“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own. As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
The Good Shepherd Even Gives up His Life for His Sheep
Our Lord illustrated here that He was the Good Shepherd and that the Good Shepherd even gives up his life for the sheep. It would be wonderful if there were only good shepherds like the Lord, but unfortunately there are many hirelings as mentioned in this verse amongst the ministers of this world who only work for pay. Just as good and evil coexist in this world, there are evil hirelings and good shepherds.
But our Lord referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd who gives up His life for the sheep. What was the basis of the Lord saying such a thing? We can understand this through the work of Jesus who received the baptism from John the Baptist and was crucified and died on the Cross in order to save mankind from sin, and thereby saved His sheep at once by being resurrected from the dead. The Lord saved us from sins by the gospel of the water and the Spirit and gave to us the true salvation as a gift, also to everyone who would believe in this genuine gospel.
Today’s Scriptures passage tells us that a hireling leaves the sheep and flees when he sees a wolf approaching. But our Lord is not like that, He is the Good Shepherd who feeds and nurtures His sheep. Jesus came to this world for the sheep who were facing their certain deaths due to their sins, and saved them by receiving the baptism from John the Baptist, and giving up His life by being crucified on that cruel Cross, and being resurrected from the dead. Our Lord is the exceedingly Good Shepherd to those who truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Even the sheep that have been wandering around and going astray due to not knowing where to go were also able to receive the true salvation by meeting the God given gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord saved us who were bound to die due to our original sins and our personal sins ‘all at once’ by the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Before Jesus Christ came into this world, mankind was scurrying speedily towards the path of their destruction due to their many sins. You and I had been people like this who could not but commit sin throughout our entire lives, because we were originally born as offspring to sin. We were the people who could not but die spiritually and physically due to the many sins we commit.
But despite this our Lord gave up His life for our salvation. Jesus took all the sins of this world away by receiving His baptism from John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and He was also resurrected from dead after shedding His blood and dying on that Cross in agony. By doing all this Jesus saved all those who would believe in His gospel of the water and the Spirit ‘all at once’ and we were finally able to become Jesus Christ true sheep due to the baptism He received and the blood He shed.
Now you and I are able to receive the remission of our sins ‘once and for all’ and receive this true new life and possess eternal life by believing the Truth of salvation the Lord gave us, that is, the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Were we not the people who were destined to die due to our sins if it was not for our Lord who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit? You and I were people who were destined for hell and be destroyed therein if the Lord had not come into this world. The unchangeable truth and fact is; we received our salvation because our Lord came to receive the baptism and die on that Cross.
In what situation were we ensnared before we were saved? Were we not such wicked people who could not but die and go to hell due to our many sins? But despite this we who know and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, give praise, are thankful and give glory to God that the Lord is the Good Shepherd. We must never forget for even a moment the Truth of salvation that our Lord who is the Good Shepherd gave up His life on that Cross in order to save His sheep. I cannot but give thanks to God for this. Our Lord truly is the Good Shepherd for you and me who believe. I give glory to God.
Our Lord said these words to the Spiritual Thieves
In the Gospel of John chapter 10 verse 10, our Lord said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” You should try and understand the deep meaning of these Word well. The Lord said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy.” The Scriptures here refer directly to those ministers who swindle people spiritually as hirelings and thieves. A hireling literally is someone who works for a day’s pay. Jesus illustrates here that spiritual swindlers and thieves are those who try to kill and destroy believers in their congregation as hirelings. A hireling is someone who comes to people and spreads the wrong faith so that they can steal their material possessions and their souls. Hirelings take everything away from believers and eventually destroy them.
You and I know this well, and are able understand the true nature of ‘hirelings’ by their spiritual fruit. I sometimes see famous pastors preaching on cable TV, and at times I feel aggrieved when I see those splendid church buildings; and I wonder if these ministers build these large and luxurious buildings just to compete against each other. I also get so frustrated when hearing their words; their sermons are all worldly that are so far-off from the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The basic content of their sermons are limited by telling their followers that one can become wealthy if they believe in Jesus as their Savior or if someone really desires to be a good Christian they should become a decent law abiding person and dedicate himself to Jesus. Putting it somewhat harshly, sermons like these are nothing more than an ulterior motive to fulfill their greed by overstressing the ‘fear factor’ those believers cannot receive blessing from God if they do not live like this.
The Lord harshly criticizes hireling’s sermons, telling us that it is likened to taking away everything believers possess. How courteous do hirelings greet believers in their congregations! They greet believers in a gentle voice, “How are you?” They make themselves up so hypocritically and minister to believers as if they are gentle lambs or shepherds. They say, “You must live virtuously for the Lord,” and use words carefully behaving in such a manner that their code of conduct will not be broken. They are the true spiritual hirelings.
They also preach like this. “Are you all really the people of God? If so then you should live a virtuous life. Because we are the people of God, we should live uprightly and not let Jesus be insulted because of us? Therefore we should turn away from sin and offer our prayers of repentance before the presence of God, and thereby become sanctified. By doing this you will become Godly. Only then will people start to discover Jesus in you and come to believe. So, how should we live? You should throw away your evil ways and become good Christians.” They teach their followers like this by decorating their sermons up with all kinds of good words of this world. They are therefore classified as people who lead God’s sheep in the wrong way, because they have not as yet received salvation by the God given gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Ministers, who believe correctly in the God given gospel of the water and the Spirit, preach the Word of nurturance to their sheep because they believe in the righteousness of God and follow the Lord. They do God’s work by preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit in many places. These true shepherds preach to the people the work of salvation our Lord had fulfilled, that is, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and thereby give them the gift of new life to all who will accept this gospel. All those who follow the Lord’s will like this and in turn preach to many souls the blessing of God through the gospel of the water and the Spirit are the true workers of God.
But we must know spiritual hirelings are not like this. These hirelings are people who approach others and minister to them with the sole purpose of stealing from them. They do not have weapons in their hands, but they are fundamentally the same as thieves. I can give you many examples of how they rob and steal from their congregations, spiritually and physically. For example, they acknowledge anyone who comes to their church as saints; they appoint them deacons if they come often enough; and soon these deacons become elders should they be rich and offer heaps of money. This is probably the reason why there are so many deacons and elders in these churches. But the truth is that these things are nothing more than methods of trying to rob and steal from you. This is because there is no one amongst them who can preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
So we see many ministers of the world confess Jesus as their Lord, but the Lord warns us that there are many hirelings amongst them who minister without knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus speaks clearly about these things through today’s Scripture.
Just look around you. Although you and I who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are the true sheep having received the true remission of sins before the presence of God, but these hirelings are even as bold to approach Gods sheep with the idea of stealing from them? God’s sheep are those who have become the people of God by receiving salvation from all their sins by believing in the God given gospel of the water and the Spirit. They follow the Lord because they know His voice. The reason these true sheep follow the Lord is because they know how to distinguish the voice of the Shepherd from the voice of a hireling.
We, who believe in the righteousness of God, must know how to discern the words of a hireling from God’s Word. It is written in the Book of Genesis 1: 6, “Then God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.’” This means that God had divided the water above the firmament from the muddy water on this earth. In other words, He divided the Word from the words of man. We therefore must discern all things based on the recorded Word of God. We should discern amongst the many ministers in Christianity today who the true servants of God are and who the hirelings are. We need to know that not anyone who says he has been born again just because he believes in Jesus as the Savior is a true Christian; not anyone can be regarded as a true Christian just because he has been appointed to deaconship or eldership in a church; and not anyone can be regarded as a true leader of God just because he has become a pastor in a Christian denomination. We therefore should know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and also believe it in order to discern who the spiritual thieves are and who the good shepherds are. We should check and see who really is following the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, and has become God’s sheep and who truly believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Our Lord said that He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him well and follow the Good Shepherd only because they know the voice of this Shepherd. But amongst the many lost sheep in this world, there are those who have met the Lord by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, while there are others who have as yet not met Him. Tragically, these sheep who have not received the remission of their sins due to them not knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit have as yet not become the Lord’s sheep, the sheep of His fold. Everyone can meet the Lord if they would believe the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which says that Jesus Christ saved us from the sins of the world by His baptism He received from John the Baptist, His blood of the Cross and His resurrection. We should thus be able to discern what the gospel of the water and the Spirit is, and we must hold fast onto this genuine gospel.
Even amongst Christian leaders, there are those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and there are those who refuse to believe in it and are actually evil hirelings. These hirelings use their sheep and try to become fat from all the many possessions they steal from their sheep. But the good shepherds have accepted the God given gospel of the water and the Spirit into their hearts and also serve the righteousness of God. These shepherds are the true leaders of God’s Church.
There are many who have become spiritual hirelings. These are those who have graduated from theological seminaries, and do not have knowledge or believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and earn a salary from their respective churches. They are ministering falsely with a value system based on material things. They are only interested in the things believers can fill their mouths with, and are not interested in God’s sheep receiving salvation or even one soul receiving the true remission of sins. If these people are not the robbers and thieves mentioned by the Lord, then who are they really?
The true servants of God have keen interest in whether someone has received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and also how to increase the faith of these believing saints. Therefore the servants of God who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are supplying sermons according to the Word for their spiritual growth. So when a servant of God preaches God’s Word to those who have already become God’s sheep, the Holy Spirit inside their hearts makes them accept it by saying “Amen” and then they consume it by faith. These true saints of God are obedient to God’s recorded Word, and do not deviate from it. Because of this these saints and Jesus Christ become united in the will of God the Father. The Triune God is called the God of the Trinity because God has saved sinners from the sins of the world with one will and purpose.
We should be able to discern these hirelings and keep them at a distance including discerning the Truth from lies through ‘the spiritual lens’ called the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord said, “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them” (John 10:12). How do sheep behave? Because they are the family members in God, they assist and fight for one another especially when one of them is in danger, and they care for one another and hope that they all would prosper because they are all one family. Because they have already become the righteous by believing in the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit and received the remission of sins, they care for one another to receive even more abundant faith and blessings from God. That is why we care for one another because we are one family who received this glorious salvation by the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
These ministers who truly have received the remission of sins desire deeply that the saints would prosper spiritually and physically. The Lord desires that everyone should truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, in order to receive many blessings from God in His Church, and to become a person of God. The Lord said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He wants us to receive great blessing spiritually and physically. This is the very heart of God and the heart of a Good Shepherd.
We who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are God’s people. We are the sheep who have met Jesus Christ already and the Lord is our Shepherd. Because of this we must be able to discern the true shepherds from these hirelings, and live a life of a preacher who leads the lost sheep so that they can be herded towards the fold and help them to receive the abundant life also. The Lord told us to live like that. It is written, “I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own. As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). Our Lord gave up His life for His sheep. Jesus received His baptism from John the Baptist and was crucified to death on the Cross in order to save us from the sins of the world and give us new life.
While doing God’s work, there will be times when we become so tired and weary that we feel like dying. But when we give it much thought, we will once again realize, “The Lord is my Good Shepherd and He even gave up His life for me after receiving His baptism, but I am complaining that I have worked through one night even though I have eating delicious food to eat while working. I must therefore obey even if He requires my life. Why do I try to avoid even this much of sacrifice for Him?” We come to realize at a time like this just how lacking we are and what a Good Shepherd the Lord really is.
We Believe the Lord Is Truly the Good Shepherd
The Lord spoke of the reason why His Father loved Him saying, “Therefore My Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again” (John 10:17). Although our Lord gave up His life He also intended to take it up again, so that He could give us new life. God the Father loved His Son, Jesus who is also our Savior. Many lost sheep received new life through Jesus as a result of Him receiving the baptism and giving up His life on that Cross. God loved Jesus Christ because He was His only begotten Son, and was also thankful and loved the work His Son had completed.
Even in human society, there can be no father who does not love his own beloved child. But a child seems even more lovable when he does something good and upright. Suppose a child saved another person’s life, wouldn’t the father be so proud that he had such a good son?
Think about it! Who has the power to threaten and kill the Lord when our Lord who saved you and me from our sins is the very God who created this universe? There will be no one who will be able to stand against Him.
That is why everyone should know that the Lord came to this world and volunteered to receive the baptism, and volunteered to receive the guilty verdict in Pilate’s Court and died by having both His hands and feet nailed to that cruel Cross in order to make us, His sheep receive new life. Our Lord definitely did not surrender to the evil ones because He lacked power. All those who are lifted up as gods of this world are the servants of Satan. Our Lord is the true King of kings and the God of gods, the only Almighty God, the Good Shepherd and the God of salvation.
Brothers and sisters, we do not believe in one of the many religions of this world. We believe in the Lord who laid down His life voluntarily to save us from destruction. The Lord says in the Gospel of John chapter 10 verse 18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” This means that God the Father requested this from the Lord, and the Lord obeyed according to His Father’s will. Our Lord truly is our Good Shepherd. Our Lord is the Good Shepherd who gave up His life to blot out all our sins and to make you and me receive new life. He is our true God and our Savior.
The God we believe in is different from all the idol gods of this world. And believing in the God given gospel of the water and the Spirit is the only way to receive this new life and the most secure way for us who believe to follow the Word of God. By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we come to meet the God of the Truth, and we follow Him who is our Good Shepherd. You and I have become the Lord’s people and also the Lord’s sheep by believing in the righteousness of our Lord.
People who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit today are the true sheep of God. The characteristics of these true believers are that they understand the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow this Shepherd. We also need to understand that they have an evil ‘physical’ aspect even though they have become the gentle sheep of God ‘spiritually.’ This is because the nature of sin is still in their flesh. But despite this we must not follow the evil desires of our flesh. We must believe in God’s Word through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and follow God’s voice with spiritual thoughts instead of fleshly thoughts by believing that the Lord has saved us from the sins of the world and that He is the Lord who gave us this new life. Therefore as the true sheep of God, we should listen carefully to the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him.
Although we might not give up our life like our Lord did who is the Good Shepherd who received the baptism from John the Baptist and shed His blood on that Cross for His sheep, but we must at least preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the souls around us who are still ensnared in their sins. This is because the Lord said that they too should come into His fold and belong to one Shepherd. We must now become the sheep who do good works so that all people will truly believe and receive salvation from their sins.
This evening I have preached about the Lord who is the Good Shepherd. I really desire that you all would believe in Jesus Christ who is the Good Shepherd by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We have by the Grace of God come to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and lived until now because Jesus Christ who is the Good Shepherd who has saved you and me and led us into God’s safe arms. Do you understand this? The Good Shepherd has saved us and He has always led us on the righteous path. Let us give thanks to God, to our Lord who is the Good Shepherd!
Since you have become God’s sheep by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I really desire that you believe firmly and follow the voice of the shepherds God has appointed. If you hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd, you will receive even more abundant life and you and I will be able to live in this world sharing abundant life and all His blessings. The Lord has given this truly amazing blessing to His sheep through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Thank You, Lord.