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Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Do Not Believe Because...

By Justin Edwards

You do not believe because you are not part of my flock. - John 10:26

Last Friday's post Atheists Hate Jesus, but Some Don't Realize It has created quite the stir in the comment section.  Many Atheists have commented asking many questions about "the Christian God" (as they say), but the answers given have not satisfied them.  I do not blame them since the Bible clearly states it is impossible for them to understand:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

My experience has been that quoting such a verse only serves to make them more angry.  Not only does it anger Atheists, but it angers professing christians who do not accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God.  Such would be the case from a fellow that goes by the name of Former Conservative (FC) who runs a blog titled Confessions of a Former Conservative.  Most, if not all, of the commenters came from his blog, which serves to attack Christian websites/blogs of whom he disagrees with ridicule and snarkiness.  FC holds much disdain and contempt for fundamental evangelical Christianity, and the fruit that he shows can be described in no other way than this:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:20-21

Examples of this hatred have come through many blog posts at the Former Conservative website.  He has ridiculed many of my own blog posts, in addition to posts by Tony Miano, Defending. Contending., Trisha Ramos, and Steve Sanchez.  FC abhors the Holy Bible and Jesus' command to "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).  Although I have never mentioned FC on airō before now, he has been the inspiration for a few blog posts including Jesus Died for Me and the recent 4-part series Jesus: Holy and Righteous God of Love and Wrath.

The reason for this post is to address in more detail a comment from one of the commenters (named "depizan") from Friday's article, who said:

"All of His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him, and all who come to Him He will never cast out."

Some of the people questioning your take on the Christian God are, er, His sheep. Are you really that certain that your take is correct and not theirs? How can you say they haven't come to him? I'm pretty sure only God would know that, yes?

I assumed "depizan" is referring to FC, and perhaps one or two others commenters on the post who share an equal disdain for fundamental evangelical Christianity as FC.  Ultimately this is a disdain for the God of the Bible.  Whether admitted Atheist, liberal christian, or anyone else who does not believe the God of Scripture, there is a reason for this given by Jesus Himself (who liberal christians claim to believe yet oftentimes reject or seek to deconstruct the rest of Scripture.  Some call themselves "red letter christians").

Jesus did not shy away from the doctrines of grace (commonly called "Calvinism" today), but rather He was bold in their proclamation.  Take, for instance, the verse posted at the top of this article where Jesus said,

You do not believe because you are not part of my flock.

Note that this does not say,

Because you do not believe you are not part of my flock.

It is important to understand that Jesus is saying the reason they do not believe is because they are not one of His sheep, for if they were one of His sheep, they would indeed believe.  The verse follows Jesus' parable of the sheepfold and the testimony of the Good Shepherd.  In John 10:26, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who rejected Him and accused Him of blasphemy by claiming to be God.

Going back to the beginning of the chapter, Jesus gives the parable:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:1-5).

The thieves and robbers Jesus is referring to are the blind Scribes and Pharisees who do not exalt Christ, but rather exalt their own self-righteousness and promote their man-centered agendas.  This would also apply to any modern/postmodern preacher whose motives are anything but of God.  To this end, J.C. Ryle comments,

The false shepherd of souls is he who enters the clerical office with little or no thought about Christ, from worldly and self-exalting motives, but from no desire to exalt Jesus, and the great salvation that is in Him.

These false shepherds will scatter the sheep.  When a sheep, a born again believer, hears the truth of God's Word, he is drawn by it in such a way that it soothes his soul.  When the Gospel is proclaimed, they are stirred and excited, never growing tired of hearing about the love of God to save men and women from their sin.  These do not follow the voice of a stranger, but rather they know and follow the voice of their shepherd.  

Jesus continues in John 10:11, 14-15:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Here Jesus makes the unpopular claim that He, as the Good Shepherd, laid down His life for His sheep.  He did not lay His life down for all, for all are not His own.  Christ laid His life down for those the Father gave Him from eternity past (John 6:37; Ephesians 1:4).  Christ laid His life down for His sheep, and He knows them each by name (verse 4).  When they hears His voice, they will follow Him without exception, and they will love Him and obey Him, being sanctified in the truth of God's Word (John 17:17).  Amazingly, just as the Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father, so too does the Son know each of His sheep the same.

Speaking of these truths found in the Gospel of John (in addition to pointing out that God's sheep have been commissioned to call His remaining sheep through the proclamation of the Gospel), my friend John Samson comments,

From John’s Gospel, we can make the following scriptural statements: All that the Father has chosen to be His from eternity, He has given to the Son (John 6:37); and all whom He has given to the Son, the Son knows (John 10:3); and calls (John 10:3-5); and all whom He calls, know Him (John 10:14) and recognize His voice (John 10:4-5) and they come to Him (John 6:37) and follow Him (John 10:4, 27); and the Son lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11); and He gives them eternal life (John 10:28) and keeps them in the Father’s word (John 17:6), so that not even one of them is lost (John 6:39), to glorify the Son forever (John 17:10). This is the indestructible foundation for an infallible salvation that rebounds in the end to the glory of both the Father and the Son.

None of Christ’s sheep finally reject His word. Though He allows some of His sheep to resist the word for a long time, never do they reject it finally. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” (John 6:37). What a promise! And what a privilege we have in sharing the Gospel with people, as we witness the Good Shepherd rounding up His sheep.

So what of those who are not part of Christ's flock?  Returning back to John 10:26, they do not believe because they are not of the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd.  Even more bluntly in John 8:39-47, Jesus said of those who do not believe:

...Now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God...If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here...Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires...because I tell the truth, you do not believe me...Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

What is the cause and effect?  People who reject the God of the Bible and do so until death do not understand the things of God because they cannot hear the voice of Christ.  They are spiritually deaf.  Because the truth is spoken, they do not believe.  It is because they are not of God, but of the father of lies, Satan.  They are in bondage to their sin and the devil has blinded them so they cannot see the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).  It is only those who are of God, who are of His sheepfold, who can hear the words of God and be changed into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When praying to His Father in John 17:1-26, Jesus interceded for His sheep:

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

According to Christ Himself, the world hates you when you love the truth, namely Jesus and His Holy Word to us, which includes the infallible writings of the Old and New Testament.  Believers were given by the Father to the Son, and it is these for whom He laid down His life.  Jesus does not intercede for anyone other than the sheep of His flock.  He guides us and guards us and will sanctify us in and by His Truth found in the inerrant Word of God, the Bible.  The world hates us because we are not of the world, but God has called us out of the world to no longer be like the world.  

This leads me into a biblical warning for "Former Conservative":

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. - John 15:18-19

FC, it is clear the world loves you as its own.  I say this for no other reason but to call you to examine yourself per 2 Corinthians 13:5 through the Word of God. I encourage you to begin in the book of 1 John. You have managed to build a following of people who reject, deny, and hate the God of the Bible, and they commend you for your attacks against born again believers.  Satan has further deceived you into thinking you are journeying a worthy cause.  Not only is this confirmed in your hatred for the Body of Christ as evidenced in your writings, but it is further established by the following from 1 John 4:5-6:

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

The world listens to you and loves you, FC.  That is a major red flag, one that you must heed.  Whether or not you will heed the warning I do not know - that will depend upon whether or not you are of God for God's children love the truth, love the brethren, and love the holy and righteous God of love and wrath.  Plead for mercy from God, FC.  Until you know you've been born again and have received eternal life, plead with Him day and night that He would make His truth known to you, that He would sanctify you by His Word.  Plead with Christ to give you eyes to see and ears to hear that you would love all of the attributes of God, to receive Him as your Lord and Savior, that you would receive God Himself to spend eternity with Him in glory.  

Back to the original question posed by "depizan", a conclusive question might be asked:  

is Former Conservative one of God's sheep?

At this point, FC may be one of God's sheep, but his fruit indicates he has yet to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. I pray God does indeed call FC by name that he would repent and follow the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.

In closing, I post the following message to any of the sheep who frequent Former Conservative's website or any other person who is not yet born again.  Perhaps there is only one of you reading, but know this:  the Good Shepherd knows you by name and He is calling you to come into the fold.  Listen to His voice and follow Him.  He declares for you to repent and trust in Him alone for your salvation, and when you do, He promises you abundant life (John 10:10).  The world loves its own, and they hate the Lord Jesus Christ and His sheep, but the Good Shepherd is calling you out from among them.  He did not die for the world, but He did die for you.  God stepped down from His throne in heaven that you would be reconciled to Himself through the blood of Jesus Christ, that you would receive the riches of His mercy and grace and reign with Him forever! 

Listen to the voice of your Shepherd as He calls you forth from among the spiritually dead.  Forsake everything that has kept you from the Lord.  Leave the crowd behind, lay down your pride, and never look back.  If you desire to know who Jesus really is, if you feel the draw of the Holy Spirit, if you want to know exactly what Christ did and why He did it for His sheep, then please read about The Suffering Servant.  If you have any questions about anything, I offer you the same as I offered Jon in the comment section of this post

One of God's lost sheep is out there somewhere, perhaps amongst the readers of Confessions of a Former Conservative.  If that is you, come to Christ.  Come to the Lamb and be healed.  Come to the King and receive the reward of your inheritance.  Come to Lord of the Harvest, and live!

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. - Revelation 22:17

Oh little sheep, fix your eyes on the cross: 

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