Christ’s Sheep Know Him

Since I began this iteration of Timothy’s Burden back in November, I’ve posted regularly about Calvinist doctrine. The more I do, the more I realize that I’m posting less about “Calvinist doctrine” than I am about Jesus Christ and His glory. I believe Calvinism to be the theological framework which best describes Jesus Christ and His grand salvation plan, and so by blogging about Him I’m blogging about Calvinism, and vice versa. I cannot help that what I post so often is in defense of Calvinism because of the simple reason that defending that system of beliefs is one & the same as defending the truth surrounding He who is Truth, Almighty God Jesus Christ.

That being said, I came across a familiar passage of Scripture today which stuck out at me. Like Jesus’ words in John 6, I find in this passage a grand foundation for Calvinist thought, and I am again awed at how simple the verses are. With what I’ve come to learn about the Scriptures and Calvinism, I am amazed that I was ever not Calvinist; I am stricken with sheer awe, though, that the plainest statements of Scripture which support Calvinist theology comes from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

In John 6, we see that only those dragged to Christ by the Father are saved, and that those who are dragged will be saved and will continue in that salvation until they are raised up at the last day. All of that is consistent with Calvinist theology, and unless one twists Jesus’ words, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to make Jesus’ words support an Arminian or Semi-Pelagian theological viewpoint.

Another passage that is just as powerful also comes from John’s telling of the Gospel. As I said, it is a familiar passage, but I will share it with you because it is the words of Scripture which are able to renew your mind. Jesus, the Mighty God, is speaking:

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. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:11-16, NKJV

Read that over a few times.

Who does Christ lay down His life for? According to Christ Himself, He died for His sheep. Many claim that Christ died for the whole world, but shall we let Christ explain His death for us or shall we presume to do so for Him? Christ laid down His life for His sheep.

Christ did not lay down His life for the wolves. Only for the sheep.

If Christ died for everyone, are we to presume that everyone are His sheep? That presents many problems, for Christ says He is known by His own. Do all know Christ as their Good Shepherd? Nay, for the vast majority are willfully ignorant, hating Christ because He reproves their evil deeds.

The Jews challenged Christ a short time after the above message was given. They asked that if He was the Christ, that He would tell them plainly.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” John 10:25-30, NKJV

John Calvin himself couldn’t have penned a more convincing summary of soteriological doctrine if he tried. Here in Jesus’ words we read of the sheep who are unsnatchingly His by virtue of their being given to Him by the Father.

Oh, what a blessed thought to have been given to the Good Shepherd by the Father! What a humbling thought that of so many, I am chosen. I cannot answer why, for certainly nothing I did or could do merited or deserved any such favor from God.

Rather, I trust that He has mercy on those He chooses to do so, and I praise Him for being one of His sheep.

I am curious what the non-Calvinist explanation of this verse is. I know that in non-Arminian non-Calvinist circles (i.e., the middle-ground), these verses are used to support the idea of eternal security. But why aren’t the verses leading up to the description of the sheep being safe within the Father’s hand made use of? Why trust the sovereignty of God in regards to security but not anything else that Jesus spoke of? I’m genuinely confused at how this passage is so easily missed by those who reject unconditional election, limited atonement, or irresistible grace.

2 thoughts on “Christ’s Sheep Know Him”

  1. Rick, praise be to the Father! Who are we that we, of all, should be chosen to be watched over by the Good Shepherd, and that He should lay down His life for us?

    I’ve often wondered such things, too. Some days I wonder if they are really Christian or not. Of course I know they are, but it’s just hard to see true Christians not believing true doctrine.

    As for the limited atonement, although I agree with you, many try to say that Jesus “is the Savior of all mankind, and especially those that believe.” However, if anyone had the most basic definition of “Savior” then they would understand that Jesus is not the Savior of all mankind, as they understand all mankind. In order to be a Savior, one has to save. If all mankind is not saved, then the definition of Savior is not met, and hence Jesus cannot be a Savior. But, once someone inserts the correct interpretation of “all mankind,” which is to be understood as every tribe, nation, people, and language, then Jesus is indeed the Savior of all mankind.

    One might legitimately ask, “Why the distinction between mankind and believers?” I reply it is showing that Jesus saves without distinction, not exception. In other words, Jesus is not going to save the Jews alone. He is not going to save the Gentiles alone. He is going to save both Jew and Gentile, but only those that believe.

    “Aha! So you admit that in order to be saved, one must believe.” one might say. To clarify, I’ve never said differently. I only believe that man is incapable of believing until he is regenerated by the Spirit, and even then it is not in his ability that he believes, but the grace which is inside of him. I believe that faith is the act of man, but it is the work of God. This is best seen in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

    Paul here openly admits that he has worked harder than any of the other apostles. That would give him grounds to boast. However, since it is the grace within him that causes him to work, any foothold for pride has now been swiped from under foot.

    “Well, that’s working, not believing.” Ah, but then why do we believe when others do not? Brother, were you by any chance more spiritually enlightened than others? Were you smarter, stronger, better in any way, shape or form than others? If so, then you have grounds to boast and it is no longer by grace that you have been saved. If not, then how can believing possibly be the work of man?

    I cannot find the exact reference, but Paul asks of his readers in Corinthians, “What have you that you have not received?” His question expects the answer, “Nothing.” And, indeed, that is how every Christian should answer. Even the faith we have, it was given to us most graciously by God because of Jesus’ death.

  2. Last night I had a very long dialogue between a girl in my grade at church, and my LUGG (Living Under God’s Guidance) leader about Reformed theology. They both disagree with me. I got the usual, “God gives us free choice”, “God desires everyone to be saved”, “God cannot fail, but man can”, “Why does God command us to preach if they’re going to be saved”, “God doesn’t damn people to hell”, “If God saves us against our will, then that makes us robots”. According to human standards, we got nowhere except offended. But, according to the standards of God and my view of God’s absolute sovereignty, this was perfect progress.

    My LUGG leader wants me to talk with the Youth Leader and the Senior Pastor about these things, yet at the same time he will not read a book I recommended him. Now no offense to my LUGG leader, he’s a really great guy, but I just cannot believe he would be that way.

    It’s really interesting to witness firsthand how people encounter John 6:44, “Oh, it doesn’t mean what it says. It means that if I open up my heart to God, His Spirit will enter into me.” Phst.

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