Sermon Notes for 2nd Sunday after Easter, The Summary of the Gospel, 10 April 2016 Anno Domini
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
John 10:11-16 (KJV)
Friends, in the text we examine today, we have a precise summary of the Gospel. The number seven represents the perfection of God, and we discover seven “I AM’s” in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of St. John. It is sometimes called the Shepherd chapter, and it coincides fully in meaning with the 23rd Psalm composed, under inspiration of the Holy Ghost, by the Shepherd/King, David.
In our world, Christ owns a diverse number of sheep for which He has paid dearly with His own blood. These sheep are numbered in diverse folds from China to South Africa, from Anchorage to Buenos Aries, and from New Zealand to Seoul, Korea. But these shall all be gathered together at the pleasure and timing of the Good Shepherd to become one fold in the Kingdom of Heaven – a time at which the curse of the Tower of Babel will be lifted and we shall all speak in familiar tongues with one another.
THE SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL:
1) The Good Shepherd – there is no other: Christ alone is the Good Shepherd, and only Shepherd, of His sheep. As He commanded Peter to “Feed my sheep,” He commands us today to do the same; but the food is divine and heavenly – it is the Word of God with which He feeds us day by day, and moment by moment. There are wolves and anti-Christs who disguise themselves as ‘Angels of Light’ but devour the sheep. Christ alone has laid down His life for the sheep. They are HIS.
2) The Good Shepherd is forever alert to the wants and welfare of the sheep. The sheep know not the danger of the mountain crevices and beasts of prey, but the Shepherd knows the enemy and makes provision for the defense of His own.
3) The Voice of the Shepherd is the only Voice the sheep know and respond to, and He knows their voice as well. The sheep will not follow any stranger because his voice is not familiar to them.
4) The Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world, therefore, the Shepherd has no human shepherds. There are under-shepherds who echo faithfully the Voice of the Shepherd, but have no voice of their own.
5) Those who remain nearest the Shepherd and within the sound of His Voice are in no danger of getting lost. They are continually rewarded by the greenest pastures and still waters to which the Shepherd leads them. But those who straggle far behind are tempted as worldly creatures to the unwholesome vegetation along the mountainsides and ravines. They forget the Shepherd for a time and suddenly realize they are lost and separated from the flock. They then bleat and cry until the Shepherd secures the greater flock and comes seeking far and wide until the lost sheep is recovered.
Although there is only one Shepherd, there are many imposters. Those imposters are seeking personal gain and wealth. They care little for the sheep. They are hirelings. This is not to say that the devout minister does not deserve to be assisted in his living by the church, but his purpose must always be the burden for souls and not for gold.
Then, there is another which is the sponsor of false prophets and teachers. He dresses as one of the sheep, but is truly a wolf so dressed. Because he appears to be a sheep, he is able to gain the trust of the other sheep. He gets near them before he reveals himself, too late, as wolf. He is the counter-shepherd. Instead of laying his life down for the sheep, he, instead, devours them and brutally uses them. He is the devil incarnate. We should not be shocked to learn that there are wolves among us, for God has warned us in no uncertain terms: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” 2 Cor 11:14-15
There is no past time limitation on our Shepherd because He is once and forever our Shepherd. “ I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” To say that Christ WAS our Shepherd, or WILL be our Shepherd, would be to demean His Person as well as the English language (and every other into which the Word is translated). He has ALWAYS been, is NOW, and FOREVER WILL BE our Shepherd. He is the I AM Shepherd! He has not GIVEN His life; nor WILL He give it; but He continually GIVETH His life for the sheep. (PRESENT TENSE)
When we hire a laborer to dig ditches, he could care less what benefit the ditches afford the one for whom they are dug. He simply labors for his wages. We have far too many ministers who are likewise minded – in fact, the overwhelming majority who have ‘decided’ on the ministerial career as a means of livelihood and not the sound and certain call of God upon their lives. There are three requirements for the identification of ministers: 1) God must call a man; 2) the man must recognize the calling; and 3) the Church must recognize evidence of the calling on a man’s life IN CONFIRMATION OF IT. I have known ministers who prepare their sons for the ministry because THEY have called their son to it and not God.
We have two great proclamations from God. One is the Law as delivered from the heights of Mount Sinai. No man has kept perfectly the Law excepting One – Jesus Christ. The penalty for disobedience in a single infraction is death. But even if a man were to keep the Law perfectly only in order to avoid that penalty of death, he will not become godly in his heart because his motive is selfish and without the blood-seal of love.
The other proclamation of God is the Gospel itself! It is a gentle and inviting Gospel that never compels, but persuades and encourages to love. iT BECKONS TENDERLY TO THE HEART. In fact, if we love God enough, we will be compelled to love our neighbors in a divine degree. This kind of agape love will vanquish sin and willful disobedience of God’s Law. Love will cover all of our sins. (Proverbs 10:12)
There is a great difference, and yet union, between these two principles of God’s Word – Law and Grace. Law demands and commands. Grace invites and gives comfort. But there can be no grace without law since grace and mercy are the forgiveness of our trespasses under the Law. Jesus Christ redeemed us from our sins under that very Law that we disdain.
These are the two major declarations from Heaven – Law and Gospel. All others issued by would-be potentates, Popes, and false prophets have no bearing on the futurity of our souls. It is almost amusing, were it not so disgusting, to witness the Pope waffle on grave matters of morality and discipline daily. He seems to desire whatever will best feed his political interests and the coffers of the Vatican. And there are many little horns (pretended popes) of the Protestant church who preach likewise a Gospel that is directed more to itching ears than souls hungry for the pure and undiluted Bread of Heaven.
Truly every fold of Christ divided by geography, language and culture shall be made, finally, One fold. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” In the Garden of Sorrows called Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for the consummation of this very thing: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:20-23
The Shepherd always sleeps in the Fold with the sheep (glorified Church). He never leaves us here in our worship, or there beyond Jordan banks. He is the “I AM with thee always, even unto the end of the world.” There will be One Fold and One shepherd at that day. The folds of Iran were cavernous enclosures dug into mountain bases. There was only One entrance – the Door of the Sheepfold. Need I remind you what that Door was? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7 (KJV) If Christ is the DOOR, He is also the Straight and Narrow Way, for He is the ONLY Way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 (KJV) Have you found the Door to your eternal home? The KEY is written in the pages of a BOOK.