The AntiChrist Spirit Pt. 5
By Michael Clark
--The Good Shepherd--
Jesus warned that "thieves and robbers" would come in among His flock to kill and destroy them. In John 10 He describes himself the "Good Shepherd," who must contend with thieves and robbers in His flock.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, HE WHO DOES NOT ENTER THE SHEEPFOLD BY THE DOOR, BUT CLIMBS UP SOME OTHER WAY, THE SAME IS A THIEF AND A ROBBER. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and THE SHEEP HEAR HIS VOICE; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, HE GOES BEFORE THEM; and THE SHEEP FOLLOW HIM, FOR THEY KNOW HIS VOICE. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. ALL WHO EVER CAME BEFORE ME ARE THIEVES AND ROBBERS, but the sheep did not hear them.
For centuries the church had no seminaries. Men and women who were called into the "five fold" ministries answered the call of Jesus and obeyed, leading others by His Spirit. Today if you "put the money down," you can "climb up some other way" (vs.1), and ply your trade as a thief and a robber and a false shepherd in the flock of God without entering through the Door of the sheep fold, Jesus. I am not saying that everyone who goes to seminary is a "thief and a robber." All I am saying is that you can call yourself, or be called by a man and never have a shepherd's call from Jesus on your life. Men who become ministers in the Church without God raising them up, do great damage to the flock of Christ by placing themselves before (in preeminence) Him.
The Greek word translated "before" in verse eight of John ten is "pro". It can mean "before" chronologically or "before" positionally (See Acts 5:23). I was told once in a Sunday school class that Jesus is saying, here in John ten, that every Old Testament person whether good king or bad, every false prophet or true, all the patriarchs of Israel, Moses, Noah , Enoch and all of the righteous ones were thieves and robber because they were ministering before Jesus came. What RUBBISH!!!
In this verse the word "ever" was added by the translators and the word "came" is "come" in the original. It more correctly should read, "ALL WHO COME BEFORE ME ARE THIEVES AND ROBBERS." When a minister uses his gift to place himself in preeminence over the people, instead of connecting the people directly to Jesus, he is stealing attention to himself and away form Jesus and puts himself before Christ. Just like the satanic model, he has become a thief and a robber. As Paul told Timothy, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,"(1 Timothy 2:5, NKJV).
This displacing of Jesus can happen to a church leader unwittingly. As one brother who was a pastor recently wrote:
" I have seen so many well meaning pastors, elders and counselors who are so eager to tell, or give, people the answers to their questions and problems. Even when they are doing a very good job, giving Godly counsel, the result can be making the person dependent on them for help, instead of Jesus. It is harder, but necessary, to train the person to "look to Jesus". Of course, a pastor humble enough to do that, probably wouldn't gather much of a following."
Yes, he wouldn't "gather much of a following" to himself, but might be very instrumental in gathering a following to Jesus. I have always liked a story that Watchman Nee of China told about one of his new converts and the man's wife:
"Late one summer I stayed at a hill resort in the home of a mechanic and his wife, both of whom it was my joy to lead to a simple faith in the Savior. When the time came for me to return to Shanghai, I left with them a Bible.
"During the winter the man was in the habit of taking alcohol with his meals, sometimes to excess. Soon, with the return of the cold weather, the wine reappeared on the table, and, as had now become his custom, he bowed his head to give thanks for the meal. But today no words would come! After one or two vain attempts he turned to his wife. "What is wrong?" he asked. "Why can not we pray today?" The wife took the Bible, but turned the pages in vain, seeking light on the subject. They could find no explanation, and I was far away. "Just drink your wine," she said; but no, he knew he must give thanks, and could not. "Take it away," he exclaimed at length; and then together they asked a blessing on the meal.
"When eventually the man was able to visit Shanghai he told me the story. Using and expression familiar in Chinese: "Brother Nee," he said, "Resident Boss wouldn¹t let me have that drink!" "Very good," I replied. "You always listen to Resident Boss!"
(Nee, Watchman. "A Table in the Wilderness." Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,1978. pp February 29 [a daily devotional]).
If we are truly born from above, we have the "Resident Boss" living inside us and we do not need the religious legal system to keep us in check. He draws us to do what is right with cords of love, not with a straight jacket of legalism. The apostle John wrote, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth (I John 2:20)."
"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:27, NKJV).
Back in John chapter 10, Jesus goes on to warn us of the difference between His leadership and that of the hireling.
9"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and WILL GO IN AND OUT AND FIND PASTURE. THE THIEF DOES NOT COME EXCEPT TO STEAL, AND TO KILL, AND TO DESTROY. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. BUT A HIRELING, HE WHO IS NOT THE SHEPHERD, ONE WHO DOES NOT OWN THE SHEEP, SEES THE WOLF COMING AND LEAVES THE SHEEP AND FLEES; AND THE WOLF CATCHES THE SHEEP AND SCATTERS THEM. THE HIRELING FLEES BECAUSE HE IS A HIRELING AND DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE SHEEP.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (John 10:9-15, NKJV).
With today's money driven ministries in the church, "If you wanna play, you gotta pay!" "Buy my tapes!" "Buy my books." Many of these ministries will not tend to or feed the sheep unless you pay them a salary. More and more charges are being levied at the door for "special meetings" and conferences. Many of these ministries must have money up front or they won't perform. If their salary is decreased or, God forbid [I jest!], taken away, they are gone off to greener pastures. When the wolf is at the door, the hireling scatters!
When the wolf is at the door of a sheep in today's Americanized churches, too bad! You can hardly pry a nickel out of their hands to help out a poor sheep in his financial need! It is far different in this day when the money goes into the leaders pocket and pockets of the bankers who hold the paper on the church building, instead of being laid at their feet and made easily accessible for all who are in need (See Acts 4:34,35). But that is another subject.
One other thing, in verse nine above. Notice that Jesus not only lets them come into the sheep fold, but they are free to COME IN AND GO OUT to find pasture. I have heard church leaders warn that if you go to anywhere other than their church, you will not be safe! A sheep fold is not where sheep eat. It is a barren protected defensive type of place where they sleep at night. The good shepherd does not exercise control over them, but lets them "come in and go out" to find pasture, and only Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Well, I have much more I could write to you on where it's NOT AT. But I would rather encourage the Body of Christ to seek to edify one another through the working in their lives of the Holy Spirit. And if you must lead, lead the flock to Jesus with an open hand and do not take any glory to yourself that would draw their attention away from the One who paid the price to be their Shepherd. As Jesus warned,
When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, "Give place to this man," and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, "Friend, go up higher." Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:8-11, NKJV).
Like the Greek seekers told the disciple, "SIR, WE WOULD SEE JESUS!" (John 12:21). May we all seek Him and accept no other substitutes.
(Note: All caps were added in Bible texts for emphasis)
Love in Christ,
Bayview, Idaho, USA