Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Sheep Believe

In John 10 Jesus has some interesting things to say about why sheep believe and whether they can ever stop being sheep.  He first of all in John 10:26 says “but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.” The Bible clearly sets forth that faith is a result of something God has done in us.  Therefore regeneration results in faith, our faith doesn’t result in regeneration.  In this case the reason they don’t believe is because they are not sheep,  He does not say you aren’t my sheep because you don’t believe. Believing or not believing is a result of who you are, it doesn’t determine who you are.  He is stating why they don’t believe; their power isn’t in view.  This is one of those verses that people have a tendency to get backwards. 
Acts 13:48 is another verse some tend to read backwards. And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.  It doesn’t say that as many as believed were appointed unto eternal life, but in fact the opposite.  God’s appointment or election is not based on our works but his good pleasure.
If you read this wrongly, verse 27 won’t make much sense, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. .  The difference in verses 26 and 27 is the election of God.  The Bible doesn’t recognize different degrees of sinners. We are all shut up under sin until he releases us.  But as he goes on in John 10 we see one of the great benefits of our salvation is that it is of his power and doing and not ours; we can never be lost! 
He says that no one can pluck the sheep out of his hand nor the Father’s hands.  Just as believing was a result of God determining to save us so he has already made the decision not to let any of us escape.  Notice again verse 27 and 28 in light of our security, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  Being a sheep results not only in believing but in following.  What it is not saying is that following results in eternal life, much like believing results in being a sheep.  It is all a work of God and sheep will follow; he will see to it.  Therefore we don’t have to worry that at some point in our lives we will decide not to follow!  This is great news about our security in Christ. 
Our hope is in whether we have a good Shepherd, not whether we are good sheep.  And yet it is the following (being good) that will assure us that we are in fact safe in Christ.  Let me illustrate.  How do you know if you were a literal sheep? If you walk like a sheep and say baa that is evidence of being a sheep. In the same way you don’t know you are alive because the doctor told you so.  Life is proved by living. You had better be looking for signs of life. Are you getting hungry; do you love;do you tire? Then that is pretty good evidence you have physical life. Trying to find assurance of spiritual life by ways other than following is how some use 1 John 5:13. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you are or aren’t saved just because you believed some facts about the cross of Christ. This is not very reassuring. He has created the natural order to illustrate spiritual truths if we will just think about it.  We wouldn’t think of calling a corpse a living person and we need to be careful that our theology isn’t doing just that when it comes to men’s souls.  Eternal life comes with our union to Christ.  It isn’t some substance he gives and takes away.  Once he is in us we are completely new creatures and he will see to it that we come to the full end he has predestined for his sheep.  Yes, we are saved through faith alone but faith without works is dead; it is not saving faith.
He is telling us that the life within us is greater than the sin in us. “Greater is he that is within us than he that is within the world”.  If his life is in you, then you follow him; if you don’t, then his life is not in you.

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