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We, the church of Christ, are a broken people who have been healed. Christ came into this dark world to rescue us from the destruction we brought upon ourselves. "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
From the Bunny Slope to Double Black: Taking the Next Step in Your Relationship with Christ
The Radical Rescue That is Christmas
Darkness in Newtown and The Light of The World
The Politics of the Gospel
A Celebration of What God Has Done and a Reminder of Our Role Now That There Is "More Than Enough"
Our Reasonable Faith: A Conversation and a Charge
Todd Wagner on Point of View Discussing Apologetics
Reminders of His Love and How We Remember Him
Glorifying God Through Conflict
The God-given Dignity and Duty of Woman, and the Men Who Serve Them
Todd Wagner Interviewed on Point of View
Finishing Well, Celebrating Now, and Pressing On
If Easter is True, Then so is This
How People Accustomed to Evil Become Good
Faith in the Fire
Lifting the Curse
Act to Impact Sunday 2012
The God of Win Win Win Win Win
Hell and Lollipops: Eternal Implications
The Elephant in the Room: Five Barriers to Generous Living
Why We Don't Change: Eight Attitudes that will Keep Us Bound to an Old Master
An Invitation to the Table
Let me pray for us. If you brought a Bible, and I hope you did… If you are here and you do not own your own Scripture, would you let us know? We'll either tell you where you can find them all around this great free country of ours, or we'll get you one. We hope you always bring one. If you have a Bible, start to flip to John 10. Let me pray for you.
Father, I thank you for the chance to be here this morning and to learn, to be encouraged, to be reminded, that we might remember how we should fully respond to who you are. We pray, this morning, there would be some folks who wouldn't be reminded, but they would, maybe for the first time, come to understand.
They would repent. They would hear your voice, and because they are your people, they would respond. They would walk out of dead religion and a way that seems right to man. They would walk out of humanistic philosophy. They would walk out of suppression of truth, and they would walk into life through a relationship with your Son, Jesus Christ.
I pray all we would do this morning here is faithfully re-represent what you have revealed, that we could lift up your Son, and you would draw people to him, even as you said you would. I pray though, Lord, for the folks who are here this morning who wonder if you love them, wonder if you're there, if you care, if you understand, that this morning's time would be a clarion call that you are there, that you love them, that they are not forgotten, and that you want to rescue them from this life of sin and death. Would you accomplish that this morning? We would be greatly pleased. Amen.
It always makes me laugh when folks come to Watermark one time, and they make some comment like this… Because they were at a particular series, maybe, over one little series of weeks, or maybe even just one Sunday like last Sunday. It's funny. Some people last Sunday are here, and they go, "You know, man. It's just what I thought. That church doesn't really teach the Bible. I think he only referenced two verses the entire service." It was actually a few more than that, but we didn't chew through a lot of verses like I normally do.
There are other times folks are here going, "You know, I wish it was a little bit more relevant. When they go through so many verses of Scripture, it overwhelms me," or, "The music is too this, or the dress is too that." It reminds me of a lot of folks who were around Jesus. They weren't really there to learn from Jesus. They were there to find something he was saying that was wrong, that they might accuse him.
Listen. I think you ought to be discerning. I think you ought to be somebody who is as Paul said about the folks who lived in a little area called Berea. He said you should be like the Bereans, who heard the words of Paul and compared them to the Scripture to see if it were so. Last week we talked a lot about what God wants to produce in us. He wants to produce lives that are faithful and in full response to him. We talked about how God wants us to be fully engaged with him in seeking and saving the lost, and he doesn't want us to be hypercritical about the way other folks do it.
I'm reminded of a gal who came up to D.L. Moody, who was a great evangelist who lived about a hundred years ago, one time. She said to him, "Dr. Moody, I don't much like the way you preach the gospel." Moody said, "You know, I don't much like it either. Tell me. How do you do it?" She goes, "Well, I really don't have a way of doing it." He goes, "Well, then, I like my way of doing it a whole lot more than your way of not doing it."
All I really want to say to all our friends this morning is I'm not really here to try and get you to like my way of doing it. I'm here to try and faithfully represent what God has done. Instead of being hypercritical… By the way, I didn't get a lot of criticism last week, but I just find some people always show up thinking it has to look a certain way. Here's the way it has to look: consistent with God's Word, full of grace and truth, and about Jesus, not about man. I hope we're faithful to that this morning.
There were some people who weren't about men. They were about themselves, and Jesus was not really fond of them. All throughout the Old Testament it talks about how these folks are thieves and robbers, and how one day, these men who are oppressively over the flock God loves, God himself would come and deal with them. He himself would shepherd them.
I want to read to you a text this morning that really fully anticipates the reality of what we're going to study this morning. You'll find through the Prophets…Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah…there was this anticipation that one day God himself would come and would get it right, because those he had given the privilege to lead were not leading well.
Note to leaders. All of us are leaders in some form or fashion, but especially those of you in positions of authority or power, be it physical or positional. God is watching. He does not take it lightly when those under your care and stewardship, those you are to cherish and honor, are abused and manipulated emotionally, physically, linguistically. He cares about those under your care, and he will make amends and recompense men according to their deeds. Now, he's a God of grace, but his grace wants to call you out of that cycle of destruction into life.
Watch what he says here in Ezekiel 34. I know you're in John 10, but you can follow along or you can flip quickly backwards. Ezekiel 34. It says, "Then the word of the LORD came to me [Ezekiel] saying, 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, "Thus says the Lord GOD, 'Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?'" As opposed to kill and destroy, as opposed to being thieves and robbers, is what's implied there. Verse 3 says:
"You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them."
See also Jesus at the very end of his life (Matthew 25) saying to those who say they were his shepherds and his leaders, "How come you didn't love the naked? How come you didn't love the hungry? How come you didn't visit those who were in prison?" That's where he gets this idea. Verse 5: "They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered."
I recently was asked to speak at an event that was talking about our society, the cultural decline, the moral decay, and the lostness of our world. It was funny. The guy who spoke before me got up there, quoted Psalms, and talked about some truths from Scripture about what happens. I got up there, and the first thing I quoted was Charles Manson.
Manson, when he was testifying after the Helter Skelter murders, was asked, "Hey, listen. Let me ask you a question. These kids came from suburbia. These kids came from very well-to-do families here in California. How in the world did you get them to follow you?" Manson, in all of his insanity, looked back at that prosecuting attorney and said, "I'll tell you how. They were your children. You put them out, so I took them in."
"They were your children and you wouldn't spend time with them, so I let the Disney channel. They were your children and you wouldn't spend time with them, so I let Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez disciple them about what love looks like and about where life is going to come from." You go, "What's wrong with Justin Bieber? What's wrong with Jennifer Lopez?" I don't know. You guys go study them. I'm not here to exegete Justin or Jennifer. I'm here to tell you they will not do it as well as Jesus, and Jesus says you ought to do it as well as him.
What I want to offer to you this morning is the reason so much of our country is the way it is, is not because they're people who are necessarily rebelling against folks who have loved them and led them well. It's people who have not been loved and led well, so they're looking for a leader. The TV is a very willing leader. Their peers are very willing leaders. Their flesh is a very willing leader. What Christ says to us is, "Hey. These are your kids."
I went on to talk about the reason our country is the way it is, is because the church is the way it is. The church is an ineffective, bad shepherd. The greatest evil in America today, you have heard me often say, is not the pro-abortion movement. It is not the folks who are trying to redefine marriage.
It is the ineffective, feckless, irrelevant, disobedient church. When you have sheep without shepherds, why are you surprised they're going to be preyed upon by thieves and robbers? Jesus is saying, "Look, man. This is where they are. They're scattered because they don't have a shepherd."
Verse 6: "My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill…" They're looking for something. "My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 'As I live,' declares the Lord GOD, 'surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock…'"
They just wanted the sheep to show up and keep the lights on. They didn't want to offend them. They didn't want to really shepherd them. They wanted to be popular. "Thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.' For thus says the Lord GOD…""I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to become a shepherd myself. I am the Good Shepherd."
"Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out." Luke 19:10. Luke 15. John 10. Verse 12 says, "As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep…" Verse 13: "I will bring them out…" Verse 14: "I will feed them in a good pasture…" Verse 15: "I will feed My flock…" Verse 16: "I will seek the lost…I will destroy [the false shepherds] . I will feed them[the false shepherds]with judgment." It goes all throughout this chapter.
What is the expectation of Ezekiel 34? "There's not a good shepherd, so I'm going to come and be the Good Shepherd." See John 10. When Jesus shows up, and he says, "I'm the Good Shepherd," if you know your Bible (and if you were a Jew, you knew your Bible), you go, "This guy is claiming to do what God said he would do."
It's funny because if you go back and look at John 10, Jesus uses… This is how Jesus starts his little message with his friends that day. "Hey. You guys are the thieves and robbers. I'm the Good Shepherd." That's not usually how to win friends and influence people, but you can tell he's not here, really, to win friends and influence people.
He is here to divide the sheep from the goats. He's here to call out those who know him, and he is here to judge the false shepherds. He is here to draw a line, and bring judgment, clarity, and truth. Truth always separates. It separates life from death, light from dark, error from right. Jesus says, "I'm drawing a line. You have to figure out which side you're going to jump on."
Again, I want to tell you. This isn't little, gentle Jesus, meek and mild, skipping through the earth, kissing babies. No, no, no, no. This is God on a mission. He gives this little story, and then in verse 6 of John 10 (we studied this extensively last time we were in John), they said, "Look, man. This figure of speech, we don't understand." Jesus is about to be very, very clear. "Well, let me just spell it out for you." It reminds me… In fact, I'll get to this again. You'll see the same idea shows up a little bit later in John 10.
There are some times, we'll ask my kids to do stuff. It's pretty clear. "Go clean your room. Grab your shoes. Take them upstairs." "What? Huh? What? What do you want me to do?" It's like I'm talking in Patois or some Navajo language the best cryptologists in the world can't decipher. This is not a problem of a lack of clarity. This is ears that do not want to hear.
What I'm going to make a case for this morning is there was not a problem of clarity. These are just ears who didn't want to hear. Jesus is very simply clear. He says, "The reason you don't hear my voice is because you're not my sheep. My sheep know my voice." Look. To us who live in twenty-first century America, the shepherd analogy doesn't really work with us, because we don't see a lot of the shepherds leading the sheep. But let me remind you.
When we taught this passage, I had a little sheep pen up here. What would happen is a bunch of different shepherds would put their sheep in that same pen. There would be all kinds of different sheep in that pen. In the morning when they would come by, they'd go to the doorkeeper, and they would say, "Hey, look. I'm here to get my sheep."
He goes, "Great. Get your sheep." He goes, "Okay. My sheep. Let's go." Amidst all the sheep, that guy's sheep would hear his voice, and they would come out. He would count them and make sure they were all there, that there wasn't one that was not paying attention or didn't hear. They would get them out. There are numerous stories of two different shepherds who pull up at once. They get out. They let all the sheep out.
They say, "Come on. Let's go. My sheep over here. Let's go." They would lead them and say, "Let's go." Their sheep would follow them. Some sheep would go this way. Some would go that way. They are a herd animal, but they are an animal that is identified with a shepherd. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd. To this particular culture, Jesus was being extremely clear. He's saying, "I'll tell you why you don't hear me." He's going to make it even more clear in just a moment.
He basically does this, and I taught on this extensively. He does three things. He says, in verses 6-7, "Okay. You want me to make it clear? I'm going to tell you what I'm doing. I'm gathering my sheep." In verses 8-10, he says, "This is why I am doing it. Because I'm the Good Shepherd, and I want goodness and mercy for my sheep." Then, in verses 11-18, in John 10, he says, "This is how I'm going to do it. I'm going to lay down my life, and I'm going to take it back up again."
There was a division that occurred among the Jews because of these words. There were some who were around him who were, in effect, allergic to his word. They were repulsed, so they were moving back away. In verse 19, there is a division that occurs among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, "Look. He's crazy." What you're going to find out right now is what's about to happen is Jesus is going to try and be very clear.
"This is the deal. Here's the dividing line. Some are going to say I'm a demon. Some are going to say I'm a deity. Some are going to say I'm insane. Some are going to say I'm the incarnate Word of God. Some say I'm a lunatic. Some say I'm a lord. Some say I'm madman. Some say I'm the Messiah." I could go on and on. The question isn't just what these guys did. What are you going to do? What I will end today with is…What does it look like if you decide he is your Shepherd? There's a question, and it's time for us to look at how he answers it.
Verse 22: "At that time the Feast of the Dedication…" We call the Feast of Dedication Hanukkah. Hanukkah almost always happens around December in our calendar. The Festival of Lights started about 165 BC. It's one of the latest and last of the Jewish festivals that was really instituted. The rest of them were found in Scripture. This is one that was inserted into their calendar because the Greeks had oppressed the people of God. This is during that large silent period when there's the progression of nations that was long ago predicted by the prophets of God.
Assyria would rise up and bring judgment to the Northern Kingdom, and then Babylon would come and finish what Assyria started. Then you would have Medo-Persia that would come. Then you would have the Greeks who would come. Then the Romans would come after that. During the Greek reign and oppression of the Jewish people, there was guy whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes. He was one of the sons of the successors of Alexander the Great.
He was specifically over the particular part of the world we know as Palestine or modern-day Israel. He had so hated the Jews that he went into their temple mount, and he enthroned himself in the Holy of Holies. He said he was god and to worship him. He took a pig, and he sacrificed it on the altar.
There were a group of folks called Maccabees who were saying, "All right. That's the last straw." They said, "Let's die serving our God," so they went hard after Antiochus Epiphanes. The Maccabean Revolt is famed throughout Jewish history. They actually unseated Greek power, and they cleansed the temple. In order to cleanse the temple, they wanted to have a light that would burn in the temple for seven days, but they only had enough oil for one day.
The Feast of Lights…the Feast of Dedication of the temple, as they were cleansing it from a false leader who had desecrated it with his self-promotion and oppression of the people…is that God multiplied the provision that was there so he could accomplish what only God could accomplish. During this time of great oppression, there wasn't a lot of oil. The Feast of Lights, or Hanukkah, is a time when the Jews celebrate God's providing for them so they could rededicate the temple and honor him. That's what Hanukkah is. In 165 BC is when that all happened, and it has continued to this day.
What you're going to have now is the one who has said he is the Light of the World is going to walk back on that same temple mount, and he's going to try and bring real light and real clarity to it and cleanse it one more time. If it won't be cleansed, this time from false shepherds who were Jews, then he will call his sheep out and say, "Follow me, because judgment is coming to this people until such a time as the people hear my voice, and I gather them again in the land in the way I said I would." That's what's happening right here in John 10.
How does all this relate to you? Well, here's how it relates to you, because you have to decide. This Jesus, we found out back there in verse 16, said, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also…" Here's the question today. Are you going to listen to the voice of this Jesus, or are you going to say, "He's a demon. He's insane. He's a madman. He's a lunatic"? Or are you going to say, "No, no, no, no. He thought he was God. I'm going to follow him, because I believe he is God." Why would you believe he is God? Well, let's ask Jesus.
"…it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense?'" They were coming back to him, and they were saying, "Look. There is some word you might be the Messiah. Look, if you're the Messiah, then you come get it done." "If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.""No more parables. No more analogies. Just answer the question."
What Jesus is going to do, from verse 25 down through the end of this chapter, is he's going to answer the question. This is a gracious response, one more time, to people who want to know, "Who do you think you are, and how can we know?" He shared this, that those who were there might hear and understand.
I will tell you, it's been preserved for you so today you can hear and decide for yourself who this Jesus is. Listen. I'm not going to speak in Patois. I'm not going to speak in Navajo, but this will be a dog whistle to some of you. It'll go right over your head. I'm going to tell you why Jesus says that's the case. He says, "Okay. Here we go. Listen."
"Jesus answered them, 'I told you…'" That's his first response. "…and you do not believe…""I've done all the telling, so I'll tell you what. Let's go back over everything. I'll do a little more telling, but let's just remind you. If you didn't like the tell, because some people don't do well in lectures, remember all the labs. Remember the show." Jesus came, and there was a show-and-tell.
"Let's review. I turned water into wine. That is something only a creator can do. God is a creator. I created. I calmed the winds and the waves. God is the Creator of nature and sovereign over nature. I am sovereign over nature. I gave sight to the blind. I made the lame walk. You guys know Isaiah 35? That's what the Messiah would do when he came. Let's see. I fed the people in the wilderness and provided for them food they lacked, just like I did with Israel the first time, in a way only God can do.
I am going to raise somebody from the dead. I've already done it a couple of times. I'll do it yet again, and I'm going to show you I'm only going to do what God can do. If you don't like my words, then at least refer back to my works." That's his comment. "If you don't like what I say, then look at the works I do in my Father's name. They testify of me. This isn't difficult."
This is exactly what happened way back there in John 9. Do you remember that? They were arguing over him. There was this division that came up again. In John, chapter 9, in this little exchange that happened… Let's remind ourselves. There was an accusation in verses 29 through 34. "We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from."
So, the blind man who had just been healed said, "Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him." And God heard this guy. "Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.""It's never happened. This guy did it. If this man were from God, he could do it." "If this man were not from God, He could do nothing." That is what I call brilliant.
All Jesus is doing is saying, "Look. I don't know what else to do. I've talked to you in stories and parables. I've talked to you plainly. Then, I said, 'Look. Let's not just make this a lecture. Anybody can claim to be God, but look. If you do the things I've done, you ought to start to lock in.'" Verse 26: "Here's the problem. The reason you're not following me out of the pen of legalism, religion, and the ways of man is because you are not my sheep. If you were my sheep, you would hear what I'm saying. You would know me, and you would follow me."
I could go on a long diatribe here about certain branches, descriptions, and labels of theological circles called Calvinism as opposed to Arminianism and Pelagianism as opposed to what Augustine represented, but I'll let you figure out what that means. Okay?
Jesus said, "You don't follow me because you don't know me. You don't know me because you can't hear me. You can't hear me because you're not mine. I'm not going to spend all day here debating with you. I'm going to be truthful and honest, and if you're my sheep, you'll follow me. By the way, all of you sheep have had a chance to observe the way I shepherd, and there is plenty of revelation for all of you. I'm not telling any of you that you can't come. The fact is, some of you ain't coming.
Some of you, by grace, are going to hear my word, and it's going to sound very familiar. One of the reasons you're going to respond is because you're broken and beaten and tattered. You've been devoured by wolves and bears. You've wandered away. You're hungry. You're impoverished. You're ridden with parasites. You've been bullied by others, and you're looking for a good shepherd.
When I hold up my hand and say, 'I'm that Good Shepherd,' you are going to run to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden. I'm going to give you rest. Some of you guys are arrogant. You don't even think you're sheep. You don't even think you need a shepherd. I'm going to tell you, 'You keep grazing where you want. But there's going to be a day you're going to see the Great Shepherd has come, and you missed him.'"
I'll just say this. Some people are really bothered by Paul. See also, later Calvin. See also, later Calvinists. Let me show you where Paul gets his idea. It's right here. Jesus is about… People ask me, "Todd, are you a Calvinist?" I go, "No. I'm a Biblicist. I'm Pauline. Where Calvin lines up with Scripture, I'm right there with him." He happened to line up with Scripture a lot.
Listen to Romans 8:28-32. You tell me what this means when it says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.""Even your being devoured. Even your being beaten. Even your living in a world that's sinful and dead because it left me. So, there is fear and insecurity. You just can't find enough comfort.
I'm going to use that lack of comfort, death, pain, divorce, brokenness, sin, and addiction to show you that you need a shepherd, that you are a sheep. You need someone who can love you and care for you and lead you by still waters and green pastures. Even that pain in your life, I'm going to use it for good." You can't say that about anybody but God's sheep. Now look at this.
"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us [if he's our Shepherd] who is against us?"
This shepherd who did not spare himself. God sent him as his own Son. If he delivered up his own Son for us, what else is he not going to do for us? Let's follow him. Jesus said, "Here's the deal. Listen. I couldn't be any clearer. I've told you where life is. You don't want life? You think you can find life on your own? You're not my sheep." Verse 27: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them…"
Let me say this. You can't just make a decision about Jesus intellectually. Jesus rejects that. The Scripture says his people follow him. Are you a Christ-follower? He doesn't want your vote. He doesn't want your affirmation. You move toward him. When you move and follow him, you experience life. If you are not moving congruent with God's will and Word, then you're not listening to his voice. You may like him. You might be a fan, but you are not a follower. That is not the faith Scripture expects. When you follow him, it leads to life. That is the expectation.
"I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." This is what you call eternal security. It's also spoken of within certain doctrines certain people have a hard time with. There is a difference between a said faith and a saving faith, to be sure. "I think Jesus is that guy." There's a saving faith: "I follow him." To believe in Scripture is to follow, to obey, to repent, to trust, to commit. He says, "Look. I am right there with you."
Listen. The Savior is who does the saving. The sheep don't do the saving. If all you did was sin to make your salvation possible, then you can't lose that which you did not create for yourself if your Shepherd is who he says he is, and he says, "I'm not going to lose you." The question is, "Are you his sheep?" not, "Is he a sufficient Shepherd?"
People who talk about losing their salvation have a very low view of Jesus and of God. If you have a low view of Jesus and God, you don't have a biblical view of Jesus and God. You ain't listening. This is good. We all know the Scripture says, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so," that Karl Barth wrote a long time ago, but what is Jesus doing here? He's trying to be very clear.
Someone might go, "Okay. That's all fine and good, but what about the Father? You might be for us, but what about the Father?" Watch what Jesus said about this. He goes, "…no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me…" To hold in my hand. "…is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."
"They're in my hand. They're in the Father's hand. We have the same hand, the same goal, the same grasp, the same purpose. His hand is my hand." What is he saying? He's saying what's there in verse 30. "I and the Father are [the same] one.""We have the same goal. We have the same purpose. We are the same."
Listen. What's really great is… As the church really tried to get its arms around Jesus and describe him, do you know what's interesting? Today people have a hard time understanding Jesus could be God. They go, "Okay. He's a good teacher. He's a good rabbi. He's a good moral example, but I don't know if he ever thought he was God or if he claimed to be God or if others thought he was God or if he would be God or if he could be God."
What's interesting is in the early church, there was never a problem about whether or not he was God. The question was, "How can God be man?" They had this discussion about the nature of Christ. They would debate and understand and grow. They would come up with ways they could communicate it. The church would take a stand and go, "Based on all the revelation we have as we look at the Scripture, this is what all of us who believe think is true of God, his nature and person."
They labeled what God revealed about himself Trinitarianism. You can't find the word in your Bible because all that is, is a label which describes what is there. It is a succinct way to describe to you what God has said about himself. They said, "God is one. He's one in essence. He is, though, three in person. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit relate in mutual harmony and submission and completion and love. They are equal in their dignity, and they're equal in their divinity. They are submissive, subordinate, and mutually exalting in their person." That's as far as they could go.
They did come up with a couple of other labels that might help you right here. When Jesus says, "I and the Father are one," there are two ideas. They are both true. One of the labels came out in AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea, when the church would gather and go, "Okay. Let's make sure we're all agreeing, as we study God's Word, that this is what the Scripture says." They came up with this term homoousios.
Homoousios comes from two words which I'm going to explain to you. Homo means same. Homosexual, same sex. Ousia is where you get the word being from. It's personage. You might even go so far as to say substance. In fact, we get this little expression from… When someone is cut, and there's something that comes out of you, we say what? It oozes out of you. What's coming out of you is your being, your life.
You can be as graphic as all your guts or just a little bit of whatever is inside of you. You have a little blister, and it comes out. It oozes out. Your being is moving out of you. What they're saying here is Jesus is of the same being as the Father. That's the idea here when he says, "I and the Father are the same thing."
There was also another one. This one is just as beautiful. The word was perichoretic. When you get the word peri, think of perimeter. What is around or about the meter. That's the perimeter. Choreic is where we get choreography or chorus. It's song and dance. In effect, they said, "He is homoousios. He is the same essence and being. He is perichoretic. He is about the same dance and song as the Father."
They are one in nature. They are one in essence. They are one in purpose. They are one in action. This is what Jesus was saying. What would you say to somebody who says, "I'm just like him in my being. I'm just like him in my essence. I'm just like him in my nature. I do what he does, and he does what I do"? You would go, "Well, y'all are one." He goes, "Bingo."
Now look. I'm going to tell you a little secret. I'm a Christ-follower, and I want Jesus to be God. I believe he is my Savior. So, I read this, and I go, "Okay. I think he's saying he's God." That works out well for me since my Messiah is not just a man, not just some teacher, but he is very God of very God. You might go, "Well, Todd, you kind of have a skewed perspective. I'm not really sure that's what Jesus means."
The JWs, when they come knocking on my door, they think he's something else. The Mormons think he's something else. Islam thinks he's something else. "Of course, you think he's God. Jesus never thought he was God." Let me tell you something. Jesus thought he was God. Here's something even more impressive. Those who hated him thought he was God. Watch this.
"The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.""We reject you. We want to kill you." Why do they want to kill him? "Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?' The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'"
Okay. Let's throw out what Todd Wagner thinks for a second. What did the people who were standing there think? They thought he was claiming to be God. This isn't the first time. In John 5:17-18, when he healed a guy on the Sabbath, they said, "You can't do that on the Sabbath." He goes, "Yes, I can." They go, "Well, how can you do that on the Sabbath?"
He said, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." In other words, "Hey, ever since the fall, ever since the sheep were scattered, the Father has come after the sheep. I am one with the Father. I am the Father. I am Ezekiel 34. I am Zechariah 11. I am Jeremiah 23. I am the Good Shepherd. I'm doing what the Father does, just like the Father said we would do."
Then, verse 18 says, "For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." You see? The people who were around him in that day… There was no confusion. Jesus thought he was God. I think what they did is genius. They go, "Look. We had better follow him or kill him, because this guy is dangerous. He's a lunatic. He's a danger to himself and to other people. Or he is who he said he is."
Now watch this. What would you do if folks were about to kill you? Guess what Jesus does? He goes back to Scripture memory. Specifically, he quotes Psalm 82. How many of you all could do that? If your life was on the line, and you go, "I'm going to quote Psalm 82, and that'll take care of this little dilemma we're in right now."
It's a bit of a diversion but listen to what he says. He says this because these guys aren't thinking clearly, so he gets them thinking about this other thing. He kind of removes himself, but I'm going to make it very clear. He didn't think he was a son of God like the angels were a created son of God. That's a term used for angels, sons of God.
He didn't think he was a son of God like a Jew, the chosen people, who God grafted in and made his own children. He didn't think he was a son of God like a believer who is the son of God by regeneration. Jesus said, "No. I am begotten, brought forth, from the Father. I'm the only one who is just like the Father. I am the visible image of the invisible Father."
What he does is he goes to Psalm 82. He says, "Hey, look. You want to argue with me? Why don't you go back and read your Law?" John 10, verse 34: "Has it not been written in your Law [your Torah], 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)…" Look at Jesus' view of Scripture. "…do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?"
Let me explain this to you. Are you ready? I have to take you to Psalm 82. All Jesus is going to say is, "Look. God put leaders in place to represent him." We are vice-regents. We are image-bearers. He expects judges, politicians, daddies to be individuals who rightly represent him. He goes, "You are my sons. You are my children. I'm giving you authority. Rule over the world the way I would." But they didn't do it well. Look at Psalm 82.
Psalm 82 says, "God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers." Watch this. Does this sound like Ezekiel 34 to you? The rulers aren't doing what they should do, so God is going to show up and rule over them, but he's also going to deal with the poor rulers. God, now speaking through Asaph in verse 2 of Psalm 82… By the way, Jesus calls it a Torah. "Look at your own Torah." That's the Pentateuch in most people's understanding. Jesus includes the Psalms. All of Scripture is inspired by God.
He said, "Go to your own Law. Your own Law called people sons of God. All they were is ruling over people. I'm not just some ruler over people. I'm sent forth from the Father. Why can't I call myself a Son of God?" Verses 2-4 say, "How long will you judge [rulers] unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked."
Now verse 5. "They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken." When you have a leadership that doesn't understand how God created man to be with woman, life to be in the womb, that making yourself in bondage to others through debt is not where freedom will come from, then you will have chaos and darkness, and the foundations of your civilization will be shaken.
Which, by the way, reminds me. If you have a chance to elect your rulers, pick your shepherds, don't you think God cares a little bit about who you say should be in office over you? Don't you dare, as a believer, think you are above participating in civil discourse and what is polite and right, politically. You speak up. You say, "These are the men who should rule over us, who see as God sees and rule as God rules."
Back to Psalm 82. "I said, 'You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.'" He's now talking about rulers. In verse 7, he says, "Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes." Then the people all cry out in verse 8, "Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations.""Deliver us from these wicked, godless, self-prideful, directive men."
Isn't that always the cry of people under tyrants? "O God, if you would rule over us, this would be a better land." God says, "I want to rule over you. I'll rule over you through my Word and through my Spirit which dwells in the hearts of those who believe." You guys want to know why we have wicked rulers in our country? If we have wicked rulers, it's because we have wicked people voting for them. Why do we have wicked people? Because they're sheep without a shepherd.
Don't blame the rulers. They're there because we put them there. People who are out there to put them there are numerous because we have not done what Jesus tells us to do if we love him, which is to seek those who are lost and confused; to reason with them in a loving, kind, gentle way; and to live our lives with such dignity that they go, "We'd like to know your Shepherd. Who governs you?"
"God the Father. Jesus, who delivered us out of sin and death and our own understanding."
"Well, I'd like to follow him."
"Well, come on."
That will then influence what they do in November. You try and get them to think a certain way in November? That's crazy, without getting them to think differently about eternity. Here we go. Watch this.
Verse 37-38: "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father." Come to know and continue in your knowing, right there in verse 38. It says, "Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. And He went away again beyond the Jordan…"
Guess what he did? He said, "All of you all who believe in me, you come on out where John said those who believe in me will come out, away from Pharisaism, away from legalism, away from dead religion and tradition. You follow me, and I will be your Savior."
He cleansed the temple again before he judged it. He removed his people before ultimate trouble came. They got on the ark of rest before the flood of wrath came, and that ark was Jesus. He said, "Let's go, because trouble is coming. But I'm going to make a way for you, sheep. I'm going to deliver you from death and sin." Is that beautiful?
Let me close with this. I'm going to close, real quickly, with five things that ought to be true of you if you are part of his flock. Not complicated. I left myself five minutes, because that's all I need. Are you ready? Five things that are true of you if you are a part of the flock Jesus is the Shepherd of.
1 . They hear the voice of their Master, and they recognize his Word as the truth. You are dead in your trespasses and sins, but God, who is rich in kindness toward you, His Word says there is no way to come to the Father except through provision the Father makes through his Son. You recognize that as absolutely true. You understand holiness, and you know you are not holy. You go, "Preach it. You are to make him, who knows no sin, to become sin on my behalf, that I might become the righteousness of God in him? I am in. Give me that Shepherd.
2 . They look to their Shepherd and acknowledge their dependence on him. They don't look to themselves. "They lean not on their own understanding. In all their ways, they acknowledge him, and he makes their paths straight." They don't think they're smart enough to do it on their own. There is not a word they speak or an act they do without checking in with their Shepherd. That's what members of his flock do. If you ain't doing that, you are a fan and not a follower.
When people come in here and they go, "Why are you driving us so hard to community?" I'm going, "We're not. Jesus is." You go out in the wilderness and find out how many sheep are hanging out by themselves. They're not. They live in flocks. You want to isolate yourself and call yourself a sheep? Go ahead. I just think you're going to find out your nature isn't what you thought it was.
3 . They follow him. They go where he goes, love as he loves, do as he did, serve as he serves. There isn't just a "Yep. That's my Master. Listen to him. There he goes." Do you know why people don't like Jesus? Because we say we are his sheep, and we don't love the way he loves. They go, "Well, you have a bad shepherd." They can't see our Shepherd. They can just see the sheep. Our Shepherd lives in the person of his Spirit. Either our Shepherd is lousy, or we aren't his sheep. I don't think we have a lousy Shepherd.
4 . His sheep experience abundant life as a result of intimacy with and the protection of their Shepherd. Last night we sat in here at Raise the Mark. If you missed it, I'm sorry. My buddy, who is sitting right over there, Mr. Lampkin, got up here, and we talked about his life. It was defined by abuse of controlled substances, depression, infidelity, gambling, massive debt, tax evasion, and suicide. Then he said, "I just started following Jesus in all the ways guys kept reminding me I should. I finally believed he was the Good Shepherd."
We sat here, and we watched a little video that was made, in effect, for him this Valentine's Day by his wife. It said, "I used to have one who was a vice-regent who ruled over me, was oppressive, devoured me, and left me cold, sick, and lonely. Then, God showed up and shepherded my man. My man changed. Our home is now defined by grace and truth and harmony and love and hope and gladness."
You check in with your sheep. How are they doing? Amen to that. You should have been here to see it, but I'll tell you. If folks underneath you are saying, "There's no life underneath you," then you may want to check to see if you are a ruler who rules underneath this Shepherd. I'm going to tell you. He's not mad at you. God is saying, "Hey, I can change you."
In March of 2011, Jeff Lampkin was ready to say, "I wish a wolf would devour me. I wish I could die," but God said, "No. I have something better for you. I want to redeem you. I want to resurrect you. I want to take you, blind lame man, and let you see and walk again. I'm going to raise you from the death of addiction, foolishness, depression, and despair. I will help you walk toward goodness and mercy, and then others underneath you will prosper." Amen. That's what his flock does.
5 . His flock multiply after their kind. When sheep have intercourse in this world, they produce sheep. My question is…Are you multiplying after your kind? What is coming after you? Christ-followers or chaos? Sin and death, addiction to porn, infatuation with sports and television? Folks who find life in fleeting things, who want comfort? Or people who love Christ? Are you multiplying? Are you disciple-making?
If you, my friend, are not making sheep, the law of creation is elephants make elephants. Giraffes make giraffes. Snakes make snakes. Sheep make sheep. God tells you, "Be fruitful and multiply." None of us, none of us, is to be neutered here. God expects us to reproduce. What are you reproducing? Where are your men? Where are your women? Where are folks who walk with Jesus because of you?
I'll close with this. Last night I sat down briefly, and I threw up on my blog a little note about a man whom I love, a man who died yesterday at 2:12 Dallas Central Time. He was a guy by the name of Chuck Colson, who stood here with us just a few short months ago and exhorted us to be the church he wanted us to be.
I want to say… Last week we talked about Martin and the way Martin poured into mighty men in the making. This morning I want to tell you, just 24 hours on the back side of losing a friend, Chuck Colson was a guy who did these five things. You ought to go look at his life. It's all over the Internet today. This is a man made new. He made sheep. He made men. I wrote this down there, and I ought to be able to write it about you if you're a part of his flock.
"If it is true a man's success will be determined by his successor(s) I believe the greatest days of Chuck's life lie ahead of him…this is true not just because he is enjoying the presence of His Savior and the unquestionable delight Jesus greeted his redeemed and faithful servant with; no, though the heavenly reward and affirmation are eternally enough, I speak of Chuck's continued impact on the temporal when I speak of his greatest days being ahead of him. This is because few men took Paul's admonition in 2 Timothy 2:2 as seriously and fully as Chuck did."
"The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.""[Chuck] poured himself constantly into others. He was continually on the look out for individuals whom he could inspire, encourage, help, develop, unleash and celebrate." He found most of them in jail, by the way."He was a giant intellect and yet always gentle and willing to get out of the way so he might allow others to grow and be used.
He was courageous but never in a way that made others feel like they could not fight significantly along side of him. He was a man of vision, warning all of us of the consequences of eroding the ethic that sustains and strengthens us long before it was relevant to do so. He was gracious, having received the unmerited favor of Christ he was unwavering in his offer of it to others. I pray that I am the faithful man who entrusts to others what Chuck has faithfully poured into me."
He did it for a long time through his books. I could stack them up almost as high as this podium. Then, through God's kindness, our paths crossed. He was kinder than I could have imagined, more full of what his books were full of than I would have hoped. "I pray that I give myself away as Chuck did, as Christ did, as the Father bids me to do. Thank you Chuck, for leading us, loving us and living for others. May I imitate you as you have imitated Christ."
I read that because if you are his shepherd, that ought to be what I say about you when you go home. If he is your Shepherd, you ought to become a shepherd, because that's what sheep do. They make other sheep, and they protect them. It's God's incredible program of redemption and transformation. I don't care if you're here this morning and you are addicted to controlled substances, guilty of tax evasion, and defined by infidelity, depression, despair, and chaos in your home. Jesus heals. Come. If you know him, go and make disciples as you follow him.
Father, I pray, if there's one in this room who has never responded to the grace of God made available through Jesus, that they would come now, that they would not leave, that you would make it impossible for them to ignore your voice. May those of us who have heard it not walk out of here arrogantly and pridefully but humbly, and only seek to do what John the Baptist did, which is to decrease that Christ might increase. To say, "Follow him. This is the Lamb of God. I want to lift him up. I am unworthy to untie his sandals, but I will speak of him and point you to him." Would you allow us to do that by your grace and mercy? In Christ's name, amen.
You have a great week of worship. We'll see you.