Donald S. Fortner
“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.” (John 10:27-28)
Here is a golden chain of grace with five unbreakable links by which our souls are anchored with Christ in Glory.
“My sheep” — That is our election. The Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees standing before him, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” With these two words, “my sheep,” our Lord Jesus Christ declares the gospel doctrine of sovereign election and describes all his people. It is not very flattering to be compared to sheep. Sheep are truly “dumb animals.” They are weak, helpless, defenseless creatures. But there is beauty in these words, “my sheep.” The Lord Jesus Christ identifies himself with and owns all of his people. He says, “I am the Good Shepherd.” Then he points to us and says, “These people are ‘my sheep.’”
Christ’s sheep are those people who were chosen by him before the world was and given to him. Christ’s sheep are those people for whom he suffered and died at Calvary. To be one of Christ’s sheep is to be one of those people whom he seeks, whom he saves, and whom he must bring with him into heaven. To be one of his sheep is to be under the watchful eye of the Good Shepherd. To be one of his sheep is to be in his hand, under his care and protection.
The sheep are the shepherd’s responsibility. The Lord Jesus assumed all responsibility for his sheep when he became their Shepherd; and the Triune God trusted him as our Shepherd from eternity (Ephesians 1:12). What a blessed name this is, which the Lord Jesus Christ gives to his people, — “My Sheep!” Are you one of Christ’s sheep? Trusting him as our Shepherd, we trust him whom the Triune God has trusted for us!
“Hear My Voice”
Look at what the Good Shepherd says about his sheep. This is the way he teaches us the sweet doctrine of effectual calling and irresistible grace. — “My sheep hear my voice.” Christ’s sheep hear his voice. He speaks to his sheep by his Spirit through the Word of God. He calls them to himself by a mighty, particular, and irresistible call. And when he calls them, they come to him. When he calls his sheep by the gospel, his sheep always follow him. — Have you heard his voice? His sheep do.
“I Know Them”
It is written, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). This is our complete justification — “I know them.” It is not by our knowledge that we are justified, but by his knowledge! He knows whose iniquities he bore in his own body on the tree. He knows whose sins he put away by the sacrifice of himself. He knows the sheep for whom he laid down his life.
When the Lord Jesus says of his sheep, “I know them,” he is declaring that he knows who they are, where they are, all they have done, what they have been, all that he has done for them, all that he will make of them, and all that he will do through them. What deep, sweet, instructive, profound words, — “I know them!”
“They Follow Me”
Here is our sanctification — “They follow me.” In the new birth we are made partakers of the divine nature, Christ is formed in us, and we are made to be followers of the Lamb (2 Peter 1:4; Colossians 1:27; Revelation 14:4). In justification the Lord Jesus gives us a legal righteousness, a righteous standing before God. In the new birth (sanctification of the Spirit) he gives us a righteous nature and graciously inclines us to follow him
All Christ’s sheep follow him. In simple, childlike, obedient faith they follow him. His Word is their law. His example is their guide. His will is their will. As he was obedient to the Father, they are obedient to him. As he walked in love, they walk in love. As he was submissive to the will of God, they are submissive, both to God’s will of revelation and his will of providence. — Do you follow Christ? His sheep do.
Here is our glorification: — “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish!” The Lord Jesus Christ gives all his sheep eternal life. They were all dead by nature in trespasses and in sins. But he comes to his sheep by his Spirit in sovereign, life-giving power. He gives them a new heart, a new nature, a new life! They are new creatures in Christ. — Do you have eternal life? Christ’s sheep do.
After describing his sheep as those who hear his voice, and those who follow him, and those to whom he has given eternal life, the Lord Jesus Christ makes this blessed, immutable, irrevocable promise concerning all of his sheep – “They shall never perish!” Children of God, it is contrary to every promise of God’s precious Word that you should ever be left to perish.
If one of Christ’s sheep could perish, the blood of Christ would be of none effect, the purpose of God would be frustrated, the power of God would be overturned, the promise of God would be broken, the faithfulness of God would be a mockery, and the Word of God would prove to be a lie. Where would be the veracity, the honor, the grace, the covenant, and the oath of God if any of those for whom Christ has died, and who have put their trust in him were to perish!
Were it possible for a redeemed sinner, a believing soul, to perish, the gospel of the grace of God would prove to be a delusion! Banish from your heart those unbelieving fears that so dishonor the Lord our God. These are the blessed words of truth which secure our souls: — “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!”
November 9, 2008
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
2734 Old Stanford Road-Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Telephone (859) 236-8235 – E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor