“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Matthew 2:6 ESV (cf. Micah 5:2)
This was a prophecy given in the Old Testament about Jesus, the Christ, that he was to come from Bethlehem, and that he would be a ruler who would shepherd God’s people Israel.
And, who is the “Israel” that he shepherds? It is the body of Christ, his true church, comprised of true believers and followers of Jesus Christ. We are Israel, which is not a physical nation, but a spiritual nation of people who are God’s people today. We are the sole heirs of the promise given to Abraham and to his SEED, meaning Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:10, 16, 26-29; Gal. 4:22-31).
And, what is our relationship with Jesus Christ supposed to look like? He is to be our ruler and our shepherd. And, we are to be in submission to him.
In scripture, Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lord of his people, which means he is owner and master of our lives. He is our sovereign Lord who rules and who reigns supreme over our whole lives. He has supreme power and authority over our lives. He is the one in control. He is the one directing the course of our lives. He is the one leading us in the way that we should go. But, is he really? He is Lord, surely, but do we honor him as Lord?
So many people today who claim faith in Jesus Christ do not honor Jesus Christ as Lord, as sovereign over their lives. Many of them think they don’t have to, that God does not require it of them. Others know that he is to be their Lord, but they choose to continue ruling their own lives anyway. They decide what they are going to do with their lives, and they carry out their own plans, with little to no consideration at all for God’s plans for their lives.
Salvation from sin, too, is taught much in a manner today in which it does not teach the absolute rule and authority of Jesus Christ over our lives. They teach it like Jesus went through all that he went through just so he could forgive us our sins so that we can continue living in sin, going our own way, doing what we want, while ignoring him and his Word, and yet be free of the punishment and guilt of sin, and have the promise of heaven when we die.
But, Jesus didn’t come just to free us from the punishment of sin and to promise us eternal life with him. He came to deliver us out of our bondage to sin, and to free us to come under his rule and authority, which allows Him to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives. And, he came to empower us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, for the glory and praise of God.
God’s grace to us is not carte blanche to continue in willful sinful practices. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (fleshly lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, he bought us back for God so that we would now be God’s possession and so that we would now glorify God with our bodies. He died, too, that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24).
Much of what is being passed off today as the gospel of Jesus Christ is nothing more than a slap in the face to Almighty God and a trampling of his grace under feet. For, it does not honor him as the Holy God that he is, it does not give him glory, it does not submit to him as supreme ruler of our lives, and it suppresses the truth by unrighteousness. It exchanges the truth of God for a lie so that people end up worshiping the idols of this world rather than giving their true worship to God (See Rom. 1:18-32).
The lie says that you can give a cursory acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Savior in order to get your sins forgiven and your guarantee of heaven when you die. The truth says that you must die with Christ to sin and live with Christ to righteousness; that you must walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if you want to have eternal life with God. He must be your Lord (ruler), and not be your “get-out-of-jail-free” card just so you can keep practicing sin while claiming heaven as home.
Jesus also came to shepherd us. And, a shepherd is one who loves, nurtures, guides, directs, leads, protects, guards against the enemy, encourages, urges, persuades, teaches, counsels, warns, chastises (when we need it), and comforts us, too. He is a friend like no other.
And, what is the relationship we are to have with him? His sheep listen to his voice and they follow him (Jn. 10:27-30). And, this listening is not just with our ears, but with our hearts. And it means we take him and his word seriously and that we follow him in obedience to his commands.
As his sheep, we also don’t listen to or follow strangers. And, who are strangers? They are those who are teaching a gospel other than the one that Jesus and his NT apostles taught. They are those today who are pushing a cheap grace substitute for God’s true grace, which bypasses death to sin and living to righteousness, and which even coddles people in their sin while promising them heaven when they die (See John 10:1-8).
As his sheep, we are also his followers. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily and follow him. And, what this means is that we have to refuse or say “No!” to our sinful flesh daily, and daily we must die to sin, putting it to death by the Spirit. And, daily we are to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands (Lu. 9:23-26).
For, if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and for self, then he says we don’t have eternal life with him but we will die in our sins (See also Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 5:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8).
Jesus also said that if we love him, that we will keep (obey) his Word. And, the Father will love us, and they (God) will make their home with us, and we will never see death (eternal separation from God) (Jn. 8:51; Jn. 14:23-24).
And, the Apostle John reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that we know that we have come to know Christ when we keep (obey) his commands. And, he went on to say that if anyone claims to know Christ, but doesn’t obey his commands, then whoever does this is a liar and the truth is not in him (1 Jn. 2:3-6).
So, basically, all these scriptures that I have referenced here, under “Ruler” and “Shepherd,” speak the opposite of what the cheap grace gospel people are promoting.
For, Jesus didn’t come to the earth just to save us from the punishment of sin, and he didn’t come just to deliver us out of our slavery to sin, either. He came to be the sovereign ruler (Lord) over our lives. And, as Lord, he commands that we follow him in surrender and in obedience to his commands, and that we walk (in practice) in accord with him and with His Word, and that we leave our old lives of sin behind us.
So, please get this, for your eternity depends on it. There are far too many people believing in the cheap grace gospel which makes no such demands but which allows for continued sinful practices and the dishonoring of God with our lives, while promising people heaven. But, that is a lie from hell!
So, listen to what Jesus taught, and listen to what his NT apostles taught – all of it, not just the parts which people use to appease themselves while they live in sinful lifestyles. Read the scriptures in CONTEXT, as whole, and understand that salvation from sin and eternal life with God are not guaranteed on the basis of a profession of faith in Christ, but on a lifestyle of living for Jesus and walking in obedience to his Word.
The Spirit Calling
An Original Work / November 12, 2019
Hear the Spirit calling.
He’ll keep you from falling.
Tenderly He’s calling,
“Come and follow Him.”
Walk with Jesus daily.
Don’t give in to lazy.
Folks may call you crazy.
Fellowship with Him.
Follow where He leads you.
Eat what Jesus feeds you.
His love will renew you
If you follow Him.
Do what Jesus tells you.
Don’t let your faith fail you.
His love will avail you
If you walk with Him.
Jesus, Lord and Savior,
Reigneth now forever.
He gave us His favor
So we’d live with Him.
Turning now from our sin,
Holy Spirit live-in.
Holiness we walk in,
Purified by Him.