“‘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. 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. 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. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.’”
All human beings are made of the spirit, flesh, and the mind. People who have received the remission of sins in their hearts through the Lord can distinguish the spirit, flesh, and the mind; but the people who have not received the remission of sins cannot distinguish these and misunderstand the thought of the flesh as the spiritual thought.
The Gospel of John chapter 10 that we have read today shows very clearly how our Lord has saved our souls. Our Lord truly came to this world and saved our souls from all the sins by receiving the baptism and shedding blood on the Cross. Whenever I think of myself, I realize it is really a great blessing that my soul has received the remission of sins before the presence of God like this. I am sure that you also are very grateful to God. Therefore, understanding how God completely blotted out all the sins of our souls is the proper duty of us who have received such a great blessing. Today, we will have time to understand all these issues in detail through the Word from the Gospel of John chapter 10.
We Have Become the Sheep of the Lord, and the Lord Has Become the Door of the Sheep
Our Lord said in the Gospel of John chapter 10 verses 1-2, “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.” And He said in John 10: 9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” As we can see in this Word, the Lord said He is the door of the sheep and we are His sheep. And the Lord said that He prepared the Heaven and He is the door of the Heaven. The Lord says that He is the door of salvation itself because the Lord has already paid for all our sins completely.
God created the first humans, Adam and Eve. He made Adam with the dust of the ground and breathed life into his nostrils and the man became a living being. It means that human became a being that does not die eternally. But the human that was made in the image of the likeness of the majestic God fell to the temptation of Satan the Devil and committed sin. While the human was struggling in sin, God planned to blot out the sin that infiltrated our souls. The Lord already had the plan to be the door of salvation for us personally from that time. And the Lord’s promise to blot out all our sins is recorded in many places in the Scriptures.
For example, Genesis chapter 3 verse15 says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” It says here that the descendant of a woman shall bruise your head. Then, what does this mean? It means that Jesus would come to this world in flesh and destroy and eliminate Satan the Devil. And the Word “You shall bruise His heel” means that the Lord who received the baptism and shed blood on the Cross and fulfilled the just salvation would save our souls from sin. It is the promise of the Lord that He would save us and become the door of salvation, the door of the sheep, and the Shepherd of the sheep for us. Like this, the Truth that our Lord shall become the door of salvation for us is the plan of God that was set even before the foundation of the world, of course, before the fall of man by the temptation of Satan the Devil.
Like this, our God wanted to become our Shepherd and the Saviour from the time He created human being. God had the plan before the foundation of the world to become the good Shepherd for us and make us receive immortal life as we go in and out and receive the bread of eternal life and attain the blessing. Our God became the good Shepherd and led us to the upright path instead of leaving us alone. The Gospel of John chapter 10, verse 9 says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” This tells us this plan and promise of the Lord. As this Word tells us, we receive new life and strength and spiritual and physical blessings through the Lord who is the door to our every blessing. Therefore, God is really our God and Saviour who became the friendly God whom the Devil cannot separate us from no matter how much he tries. Truly our Lord is our good Shepherd and the Lord of life and the Lord of judgment.
God blotted away the sins of our spirit clean at once through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and made us the believers His people. We have become perfect children of God without sin and the beloved sheep of God only through the righteousness of God, not through our effort. Our Lord personally received the baptism upon His body from John the Baptist and thereby took the sins of the world upon Him at once and become the perfect Saviour for those who believe in Him by giving up His body to be nailed on the Cross and being resurrected from the death. We were able to become the sheep of the Lord and be able to call Him our good Shepherd because of all such work of salvation that the Lord has fulfilled. Do not forget this fact.
Our souls would have still been tied to sin and couldn’t have received the remission of sins forever if it had not been for our Lord. Our Lord saved our souls perfectly from the sins of the world. We were able to become the Lord’s people and the Lord became our good Shepherd because of the Lord who has saved you and me from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We, humans, have spirit, mind, and body. And though the body has no choice but to live in this world committing sins, the soul has received salvation through the faith of believing the righteous work of the Lord: to atone for all the sins of the world, He has received the baptism and shed His blood on the Cross. And you and I, who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given to us, have now become the people of God and the children of the Lord eternally. Nothing in the universe exists aimlessly, and rather, everything has instead been created to reveal the glory of God. I want you to know that the reason you and I have also been born to this world as creatures is in God’s will, and it aims to make us become the children of God ultimately.
Let’s Become the Thankful Believers
The Lord said that all those who believe with the gospel of the water and the Spirit become the children of God. And you and I have become God’s children perfectly by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that Jesus Christ has given to us. As I have said earlier, all of this work of salvation was within God’s plan that was established even before the creation. We were born to this world within the plan of salvation in Jesus Christ and we have received the true remission of sins by believing in Jesus Christ who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Now we will enter God’s Kingdom that our Lord has prepared when the time comes for us to leave this world some day. We must always remember the fact that our souls have received the remission of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit before the presence of God and return glory to the Lord.
We humans have no choice but to follow the fleshly criteria rather than the spiritual criteria in all things we think about because we humans are beings with a body. But it is vastly wrong to follow these fleshly criteria even in the matter of the Lord’s righteousness and faith. For example, it is wrong to think, “This is good for me. I have received the blessing from the Lord again” when our fleshly things go well, or think, “Why am I going through this suffering when I have believed in Jesus” when our flesh is sick and in troubles. The flesh is always unstable and goes through many changes. But we would be shaken every day like the chaff blown away by the wind if we placed our criteria in that flesh when we follow the Lord.
Like this, our flesh is imperfect and it must be totally changed in the future, but how are our souls? Our souls have received salvation from the sins of the world all at once through the gospel of the water and the Spirit the Lord has given us. That’s why we can praise the righteousness of God and live happily in the Lord. Though our flesh commits sins while living in this world, we who have become the people of God must not judge others with the fleshly criteria and think it is right. We must go before the presence of God by believing in the righteousness of the Lord who has saved our souls from all the sins of the world. I know that we must become the sheep that always give thanks to the Lord by faith.
Do not forget the fact that you have become the lambs of God. And do not make any decision based on fleshly criteria, but think first before the presence of Jesus about the salvation of our souls the Lord has given and give thanks with the faith of believing this. Through Jesus Christ, we have truly received the remission of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and received the special privilege of becoming the children of God as well. We must always keep in mind the Lord’s purpose and blessing that gave us the birth in this world and become the saints who know how to come before the presence of God and offer up the worship service of thanksgiving.
Though We Are Weak
We have experienced many things while living in this world. There were many sufferings, sad things, good things, and also the things of God among those experiences. But we must think of all the fleshly things we have experienced for the survival in this world as just fleshly things when we come before the presence of God. I believe that we must first think of the grace of salvation that God has saved our souls from all the sins and praise God and give thanks and glory to God. God has really given you and me the blessing that cannot be expressed in words. Therefore, we must listen to God’s Word and receive new strength in our souls by coming in and going out of His sheepfold. We must become the sheep of such faith whose souls praise God and sincerely give thanks to God.
We must not make a decision based on fleshly thinking no matter what we do because we are all His children who have received the grace of salvation from God. We will look at the Word from Genesis chapter 1 to help your understanding.
God created the universe. God created the light in the world that was in chaos on the first day of His creation, and when God saw the light it was good. Then, He divided the waters that were above the firmament from the waters that the covered the earth on the second day. And He gathered the water that covered the earth together into one place on the third day and raised the earth gradually and divided the dry land from the water in the ocean. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” It says clearly here that God saw everything He had created as good.
Then what about us who live in this world as the people of God? Does our appearance seem good to God when He sees us? No, it isn’t. The fleshly thinking and the spiritual thinking run back and forth just like the way the ocean water rushes back and forth toward the shore. The fleshly thinking rises up endlessly like the ebb and flow of tides come and go away ceaselessly even though spiritual thinking arises in us and we praise God when we listen to God’s Word. The fleshly sentiments, sadness, hurts and such things rise up unconsciously at times even while we are doing the spiritual work and thinking spiritual things.
At a time when we are consumed with the fleshly thinking that rises up like the flow tide, we must understand the fact that this is not our true self even though we are prone to think that way. This is just the seawater, that is, the fleshly thinking. I am saying that is not the true self but just a momentary thinking that comes up from the flesh, the emotion and greed.
When the ocean water reaches a full tide, if the tidal storm creates waves, the seashore is washed away by the tidal waves of over 10m high. And the trees on the seashore die from the salt that pours down on them when the ocean water rides the wind and invades the land. This is the same with the fleshly thinking of us the humans. The fleshly thoughts rise up often because we live in this world with flesh. And people whose essence is very friendly with the flesh at times misunderstand such fleshly thoughts that come up from time to time as those of their own self and their own essence. What would happen if they do not defeat this with faith? Whenever their weakness is revealed, they look at their weak selves and make wrong judgment that they are the blood of evil seed that cannot live out their faith. They fall into such despair and eventually depart from the Lord.
The Truth of salvation is always same for us humans. There is no other way. The flesh has limitations. Any variable thing cannot be the absolute Truth of salvation. We must realize that the flesh is not sanctified even though we have received the remission of sins, but it is our souls installed with good conscience that is headed toward God as it is written in 1 Peter 3:21, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
As there was never a time when the ocean water dried and there was never a time when the ebb and flow tides stopped flowing, the Lord always loves us. But our flesh always tries to lead us to death with selfish thoughts. However, you and I are not the people who shall live in defeat against the flesh. We are God’s. The essence of you and I who have received salvation from sin eternally by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is that we are people of God and that we are His children and the Lord’s sheep.
We who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are actually very magnificent people before the presence of God, but the emotions and greed from our old selves rise up and down once in a while because we have the flesh. And the emotions of the flesh shake us up and even confuse our souls whenever the fleshly thinking rises up. Why is this so? It’s because the fleshly thinking hurts ourselves like the way the ocean water hits the coastal land and the plants dry up and die because of the salt from the ocean water.
We must mend the hurt with the faith of believing the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And we must definitely remember that we are the people who have received salvation from sin eternally from God. That’s the only way we can keep ourselves from getting immersed in the fleshly sentiments and getting hurt, and become even more formidable by faith. We must live with the faith of believing in the righteousness of God rather than our emotions. We must live with the faith in the recorded Word of God rather than relying on the fleshly thinking that rises up within us. Only then can we the saints praise the righteousness of God. We cannot help but become a loser eventually in the fight against the flesh and face death eternally if we do not live according to God’s Word but live according to the fleshly thinking. Then we wouldn’t be able to lead the spiritual life of faith properly and we wouldn’t be able to give thanks to God, and we wouldn’t be able to receive the spiritual food from Him. We can receive the spiritual food only when we have the faith of believing the righteousness of God. We receive the food for our hearts and receive new life, strength and the blessing through God’s recorded Word of blessing and the bread of life as we meet God’s servants in Jesus Christ.
How are you when the fleshly thoughts rise up within your heart? Do you think you cannot go forward any longer even though you have lived because of God’s grace until now? Haven’t you thought that you’d like to give up your spiritual life of faith because of that? Haven’t you decided to go back to the former life like Peter went back to fishing again? We would go back if we could, but we have already become the born-again sheep of God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Because there is a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one, to us the born-again, we need to look to that homeland and endure the present state as we go through this world. Those who have truly received the remission of sins by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood of the Cross can never go back to their old life.
Two Kinds of Warfare: The Spiritual Warfare and the Physical Warfare
A righteous person going back to the world means becoming the servant of this world that signifies the death of soul. Such a person wants to be one of the Israelites shackled to the chain of the Egyptian Emperor: they had worked desperately as slaves of Egypt just to get a piece of bread for their flesh everyday. Therefore, we who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit cannot go back to the former world and we do not want to as well. The only difference is that we who have received the remission of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit should live in two worlds simultaneously and that is a little difficult thing. That’s what the physical life and the spiritual life are like.
Our souls are always comforted when we live with the faith of believing in God’s Word rather than with our fleshly thinking. The Holy Spirit within us gives us the confirmation, saying, “Yes, that’s right!” and gives us new strength when we receive God’s Word regardless of the fleshly thinking. Like this, our souls live in a peaceful and comfortable spiritual world without having anything to do with the flesh.
But how is our fleshly thinking that lives in the world of flesh? It stands against the spiritual thinking with the attitude, “What do you mean it is right? You can never live like that.” That’s why the spiritual warfare and the physical warfare erupt fiercely between the spirit and the flesh. How many people do you think can fight these two wars and win with their own strength? There are none other than the people of faith who believe in the righteousness of God who can win these wars.
We can never win the spiritual warfare and the physical warfare if we try to win these two kinds of warfare with the fleshly strength only. The victory in this war is possible only through the faith of believing in the righteousness of God. It may seem like our desires of flesh is limitless, but it is not actually like that. It may seem like we could swallow the whole universe when we are extremely hungry, but our flesh is satisfied when we are given just two bowls of boiled rice, two bowls of soup, and two glasses of water. It means that we can be liberated from the flesh and do not live as the slaves of flesh as long as we just do not follow the fleshly greed. But our souls cannot become upright just by our efforts. We can live spiritually only with the faith of believing in the righteousness of God. Even so, we put more emphasis on the desires of the flesh that we could overcome with our own effort.
Do not lose the spiritual fight just because of your desires for food, clothing, and shelter and the other the fleshly thoughts that rise up like the wave. Our Lord said that we should not worry about the things to eat and things to wear. And He said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27).
That’s right. Take a look at the flowers. Each and every flower shows off its smiling face to the full. Like this, it is the duty of us creatures to always reveal the glory of God the Creator and to satisfy ourselves with our present circumstance. If God has given satisfaction to all the lowly flowers of the field like this, then how much more does God grant us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? The Lord clothes us and feeds us and quenches our thirst. The Lord has already filled us up in body and spirit, and He will continue to fill us up in the future as well.
People focus too much on their flesh and cannot think of the future of their souls because they do not have the faith of believing in the righteousness of God. They are wavering by fleshly thinking because they do not know well that their souls have received the remission of sins from God and how precious that remission of sins is. However, you and I should not be like that in our faith and in our spiritual life of faith. The truly important being is the inner person of the soul, not the outer person of the flesh that is satisfied if it is fed a little.
Our Lord planned and gave the true plan of salvation in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to save us from all the sins of the world. He actually saved us all at once through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord came to this world personally and saved us who believe in Him by taking our sins upon Him at once through the baptism received from John the Baptist and dying on the Cross to pay off the price for the sins of the world and resurrecting from death. Our Lord became the perfect Savior for you and me in this manner and became the door of the sheep and became the good Shepherd in our life.
The good Shepherd leads His sheep to the green pasture and feeds the grass and also gives them water by leading them beside the still waters. From human thinking, we may seem like we are living with our own strength. But with a closer look, we can see that we actually live with the things the Lord who is our Lord gives to us. We live like this now because the Lord gave us the fresh air, clean water, and all the circumstances and also the strength to work and the ability to earn money, and because the Lord protects us like that. That is true. We are the only ones who are not aware of the fact that we go on living because the Lord has become our Shepherd. Therefore, you and I must believe in the Lord and follow His voice, and we must think about the fact that we have received all the spiritual and physical blessings and live with the heart of thanksgiving before the presence of the Lord.
The Lord said that it is natural for our flesh to receive food from the Lord in all things if our souls have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We do not need to worry about the fleshly needs any more if we believe in this Word thoroughly. We must not be disappointed even if the things we have yearned for are not fulfilled shortly and we must not even look to the world with only the fleshly thoughts. The spiritual life of the people who have been born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the life only for the gospel. Therefore, how could an imperfect nature of the flesh fit in with such a spiritual life? The war between the spirit and the flesh that exists in us is an eternal war. We just need to know that only the righteousness of God that saved us from the sins of the world is beautiful and that only the gospel of the water and the Spirit that gave us the eternal life to our souls is precious. Therefore, if we just do God’s work quietly with such knowledge, it will be okay. And we who have been born again in that manner can receive the pasture from God in all things.
You and I must be treated preciously because we have become such precious souls since the moment we became born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We also must give priority to our soul more than our flesh, and we should consider it precious and treat it preciously. Then, the Lord who is the door of the sheep and the good Shepherd will protect our souls even more and lead us to the upright path. We have to give thanks by faith to the Lord who is our Shepherd and we have to continue to live in this world following the voice of the Shepherd. The Lord planned to become our Shepherd even before the creation. We shall receive the true food for the eternal life before the Lord in all things when we believe in the good Shepherd who saved our souls as God.
There Are Still Many Sheep That Are Not of This Fold
The Lord said in the Scripture passage that there are many sheep that are not of this fold yet. And He who is the good Shepherd said that He would give up His own life for the sheep and save them. You and I who have become the sheep of the Lord, the good Shepherd, by receiving His love must now join our hearts together with that Shepherd for the work of leading the sheep who have not yet come into our fold. To reiterate this, I am saying that we must live out our faith with the spiritual faith; we should not believe in the Lord just like people simply practice religions. I am sometimes afraid that you would not be able to live by faith and adhere too much on your physical weakness and shortcoming and eventually give up leading a spiritual life. But it is clear that a person who has become righteous once is righteous eternally before the presence of God and we have such faith. I believe this way.
Our Lord received the baptism to take over all our sins and became our true Savior by dying on the Cross. I give thanks again to the Lord who has given us such great faith. This work of salvation that God has given to you and me is such a precious and eternal thing. As that salvation is so precious, the soul that has been saved must also be treated very preciously. As we feed pets with food and take good care of them and nurture them carefully, it is the duty for us who are the sheep of the precious faith to feed the spiritual food to the souls that have not yet come into the Lord’s fold and share the Lord’s gospel with them so that they may receive the remission of sins.
We who have received the remission of sins in this world through the Lord are not people who draw back to perdition. We are not people who will be destroyed and die. Rather, we are people who have precious eternal life. Our souls are so precious and valuable when we think about them before the presence of God even if the outward man may seem lacking and have nothing to show off. Therefore, we don’t need to be discouraged even if our flesh does not meet the expectations of the spiritual work. We are thankful just to give ourselves for the work of following the righteousness of the Lord. There are times when our hearts are hurt because we have to get rid of the desires of the flesh, but we can really become precious beings that bring much benefit to people if we endure this and do God’s work with love and faith. I mean that there will arise within us the good conscience and faith to share the spiritual food as we follow the righteousness of the Lord. I give thanks again to God who has made us such righteous people.
Never look at your physical weakness and be discouraged. The Lord is your Shepherd and the door of salvation and your eternal Savior. We are now His children and His people since the Lord has blotted out all our sins and made us righteous. We will always be bright and full of life if we have this faith even though we live in this world that is like the desert. I want you to always rely on the Lord with faith and pray to the Lord and live in unity with the Church of God. I want you to be happy with faith and not become discouraged due to your flesh. The blessings of the soul will also transmit to the flesh, and there will come a time when the war between the spirit and the flesh will disappear when you live according to your faith.
Dear fellow believers, we are the truly blessed people. We are the people who will not be discouraged by such fleshly matters. I believe that we who are like that must live with the faith of believing in the righteousness of God even for the sake of our own soul and also share the Lord’s gospel to the souls that have not come into this fold yet. That we have received the remission of sins before them have comes to us as thanksgiving rather than a burden. Let’s not forget that we have the responsibility of sharing the merciful love of God with them.
The true faith grows gradually as time passes by: as one year, two years, three years, and four years pass by, your faith will grow accordingly. Always, the present is not the end of spiritual growth. We receive more spiritual food and our faith grows as much in all things that we do as the time passes. I want you to follow the Lord’ s voice and have your mind set on the precious work and live the life of sharing the spiritual food with people based on such faith.