Jesus, the Faithful Shepherd
Everyone wants security.
We want job security and a bank account securing us. We want 'social security' but many of us may never see it.
We want national security. Thank God for our military who are out there every day keeping us safe so we can pillow our heads with our security blanket and without fear of what may come in the night.
We want relationship security - the concept of being loved unconditionally and knowing our loved ones will be forever at our side.
But there's a type of security much more important than all of these: spiritual security. We each have a never dying soul, and we need to know it is secure. We don't want to leave anything to chance. Hell is a fear we want to put away once and for all, while we rest in soul security.
Psalm 23 was written by a sheep. He says the Lord is my shepherd...[quote] The entire psalm is about security. The sheep in that psalm testifies about the security he has in his shepherd. He needs rest, and is made to lie down. He needs food, and is led to green pastures. He needs water, and is brought beside still waters. He needs to be able to find shelter in the fold, and though he is defenseless, a sitting duck, and walks thru the valley of the shadow of death, he doesn't have to fear. The wolves are all around, but he eats at a table in the presence of his enemies with no worries. He is bothered by pests buzzing around his head, and has the risk of nasal flies laying larvae that can drive him to butt his head against a wall until he dies, but the Lord anoints his head with oil to protect him. His cup runs over with good things every day, and forevermore!
The sheep has a security outside of himself. And we want that too. We need to know what happens to our soul after this body quits working! You know, your 'soul holder' can't hold out forever. Your soul will exist somewhere forever, and you want to know 100% for sure it will be in the fold of heaven, safe and secure.
Our Good Shepherd, our True Shepherd, is the Faithful Shepherd!
v. 28 'never' is a double negative in the Greek. "Not never." In English it's bad grammar, but in the Greek it's just a stronger, more emphatic way of making clear the point that it ain't never gonna happen, nuh-uh! It's like: "Perish? No way, never no never!"
Eternal security, soul security, sometimes called once saved-always saved. It's a clear and comforting doctrine. This is a major truth in God's Word, and it's always been amazing to me that some people debate it.
It's not even a gray area in my mind, and if it were a gray area, wouldn't God be wise to be careful not to accidentally deceive us on something so critical...if He really loves us? People err in gray areas. And if so, they could argue with God in heaven [if they found out they had salvation and lost it], and they could present mountains of Bible evidence, and would have a strong case against God! Do you think that's gonna happen?
If you are saved, then you are safe and secure! I guess it is debated by some because of how so many professing Christians seem to 'take advantage' of their soul security and live however they want. I remind you that the Bible assures you that if that is your attitude, you've never been truly saved!
But remember, this chapter is all about the Shepherd and His abilities, not the sheep and anything of themselves. This doctrine of the Faithful Shepherd who secures us is all about His integrity and faithfulness, not ours.
In and of ourselves, we are insecure. Our security is provided by the Faithful Shepherd. He that saved us is the one who is faithful to keep us saved. Salvation: How did we get it? By grace, as a gift, and not of ourselves. How do we stay saved? The same way!
We are secure because:
1. We are in His possession.
v. 27 First 2 words. "My sheep". It's possessive.
v. 29 'gave them me'. It's possessive.
v. 14 'my sheep.'
Here's what everyone is saying these days: "We're all God's sheep...all God's children, even if wayward." That is simply not the case.
v. 26 'ye are not of my sheep' He says to the unbelievers.
Actually, the Bible divides us into 2 categories: sheep and goats.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Don't believe the false doctrine of universalism, which says, We're all going to heaven regardless of the differences in our beliefs.
How many here are one of God's sheep? If so, you are in His possession. And why so?
a. He sought you.
Luke 15 is God's lost and found department. Lost silver, lost son, lost sheep. In the latter, a shepherd had 100 sheep, and lost one of them. In business, that would be just a 1% loss...very acceptable.
ill.--Wal-Mart's loss rate is 1.6%, based on shoplifting, employee theft, and other factors. Poor little company!
In God's economy, we're not talking about jewelry or flatscreens. We're not even talking about sheep! Sheep in the parable is a picture of people! No shrinkage is acceptable to the shepherd. Even if you were the only lost soul on earth, Jesus would have come down to seek and find you! And even a saved soul sometimes wanders astray, but the shepherd goes out and brings him back in, no exceptions. It's the mark of a true believer, they may wander for a while, but God will bring them back around if they are truly His child, His sheep!
If you are a wandering sheep, know this: The Lord is more committed to you that you are to Him! He's more faithful to you than you are to Him. He loves you where you are, but loves you too much to leave you there! He'll do what it takes to bring you home.
Ever been lost? In the woods maybe? It's an empty feeling. I took the kids on a long trail Thanksgiving Day and this sorta happened. The sun started to set. We lost the trail. Every direction looked the same, and you don't know where to go? You look at nothing but acreage all around you, and you think about how long you could be lost, and the dangers all around you, and how hungry you could get, and which of the kids would I eat first? The girl is easier to catch, but squeals a lot. Red heads are a sweeter meat.
Far worse than being physically lost is being spiritually lost. Think of that word "Lost". It's God's word for an unsaved person. What would it be like to be lost forever? Hell is real, and forever, and those who are there are lost to that place forever. But also lost from God, the Father, the faithful Shepherd. Separated from Him, from everyone, from any light, from all hope...all is lost!
I'm so glad the shepherd sought me.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
a. He sought you.
b. He bought you.
vv. 11-13 A hireling is a hired hand...not a real shepherd. He doesn't care...he just wants a paycheck. He has no special relationship with the sheep like the shepherd does. The hireling doesn't risk his life [v. 13]
If you aren't saved, you don't have a shepherd, you have a hireling named Satan. He doesn't care about you, and will dump you in an instant in the gutter. Don't think the devil is your fun friend and then treat God like your enemy who wants to spoil your fun...you've got it all backwards.
*He died voluntarily.
v. 15, vv. 17-18a 'laid down his life' = a voluntary death.
When humans die, they raise their heads for one last gasp of air. When Jesus died, He bowed His head and surrendered his life away willingly.
ill.--Movie makers in Hollyweird always get it wrong when depicting the death of Jesus. They show Him as a victim...a revolutionary who went too far and dog gone it, went and got Himself killed. Nope! He predicted how He would die, when, and where, and why. Soldiers didn't keep Him on that cross, nor nails. It was love! And His soul didn't leave His body until He was ready to 'give up' the ghost!
*He died vicariously. [in the place of another]
v. 15b 'for the sheep'. 'For' is the Greek huper [huper] = in the place of.
Why do we go to heaven when we die in Christ? It's not because God overlooks our sin, but because He took our place, and gives us His place...trading spots with us!
How foolish to go to hell and pay for your own sins when Christ already paid for them!
*He died victoriously.
v. 18 'power to take it again'. Resurrection!
Buddha died, and is in the grave. [Confucius, Mohammed, and you too, unless saved!] But Jesus proved He is God in defeating death.
Now, back to v. 3 'by name'
ill.--ever got an offer in the mail: "Dear customer #45970.3--we are personally interested in you!
In the tribulation, the antichrist gives you a number. Jesus Christ knows you by name!
The point: The security of the sheep is a reflection on the shepherd. If He sought us, and bought us, and then lost us, it wouldn't look too good on Him. But what Jesus does He does right! He had already promised the Father that every one of them would safely arrive. And He's not about to let the Father down!
When something belongs to God, it belongs to Him forever!
We are secure because:
1. We are in His possession.
2. We are in His power.
v. 27-29 'greater than all' - 'Father's hand'
I am singularly impressed with the dominance of that statement. I am in the hand of the greatest power in the universe, who created that universe. What a contrast between the weakness of sheep and the power of the Shepherd.
If you are saved, you are eternally secure, not because of YOUR power, but because of GOD'S power!
ill.--'shoulders' in the Bible speak of strength and power.
Luke 15 and the parable of the one lost sheep. When the shepherd found the lost sheep, He laid it on His shoulders.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
During the millennium, the weight of the world will be upon His shoulders, and He will judge justly and righteously. His shoulders can handle the load. They got quite a workout when He bore His cross, and carried the weight of the world on His shoulders that day, and I know He can carry a little lamb like me and you!
Let’s pretend that we all have just boarded a jet for a non-stop trip overseas. We all get on the airplane, take our seats, and fasten our seat belts, then we reach for a magazine, and when we do, we see something at our feet that bothers us…a set of bicycle pedals. Attached to those bicycle pedals is a big sprocket with a chain going thru the floor to the engines.
So, you call for a flight attendant, and you ask, “What’s w/ the bicycle pedals?” She says, “Look around!” You look and everybody’s got them. “Why do we all have these pedals?” you ask. “Well, the pilot has agreed to get us in the air, but we have to keep it in the air…he’ll get us to 30,000 feet, but then we’ll all have to pedal real hard to keep it there.”
I don’t care how hard we pedal, how long, how fast…we’re going down! And your chances of keeping that jumbo jet in the air by pedaling is greater than your chance of keeping your soul secure by your own efforts.
If the pilot of our souls doesn’t get us up and keep us up, we’ve no hope.
Remember now, if you lose your salvation, it's not your integrity that's at stake, it's God's. In our text Jesus promised the Father that He wouldn't lose one sheep, and that not one would get out of His hand. He's put it all on the line and if He loses one of us His reputation is ruined!
ill.--In the early days of building the Golden Gate Bridge, 23 men fell to their deaths. At great expense the contractors took upon them the gargantuan task of building a gigantic safety net spanning the entire bay. It paid off. How so? Now when a man fell, he was ok. But there was another unforeseen benefit. Do you know what it was? The work went NOTICEABLY faster! Why? Because the men were secure, they could focus on their job without fear of plunging to their deaths!
And I believe we can serve God with more freedom, zeal, and abandon because we know our shepherd's broad shoulders are a safety net beneath us!
Let's face it -- you don't want to be a soldier for God, battling bravely, fighting the good fight on the front lines...if you're not even sure you are a member of the army of the Lord!
I hope we appreciate what we have been given, and God forbid that we ever take it lightly or take advantage of His forever forgiveness and eternal promise.
We are secure because we are in His possession -- 'my sheep.'
… because we are in His power -- 'my Father' [greater than all]
3. We are in His protection.
Not only are we on His shoulders [power], but in His hand [protection.]
v. 28-30 At first it says we are in Jesus' hand...then in the Father's hand. It's double protection. Forget about Allstate...we're in really good hands!
He's got the whole world in His hands, that's collectively, but individually, He's got you and me, brother, sister, in His hands!
My salvation, thank God, is not in my hands, but in His!
ill.--a basketball in my hands is worth about $19. In Michael Jordan's hands it was once worth 33 million.
Two fish and some bread in my hand disappears in seconds, but in Jesus' hands it feeds the multitudes.
A couple of nails in my hand might contribute to hanging a picture or producing a bird house, but the nails in Jesus' hands are what my hope hangs upon and what He did there produced a shift in my eternity that I could not man handle, thank God it's in His hands and not my own!
4. We are in His purpose.
God the Father said to His Son, Jesus: "Find my sheep, and bring them home." That's His purpose. And God's purposes are never disappointed!
v. 29 'my Father which gave them me'
Back up now. Jesus said, "I give them eternal life [v. 28]" Give means to freely bestow, without cost. Salvation is free to us, but not cheap, because it cost God everything. It is a gift. [Jn. 3:16, Eph. 2:8] Will God take back His gift? Is He the politically incorrect "Indian Giver"? Not hardly. Jesus not only made the down payment, He keeps up the monthly payments.
Eternal life begins at the moment of salvation. And it's not ten day life or ten year life or 'until I sin a bad sin' life, it's eternal life and if it ever ends then it wasn't eternal now, was it?!
"Eternal" in v. 28 is the same word used for God being eternal. The implication: My salvation will cease to exist when God ceases to exist!
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Back to v. 29-- "Gave" here means commissioned. God entrusted the sheep to His Son, Jesus, and His integrity is at stake. The whole purpose was God entrusting the Faithful Shepherd with the sheep, and God's purposes are never thwarted!
2 Timothy 1:12
... for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
So, can you be saved and take advantage of eternal security by living in sin? Remember, when you truly get saved, your heart changes toward sin and toward the Lord. If you can continue in a life of sin with no conviction and no compunction then you need to examine yourself carefully!
ill.--I feel very secure in my marriage of over 30 years. And if my wife ever leaves me, I'm going with her! I feel very secure with her. She loves me unconditionally...she must, right?
Someone might say, "If that's really true, you can run around and cheat on her and live it up and she'll be there at home taking care of everything."
You know dumb that sounds? About as dumb as someone saying they can live how they want and be saved. They've never truly consummated a true love relationship with Jesus Christ. I have, and I feel secure with Him, and you don't cheat on someone you truly love!
It's true, I can treat my wife however I want...but God has changed my 'wanter' to want to treat her right! And I can treat God however I want...and because of how He treats me...my 'wanter' wants to do right!
You think you know someone who lost their salvation...who walked away, and God didn't squeeze, nor go out and bring them back into the fold? It may not be that they had it and lost it, but that they never truly had it to begin with!
1 John 2:19
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Make sure you are in the fold of the Good, True, Faithful Shepherd!
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