John 10 is one of the most endearing chapters in the Bible. In John 10 Jesus identifies Himself as the good Shepherd and His people as His sheep. In these verses we learn that Jesus is not a self-serving shepherd like the false shepherds of the Old Testament (see Ezekiel 34). Rather, Jesus lays His life down for His sheep (John 10:11). Jesus is the ideal Shepherd, the greatest Shepherd of all.
Allow me to ask a daring question: Is this Good News? The answer we must give is, “Maybe.”
I understand that you may be thinking that my answer is a bit provocative, but it isn’t. It is an honest answer. You may be wondering why I wouldn’t answer with a resounding, “Yes! This is great news!”?
The truth is because it isn’t Good News for everyone.
Do you remember what David wrote in the first verse of Psalm 23?
“The LORD is my shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1)
I would argue that the most important word in Psalm 23:1 is the word “my.” God may be the greatest shepherd of all, but if he isn’t “my” shepherd–if I am not in His fold–who cares?
A shepherd is one who protects and provides for his sheep. What difference does it make if God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-loving (omnibenevolent), and all-wise (omniscient) if his power, love, and wisdom are not at work for me?
America has been the world’s super-power for arguably the past 50 years. Is that good news or bad news? Well, it depends on whether or not you are an American. To take it a step further, it depends on whether you are a friend of America or a foe, an enemy or an ally, a law-abiding citizen or a terrorist. All the power that is used to protect her citizens is marshaled against those who trouble her citizens.
So it is with Christ.
God protects His sheep against the attacks of His enemies. God will visit the troublers of His sheep in judgment on the last day (2 Thessalonians 1:4-10).
So let me ask you, are you one of His sheep? Can you say with David, “The Lord is my Shepherd!”? Is Jesus your own personal protector, provider, redeemer, and Lord?
One of the greatest (if not the greatest) tragedies in the world today is that many think themselves to be in Christ’s fold when they are not. Many presume themselves to be “in Christ” simply because they have prayed a sinner’s prayer, or because they go to church religiously, or because they profess Christ as Savior.
This is a tragedy! One will not pursue the cultivation of their relationship to Jesus if they think they are already one of His sheep.
Can you say, “The Lord is my Shepherd”? The most irresponsible and foolish thing a person can ever do is to flippantly presume that you are one of His. Paul actually tells those who profess faith in Christ to test the genuineness of their profession.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5).
But how can a person know that they are truly one of His? How can one know that they are truly in His fold? How can one know that He is their Shepherd? How can one know that He has laid His life down for them, in particular? These are important questions that we should all (including myself!) take seriously. We should never skim the surface of these questions thoughtlessly, as if being wrong were inconsequential. If anyone ever tells you, “Stop concerning yourself about where you will spend eternity!”, don’t listen.
Though I would never wish it upon myself, I would rather live my entire life in a deep depression over concern for my eternal well-being, laboring and toiling to make sure I am truly in Christ’s fold, and go to heaven than be happily and contentedly deceived into thinking I am on my way to heaven when I am actually on my way to hell.
The good news is that you can know whether or not you are one of His sheep. In fact, in John 10, Jesus actually describes His sheep. He says five things about His sheep in verses 3-9. In the posts that follow, we will examine each of the five descriptions that Jesus provides regarding His sheep. The question everyone needs to ask themselves as we look at these descriptions of Christ’s sheep is, “Is this true of me–does this accurately describe me?”
This is how Jesus identifies His sheep. If these things are not true of you, you are not one of His sheep. This doesn’t mean that you are beyond hope, rather, this means you must put your trust in Christ alone as Savior and Lord.
Before closing I will simply list the five descriptions from John 10:3-9:
- Jesus’ sheep enter through Him. (vs. 9)
- Jesus’ sheep hear His voice. (vs. 3)
- Jesus’ sheep follow Him. (vs. 4)
- Jesus’ sheep know His voice. (vs. 4)
- Jesus’ sheep do not recognize the voice a stranger. (vs. 5)
I plead with you not to assume that you are one of Christ’s sheep just because you have prayed a prayer or made a profession of faith. I plead with you to examine yourself to see if you are truly in His fold.
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a five-part series exhorting believers to test themselves to assure they are in Christ. Click here for Part 2…