Sunday Sermon: Hearing His Voice John 10:1-10

ThiefSomeone broke into a car in our neighborhood last week. It happened during the day when the subdivision was empty and quiet. The thieves broke the lock and stole some important items out of the car. No one heard or saw it happening, but it has left our street feeling vulnerable. People are now wary of leaving their cars on the subdivision roads and everyone is suspicious of strangers coming into the neighborhood. It was a rotten thing to happen to a happy neighborhood. It has left us all feeling insecure and unprotected.

 

Thieves violate the common trust of the neighborhoods and communities that they rob. They disturb the peace of the people and tear up neighbors emotionally. They become a scourge of society and sadly, because of the times we are in, theft and robbery are increasing. It’s a form of domestic terrorism and it’s something that we all have to combat by being good neighbors and looking out for one another.

 

1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.

In today’s passage, Jesus talks about thieves raiding the spiritual sheep pen of His followers. He’s talking about quack preachers and con-artists, phony gurus and shady characters who seek to fleece the flock and mislead the faithful. They come into the church with their own credentials and ambitions, their own personal creeds and twisted gospels. Instead of being committed to Christ, they are committed to their own esteem and well-being. Instead of following His words and ways, they do what they like and love what they do for themselves. They’ve got no interest in being servants of God and followers of Christ; they’re just in it for themselves and they end up in preaching their own Gospels to justify their own lifestyle choices.

 

Who do you mean, John? I hear you ask: Joel Osteen is one – he preaches a prosperity Gospel that is more about realizing the American Dream than getting into the Kingdom of God. He mesmerizes thousands of people in his church each week and millions of folk on TV across the country. He uses his $20 million smile and preaches to the camera. He talks about people getting blessings from God and becoming rich through being faithful. He parades about like a marionette puppet expressing a glossy magazine type of Gospel that has nothing to do with the real Christ. And the trouble is this: millions of folks lap it up and pledge their souls to Osteen’s Gospel, not realizing that they have given up faith in the One, True and Living God.

And whilst I’m meddling here instead of preaching, I may as well mention Oprah Winfrey. She used to be a Christian, but all her wealth, fame and popularity has gone to her head and ruined her heart. She’s now promoting a book called “The New Earth” by a new-age spiritual guru called Eckhart Tolle, who wants to start a new religion in which people will no longer be overwhelmed by the Cross of Christ, but will overcome the Cross and live by their own spiritual enlightenment. In other words, Oprah and Tolle are sidelining Christ and His sacrifice in order to promote their own devilish ideas and unchristian opinions. If ever there was a living example of Matthew 16 v 26, it’s Oprah – what good will it be if a person gains the whole world, yet forfeits their own soul?

 

Do not be deceived folks, Osteen and Oprah have this in common – they are spiritual thieves who will rob you of your faith and lead you away from Christ. Starting soon, on Monday nights and Sunday mornings, I’m going to lead classes on this book “the new Earth” and show you where the dangers lie. And I’m not doing it because I’m jealous of their wealth, influence and popularity, I’ll be doing it because I’m called to guide you through these snakes and vipers, lions and wolves that come to us in sheep’s clothing.

 

4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

The best way to avoid these false prophets is to keep listening for Christ’s voice in their messages. If He isn’t honored, respected, worshiped and glorified by these kind of preachers and celebrities then you can guarantee that Christ is not speaking through them.

 

That’s why I preach from the New Testament and the Gospel week after week. It’s to tell you about Christ, His message, His ways, and His lessons. I’m an Old Testament scholar with an Honors degree in Hebrew and was first in my class for translation. I could stand up here Sunday by Sunday and tell you the OT stories in ways that you’ve never heard and give you great linguistic insights into Hebrew words that you’ve never known, but that’s not what I was called to do –

 

My name is John Stuart and I am a preacher of the Gospel. I’ll preach about His words, not mine. I’ll talk to you straight about Christ being the Only Way, not Oprah’s way; of Him being the Only Truth, not Tolle’s truth, and of being the Only Life, not Osteen’s lifestyle. My purpose of being the preacher at this church is to give you enough information about Jesus, so that you’re attracted to Him, and can begin to hear His Voice in your lives.

 

When Jesus talks about the sheep knowing and listening to the shepherd’s voice, He’s talking about us hearing Him in our lives. When he teaches His people about the sheep following the shepherd, He’s trying to make them understand that they should follow Him if they want to be with God. It’s plain and simple, and it’s not difficult to see, but it’s too simple for some people, too common and too easy to believe. They want something complicated, unique and individual. They want something elite, exceptional, and edifying to themselves. They don’t want to listen to a mere Shepherd, and they certainly don’t want to be followers. If anything, like Oprah, they want to be their own gods, where they become the Center of the universe and not mere followers, servants or slaves of Christ.

 

It’s like a billboard that I read this morning coming to church. It’s promoting a new church and has a picture of a sofa on it. It boldly proclaims that Redemption is a real, comfortable church. Comfortable? There’s nothing comfortable about the Gospel or Christianity! The teachings of Jesus Christ are the most meddlesome, confrontational, in your face religious teachings that the world has ever known. If church becomes comfortable, then we have allowed spiritual thieves and congregational robbers to come into our midst.

 

I wonder how comfortable Jesus was when He was dying in agony on the Cross? I wonder how comfortable the first Christians were when they were plunged into boiling oil or ripped apart by wild beasts in the Coliseum? I wonder how comfortable Christian missionaries were when they were attacked and beaten, tortured and killed no matter where they took the Gospel too? If you want a comfortable church, then go visit Redemption Church in Knoxville, but don’t expect to be redeemed or saved there – that would be too uncomfortable.

The trouble with people today is this: they want to create their own enlightenment, their own faith, their own religion. They don’t want something that is old and outdated, tested and tried, used and second hand. They want to be different from previous generations and better than traditional ways. They want to ditch the baby, the bath water, as well as baptism and beliefs. They just want to do their own thing. In others, they want freedom from faith and religion, demanding it as a constitutional, civil, and universal right.

 

Which reminds me, today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. He was born April 13, 1743, which would make him 265 years old, had he lived. People these days are very quick to point out Jefferson’s wall of separation’ letter to a Danbury Baptist Church meant that Christianity had no place in the heart of the writer of the Declaration, but are they aware of what is written in Jefferson’s personal Bible: “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator.” To say that Christianity had no influence over his writing is to diminish Jefferson‘s personal faith.

We can make up our own ideas about faith in God, but in the end we’re only fooling ourselves and missing out on the greatest gift in the entire universe. Christ says it plainly in this Gospel passage:

 

9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. You can’t get any plainer, more direct, or simpler than that. If we want to be saved from the eternal consequences of our sin, if we want to be restored to God’s favor, if we want to enjoy everlasting life in God’s Kingdom, then we can only find it in, through, with and by Jesus Christ.

We don’t get it by watching Oprah and buying into her wacky ways: we get it by Christ.

 

We don’t get it through Tolle’s book or new age mumbo-jumbo, we get it through Christ.

 

And we don’t get it through Joel Osteen’s smiley and smarmy, sugary and barmy prosperity gospel, we get it through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose voice we listen to, whose Cross we cling to, and whose grace we adhere to for our salvation, our pardon, and our eternal life. There is no other way; there is no other gospel, there is no other gateway; there is only Christ.

 

Prayer

 

Amen.

About Stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over thirty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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9 Responses to Sunday Sermon: Hearing His Voice John 10:1-10

  1. Pingback: barelymyself.com | Meet the new fear, same as the old fear

  2. You said, ” They don’t want something that is old and outdated, tested and tried, used and second hand. They want to be different from previous generations and better than traditional ways. They want to ditch the baby, the bath water, as well as baptism and beliefs.

    Yes, so then why did you leave the “true Church”. The Catholic Church. I guess that Martin Luther was a real wack job for leaving the outdated, tested and tried church. I am so sorry that Martin Luther wanted to be different than the traditional church. AREN’T YOU? Funny, I didn’t think you were a catholic. Oh, you just must be a hypocrite then.
    Take the log out of your own eye sir, as you are a quart low on grace.
    don
    fundys.com

  3. stushie says:

    Barely, thanks for reading the sermon – you’ve got an interesting site. As for being scared of Oprah, that’s not what I’m expressing. I feel sorry for her. She has it all, and yet she has lost it all

    Fundy, hey calm down guy. You’ll poke your own eye out with that stick you’re using. As for being a hypocrite, I guess I am…which is why I need Christ as my Savior.

    God bless you both and may Christ enable you to fulfill your dreams.

  4. Diz says:

    Thank you for reading. We may not agree but that’s the wonder of this orb we’re all spinning around on.

  5. Anna Sellers says:

    You say:

    If we want to be saved from the eternal consequences of our sin, if we want to be restored to God’s favor, if we want to enjoy everlasting life in God’s Kingdom, then we can only find it in, through, with and by Jesus Christ.

    Are we truly out of the favor of God? I hear this a lot. I always tried to wrap my head around why God decided we were so awful. I have investigated internally what grounds I have for believing this and I realize that I have none. Not one experience in my life has screamed out “God doesn’t like you!” to me. I do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. I always believed that God had a lot to do with my moral compass. To do things to save my butt from hell, well, that always felt like I was trying to bribe God into something. The only person I am kidding with that idea is myself.

  6. stushie says:

    Obviously Anna, you don’t feel the need to be saved. You must be the most perfect of saints and have never disobeyed any of God’s commandments.

    Pride is a terrible sin, Anna, because it seduces and deceives the sinner into thinking that God is a-okay with everything that we think, say, write, and do.

    Please take time this weekend to read the Gospel of Mark (it’s only about a 40 minute read) and ask yourself this: Did Jesus have to die for sin as the Son of God, or was it just some tragic mistake that a mere Galilean teacher made? Why? – because that’s what you are expressing with your comments.

    God bless you and may He enable you to fulfill your dreams and make all of your plans succeed

  7. Anna Sellers says:

    I don’t feel the need to be saved. I feel the need to be loved. I did not say, nor do I ever claim to do everything right. I said what I do right, I do because it is the right thing to do. I do not do anything, right or wrong, so that I may avoid hell.

    You read what you like in my text. You assume an awful lot. I will read the Gospel of Mark. I own a bible! In the meantime, can you do me a favor? Can you show me the place where Jesus said my soul will burn in eternal hell because I have lost Gods favor? Do not give me Revelations. Do not quote Paul from his letters to the churches. Do not quote to me Dante’s Inferno. Show me where Jesus said this. If you are going to tell me that Jesus is my way to salvation, it is only right and fair to show me where Jesus is upset with the way I live my life. Show me where he says God cannot love me anymore.

    And how, sir, do I live my life? With Pride? What is the story about me you bring into this conversation? What other sins am I committing? Who am I, to you?

    I can tell you plainly what I see when I read what you have written. I see fear. I do not see love for God. I see fear of burning in hell for an eternity. It is easy to love God under those conditions. Anything looks better than that. If there were no hell, would it be so easy? Could you love God as much without hell as you do with it?

    Maybe the biggest difference between you and I is that you need hell to remind you to do well in the eyes of God, while I need to believe Gods love is unconditional to remain faithful. Does that make you better than me, or me better than you?

    I am not asking you this in jest. As a leader of Christians, I am asking you these questions in genuine honesty. May I please ask you to reread my first statement without the story “She is here to argue with me” in your mind. Where I find strength in God seems more important to you than the fact that I find strength in God. Perhaps I am the one misunderstanding this time.

  8. Pingback: sermons john 10 1 10

  9. stushie says:

    Anna, I do not obey God because I fear hell. I love God, too and want to please Him. I am glad that you are willing to read the Gospel. You will see Jesus as He really is: the Savior of humankind.

    He also wants to save you, Anna, because he doesn’t want to lose you. But it takes a surrendering of our pride to place ourselves into Christ’s hands. Unless you see the need to be saved, He cannot help you. Christ Himself has this to say:

    Mark 16:16-17
    16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved , but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
    NIV

    There are three direct occasions where Christ mentions hell

    Mark 9:42-47

    42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell , where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell . 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell
    NIV

    Luke 12:4-6

    4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell . Yes, I tell you, fear him.
    NIV

    Luke 16:19-31

    19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

    22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell , where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

    25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

    29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

    31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
    NIV

    God bless you in your seeking journey Anna. May He lead you to Christ to be embraced and loved by Him forever.

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