Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on August 14, 2016
Turn with me to John 10:7-18. This marks the third week that we are in this chapter 10 of John. I plan on spending one more week in this chapter and then we will move on to chapter 11. I hope that all of you have been reading and meditating on this chapter as much as I have. I truly believe it is one of the more theologically significant chapters in all the Bible. With that said, let's get right to work.
John 10:7-18 - “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
The Gospel, the Call of the Good Shepherd
If you recall from last week, we addressed the question why do some people believe in Jesus and some people don't believe in Jesus. Jesus answered that question in verses 4 and verse 26. First look at verse 4, “and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” The key word in that verse is “for.” The reason people follow Jesus, I.e believe, is because they already know Jesus. There is a relationship that exists that precedes the call. We see the same thing, but the reverse in verse 26, “but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” The reason people don't believe is they are not part of this special group that has a per-existing relationship with Christ.
This pre-existing group is called the elect. Those chosen by God to be a gift to his Son. We see this in verse 29, “My 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.” The “them” in verse 29 are the sheep, those who hear the voice of Christ and follow Him.
Therefore, if you believe in Christ, it is because you are of the elect. If you die and never believe in Christ, then you are not of the elect. Believing in Christ is a product of being chosen by God before the foundation of the World. Ephesians 1:4, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the World, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” This is, in a nut shell, what we unpacked last week.
Today, what I desire to unpack is found in verse 16, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.” As you can see from verse 16, Jesus has two folds in mind. Two groups of sheep that he will call his specific sheep out of. The first fold, as I stated last week was the nation of Israel. Jesus, as a Jew himself, was first sent to the lost sheep of Israel. The Jews were given the first opportunity to put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah, the Son of the living God. As we discussed last week, some did, and some didn't. In fact, most didn't. According to Acts 1:15, there only appears to be 120 followers of Jesus after he ascended into Heaven. That is not very many sheep.
This leads to the question, is that it? If the sheep must hear the call of the Good Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd has gone to Heaven, is there any hope for anyone else? Yes, there is. Turn with me to John 17:20. If you recall, we briefly looked at John 17 last week. Chapter 17 contains what is known as the the High Priestly prayer. This is the prayer of Jesus the night of his arrest before the cross. John 17:20, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The “these” he mentions are the disciples. Prior to verse 20 he is praying for the disciples, but verse 20 indicates that the disciples will be the ones who carry on the mission of bringing in the sheep. They will be proclaiming a word. And this word will be compelling. People will believe in Jesus through the words of the disciples.
Which leads to another question, what is this word? It is the gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. .” Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
In John 10, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice and follow him. However, we know that Christ has ascended to the right hand of the Father and will not return to Earth until the final day. So how are the sheep to hear the voice of Christ? It is through the Gospel.
What an amazing reality. When we proclaim the Gospel, we are speaking with the voice of Christ. A voice of Christ that comes with power. A power to call the sheep to the doorway of Christ an into the pastures of eternal life.
We see this exact thing unfold in Acts 2, after Jesus ascended into Heaven. Peter stands up before the flock of the Jews on the day of Pentecost, and proclaims the Gospel, and what is the result? 3,000 sheep come out of the fold of Israel and dedicate their lives to the Good Shepherd. The voice of Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel, resonated deep in their heart, and they repented and believed in Christ.
Those 3,000 people did not put their faith in Jesus Christ because Peter was a good Christian community member who never cussed and always lent a hand in time of need. No, their lives radically changed because the Gospel proclaimed by the lips of Peter cut their heart so deep that they were ready to abandon all this life had to offer so that they could grab hold of Christ, their newest and greatest treasure.
And Peter by the preaching of the Gospel was fulfilling the prophecy of Christ in John 17. People were believing in Christ by the preaching of his word, the Word of Christ.
However, the events of Pentecost, is not the other fold. It is still the fold of Israel. The disciples had yet to leave Jerusalem in Acts 2, but they would.
The Second Fold
When Jesus says, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd” who is he talking about if he is not talking about Israel? The answer is that he is talking about everyone else. The other fold, is the world at large, minus the Jews. This group is called the Gentiles in the Bible. The gentiles are the other fold that Christ plans to call his sheep from.
This statement would have been very controversial to the Jews of Jesus' day. They believed they were an exclusive group, handpicked by God to receive the blessings of God. They believed that if you wanted to be a sheep of God you would need to become a Jew first. Then, and only then, could you belong to God's family. But Jesus does not say this. Jesus teaches that he has sheep from two different folds. First the Jew and then the rest of the world.
And this should not have been a surprise to the Jews. In fact, God proclaimed this to their father Abraham. Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Jesus was the fulfillment of this promise to Abraham. Jesus was “in Abraham” for he was a Jew, and it was Jesus who would be a blessing to the families scattered over the world.
It was also in the Jewish hymn book, the Psalms. Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.” The worship of the one true God is not just for the Jews, it is for the nations. No people group has a corner-market on God.
And Jesus began to remind and teach his disciples this over his three year earthly ministry. John 3:16, “For God so loved the World, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus didn't just come for the Jews, he came for the world.
Perhaps the most familiar teaching on this by Jesus is the great commission. Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The disciples were commissioned to go to all nations, not just Israel. The beginning of the Messianic age would launch in Jerusalem, but it was to expand to all nations. In fact, the expansion to the nations is a prerequisite before Christ returns. Matthew 24:14 Jesus says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Why? John 10:16, because Jesus has other sheep that are not of this fold, and he must bring them in.
The Elect Gentiles
And once again, what does the text say? Verse 16, Jesus says, “I have.” Meaning that he already possesses them even before he brings them. This is just like we unpacked last week. Believing in Christ does not make the Gentiles Jesus sheep. They are Jesus' sheep, therefore they will believe. Once again, we are talking about the elect.
Perhaps a good picture of this is found in Acts 10. I will not read it all to you but merely summarize it. A Gentile named Cornelius was visited by an Angel in a vision telling him to call for a man named Peter to come and speak with him. Upon the arrival of Cornelius's men at Peter's house, God told Peter to go with the men. Peter did so, and upon his arrival at the gentile home, he preached the Gospel to them. And we read in verse 44 these words, “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.” So did Cornelius and his household become sheep after they believed, or were they sheep, therefore they believed? Cornelius was a sheep from the other fold, and Christ was calling him and his family out of the world and into fellowship with him through the preaching of the Gospel by Peter.
Now Peter was not the most prominent gospel voice to the Gentiles, he was just merely the vessel that God used to open the door. The person who kicked the door down was the Apostle Paul. In Acts 9:15 God says about Paul, “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” And make no mistake Paul obeyed his calling, for he was relentless in his Gospel proclamation. Town after town, synagogue after synagogue, beating after beating, Paul was steadfast in proclaiming the name of Christ to the Gentile fold of sheep.
One town he proclaimed the gospel to was Corinth. Corinth was a city very similar to modern day America. It was very affluent and very wicked. Corinth was at the cross hairs of trade, the world met at Corinth to conduct business. And we read about Paul's arrival in Corinth for the first time in Acts 18. Turn with me there, so that you can see for yourself the connection with John 10:16.
Upon arrival at Corinth, Paul met up with Aquila and his wife Priscilla and stay with them for some time. While there he would occupy himself with the Word and sharing the Gospel every Sabbath with the Jews at the Synagogue. Eventually, Paul was fed up with the Jews and he says this in verse 6, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And to the Gentiles he went and started to proclaim the Gospel. Being in such a wicked and worldly city, you would think that Paul would not have much success is convincing people to repent of their wealth and follow Christ. But at Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
So with that in mind, look at Acts 18:9-11, “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” Once again the word “for” is crucial in understanding what is going on. Why did God desire Paul to stay and preach the Gospel in the worldly town of Corinth, “for I have many in this city who are my people.” To say it the John 10 way would be to say, “I have many sheep who are in this town that I must bring to me.”
And how would Christ bring these sheep out of the Corinthian fold and to him? Paul was to preach and not be silent. Once again it was the Gospel that was the call of the Good Shepherd to the sheep. And what was Paul's response to this information? He stayed a year and six months teaching the word of God. So the catalyst behind Paul proclaiming the Gospel in Corinth for 1 ½ years was the doctrine of election. Paul believed the elect, the chosen ones of God, were among the people of Corinth and he was going to go an get them for Christ.
And this is not the only place we see this election based evangelism with Paul. Romans 9 is the most direct chapter in the Bible concerning the doctrine of election and it is immediately followed by Chapter 10 which says in verse 10-14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?c And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” This is how Paul, the greatest missionary ever to walk the planet thought about missions, in a John 10:16 sort of way. That Jesus has sheep that are out there, they must be brought in, and because they are sheep the will follow; therefore let us go an preach the Gospel.
How Does this Relate to You?
So what does this have to do with you? Everything. My guess is that very few of you think about evangelism the way Paul does. Most likely you see evangelism being about your ability, not about election. You think that the only reason someone would believe in Jesus is because you nailed it and were articulate and funny and winsome, and you just overwhelmed them with your gospel charm. And because of that false belief, you never share the gospel. You have effectively psyched yourself out. Therefore instead of speaking you remain silent.
I want you to imagine instead, Jesus showing up to you tonight in a vision and saying to you, Phil, I have many sheep in Cascade, I need you to stay there and preach the gospel. How does that change Monday morning? Do you feel the pressure of your ability? No, you feel compelled to proclaim the Gospel. It is not about you, it is about election. John 10:16, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.”
All you have to do is to proclaim the Gospel. The simple Gospel. It is not rocket science, it is merely the testimony of who Christ is and what he has achieved for us on the cross. If you are a Christian this is the one thing that you know, for it was the Gospel that you heard and believed that justified you before God. Immediately upon believing the Gospel, you have everything you need to go and make disciples.
And we can find peace in knowing that it is not about us, it is about God. If we preach the true Gospel, the sheep of Christ will respond and come out of the fold and to Jesus. Our requirement is merely to be obedient and allow God to use us.
I love the way Paul states it in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. “ The treasure is the Gospel. The jar of clay is us. We are merely messengers of the King summoning God's citizens into his Kingdom.
This week, by God's Sovereign will, we have opportunities to be doers of the word, not just hearers of it. Tomorrow at 6:00 a number of us will be meeting here at Cornerstone Church to go and share the Gospel and invite people to come out to the worship in the Park this Sunday. Likewise, on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. We will be walking in a parade handing out Gospel tracs and once again inviting people to come out and listen to the Gospel at Worship in the Park. Lastly, Sunday morning from 7:30-11:30 we will be hosting a pancake breakfast and a church service for Cascade Hometown days. God willing we will have a number of people from Cascade and with each person who comes there will be a gospel opportunity. The question is will we be obedient.
Remember, it is not about your silver tongue or lack thereof, it is about the the sheep of Christ hearing the voice of Christ through the speaking of the Gospel. This reality is the foundation of the boldness that we need to build the Church of Christ. So let us go and make disciples!