Jesus’ Sheep Listen and Follow

John 10:22-30 ESV

22“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ 25Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.’”

Seeing but Not Believing

Some people claim ignorance when they are not ignorant. They will say, “I did not know” when they did know. And some of them have known for a very long time and yet will still claim ignorance when it suits their purposes. But it isn’t that they don’t know, but that they choose not to believe. It isn’t that they are short on knowledge, but that they are short on obedience. So, they claim ignorance as a way to escape responsibility for what they know.

Some of them, too, are just playing mind games, much like some of the Jews did with Jesus, continually testing him, hounding him, trying to trip him with his words, and trying to get him to fail so that they would have cause to accuse him. So they would engage in conversation with him regularly but not because they wanted to know him or his truth, but because they were hoping to get him to fall into their traps in order to discredit him.

Jesus’ works testified to who he was, but they ignored his works or else they repudiated them. And God’s word bears witness today to who Jesus is and to what he did for us in dying on that cross for our sins. And the fulness of the gospel is made quite plain in the Scriptures, yet many people, even many who profess faith in Jesus Christ, will ignore and/or will repudiate the Scriptures if they teach what they do not want to believe.

And this passage of Scripture is one example of how they ignore what they don’t want to accept and how they pull Scriptures out of context to make them say what they want them to say while they ignore the Scriptures they do not want to believe. And this is a very common practice among many of those who call themselves Christians today.

Sheep or Not Sheep?

Spiritually speaking, the Lord’s sheep are his followers. They are not those who merely make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but they are those who hear (who listen) to what Jesus says and then who follow him in obedience (v. 27). Therefore, those who continually fake ignorance when they are not ignorant and who then continue living in deliberate and habitual sin are not the Lord’s true sheep, even though they may think they are.

So, what many people are doing today is that they are ignoring verse 27 and they are teaching vv. 28-30 separate from verse 27, and therefore they are applying the promises in verses 28-30 more broadly to all who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ whether or not they are the Lord’s true sheep, i.e. whether or not they listen to God’s voice and obey what he says. But taught out of context, it is a lie.

For, the Lord does not give eternal life to everyone who merely professes faith in Jesus Christ but who does not listen to him nor obey him. For, he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21 ESV). Only the ones DOING the will of the Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, not everyone who merely professes faith in Jesus Christ.

Okay, so let’s go back to verses 28-30. We can’t quote these verses separate from v. 27, for we need v. 27 to know who this applies to. We can’t just arbitrarily pull Scriptures out of context and apply them to whoever we want. It would be like taking a group of customers in a store and giving them the promises that are for employees only. It makes no sense and it just doesn’t work that way.

For one, all God’s promises have stipulations (conditions) to them. Many of them have “if” clauses, such as “if” you do this, then you have that. And this includes the gospel of our salvation. And it isn’t just “if you believe,” but it is “if you obey,” and “if you repent.” For repentance and obedience are part of believing faith. And then there is “if you continue steadfast to the end,” for that, as well, is a requirement for salvation and eternal life with God.

So, when this says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand,” this is referring back to the true sheep who listen to the shepherd and who follow him wherever he leads them. And this goes along with the Scriptures that teach we must not make sin our practice but obedience must be what we practice if we are to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Let it Be

So, I have this secular song in my head called “Let it Be.” Now I have heard the song before but I never really ever heard all the lyrics before I looked them up yesterday. So, I was surprised when I read the lyrics and I read a dialogue which said, basically, that when the person found himself in times of trouble, or when he was in his hour of darkness, it was “Mother Mary” who came to him speaking words of wisdom, “Let it be.”

Now Mary the mother of Jesus was certainly favored of God when she was chosen to carry Jesus the Christ in her womb and to give birth to him and to raise him. But other than that, Mary was a regular human being like we are. She is not a god, nor is she to be treated like a god. She is not to be prayed to, and we do not get our wisdom from her. She is not our intermediary between us and God the Father. Only Jesus Christ is.

We are to pray only to God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. Only God gives us the words of wisdom we need to live this life according to his will and purpose for our lives. We are not to be getting our wisdom from other human beings unless they are speaking the wisdom of God’s word, in truth, in context. So, don’t put your faith in theologians and in preachers to tell you the truth. Study the Scriptures for yourself, in context.

The other thing here is the wisdom was to “let it be,” which means to leave something to follow its natural course. Well, the natural course is not the way of the Lord, but it is the way of the flesh, and sadly so, this is the wisdom that is being given out in the name of Jesus Christ and his gospel much today. And that is why they leave out verse 27 because it says that the Lord’s sheep listen to him (they heed his words) and they obey him.

But the message today is that Jesus saves us merely because we prayed a prayer or confessed him as Lord with our lips, but that obedience, repentance, and submission to Christ as Lord are not required. And then they use vv. 28-30 to assure the ones claiming faith in Jesus that eternal life is secured for them and that it can never be taken away, regardless of how they live their lives, for they can just “let it be” and let nature take its course.

But that wisdom is not of God. It is of a false god. So, we are not to listen to it. When we are in times of trouble or in an hour of darkness, we are to call on God and him alone for help and counsel, and then we are to follow our Lord in what his word teaches us that we must do. We are not to let nature take its course. We are to leave our lives of sin to follow Jesus in obedience.

[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 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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