Faithful to the Calling

John 10:14-16 ESV

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

This was Jesus speaking. His sheep at that time were Jews who believed in him. And the sheep that were not of that fold, but whom he would bring them in also, were the Gentiles (non-Jews) who were yet to believe in him.

After his death and resurrection, Jew and Gentile who believed in Jesus then became one flock with one shepherd. Now Jew and Gentile who believe in Jesus are one in Christ. We are both Israel, the chosen of God, and heirs of the promise. We are one flock, not two separate flocks.

For, the promises which were spoken to Abraham were to him and to his seed, and that seed is Jesus Christ. For not all who are physical descendants of Abraham are Israel but only those who believe in Jesus Christ.

So, if we belong to Christ then we are Abraham’s seed, and we are heirs according to the promise. Jerusalem, representing the Jewish nation, is of Hagar, the slave woman, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. And the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.

[Gal 3:16, 26-29; Rom 9:4-8; Gal 4:22-31; Eph 2:14-18; 1 Jn 2:22]

So, today, Jesus’ sheep are all people, whether Jew or Gentile by birth, who have surrendered their lives to him, by God-given faith in him, who have died with him to sin, and who have been resurrected with him to newness of life in him, to be lived for his glory.

They are all those who are no longer walking according to the flesh, but who are walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and by the Spirit are daily dying to sin, are denying self, and are walking in obedience to the Lord and to his commands.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Jn 6:44]

John 10:17-18 ESV

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

When Jesus Christ lived on this earth he was fully God and fully man. He is the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And he is our creator God, and he is the author of life. He is God! Yet, he willingly left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, came to earth, and took on human form. And after three years of ministry as an adult he was put to death on a cross by those who hated him, although he had done no wrong.

But this was in God’s plan from the very beginning that Jesus would come to earth and willingly lay down his life for us. For man had no power over him but what God allowed, and he allowed for a purpose, and he allowed according to God’s perfect timing. And so in God’s perfect timing Jesus’ enemies, who were primarily the Jews and the rulers in the temple of God, arranged for him to be hung on a cross to die, according to God’s plan.

And that plan was for the salvation of our lives from our bondage to sin as well as from the punishment of sin. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our bodies (with our lives).

But Jesus didn’t remain dead. God resurrected him from the dead on the third day, just as Jesus had said would happen. And because Jesus lives, we can live in him. And we do this by faith in him which dies with him to sin and is raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And we live in him by denying self, and by dying daily with him to sin, and by walking in obedience to his commands.

John 10:19-21 ESV

“There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”

I love this! And do you know that Jesus said that as he was treated so we would be treated? Paul was also called “insane,” as was Jesus, and as I am certain were many of the prophets of the Old Testament. And if we are following Jesus today in the ways in which Paul and many of the apostles and many of the prophets of old did, we may be called crazy, too.

For, “normal” Christianity in our culture is to play it safe, to “make no waves,” to “stay in your own lane,” and to not say anything that might offend someone else. It is to remain within the confines of what is regarded as “normal” Christianity, “inside a box” of human making, inside institutional religion which fears and forsakes the Holy Spirit, for the most part, or it goes the other extreme in calling truly ungodly behavior of the Spirit of God.

So, if we follow the examples of Jesus, and of the NT apostles, and of the OT prophets when they were following the ways of God, then we should expect to be treated in many of the same ways as they were. For they were not regarded as “normal” by the society of their day nor by the religious leaders of their day, either. But they were outcasts, and they were falsely accused of wrongdoing, and they were largely rejected by their peers, and by people of their own faith, too.

But not everyone will treat us that way. Hopefully we will have some encouragers in our lives who are likeminded, who understand the truth of the gospel, and who can see how it is being attacked and distorted, and who can see how those who are teaching the true gospel are coming under attack, for they may be experiencing much of the same. And so they may support us and stand up for us against the lies, but even if no one does, and if they all desert us, we must remain faithful to our Lord always.

There’s a Stirring

By Annie Herring

There’s a stirring deep within me
Could it be my time has come
When I’ll see my gracious savior face to face when all is done
Is that his voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’
Is he calling me?
Is he calling me?

I will rise up, rise up
And bow down
And lay my crown
At his wounded feet

Is that His voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’

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