepherd’

John 10:1-10

1″I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

It’s a world of liars and thieves out there. Sometimes it’s hard to tell one from the other. Who should we listen to? Whom should we follow? How can we tell the difference between the good ones and the bad ones? Jesus begins, he says, by telling us the truth. From that point we can gather a lot of information. First, it means he is not telling us a lie. Second, he is putting his statement out for anyone to test. Third, and this is perhaps the most significant, he tells us the truth about ourselves. We, I hate to say it, are not a very pretty lot. There is a lot that he says about us in this Gospel. We are not sights for sore eyes. We are, actually, quite a pathetic group of people—something akin to sheep. Perhaps we would rather not hear the truth about ourselves. Jesus said that people hated him because he told the truth. I don’t suppose us moderns are any more interested in hearing that the things we are inclined to do are evil, worthy of hell, and cost Jesus his life. Nah. Who wants to hear that? If we do, we might be accountable for what we have heard.

And we live in an age where the only god we answer to lives inside our shoes: Me. Sadly, this is the sort of preaching that is being done today as well. There is a large movement going on inside the church right now, being headed up by ‘Executive Pastors’, that is designed to eliminate any such preaching of the truth; that is, the Jesus of Scripture. This takes many different forms. It takes the form of preachers who are more interested in teaching a sort psychological gospel. It takes the form of preachers who want to preach a watered down Gospel that includes no call for repentance from sin, not facing up to the fact of God’s impending judgment, not pointing to the Holiness and Righteousness of God. Instead, we have preachers, indeed entire denominations, repressing the truth, exchanging the truth of God for lies, and actually approving of those who sin.

But all those who are not Jesus are liars and thieves, robbers, mere hirelings who care nothing about the sheep and only about themselves. And all those shepherds who do not follow in His footsteps are liars, thieves, robbers, and hirelings. They have no share in the Righteousness of God. Yet these are the ones we seem inclined to entrust ourselves to, to follow, to listen to. As we will see in chapter 18 of John, we sheep are much more interested in listening to the lie than we are the truth. Sad lot we are!

Take this example:

The largest Lutheran body in the nation caused a stir Saturday after controversially deciding not to punish homosexual clergy who are in sexual relationships.

At its annual assembly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) passed by a vote of 538-431 a resolution urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in “faithful committed same-gender relationships”.

A day earlier, attendees voted down a measure that would have ended a ban on non-celibate gay clergy. Saturday’s vote, however, means those who violate that policy can no longer be tried or punished.

“The Church … has just said ‘Do not do punishments’. That is huge,” commented Phil Soucy, spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a gay-lesbian rights group within ELCA.

The 4.8-million member church body had previously allowed gays to serve as pastors, but only under the condition that they abstained from any sexual relations. (From www.christianpost.com, http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070812/28866_Lutherans_Urged_Not_to_Punish_Gay_Clergy_in_%27Faithful%27_Relationships.htm)

There is a picture accompanying this article. It shows those members who are voting on this issue in prayer, praying. One must wonder, after such a decision has been reached, to what or whom these people were actually praying. They were not praying to the God of Scripture who opposes sin at every possible instance. Thankfully, there was some sense spoken:

The Rev. Mark Chavez, leader of Lutheran CORE, a group that says non-celibate gays should not serve as pastors, called the decision “tragic.”

“This decision will be an excuse for bishops to disobey ELCA policy,” he said. “This decision does not reflect the will of the people, but of bishops and clergy who disregard God’s word.”

Jesus said that his sheep would never listen to or obey the voice of a stranger. The sheep ‘will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.’ Is this only so clear to me? What is going on in the church? What is going on in the Body of Christ when people start condoning sin? Just exactly whose voice are these people listening to because it is not the voice of the Jesus of Scripture!

Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” There’s only one gate. His Name is Jesus. This means that we have to ‘play’ by his rules. We can’t expect to follow some other path and get in, and those who think they can are nothing more than brigands, criminals, robbers—none of whom have the best interest of the sheep in mind: ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.’ These false gates and shepherds evidently do not even realize that they are killing the flock, destroying the sheep, stealing that which belongs to Christ.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Not so the others. Not so at all. Jesus’ statement means that there is no other place to find life. Let me put it another way. There are only two things we can have or seek: Life or death. If Jesus came to give us life to the full, then shall we not expect that all others have come to give us death to the full? Do people yet realize that the church is being pillaged and savaged by people who do not have the interest of the church in mind, people who do not have the things of God in mind?

We have much to repent of, and the Scripture says that judgment begins with the house of God:

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NIV).

I fear these churches are listening to bad shepherds, false shepherds, liars, thieves, robbers, hirelings whose interests are not the Lords. Friends, the church belongs to Christ Jesus, not us. He is the Head of the Church. From what I can tell, this is the beginning of judgment: Every time a church passes this sort of resolution justifying, perpetuating, and condoning sin, the judgment is exposed. Soon the Lampstands will be removed. Does the Scripture say that Christ walks among His church for no reason (Revelation 1:12-16)? Are these churches really being so careless? Do they really think that the Good Shepherd doesn’t care about His sheep?

This is a very troubling development. Troubling indeed.

God have mercy!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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