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).
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.
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).
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; 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).
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15–20, NKJV)
Are you sure your preacher is preaching the truth? How do you know? Jeremiah warned of prophets who “prophesy lies in my name” by speaking “the deceit of their heart” (Jer. 14:14). These two-legged wolves in sheep’s clothing continue to devour God’s flock by speaking error in the name of God. When someone speaks on behalf of God we must test what is said to be sure it is indeed from God. Our measuring stick is inspired Scripture, including what the apostles taught (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Jno. 4:1, 6). You see, it does matter what is taught and what is believed. If doctrine doesn’t matter, then why does Jesus warn us of the wolves?
23 “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. 25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.” (Ezekiel 34:23–25, NKJV)
This prophetic picture of Messianic peace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His church. In John 10:11-16, Jesus identified Himself as the good shepherd who would give His life for the sheep. He knows His sheep and His own know Him, listening to His voice to lead them to sustenance and safety. Jesus is our peace – the One who gives us peace with God and peace among ourselves as “one flock” (Jno. 10:16). People yearn for earthly peace, and many think Ezekiel is writing of future peace in a millennial kingdom. But, the gospel of peace is the “covenant of peace” that currently gives “showers of blessings” in fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prediction (Ezek. 34:26). This prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd. His sheep have peace with God and enjoy spiritual security by hearing and following the Shepherd’s voice. Be sure to hear and follow God’s shepherd each day.