John 10:3 The Calling 12/1/2013
#1. He Calleth His Own Sheep By Name
#2. My Sheep Hear My Voice (John 10:22-30, Jer 8:20)
#3. I Will Not Leave You Comfortless (John 14:15-20, 1John 3:22, Luke 9:23)
Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians 1:26 (2X). (1Cor 1:26-29)
The title of the sermon for today is: "The Calling" (2X). Since I am going to talk about The Calling, and we must also keep in mind that God is building this structure by The Wisdom of God, it stands to reason that I had you turn to 1Cor 1:26, because there we find both of these subject matters together in one paragraph. We read in 1Cor 1:26-29,
1Cor 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Cor 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Cor 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Cor 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
The Bible is the Word of God. These are not the words from a man. This is God speaking to us. And God says, "Look at those whom God has called to serve Him. Through His irresistible grace God has drawn many to the Lord Jesus. But not many are drawn whom this world calls wise, or mighty, or noble". It does not mean that God has excluded all the mighty men, and all the rich people, and all the intellectuals of this world. God has not excluded them, but there are not many of them who are saved. Not many! Why not? Because God, in His wisdom, perceived that these people have more resources than someone who has nothing, and they bring a baggage that often conflicts with God's way of salvation. God does not need man's help such as soldiers, or money, or wisdom, or any other resources that people in business would rely on. God can spread the Gospel without the help from mighty men, or from rich people, or from well-educated people. Look at those whom God has chosen to serve Him. God has chosen people whom the world calls fools, and whom the world calls weak, and whom the world calls base and despised like the poor and handicapped people. God has chosen them often in the place of those who are high and mighty and rich and well educated, and God arranged it in this way in order that "no flesh should glory in his presence". Please turn in your Bibles about 110 pages to your left (ŕ) to the Gospel according to John 10:1 (2X). What is this "Calling" that God speaks about here in 1Cor 1:26? For sure, this refers to an effective and creative calling from God. When I preached on "Metamorphosis", the question was: When does this regeneration take place? Does the Calling come before regeneration or after? I am not talking about the calling of God to heathen who remain unsaved. For example, God calls Cyrus by name, but Cyrus never received a Calling to become saved. But God calls His people effectively, from darkness into His marvelous light, in order that they might declare His virtues and His Good News to an unsaved world. Let us find the answers to many of these questions in John, chapter 10, where we read:
#1. He Calleth His Own Sheep By Name (John 10:1-4, Col 2:3, Luke 10:20, Matt 22:14)
Joh 10:1 ¶ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
Joh 10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
Joh 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
Joh 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
How are thieves and robbers defined here in verse 1? They do not enter by the Door, but by some other way. The Lord Jesus defined the Door in verse 7. He said: "I am the Door". In other words, the only Gospel that can bring salvation is the Gospel that saves through Christ; more specifically through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing else! No other conditions may be imposed, since all other conditions would be like climbing into the sheepfold by some other way. Preachers who claim that other conditions must also be met, like "You must be baptized in water", or "You must have faith", or "You must speak in tongues", or "You must depart out of the church", they are all preaching a works gospel; it is not the Gospel of grace alone that the Bible proclaims. They are climbing up by another way. It is unavoidable that there will be thieves and robbers of the true Gospel. But nothing will be lost to Satan. Thieves and robbers are an integral part of God's plan for saving His elect.
In this parable the Lord Jesus compares the church to a sheepfold, and He warns us here for pretending shepherds and for counterfeit sheep. Who is entering in by the Door of the sheepfold? Christ is the Door, and there is no other entrance into the church except through Christ. Christ is the Chief-Shepherd. Therefore, all pastors and teachers who lead men straight to Christ are good under-shepherds. Since the Chief-Shepherd and His under-shepherds are united together by one Spirit of God, it stands to reason that in verse 2 the "Shepherd of the sheep" refers to Christ as well as all those whom Christ has appointed undershepherds of His sheep. When we read in verse 3, "To Him the Porter openeth", we understand that the Porter refers to God the Father. It means that God will grant salvation to the elect whom the Lord Jesus is calling, as well as to the elect who hear Christ calling through the faithful preaching of one of the undershepherds. All this relates to doctrine, for "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ" (Col 2:3). Have these sheep always been sheep, or were they goats and became sheep when they heard Christ calling? No! These have always been sheep, even before Christ called them. They were born as sheep. They still came into the world as wicked sinners, in rebellion against God, but they were predestined to be saved, and thus they heard their Master's call when He called. "The sheep heard His voice", because they were His own sheep. And so, when we read, "he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out", it is the doctrine that Christ knows all His elect by name, and He leads them out from wherever He found them at that time. When Christ calls us by name, God causes a transformation within us so that we will hear Christ's Calling. It is guaranteed we will hear His call because "Our names are written in heaven". Perhaps you remember when Jesus promised to His disciples that He will give them power over the enemy, in Luke 10:20, the Lord Jesus said, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven". And so we see that the Calling of Christ to each one of His sheep, is a Calling that signals: a soul has been "Born Again". This Calling does not come to each person in the world and leaves it to us if we want to accept or to reject that Calling. O No! This Calling is Particular, which means this Calling comes only to those whom God has chosen from before the foundation of the world. We can see this clearly here in verse 3, "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out". This is the irresistible grace of God operating on those whom God has elected unto salvation. How can anyone conclude, after reading the Bible, that God will save those who of their own free will come to Jesus? They would have to tear the entire Gospel of John out of their Bible and then some more chapters here and there. We can clearly see, from these verses in John chapter 10, that those who preach a gospel of salvation by their own free will, are those whom the Lord Jesus calls thieves and robbers. We are to flee from them, because their aim is to keep our souls dead in sins, so that we end up in Hell. How can anyone conclude that the calling is a work of God unto salvation and is available to all men? And then they gradually change it into an offer, a well-meant offer on the part of God to all men, the acceptance of which depends on the free will of man. As you know, this is the mental track of 5th century Pelagius, and of 16th century Jacob Arminius, who are both messengers of Satan. We do not deny that the Gospel comes within earshot of many whom the Lord does not plan to save. After all, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt 22:14). But the work of the grace of God unto salvation may never be confused with the external preaching of the Gospel to all mankind (2X). Think of it, when the Gospel reaches the ears of all the Reprobate as well as all the Elect, it does not mean that this can be classified as "common grace". First of all there is nothing common about grace, and secondly, the hearing of the gospel by the Reprobate could not be called grace, because it only adds to their condemnation. Thirdly, since in salvation the sinner is translated from darkness into God's marvelous light, the Calling in a saving sense is a work of God's grace, and is wrought in the elect alone. Like all the works of God's grace, it is strictly particular, meaning it is for the elect alone. Even as election is strictly particular and dependent on God's grace alone, even as the atonement of Christ is strictly particular and His blood is shed only for God's elect, even as the work of regeneration does not depend on man's work but is wrought by God's sovereign grace only in the elect, so also is the Calling in a saving sense never general, but always particular. We see here in John 10:3 that this Calling of God does not come to all men, but only to God's elect. And then we read in verse 4,
· He Goeth Before Them, and the Sheep Follow Him (John 10:4, Eph 2:3, Rom 8:28-30)
Joh 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
The English translation does not reflect the force with which Christ "putteth forth His own sheep". The Greek word that has been translated "putteth forth" has the meaning of violently "to cast out", or the least violent activity would be "to pull out" with force. Why would Christ have to do that to His own sheep? Remember, we do not come into the world as gentle sheep. We come into the world as fierce enemies of God, wanting nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, Christ had to pull us with force out of the environment of sin that we liked so much. Christ calls us His people, and through this calling we become His people. We were already marked from before the foundation of the world. We were marked again at the time that Christ suffered and died for us on the cross, on Friday April 3, in the year AD 33. And we were marked again when we were born into this world. God's care and God's providence surrounded us, so that we could not die before we had become "Born from Above", because Christ had paid for the guilt of all our sins, and this payment had to be applied to our souls before our body dies. Although we were born as a vessel of mercy, initially "we were by nature the children of the wrath of God, even as others" (Eph 2:3). Even though the love of God was upon us, because God had foreordained that we should be saved, nevertheless, as long as we were not "Born Again" the righteousness of God demanded that we be under His wrath. Only God can do that.
At the time of our Calling God qualified us to be able to hear that call. Just like when Lazarus was dead in the tomb and the Lord Jesus called to him, "Lazarus come forth", God first qualified him to be able to hear that call. Then we read in verse 4, "He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice". How do these unregenerate sheep know the voice of the Lord Jesus? God qualified them to recognize the voice of Christ as the voice of their Master. God gave them the ability to hear and believe the Gospel they were told, or that they have read at that time. God made them "Born from Above". To each of Christ's sheep there comes a particular call, a special call. Simultaneous with the external call there is an invincible inward call, and therefore it is an effectual call. We read about this in Rom 8:30 where God says, "Whom he called, them he also justified". But not all are justified, therefore not all are "called". Who then are "the called"? Again Rom 8:30 says, "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called". And who were the ones "predestinated"? Rom 8:29 says, they were those whom God did "foreknow". And who were those whom He did foreknow? Rom 8:28 says, they were those who were "the called according to His purpose". The Lord Jesus said in verse 27,
#2. My Sheep Hear My Voice (John 10:22-30, Jer 8:20)
Please drop down to John 10:22 (2X), and there we read,
Joh 10:22 ¶ And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
It was winter and the season of ingathering was now over. The Jews knew not the day of their visitation, and so the things that belonged to their peace were hidden from their eyes. The house of Israel was left unto them desolate. We read in Jer 8:20, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved". What about us, here in this church? For us it is still harvest time. The Gospel is still preached in this church, and people are still saved hearing this Gospel But there will come a time when even in this church it will be winter, and the true Gospel will have been silenced. And then you may regret not having taken notes during the sermons when it was still harvest time.
Joh 10:23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
Joh 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Joh 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
Joh 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Jesus did not say, "Ye are not of my sheep, because ye believe not". No! The correct translation out of the Greek text is here in your KJ Bibles. Jesus said, "ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep". And look at the contrast the Lord is painting in the following verses:
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Joh 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Joh 10:30 I and my Father are one.
He said in verse 28, "They shall never perish". Why is this so? It is because the Lord Jesus Christ is on the way to the cross where He is going to pay for the sins of all His elect people. Not one sheep may be forgotten and not one of their sins may be forgotten. Therefore, not one of these souls will be passed by when God the Holy Spirit is on His way reviving the souls of those who have been redeemed at the cross, and not one of them will be lost after God has done a work of grace in their soul. God the Holy Spirit makes us hear the voice of Jesus when He calls each one of His elect, one by one. It is through this effective Call that we receive ears to hear, eyes to see, and an illuminated mind to perceive and understand the things which are of the Spirit of God. Through this Calling we see and acknowledge our sin as we have never before seen it. Through this Calling we look upon Christ in all His fullness, His cross and resurrection and exaltation. Through this Calling we perceive the power and glory of His grace, the precious benefits of salvation, the fulness of His grace, and the forgiveness of sins. Through this Calling we receive justification, wisdom, sanctification and complete redemption, so that we long for Him and for the possession of all His benefits with all that is within us, and we hunger and thirst after righteousness. Through our teachers we may know many things about Christ, without knowing Him. Through this Calling we learn to know Christ Himself in all the riches of His grace. Through this Calling we learn to know with a spiritual knowledge the will of God concerning us and concerning our calling as the people of God's covenant in the midst of this world. Through this Calling the light of eternal life shines on our pathway through this vale of tears. Therefore it is a calling out of the darkness into the light, out of death into life, out of sin and misery into righteousness and sanctification, out of the lie into the truth, out of our alienation from God into the communion and fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord and into eternal glory.
Now, there is a great deal of confusion about an external calling and an internal calling, because of Matt 22:14, which says, "Many are called, but few are chosen".
· The External and the Internal Call Are Both One
The Calling of Christ unto salvation may be distinguished in an external and an internal calling, provided that we correctly understand what is meant by it. It should NOT be conceived as two callings, the first of which is general through the preaching of the Gospel to all men, and the second particular through the action of God the Holy Spirit in our souls. That is wrong! I, myself, have been guilty of this error in the past. No! When we speak of the calling as a link in the chain of salvation, we never mean anything else than that work of the grace of God whereby the elect sinner is translated out of darkness into God's marvelous light. And this calling has two aspects: an external and an internal aspect. They are related as the work and the means of this translation, but together they form one whole. They are ONE Calling. Instead of speaking of an external calling and an internal calling as two callings, we should say that the ONE Calling is both external and internal and together it is the ONE work of God through the Spirit of Christ. Only when both the external and the internal aspect of this ONE Calling go together and cooperate is there a Calling from God, which has the result that the sinner is translated from darkness into God's marvelous light. The calling in the external sense of the word is the Word of God as it is preached to us by the providence of God. It is not a human calling, but it is a call from God. It is a command from God, which cannot be resisted, like Christ called out: "Lazarus, come forth"! Or it is the command of Christ to His sheep to believe on Him, and they obey. This Calling is not from men, but from God. When this Call comes through an evangelist, God prepared men to speak what He wanted them to say. God did not find human history, times, countries, places, circumstances, and experiences of persons, which He then declared fit to be used as instruments of His revelations. O No! God created them and prepared them for the purpose, which He had conceived. Therefore the Calling, which proceeds from the proclamation of the Gospel, is a work of God. God causes this Calling to go wherever He wills; it is directed by God. The Reformers in the 16th century already understood this. For example, we can read this in the Canons of Dort, in the 3rd and 4th Heads of Doctrine, article 11, which says that the Gospel is proclaimed wherever God sends it according to His own good pleasure. Therefore, the external aspect of the Calling is not a human, but a Divine Calling. And yet, the external side of the Calling, without anything else, is not capable to cause the light of life to shine in the heart of any sinner, because the darkness does not comprehend the light of God. There must also be an internal change in the sinner's heart so that he can hear this external call. The sheep hear Christ's voice, and they know His voice, and they follow Him; just like Lazarus heard the external call, because God had made him alive to hear that call. The Holy Spirit of Christ Himself must call effectively and creatively in the soul of the sinner, and must give him eyes to see and ears to hear, and must illuminate his mind spiritually, and so translate him out of darkness into God's marvelous light. And this is the internal aspect of the Calling of God through the preaching of the Gospel. And this is how the Calling of God becomes absolutely effective and irresistible. This is the moment when sinners become "Born Again", and are converted to saints.
And so, how can we summarize this Calling from God? How can we lock it up in our mind, so that we will never confuse it with the proclamation of the Gospel into all the world? In just two words: "Irresistible grace". God's irresistible grace in the saving of men is a whole lot more than just the preaching of the Gospel. It is the providence of God, or more popularly "the hands of God", which is arranging things in this world so that the circumstances are just right for the salvation of this soul, or of that soul, or of that soul over there. God may use a famine, or an earthquake, or even a second world war to bring the Gospel to His elect. It was through circumstances resulting from the second world war that I am standing here before you as your pastor. It was God's Irresistible Grace!
There is an aspect in this 10th chapter of John that I do not want to skip. Look again at verse 29-30
· My Father Gave Them to Me (John 10:29-30, 1 Cor 10:13)
Joh 10:29-30 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not saying here that God the Father is greater than God the Son. When Jesus said, "I and my Father are one", He indicated that the Father and the Son are both infinitely great. The difference between infinity and infinity is zero. The Lord Jesus is making this statement to indicate to us that no one is able to undo our salvation. If God has done this great work of salvation in our soul, literally has transformed us into new creatures, had us undergo a Metamorphosis, then who in the world would be able to undo what God has done? No one! This is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. If we cannot be plucked out of the Father's hand, then our salvation is kept secure. It does not mean that we can sin all we want, because such an attitude shows that we never have been saved. But from God's perspective He preserves us, and prevents that we would be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. God says in 1Cor 10:13,
1Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
From man's perspective it appears that we continue to persevere in the faith. And so, if God has placed us in this world, which is not our home, how is it possible that we can survive and remain faithful in this brutal environment. How can we do the Lord's work in this vale of tears? The Lord Jesus Christ says:
#3. I Will Not Leave You Comfortless (John 14:15-20, 1John 3:22, Luke 9:23)
Please turn about 10 pages to your right, to the Gospel of John 14:15 (2X). There we read:
Joh 14:15 ¶ If ye love me, keep my commandments.
If we look at the context we see that the disciples were grieving that Jesus would leave them. But here Jesus directs their affection. If I may paraphrase, He says, "Don't express your love for Me by grieving, but express your love for Me by keeping My commandments". Love for Christ is the basis of our adherence to His commandments. We desire to do those things that are pleasing in His sight, because we love Him. But that is not to our credit, since we love Him because He first loved us. Christ loved us first by going to the cross for us. And more than that, He was willing to endure in our place the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, to pay for the guilt of all our sins. That was the reason why His love was communicated to us by God the Holy Spirit. And unless this desire to love Him and to do His will is the first and foremost desire of our hearts, all other petitions will remain unanswered. God says in:
1John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
He who died on Calvary's cross and who said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" is the same God who at Mount Sinai said that He would show mercy unto thousands of them "that love Me and keep My commandments". And then we read in the following verses in John's Gospel,
Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Joh 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Joh 14:18 ¶ I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Joh 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
Joh 14:20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
What is the Lord Jesus speaking about? He spoke about sending the Holy Spirit to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune Godhead. This was to their benefit and to our benefit. If Christ would not have left to go to heaven, then only a small group of people would know Him, because He would dwell there East of the Mediterranean. But since the Holy Spirit would dwell with us and be in us, the message of Christ is spread over the entire earth. Then the Lord Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you". By this He told us that He will personally be present, together with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, in all those who have received the Calling of God in their souls. What a condescendence of Almighty God to dwell in the souls of His creatures. What a great honor for us to be the dwelling place of God.
But how can we know if we have been called by Jesus? How can we know if we belong to the few elect whom God has chosen and has called out of darkness into His marvelous light? Well, look at yourself now. Do you like it if Christ has indeed called you? I do not mean if His Calling has stroked your pride, but I do mean this: "Do you enjoy following Jesus"? Do you enjoy doing what Jesus did? What did He do? He went to the cross. Jesus said that we must take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). What does that mean? The cross has to do with death. It means we must put our life on the line daily for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. It means we must be a witness for Christ all the time. Is this what we enjoy doing? Secondly, except for some nights He spent in prayer, Christ was always in the company of His disciples. Do we enjoy being in the company of our fellow saints in the church? And do we enjoy this all the time? Well, this is what is involved in following Jesus.
Let us turn again to the words of John 14:16-20. I do not want to skip the word “Forever.”
· Forever (John 14:16-20)
Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
What is the implication of this verse? If the promise is that God the Holy Spirit will abide with us forever, does this not also mean that the other promises in this passage are also forever? Of course this is so. For example when we look at verse 17, we can read this as follows:
Joh 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, forever.
I am not suggesting that we add words in our Bibles, but paraphrased this is indeed what God is teaching us here. We can go on and continue our paraphrase:
Joh 14:18-19 ¶ I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also, forever.
Joh 14:20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you, forever.
This takes us to the doctrine of the "Perseverance of the Saints" again. Is it not comforting to know that we cannot lose our salvation? This is entirely caused by the grace of God.
If God chose us from before the foundation of the world, then He sent Christ to earth to suffer and die for our sins on the cross, and then He made us “Born Again” and He sent undershepherds our way so that we will be further instructed in His Word, and throughout our life He kept a watchful eye on us all the time. All this He did because He has chosen us from before the foundation of the world. Why are there people in the world who reject the plain Word of God concerning these promises? Is it not because they are so stuck up in their pride that they cannot swallow the thought that God is fully in control? We are not in control. God should receive all the credit and all the honor and all the glory for caring for us 100% of the time. We would mess it up if we were only partially in control. And this also applies to the calling from God. It is entirely a free gift.
We received salvation as a free gift, and therefore no one can take it away from us, because God desired to give it to us. And that is the end of the matter.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.