John 10:1-5 ESV
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
The Altering of Church
I was listening a little bit this evening to an American evangelist by the name of Paul Washer. I can’t say that I agree with Mr. Washer in all of his theology, but he does, as far as I can tell, preach holiness, obedience to God, and repentance (the forsaking of sins). And he was talking about the American church, primarily about their “worship services” and their music, and how their music affects worship of God or affects worship of the flesh.
He said something that I believe is profound, and this may not be an exact quote, but he said something to the effect that most American churches seem to cater to the worldly who attend their “worship services,” while they neglect the few people in their congregations who are following Jesus with their lives, who are loving and obeying the Lord, who are desiring him above all else, and who truly want to worship him in truth and in righteousness.
And from what I have personally observed, probably mostly over the past 23 years, and from what I have read and listened to and heard other people say, and from what I have experienced working in Christian ministry myself, I would have to agree with him. And this is a huge problem in today’s modern market-driven businesses called “church” in America today. For so many of them are working to please the flesh and the people of the world.
I Began to See It
I don’t know exactly at what point that so many churches ceased to be the church, the body of Christ, with Christ as her head, and when they turned into businesses of men to be marketed to the world and to the flesh of humans, just like any other product that other businesses sell. But I did not become aware of it until about 23 years ago. But as we were, as a family, searching for another church to meet our family’s needs, I began to see it.
I began to see how much of what is now called “church” is catering to the people of the world, and to human flesh, and so they have left holiness and righteousness and godly living in order to attract the world to their gatherings. And so they provide entertainment in order to draw in large crowds of people from the world. And then they soften the truth to make it more agreeable to the flesh in order to keep the ungodly in their gatherings.
I also noticed that it didn’t matter what church denomination they were affiliated with, or not, they all seemed to be following the same man and his plan for how to grow their churches, and they were buying into his marketing schemes. And this was being passed down to Bible colleges and seminaries from people in high up positions within denominations, and it was also being passed down to pastors of churches of many denominations.
And so the focus became to run the church like a business and to target certain groups of people that they wanted to be in “their churches,” and then to do what would make the people of the world feel comfortable in their gatherings so that they would want to come back. And so they altered the gospel message, too, in order to not offend the people of the world and in order to not offend human flesh, too. And this is clearly not of God!
So, those people in high up positions in church denominations who turned the church upside down, and who deliberately altered and adulterated the gospel of Christ in order to attract the world to their gatherings, and then the pastors who willfully followed this man-made scheme, and who knowingly removed parts of the gospel so as not to offend the people of the world, they are these strangers we are not to listen to, as Jesus’ sheep.
For they do not have the mind of God, but the mind of the world and the mind that is set on the flesh. And, in reality, what they are doing is of the devil, not of God, for it is the devil who wants to destroy Jesus and his gospel and to lead people to continue in their sin without conscience or remorse. And so it is the devil who has put it into the minds of the religious heads of denominations to cooperate with his wicked scheme to turn people from genuine faith in Jesus to follow after their own fleshly desires.
John 10:27-28 ESV
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
This is one of the most misquoted passages of Scripture today and it is widely used to teach anyone professing faith in Jesus Christ that they have the guarantee of eternal life with God, no matter what, and that no one can take it away from them. And this is because they do not quote verse 27 which tells us who this promise is for. For this is not for everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ but for all who are living that faith.
For, verse 27 tells us that Jesus’ true sheep listen to him. Now this does not mean that they merely hear his word via their physical ears, but true listening involves us engaging in what is being said and us taking it into our minds and hearts, and us evaluating the truth of it, and if it is true, then we embrace the truth and we obey it. For that is what it means to follow Jesus. It means that we do what he says and that we become like him in mind, heart, and character. And we adopt his ways into our daily practices.
So, those of us who are presently listening to the Lord with attentive ears ready and willing to do what our Lord says, and then who are following him in obedience to his commands (New Covenant) are the ones who can claim this promise of eternal life with God which cannot be taken away from us, because Jesus can’t be taken away from us or us from him. Yet, this is not about being absolutely perfect. This is about daily walks of obedience to our Lord and us daily by the Spirit putting sin to death.
So, if we are to be those of genuine faith in Jesus Christ, then we are to be those who listen to our Lord and who do what he says and who do not resist or deny him, as a matter or practice, but who walk in his ways and in his truth and righteousness, as a matter of life course. And we are to be those who test what we hear coming from the mouths of other humans against the Scriptures, in context, so that we don’t end up following these strangers to our deaths while thinking that we are going to heaven, instead.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
I’d Rather Have Jesus
Oscar C. A. Bernadotte
Rhea F. Miller / Joel A. Erickson
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name.
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
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