Isaiah 40:10-11: "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” What a beautiful picture of Jesus as a loving and caring shepherd watching over for his flock. Each He knows by name and each He cares for individually, while caring for all the others at the same time.
Ezekiel 34:23-24: "And I will set up ONE shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even my servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.” David is a reference to the Messiah, Jesus for King David has been dead some 400 years when this was prophesied. Yehovah, the Father tells us that Jesus, will be the shepherd of His people. Men, whatever their position are only under-shepherd’s who serve under the great Shepherd and bishop of our souls, Jesus. 1 Peter 2:25 tells us; “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
John 10:14-16: "I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me - just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father - and I lay down My Life for the sheep. I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must bring them also. They will hear My Voice, and there will be One Flock, and One Shepherd". Here Jesus Himself is speaking to His people and telling us that all men of all races, tribes, languages are all His flock and He will bring us all together and be the Shepherd of all His flock. He is the only savior and redeemer, the only Messiah and He has purchased salvation and redemption not just for the Jewish people, but men of all walks of life and nationality.
In scripture, the church is compared to many things. In these analogies the church is described as a Bride and Jesus as our groom, a body with Jesus being the head and we the members thereof, a City, a flock of sheep, and a house of living stones, the building of God. Each of these analogies represents a particular truth concerning the people of God like pieces of a puzzle picture, each is truth but not the entire truth, not the entire revelation that God has concerning us; therefore we really should be familiar with each of them that we may adequately comprehend how God sees the Church or those who are followers and disciples of Christ.
Our depiction as a Bride represents our union with Christ; our depiction as a Body represents His Life in each of us making us one body, members one of another; our depiction as a City represents our refuge and peace in Christ, as well as our testimony before the world that we are His people; Our depiction as a Flock represents unity and that there is no difference with God, no rich or poor, no male or female, no bond or free, no white, black, brown or red, but one flock of people; and our depiction as a House of Living Stones represents God's work of grace and sanctification in us and residence among us.
In this study I'd like to talk about the Church as the Flock of God. One of the great problems in the church of Jesus Christ today is the division and separations between groups and even the belief of many that they have the only true church or the only true faith and some that they are the only ones that will be in heaven and all others lost as if salvation was by affiliation with some man-made organization. I am not going to deal with those that are nothing but cults and false religions, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics (official Catholic doctrine says that only Catholics are true believers and only they can be saved and all others are lost and go to hell), and all other such groups. I am not talking about the division that comes because of these man-made false religious systems, but the division that is between those who have a basic true faith in Christ and the cardinal doctrines of scripture, as the Assemblies of God,
Church of God, Pentecostal Foursquare, Brethren, Baptist, independents and others.
We need to understand that before God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, there is only One Flock,
One Church of the redeemed and One Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is truth, God’s truth. Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
God’s Word told us that there are not many flocks with many shepherds. God established centuries ago that His preference that His people would be One Flock and they would have One Shepherd.
In Ezekiel 34, the Father, Yehovah, complained that the shepherds of
were feeding themselves and not His flock. V.2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of ” The shepherds were abusing the sheep and taking more than they were given. V.3 “Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.” They failed to bind up the broken, they failed to seek out the stray, and failed to protect them from the enemy. V.4 “…have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken,… with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” They allowed the sheep to fight amongst themselves. They permitted the flock to be scattered and devoured. V.5-6 “And they were scattered,… My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.” So the Lord vows that He will get rid of these shepherds and install One Shepherd, David, to care for the flock and gather them together into one place. V.12-13 “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered… And I will feed them upon the mountains of Israelthat do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? by the rivers”. Israel
It is obvious that God is not talking about literal sheep in a literal field in Israel, eating literal grass or literal shepherds who watch a flock of sheep, not was He planning to being King David back to life from the dead to tend some sheep, literal or spiritual. Jesus, as the Father has many titles, some of which are “the root and offspring of David” as He called Himself in Revelation 22:16, “Son of David” as referred to by many as in Matthew 12:23, 15:22, 20:30-31 and others. All of these titles speak of His earthly lineage, that He was the promised Messiah and of His heart towards the Father since David was described by God as “a man after mine own heart,” (Acts 13:22). He was in tune to the heart of God, as was Jesus, the Son of David.
And just as there is One Body with many members, so there is One Flock with many sheep, of many colors, tribes and languages.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD IS THE ONE SHEPHERD
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Let us realize that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only One Who totally pleases God in every way. He is altogether other or different than any man. He alone was sinless and perfect in every way. Of Him alone could the Father say; “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). Jesus Christ alone perfectly satisfies the heart and will of God for no other man has perfectly done all the will of God. Who else could say, “… Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7) instead of “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12) as is said about all other men. Of who else could it be said; “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” (Revelation 5:9).
Ezekiel 34:18-19 “Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.” Because the flock of God was abused and scattered by wicked hirelings who took advantage of them for personal gain, the wisdom of God declared that He would set up one shepherd over His flock, and gather them together again, not just from Israel, but from all over the world, encompassing both Jews and Gentiles, loving and caring for them. V.22-26 “Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; … And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. … And I will make with them a covenant of peace,… And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing;”
Has this happened yet? Yes, God gathered His flock together under One Shepherd when He raised Christ from the dead and established the Church as seen in the book of Acts. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for the sheep, dying for their sins and being raised for their justification. At first the apostles and first converts to faith in Christ believed that repentance to life was only granted to the Jews who accepted Jesus as their Messiah, until the Holy Spirit sent Peter to the house of Cornelius. They had not yet understood Jesus prayer in John 17:21-24; “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory,”.
This is more than just a prayer for those who would come to faith in Him and that we be one, but that we be one in Him, with Him being our Lord and Master as our shepherd and that we share in His life and glory. This is the ecclesia, the called out of the world body of believers in Christ, worldwide, who have received the revelation of Jesus as Lord and Savior as their shepherd and have submitted their lives to come under His authority and thereby become a citizen of His kingdom.
David looked into the future with the eye of a prophet and spoke many things of Christ and of His sufferings. But one of the most awesome of the statements David made concerning Christ was Psalm 23. He began, “Yehovah is my shepherd”, one who tends His flock. The church is His flock and to expand that to make the meaning more full, we could say, “Yehovah is my pastor”, since a pastor looks after his flock, feeds them, cares for them, protects them and corrects them as a literal shepherd does his sheep. God uses analogies of natural things and word pictures throughout scripture to teach us spiritual truth. Psalm 23 is not just about David and his relationship with the Lord, but it is about everyone of God’s people and their relationship with Him, it is both individual for each of us and yet corporate of the whole flock of God. It is talking about what it means to be under the shepherd’s care as one of His sheep. David has beautifully describe the one shepherd and one flock that is the reality of the true
New Testament Church. This is the way it was in the early church throughout the New Testament starting with the beginning of the book of Acts. To more clearly and beautifully see this one has but to look closely at Psalms 23 to prove it. Here is a short summary or overview of Psalm 23:
“The LORD is my shepherd; (That’s our relationship with Him) I shall not want (That’s His provision for us). He maketh me to lie down in green pastures (That’s our rest in Him): he leadeth me beside the still waters (That’s spiritual refreshment in the Holy Spirit). He restoreth my soul (That’s healing of the mind and emotions): he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness (That’s His guidance) for his name's sake (That’s His purpose). Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (That’s the testing we go though in this life), I will fear no evil; for thou art with me (That’s His protection); thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (That’s His faithfulness). Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies (That’s our hope): thou anointest my head with oil (That’s our consecration to Him); my cup runneth over (That’s His abundance). Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (That’s His blessing): and I will dwell in the house of the LORD (That’s our security in Him) for ever (That’s our eternal salvation).”
Jesus is “the good shepherd” in contrast to hirelings that really care not for the sheep, as the church rulers in Jesus day who only cared about their positions and money and not the people. John 10:7-13 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.” In this all TV preachers and most others say that the thief is Satan, however, when taken within context, it is directly and explicitly talking about false shepherds, hirelings who are the same as those shepherds spoken of in Ezekiel 34, who robbed and took from the sheep, extracting more than what the sheep gave them and caused them to be scattered by the enemy because no one was caring for them and protecting them.
All those in the ministry today, pastors, evangelists and even apostles are all under shepherds, who shepherd the flock under the guidance and direction of the Lord Jesus by the anointing and leading of the Holy Spirit, without which we too would be nothing more than hirelings. Remember, God said “all that ever came before me are thieves and robbers” and He is the One Good Shepherd over His flock. The Father declared that Jesus would shepherd and tend His flock. Jesus said before He died of those who walked with Him during His earthly ministry, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). The Father has put us under Jesus and the Lord Jesus Christ has given the church those in the 5-fold ministry for His own purposes. All others are as those who came before Christ, false shepherds and hirelings, only using the ministry as an occupation instead of because of a calling of God upon their lives. Why did Jesus put those of the 5-fold ministries into the church?
Ephesians 4:12-16 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Any in the ministry that are not a part of that work and calling, don’t belong in the ministry and are but hirelings working for themselves and not under the Good Shepherd. This is how Jesus tends the flock and that is why the 5-fold ministries are all relevant and needed for today. Those who only hear one or two of those voices, as most, a pastor and maybe evangelist, are not hearing all that Jesus has to say to the flock, all of what God is saying and doing.
THE UNDERSHEPHERDS SERVE THE CHIEF SHEPHERD
Though the Lord Jesus Christ is the One Shepherd, yet he chose and called men to the work of the ministry for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. Those of the five fold ministry in Ephesians chapter 4 were God’s gift to His Church. Yet the fact remains that they are put in the church as undershepherds, serving under His leadership for the edification of the body of Christ. Some today in certain movements say that there is no need to have a pastor in the church so we must ask what is the nature of the New Testament pastoral ministry?
In John 21:15-17 “Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
After Jesus was raised from the dead and was restoring Peter for the ministry He had called Him too by asking the same question three times “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”, as Peter had denied the Lord Jesus three times before Calvary; after Peter answer each question the Lord Jesus asked, then He told Peter, “Feed my sheep.”
From that it is obvious that the Lord was telling Peter two things, first that they sheep belonged to Him and secondly that he was being told to feed the sheep, the flock of God, on behalf of the his master. So the sheep are not given to Peter to rule over or take care of for himself for they are not his. He also did not tell Peter to start his own church or that He would start one and build it around Peter or that the people would be gathered together under the name of Peter or go by his name.
Neither did he tell Peter to get himself elected or appointed by men into some special position as being above all the other disciples or over all the flock of God or to be the Lord’s one representative on the earth after He would be taken up into heaven. Jesus never set anyone up or asked men to set anyone up to take His place on the earth or to represent Him because He would sit as the Head of the Church, the One Good Shepherd over His flock. Peter and all undershepherds were called to feed the sheep that belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are His bride, His body, His church, His flock and belong to Him and were to go by His name.
Acts 13:1-3 “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Here we see that it is the Lord working through the Holy Spirit to call all men for the ministry that He had chosen them for. Paul (Saul) and Barnabas were not chosen by, called by or separated for the ministry by Peter or any of the other apostles called by the Lord Jesus, but through the church at Antioch. So now with these two pieces of scripture we can clearly see that the order of church leadership is that the Lord Jesus, the One Good Shepherd, calls and commissions through the church, undershepherds to feed and care for His sheep, under His direction.
The real purpose and work of the ministry is not to have weekly services and build up a man-made kingdom or church work, but to disciple people to Christ. Acts 17:28 “For in him we live, and move, and have our being;” Colossians 2:9-10 “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Hebrews 5:8-9 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” Colossians 3:11 “Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 1:16-18 “… all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” John 3:35 “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.”
Christ is everything to the believer, He is our source of life, He is our heavenly bread, milk, honey, meat and water. He is everything to us and in Him we are complete. So, that makes it obvious that the purpose of those in the ministry is to point the believers to Christ in all things as their source, their example, and their pattern for life. This cannot be done by a simple weekly worship service and three-point sermon. The command of Christ was to make disciples, not religious converts.
All of this was basically lost during the dark ages of the control of the Roman Catholic Church and has not been fully restored since the reformation, though there has been a gradual awakening and expansion of the revelation of truth and progression back to the pattern of the New Testament church patter, which the Lord will bring about as a part of the restoration of all things: Acts 3:20-21 “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things,” and that will be brought about as the Lord continues to restore the 5-fold ministries of Ephesians 4 into the church and bring His people out from being ruled over by men and following after and trusting man-made works for their salvation to following and trusting in the Living Christ. God will bring about His One Flock under One Shepherd that He established through New Testament undershepherds that He is calling out of worldly man-made systems to serve Him in spirit and in truth.
In this New Testament church model there are only two classes of shepherds, not many, those called as undershepherds and the Lord Jesus who is the Chief Shepherd of His flock. All undershepherds are called to serve under the Chief Shepherd and not to serve themselves or build their own kingdoms in their names. The undershepherds job is to bring the sheep into His One Flock and disciple them to Christ as they feed them, care for them and watch over them to protect them from the enemies deceptions, lies and attacks.
The undershepherd doesn’t own or possess anything, especially the flock of God. They are the Lord’s flock and we who serve in the ministry are only stewards over God’s possession. Psalm 95:7 “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” Psalm 100:3 “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Nothing belongs to the undershepherd. Everything belongs to the Father, Who has committed the are of all things to His Son, the Good Shepherd until the end of this age and time and we enter into eternity. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
If all those in the ministry understood this, then they would treat the flock of God differently. They would not lord over them, abuse and mistreat them, fleece them so they can live like royalty at the expense of the sheep or allow the enemy to scatter them. Those are the works of a hireling who cares not for the sheep (John 10). For how can a steward lord over that which is not his, abuse, mistreat and mislead those that are entrusted to his care, knowing that he will one day give an account for his stewardship.
Luke 12:42-43 “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” 1 Corinthains 4:1-2 “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” The Lord Himself will judge his stewards, whom He placed over His flock to lead, teach and guide them to all truth and point them to Him.
Being a steward over the flock of God is a holy calling and a holy trust. So what do you think the Lord will do to those who have dealt with His sheep with cruelty, abused them, fleeced them, stripped them, lied to, misled and deceived them, mistreated and allowed them to be scattered and torn by the enemy. Will He not avenge His sheep and visit that undershepherd with judgment? Will He not call us into account as He did the unjust steward in Luke 16:1-13? In verse 12 Jesus said, “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's (speaking of Himself), who shall give you that which is your own?”
Those in the ministry also need to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” by not taking the sheep that they have been placed over for granted or as nothing. Some think they are something and the sheep nothing, but that is not so. They are the Lord’s and the Lord is jealous over that which is His and will deliver His sheep. So we dare not do as we please with that which is not our own but the Lord’s. We dare not take lightly the stewardship and responsibility placed upon us as ministers of the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is His kingdom and He alone is King over it and we His servants.
HIRELINGS WILL BE JUDGED
John 10:11-14; 17-19 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. … My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
This is where most in the ministry err from the truth and their calling, if they were in deed called by the Lord into the ministry. That is the first thing that is necessary for any undershepherd to be a true undershepherd, that he be called into the ministry and not something chosen as a career as you would choose any other. We don’t take that honor to ourselves and don’t have that choice given to us by the Lord, though many presume upon the Lord to do so. Jesus told His disciples; “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16). Hebrews 5:4 “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God.”
Many men approach the ministry with arrogance and superiority and tell the flock things like, “I’m in charge, God put me in charge here so you better start submitting to me if you want to be blessed. You must obey me. God demands it.” And they demand honor of the sheep rather than earning the respect and honor of the sheep by giving their lives and proving their ministry. We have all heard of such ministers, yet we must remember that Jesus said the sheep were given to Him of the Father and no man can take them out of the Father’s hands. No where does Jesus abrogate (revoke) His responsibility and place as the Head of the church and Chief Shepherd.
When we look at the church today in the western world we see that it is terribly divided by man-made walls, doctrines, religions systems and more. It is scattered, diseased and wounded by men who have abused them, insulted them, used them, taken them for granted and fleeced them for personal gain. It is little wonder that so many have left church and want nothing to do with it anymore because of the way they were treated and emotionally hurt by abuse. The flock is ruled and controlled by individual shepherds who have set themselves up over the flock.
So on the surface the earthly condition of the church doesn’t live up to the scriptural spiritual reality of what it was called to be as the ecclesia of God. Though we know that the Word of God is sure and the promise will be fulfilled in the Good Shepherd before He returns to this earth in glory, we still for the most part see that which was described by Ezekiel in chapter 34. But God has begun a movement that is growing and will blossom and which He will use to show His bride to the world before His glorious and triumphant return.
What is happening within the church today? Many pastors parcel up the flock among themselves, they fight over individual sheep and try to steal sheep from each other, they work to gather the flock together into their own little fold with them as their shepherd and spiritual guide as they build a kingdom unto themselves and to their name. They are not working for or on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd as a steward of that which is His, but they work on their own behalf for their own personal gain and position so that they can be something they were never meant to be. Even in the Old Testament God said; “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me” (Psalm 50:5). In Matthew 12:30 Jesus said; “…he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” If you are not gathering to Him you are scattering the sheep.
This is what hirelings do (John 10). They want all the fat and the wool for themselves and they take what is not theirs and more than they are given because they care not for the sheep but for themselves. Look how lavishly some of the TV preachers today live and the salaries they have? They want the people to give their last dollar as a ‘seed faith’ while they jet around the world in private jet and live like royalty at the expense of the sheep. Of them Peter wrote; “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (1 Peter 2:3).
But the people are being misled and deceived because they have been taught to just believe what they are told and not question the ‘man of God’ and they are not as the Bereans that Paul praised because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). That is right, they checked out what they were told with the written Word which unlike men, is infallible. All of us need to be able to “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Every man that is hired by men, voted into the position of pastor, hired and sent by a denomination are the servants of men and not the Chief Shepherd. These men see the sheep as the fruit of their own labor and ministry and as belonging to them. They don’t see the flock as belonging to the Lord. Anytime a minister of a denomination realizes this truth and begins to serve the Chief shepherd and stops working for the benefit and growth of the denomination alone, they are removed and sent away by the denominational hirelings. The pastors of denominations only allow others who are hirelings of the same denomination to come into their church and speak to their sheep, not others who are servants only of the Chief Shepherd. To be an undershepherd to the Chief Shepherd is degrading and brings shame to the hireling who wants the supremacy, honor and glory for himself.
Do we by any stretch of the imagination think that He who is omniscient and omnipotent doesn’t know what is going on or is blind to what is going on in the churches today? Do we think that He who sees and knows all, our very thoughts somehow has missed this and doesn’t see and know what is being done to His sheep? He will Himself remove such men from tending the flock and He will call the sheep out to follow Him. He knows those who are His and He will and is in the process of calling His sheep out of such organizations and kingdoms of men and they are beginning to hear His voice and respond.
As His sheep hear His voice and realize that they have been penned up in a man-made cage with a hireling and not a part of the One Flock under the One Shepherd, they will come out and the Lord will judge between His flock and the hirelings that have abused and mistreated them. Who are you serving, men or the Chief Shepherd? Who is your pastor serving and where are his priorities and loyalties? Is it to organizations and men or to Christ and His kingdom?
THE ONE IN CHRIST TRANSCENDS ALL HUMAN DIVISIONS
First we have to realize that God speaks from eternity which is not in time. He speaks that which He sees accomplished, that which He has spoken and calls it done for it is already written and settled in heaven and we are just waiting for it to come to pass in time on the earth. The spiritual reality is there is One Flock and One Shepherd, though we may not see it very visibly at the moment and it is coming into place and it is not for us to try to unify the Church as many are doing with the man-made ecumenical movement, which is ungodly and demonic and is unity at the expense of truth and the Word of God, begun by the Roman Catholic Church to bring the ‘wayward’ protestants (as they see them) back into their fold and so now those who once preached against the harlot Catholic Church and their apostasy and heresies now embrace them as ‘Christian brethren’.
No, a thousand times no, this will not bring about the unity that God’s Word speaks about. Man can’t do it. We better remember how and why the early first century church was in unity for it was not of men but of God and was a unity of the faith and of believing doctrinal truths.
Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” Acts 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” The unity of ‘one faith’ was based upon the apostles’ doctrine. Today there are so many doctrines of men and denominations and that is part of the reason for the denominational divisions. Every man who saw something a little different, even things that were not cardinal doctrines of the faith, as the process of sanctification, would start a new church. One says you are immediately sanctified the other that it is continual. One says that when you are born again you have all the Holy Spirit you will ever get and the other says there are fillings and renewals of the Holy Spirit and new experiences. And these things have made denominations fight and attack one another and point the finger at one another and the denominations have majored on the minor things and minored on that which is important and have scattered the flock and made the divisions and the we are right, they are wrong attitudes, and we have the only truth or we are the true church, etc, all of men and the making of men and not the work of the Holy Spirit.
But the early church was united in the faith, they had a common faith (Titus 1:4) based upon common truth and doctrine. 2 John 1:9-11 “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
So we see two ends of the pendulum, neither of God, the man-made divisions and the man-made efforts of unifying the different faiths, even those who have major differences in the cardinal doctrines of their faith, as the deity of Christ, salvation by faith apart from works or salvation through the church and much more. Neither is of God and neither are benefiting to the people, but putting them in deception and bondages. What we have to realize is that the truth is the truth and Jesus is the One Shepherd and He has made us One Flock and so we must start acting like it, entering into it and not seeing it as some future event to happen when Jesus returns. We cannot enter into the reality of what God has done and experience it by seeing it afar off or by talking about it. We must enter into it by faith and believe it.
From God’s viewpoint in eternity, there are only two kinds of people, the redeemed and the unsaved who walks in unrepentant sin, those who have been born again and have the life of Christ within and those who have only been born of the flesh and know not the spirit of God. Ephesians 4:4-6 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 2:1-6 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
Stop thinking denominations and that which is of men and start thinking the
kingdom of God, eternity. We have to have our minds renewed to the truth of God’s Word so that we think and act upon it and not by that which is of the natural life and human wisdom. You are not redeemed by church membership, by being baptized, by saying a ‘sinners prayer’ or other man conceived religious ideas, but only by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who purchased us with His blood, who died for us when we were yet ungodly and who reaches down to reveal himself to us and pull us up out of our pigpens of sin and shame and turn our lives around and sit us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:18-20 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” and where is that? Ephesians 1:21-23 “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
Outwardly speaking we are in disunity and we only have to look at all the denominations, movements, sects and individual churches as proof of that division. Yet, within it all there are those who are the redeemed, the church of the living God, made alive, though among many others who are dead and following in man-made religion and not understanding the truth. The wheat is growing among the tares, the goats are in the midst of the sheep as it has always been since the beginning and the first century church and will continue until Jesus comes and separates them.
What we need to understand and realize that the Book of life is not a denomination or non-denomination book and God neither accepts, recognizes nor endorses any of our man-made denominational organizations, associations or labels. God is not for one group and against the other group. He is not pro independent or non-denominational and against any who are within a denomination group. He simply doesn’t recognize these things and overlooks it all, look at the hearts of each individual and their love for Him and desire of fellowship with Him.
The things that have been created by men are no consequence to God and have no bearing or influence of that which is eternal and spiritual. It all means nothing to God; it is all rubbish for it doesn’t serve Him or His eternal purposes. To those who are seated in this world and walk by the flesh and see things by the flesh, these man-made organizations are important, but no to the one who is seated in heavenly places in Christ and has come to realize that it is all about Him and of Him and for Him and to Him. It’s all about Jesus and serving Him and nothing else matters. It is His kingdom and He is the King and all else is meaningless before Him.
It is not am I a Baptist, an Assembly of God, an independent or whatever but am I born again and do I have the life of Christ. Many times I have asked people if they were born of the spirit of God and walking in eternal life and they have replied, “I go to such and such church” or “I am a” this or that. No, are you born of the spirit of God, do you have His life in you? We must stop looking at the outward and look at the inward. There have been people saved and there will be people in heaven from many different groups, denominations and organizations as well as many from those same groups that will be lost for eternity. The issue is do you have the life of Christ in you, are you His child?
1 John 5:11-12 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” John 1:12-13 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
We need to see that we that are One Flock are so because we are one in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are one in spirit because we have been born of the same spirit of Christ, baptized into One body and He is our One Shepherd and then we will act in Christian love one to another and accept one another in Christ and stop looking at that which is of men that is meaningless before God. Let us stop ‘calling unclean what God has cleansed’ as the Holy Spirit told Peter before asking Him to go with some Gentile men, doubting nothing and do what he was asked. Then he came to realize that the gospel and repentance to eternal life was also granted to the Gentiles, whom up until then were seen by the Jews as unclean and a Jew would not go into the house of a Gentile. Acts 10 and 11 are devoted to telling that story and how then the Jewish believers and other apostles were brought to a different way of thinking about the Gentiles and the redemption purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ; that it was not exclusively for Jews, but for all men. Why do we reject others whom the Lord has accepted and redeemed? Because of men who have misled us, lied to us, deceived us because they have not know the truth about the body of Christ and they have not taught that we are One Flock with One Shepherd.
Luke 17:21 “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the
.” It isn’t in something that man began or created. Man, not God created every denomination, every non-denomination or independent work, and every house church on the face of the earth. There are some that are following the will of God and working as servants of the master, as undershepherds of the Chief Shepherd, Praise the Lord for that. However, many just either think they are following the will of God and most are just doing what they want without any though of doing the will of God nor concern that they are to begin with. All that is the reality of the hireling, which accounts for most in the ministry today for there have always been more hirelings than true men of God. kingdom of God is within you
We must stop looking at what men or a man might be doing and look for what God is doing and where He is going. The kingdom is within, it is in us who have been redeemed by faith in the blood of Jesus, the finished works of
Calvary. There is One flock and One Shepherd and that is all. There will not be separate heavens or chambers in heaven. In fact, God created this world for man and we will live here for eternity, after the Lord destroys it by fire and recreates it, then He will bring heaven to earth and come and live among men, with His people for all eternity. And in eternity, there will not be one place for white and one for black and one for each other race or color. There will not be one for this denomination and one for that group.
1 Corinthians 1:12-13 “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthains 3:4-7 “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” Everything else outside the truths of the Word of God concerning His flock is meaningless before God.
God, who is above all that is of man and this world just bypasses and transcends all the boundaries that men put up between one another to keep the sheep separated as they think, “these sheep are mine”. God is far too big to be confined to a man-made box, to a man-made religious system or organization. He cannot be confined to our church, our sect, our denomination or movement. God blesses His people, not these physical man-made organizations. God blesses His people, whom He loves not what men create and promote. He works in spite of them, not because of them. He works around them, not through them. He loves people, He redeems people, He judges people, not organizations or systems.
The Father only cares about one thing and that is all that will matter when we leave time and face eternity, “What have you done with my Son, Jesus?” The is the only question that you need to answer. He sees only His Son and He sees men through Him and so He only sees two kinds of people, those who are In Christ by faith and those who are not in Christ, those who have by faith accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and repented of their independent living in rebellion of God’s kingdom and authority and those who have not, but who remain in rebellion and disobedience to Jesus’ kingdom and authority. Since
Calvary, it has always been and will always only be, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Its still, have you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior? That is the eternal question and the one that will determine your eternity and mine. This is what the Father is looking for, the life of Christ in you and me. The Father gave us His Son and He will give us nothing else if we do not accept Him for ourselves. He who has Jesus has life and everything He will ever need and He who has not Jesus has nothing no matter how much in this world he has. The poorest believer is richer than the richest man on the earth; he just hasn’t realized it and come into his full inheritance yet. But it awaits him and is sure as God is true.
COMING OUT OF
Revelation 18:2-5 “
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”
There are lots of people today preaching to those within denomination, “come out of
Babylon” as if that is the whole issue and problem. They talk as if all one has to do is change from going to a denominational church to going to an independent or house church, they have come out of Babylon. Well, if Babylon were nothing more than all denominational churches that would work; however, one can only ‘come out of Babylon’ by divine revelation. You see Babylon is not just certain man-made organizations. Babylon is a mindset, a religious spirit.
There are people in every group that have nothing more than a religious spirit and are not born of the spirit of God. Just as some speak in tongues of the Holy Spirit and some speak in tongues of an unholy spirit. That isn’t our subject here, but the reality is that where one goes to church or meets with others in a house or wherever has nothing to do with whether or not they are dwelling in what God calls
Babylon. God said there are two houses that look alike on the outside, but one has a foundation of sand and the other of rock. There are two types within the house of God, once called the children of Esau and the other of Jacob, one of Isaac (of faith, by revelation) and one of Esau (of the flesh).
A person can come out of a church denomination and still be a part of
Babylon because they have not been “renewed in the spirit of their minds” (Ephesians 4:23), they have not been “transformed by the renewing of your (their) mind,” (Romans 12:2) to think by the spirit and the Word of God. You can’t tell the true and false church or believers just by where they meet to worship the Lord.
John 17:9, 14-15 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. … I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” We are in the world but not to be of the world, keeping ourselves separate from sin, as Jesus did, going among sinners to be a light in the midst of darkness, but not partaking of the darkness around Him. In the world, bringing sinners out of the world unto the Father.
After the children of
Israelhad been taken captive into Babylon, the time came for them to return to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. While they were in Babylon there were those as Daniel, Ezekiel and the 3 Hebrew children who were called by God to walk before Him in the midst of Babylon and to be a testimony to those heathens of Him, representing Him as His ambassadors in this world. That is what we as believers are called to do, to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Others were called by God to come out of Babylon and represent Him in Jerusalem, as Ezra and Nehemiah. All the Jews didn’t return from Babylon to the land that God had given them.
Today some are called like Daniel and Ezekiel to represent God in the midst of
Babylon. Others are called as Ezra and Nehemiah to represent God in Jerusalem. One day God will judge Babylon and all that are a part of it. Remember, it is a mindset, a paradigm so to speak. There were some in Babylon not by their own choosing and there serving God. We have to serve God where He calls us and plants us for His own glory and purposes. All those who serve the Lord, however they serve, in whatever capacity they serve, where they serve, they should do so by revelation and not because of men or what one man will say. We are each to be servants of Christ and who are we to judge another man’s servant? The true life of faith in Christ begins by personal revelation and must continue by personal revelation in whatever area we are called to serve.
Some are concerned with having some kind of pattern, of the method or details of how they meet and the form of service or order of it. No, we who have life just need to come together under the leading of the Holy Spirit and the rest will take care of itself as the Lord leads and works among His people. We can only learn to live by faith as we are led by the Holy Spirit. We can only walk in His life as He gives it to us. If we have the life of Christ we don’t have to depend on methods, rules, traditions, laws or whatever, but just follow the lamb wherever He leads us. The life and presence of Christ doesn’t come because people meet together some place, it is within us and with us and goes wherever we go, so “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). You don’t turn on and off the life of Christ for it is within His people. It is a daily walk, a daily adventure, a daily releasing of the life of Christ within as we go about doing the ministry God has called us to, ministering to one another and God will bring about His purposes and will in our lives and will cause all things to work together for our good. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
THE TRUE FLOCK IS ONE FLOCK
How do we achieve unity? We do not. Rather, God reveals His Son to us as the Head of the Church. If we see the Head, if we know the Good Shepherd, we will come to know the Body and the Flock. We cannot say we love God if we do not love our brothers and sisters. We cannot maintain communion with the Head if we are separated from the Body. When we follow One Shepherd as One Flock then we will be in one accord. If we are one with the Head, we are one with the Body, even if we are not gathered together. But, if we are not one with the Head, we are not one with the Body, even if we are gathered together in the guise of unity.
We can only come to the unity of the faith through the revelation of Christ. All who see Him will be like Him, for they will see Him as He is; and as He is, so are we, in this world. (1 John 4:17).
Today, God's heart is One Flock with One Shepherd, with the Son filling all in all. May the Church fulfill His desire.
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