Tag Archives: sheep

“Be Wise as Serpents and harmless as Doves” #2236

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16, NKJV).

Before Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature, He sent them on a limited commission to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-6). Their message then was that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). They would need the wisdom of serpents and the innocence of doves to accomplish their mission. Both traits are still necessary for Christians who live “in the midst of “a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15). Consider the snake’s wisdom. (1) Snakes are aware of their surroundings. They are artfully in their pursuit of prey. We need to use heavenly wisdom as we try to seek and save the lost with the gospel (James 3:13, 17-18; 2 Tim. 2:23-26). (2) Snakes have heightened senses. The keen senses of a snake alert it to potential danger and its next meal. Christians must be wise about their moral and spiritual surroundings to avoid sin and partake of spiritual nourishment (1 Cor. 15:33; Heb. 5:12-14; 10:24-25). Consider the dove’s harmlessness. (1) Doves signify the innocence of a character. They glide gracefully through the air harming no one. Even so, Christians are to be innocent of guile (1 Pet. 2:21-22). (2) Doves signify the innocence of pure motives. Doves fly without malice; they are not predators. Doves were the humble offering of the poor at the Jewish temple (Lk. 2:22-24). Likewise, let us be pure in heart and humble in spirit toward all (Matt. 5:8). Our spiritual protection as sheep among wolves is wisdom and innocence.

Security of the Sheep #2103

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one. (John 10:27–30, NKJV)

This passage is easily understood and gives great assurance to the followers of Jesus. People have distorted this teaching of Christ to assure souls that they can never so sin as to be lost once saved from sin. This passage does not teach this error. A brief review of the text shows Jesus comforts the faithful but does not secure sinners. First, see what Christ’s sheep do: They hear His voice and follow Him. Next, see what Jesus does: He knows them and gives them eternal life. Now, who “shall never perish” and not be snatched from Christ’s hand or the Father’s hand? It is the sheep who hear and follow Jesus (v. 27). What if the sheep stops following the shepherd? Christ sheep are exposed to life-threatening dangers when they leave the sheepfold of safety, wander on the hillside of sin, and forage in the thicket of evil. When Christians stop listening to Jesus and refuse to follow Him, their souls are in jeopardy! Christians who return to sin bring on their eternal demise, not an eternal reward (2 Pet. 2:20-22). This truth does not diminish the power of the Father and Son to save. It acknowledges what Scripture confirms: Christians can fall away (Gal. 5:4; Lk. 8:13). God protects sheep who hear Him and follow Him. So, hear the word of Jesus and follow Him every day.

Rejoice, I Have Found My Sheep! #2095

3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3–7, NKJV)

Jesus taught the parable of the lost sheep in response to those who complained He “receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:1-2). This slur was against Jesus and those who came to hear Him. The record shows Jesus was teaching these lost souls, not endorsing their sins. The parable illustrates the compassion of the Lord toward the lost. His work of teaching them the gospel was heaven’s work of seeking and saving the lost (Lk. 19:10). The parable also reflects heaven’s joy when one sinner who repents. We cannot escape the linkage of the sinner’s repentance to salvation. God is seeking the lost, and when the lost repent, they are “found” (saved). Instead of chastising Jesus for trying to save sinners, these complainers revealed themselves as ones who needed to repent; they needed saving, too. Like Jesus, compassion for the lost drives us to teach them the gospel, persuading souls to repent toward God and have faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).  

Sheep or Goat? #2056

31 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31–33, NKJV)

Of course, we understand Jesus is describing people under the figure of sheep and goats. The setting is the day of His glory and judgment. Attended by a heavenly host, Jesus will be arrayed gloriously on His throne of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10). All the tribes of humanity from Adam to the last day will gather before Him, where each person will give an account of our lives (Rom. 14:12). Christ will judge impartially and righteously according to God’s truth, and each of us will receive judgment according to our deeds (Rom. 2:1-11). Judgment involves a moment of decision and separation, and Jesus describes it as separating sheep and goats (a common practice to this day). The question on our heart should be, “Will I be a sheep or a goat?” The answer is up to us. Jesus describes the sheep as those who loved their neighbor as themselves (Matt. 25:34-40). These will inherit a kingdom of eternal life (v. 34, 46). The goats are those who failed to regard others before themselves. By failing to serve others, they failed to serve Christ (Matt. 25:41-45). These will inherit an eternal punishment of fire (v. 41, 46). Instead of denying the judgment, denying our sins, or denying eternal hell, we should believe Jesus and serve Him by serving others. Prepare for Judgment Day. Sheep or goat; Which will we be?

“They Shall Never Perish” #2051

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (John 10:27–29, NKJV)

Jesus is the good shepherd who gave His life for His sheep (Jno. 10:11). He knows His sheep and is known by them (Jno. 10:14). Jesus uses the language of God’s prophet Ezekiel as He explained His relationship with His followers: “‘You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,’ says the Lord God” (Ezek. 34:31). Today’s passage addresses the security of believers. The Shepherd has the power to protect His sheep; that is beyond question: 1) Jesus speaks to His sheep, 10:27; 2) Jesus knows His sheep, 10:27; 3) Jesus gives them eternal life, 10:28; 4) His sheep are secure in His hand and in the Father’s hand, 10:28, 29. At the same time, His sheep make choices that contribute to their security in Christ: 1) His sheep hear His voice, 10:27; 2) His sheep follow Him, 10:27. Sheep are exposed to danger when they wander from their shepherd’s care. The same is true of Christians who stray from hearing and following the word of Christ (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Yes, Christians can fall away from Christ and be lost (Gal. 5:4; 1 Cor. 10:12). Falling away from Christ does not happen because Christ cannot save His sheep. It occurs when the sheep refuse to hear and follow the Shepherd (1 Cor. 5:1-5). Be a believer who hears and follows the voice of Jesus and be secure in Him. He will never lead you astray.

No Throwaway Souls #1746

11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:11–14, NKJV)

Our throwaway culture serves convenience. It is easy to think of lost souls similarly. When we decide it is “no longer worth our time and effort” to try to reach the lost and restore the fallen, we devalue lost souls and call Christ’s work into question. How does this happen? We excuse ourselves from being stumbling block and refuse to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 18:10; 22:39). We expect people to be faithful to Christ without doing our part to teach, to exhort and to encourage them to be faithful (2 Tim. 2:2; Heb. 3:12-13; Gal. 6:1-2). We forget it takes sacrificing our time, energy, effort to search for lost souls (it cost Jesus His life). Such sacrifices are too inconvenient for many Christians. We are content with the ninety-nine. Yet, every single soul is valuable to the Father. So, the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost – one by one. We cannot be content when even one soul is straying from God. The Father does not want one soul to perish. We shall “gladly spend and be spent” to help save the lost when we share the Father’s will that not one soul perishes (2 Cor. 12:15).

Christ’s Sheep #1249

26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:26–28, NKJV)

The Jewish leaders’ failure to believe in Christ made it clear that they were not His sheep (John 10:26). They were not His disciples. Jesus contrasted His sheep and the unbelieving Jewish leaders in John 10:27-28. By so doing, He specifically stated the blessings of being His sheep. Christ’s sheep hear His voice, and consequently, He knows them (John 10:14). They follow the words of Christ, and consequently, He gives them eternal life (John 10:10). As a result, they shall never perish (no one shall snatch them out of the hand of Christ). Jesus taught that human salvation rests upon the pillars of man’s faith and God’s grace (John 10:27-29; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus rejected the Calvinistic doctrines of unconditional election and the perseverance of the saints. If the conditions of verse 27 are not obeyed, the blessings of verses 28-29 will not follow. As one hears and obeys the voice of Christ (the gospel), his soul is secured by the Son and the Father. The Jewish rulers did not hear His voice, nor did they follow Him. Therefore, they were not saved. Because of their unbelief, they would die in their sins (John 8:23-24). We must hear and obey the words of Christ to have eternal security.

Friend or Foe? #1057

17  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19  whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:17–19, NKJV)

The examples set by the apostle Paul and the other apostles form a pattern we must follow. By way of contrast,  Paul warned there are many who appear to be following the apostles, but who are in fact “enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Not everyone who says they love Jesus, does in fact, love Jesus.) When will we heed Christ’s warning about false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing? “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15-21). Likewise here, Paul describes these enemies as those who worship their own desires (“whose god is their belly”) and who set their minds on earthly things instead of things above (cf. Col. 3:1-4). Does it matter what a person believes and does? Absolutely! Their end will be destruction – eternal punishment (2 Thess. 1:8-9). We weep with Paul over the existence of such enemies of Christ. Many walk – but they do not walk in the apostolic pattern of revealed truth. Whenever we walk by our own desires and purposes, our end will be destruction, too. Let us be warned, and never become an enemy of Christ. Walk worthy of Christ by following the examples of His apostles (Eph. 4:1).

My Sheep #689

27  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30  I and My Father are one. (John 10:27–30, NKJV)

The Good Shepherd gives eternal life to His sheep, who hear His voice and follow Him. These are the sheep who shall never perish. No one is able to snatch them from the hands of the Father and the Son (who are one in nature, in promise, in power and in purpose). Christians who hear and follow Jesus have this blessed promise of eternal life. But, be careful. Sheep go astray when they do not listen to the Shepherd and fail to follow Him. They do not go astray because God cannot save them, but because they choose to no longer listen to and follow the word of Jesus. They choose to depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3). There is no promise of eternal life to Christians who turn back to sin (2 Pet. 2:20-22). So, keep listening to and following the Good Shepherd. If you have wandered away from His voice, repent and return to the eternal safety of His hand.

The Lord is my Shepherd #646

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1, NKJV)

Like any good shepherd, David had a close relationship with the sheep under his care. He fed them, led them and defended them (1 Sam. 17:15, 34-35). His father’s sheep suffered no lack of care while under his watch. David the shepherd keenly viewed himself as a sheep and Jehovah as his shepherd. He had a relationship of trust in and dependency upon the Lord. Like a sheep, David trusted God to know and supply his every need. Like a shepherd, God feeds His sheep, gently caring for them, protecting them, leading them (Isa. 40:11). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jno. 10:11). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sacrificed His life for you so that you may have eternal life. He supplies all your soul needs to be sustained now and forever. Will you let Him lead you and give you eternal life? If so, hear His voice and follow Him, for “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;…” (Jno. 10:27-28).