“So Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the East. And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well’s mouth. Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth. And Jacob said to them, ‘My brethren, where are you from?’ And they said, ‘We are from Haran.’ Then he said to them, ‘Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?’ And they said, ‘We know him.’ So he said to them, ‘Is he well?’ And they said, ‘He is well. And look, his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep.’ Then he said, ‘Look, it is still high day; it is not time for the cattle to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.’ But they said, ‘We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and they have rolled the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.’ Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father. Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. So he told Laban all these things. And Laban said to him, ‘Surely you are my bone and my flesh.’ And he stayed with him for a month.”
Jacob Fled to Haran
Genesis 29:1-2 says, “So Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the East. And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks.”
As mentioned here, Jacob was on his way to his uncle’s house fleeing from his older brother Esau’s wrath. This was because he used his older brother’s name and had worn Esau’s clothing and had gone before his father. And he received the blessings that Esau should have received. When Isaac’s eyesight grew dim and could not see anything properly anymore he asked Jacob who was standing before him, “Are you really Esau,” Jacob replied, “Yes, I am your eldest son Esau.” He actually said this to his father. Before this incident, Jacob purchased his birthright with a bowl of lentil stew, and now he received the prayer of blessing from his father instead of Esau. And when his brother found out how he manipulated this, he attempted to kill his younger brother. When this happened Rebekah said to Jacob, “If I don’t do something, I will lose both of my sons in one day. Go to your uncle Laban’s house and stay there for a while and then return later.” Jacob did as his mother said because he was in a dire situation where he had to flee for his life. On his way to Haran, Jacob was blessed by God through a dream while sleeping at Bethel.
When Jacob arrived in Haran, where his uncle lived he noticed a well. Genesis 29:2-3 says, “And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well’s mouth. Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth.”
What did Jacob do after arriving at his uncle Laban’s house? He tended sheep for fourteen years. And so, today’s Scripture passage deals with spiritual shepherding. Who is a true shepherd before God? Who is a good shepherd? And what kind of shepherd is a false shepherd? God is speaking to you and me about this through today’s Scripture passage.
Relationship between the Sheep and the Shepherd
Firstly, we will look at what the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd should be like. Sheep when feeding on pasture become thirsty, so they return to a well to drink water. This is why shepherds have wells in the fields for their sheep. The Bible says there was a large stone that covered the mouth of each well. And so, when the sheep come to the well it was the job of the shepherd to roll the large stone away from the mouth of the well to allow the sheep to drink from it. It was the responsibility of the shepherd to roll away those large stones to allow the sheep to drink as much water as they please. This is what true shepherds do. This is a very obvious fact. But sadly, there are many “so-called” shepherds who are not like this.
How do these false shepherds operate? They do not roll away the stone which is covering the well for their sheep. They tell their sheep, “If you want to drink that water, then you go move that heavy stone yourselves and drink.” These types of shepherds are not good shepherds. Think about it. Even if the sheep were very strong, how could they roll away a stone that was laid over the well? Even if the sheep were godly, how could they keep the Word of the Law? The sheep may try to live according to the Word of God, but how could they keep all of the righteous Law?
Look at all the shepherds of this world who are in the ministry. When the sheep draw near to them and try to receive the grace of salvation, these shepherds rather preach to them, saying, “Keep the Law and live according to the Law. You must live by the Law to receive blessings from God. You will not receive God’s blessings unless you live according to the Word of the Law.” Dear fellow believers, take heed of this. You must know and recognize that whoever says something like this is indeed a false shepherd.
A False Shepherd Just Tells His Sheep to Keep the Law
After this morning service I was a bit tired and so I took a nap. Then I happened to watch some Christian channel. A sermon was being preached at the largest church in our country. The Scriptural text of that sermon was taken from Exodus 15 where the bitter water was changed into sweet water, and then this pastor said: “How does the bitter water become sweet? We must keep the Law of God in our lives in order for this to happen.” He preached to his congregation that they must keep the Law, or the Ten Commandments. He continued, “Do not have any other gods before Me; do not take the Lord’s name in vain; do not serve idols; keep holy the Sabbath; honor your parents; do not commit murder; do not commit adultery and do not steal. You must keep all of these commandments and also keep the New Commandment God has given you in the New Testament era. Thus, you must love your neighbor as yourself, according to the commandment of love. Since God told us to love the Lord your God and your neighbor with all your strength and with all your might and with all your will. Since God told us to love our neighbor, we must fulfill that. Only then will the bitter water become sweet water.” This pastor gave an eloquent sermon, but his message was none other than a sermon that completely misinterpreted the Word of God.
The passage which says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” is the Word of God which appears in Deuteronomy. And this passage also appears in the New Testament. But how do false teachers preach on this passage? They say, “If you keep the Law of God, then all the difficulties in your lives will be resolved and removed.”
Let’s stop here for a moment and think about this. Can you and I keep the Law of God well? Have you and I received the remission of sins because we have kept the Law of God? I will speak a bit later about the Law, but I am telling you in advance—it is absolutely impossible for us humans to keep the Law.
A True Shepherd Helps His Church Members to Realize First That They Are Sinners before the Law
In the passage of Scripture we read today, Jacob helped his uncle’s sheep to drink water from the well. Then, who is a true shepherd among the shepherds in this world? Who is truly a good shepherd? A true shepherd is someone who proclaims the gospel of the water and the Spirit to others.
The large stone which appears in today’s Scripture passage spiritually refers to the Law of God. God had Moses climb up Mount Sinai and He wrote the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets and gave them to him. A true shepherd faithfully teaches through the Law of the Ten Commandments as written on stone tablets about mankind’s sin and its severity. The Apostle Paul says in the Book of Romans chapter 7 that he used to think in the past that he was becoming holier through the Law, but instead he came to realize that he became a worse sinner through the Law. What does this mean? Paul is confessing here that he has become an even worse sinner because of the Law of God. He admits that God’s Law and Commandments made him to deceive himself and made him to become a more terrible sinner.
The Apostle Paul, when he was still Saul and did not properly know what the Law of God was saying, was a person who made an immense effort to keep all of God’s Law. He thought that he was a person who kept the Law of God well. But when he came to know his true self, he came to realize that he was in fact a person who could not keep the Word of the Law of God. The Law of God was actually pointing out to Paul that he was indeed an adulterer, a thief and a murderer. At first, he thought that the Law of God existed for man to keep, but really this was not the case. He came to realize that the Law existed to point out that he was incapable of keeping the Law, and thus was a sinner destined for hell. In this manner, the Apostle Paul came to understand the reason why God gave us the Law. His exclamation that he was a great sinner came as a result of him correctly recognizing the purpose for God giving the Law to mankind.
Discerning True Pastors from False Ones
Among the many pastors today, we must be able to correctly discern the true pastors from the false shepherds. God is speaking to us today regarding this in today’s Scripture reading. Among the multitude of ministers, there are many pastors who do not allow their church members to go before God with the Word of the Law, which is, spiritually speaking, the large stone. They do not solve the problem of sin for their flock, but instead tell them to “take care of the problem of sin yourselves by offering prayers of repentance.” They place emphasis on the Law, and preach, saying, “You must keep the Law of God.” Such a shepherd who preaches on the Law in this manner every Sunday to his church members is truly a false Shepherd. Do the church goers have the ability to keep the Law of God? No, they do not. Then, why do they give such legalistic sermons to their flock? The church members will die as a result.
Let’s look at Jacob. Jacob was a man of God who received God’s blessings. Jacob, after being born again by God’s blessings, went to his uncle Laban’s house and there became a shepherd. And the first thing he did as a shepherd was the work of rolling away the stone that was laid over a well. Yes indeed. He did the work of rolling away the stone that was on the well for his uncle’s sheep so that they could drink all the water that they needed to quench their thirst.
Then, how about you and me? Think about what you came to believe in as a sinner before you were truly born again. Did not a multitude of spiritual leaders tell you that in order to have proper faith in Jesus; you must keep the Law of God and also keep the Word? You probably heard sermons like that. At that time, how was the spiritual condition of your soul? Torn apart by the sins of the world and with a downtrodden heart you wanted to go to church to be comforted. However, you grew faint over legalistic messages and strict sermons that told you to keep the Law. And you grew ever closer to your spiritual death. Is this right or not? Since only legalistic sermons were being preached to you a sinner, you became even more of a sinner and came to hate attending church. And as time passed, the hope of salvation would disappear and only tears of sorrow were shed.
However, what does the righteousness of the Lord, who is our true good shepherd, tell us? Our Lord gave the Law in order to teach us that we are such grave sinners. In other words, through the Law, He allows us to understand that we are horrendous sinners and that we are heading for hell. But our Lord gave us hope that we have been saved from all of our sins through His righteous work. He bore all the sins of the world by being baptized from John the Baptist and paid off all those sins by shedding His blood on the Cross.
What then is a true shepherd like? Someone who teaches that Jesus Christ bore the entire curse of the Law of God is a true shepherd. Therefore, someone who liberates people from their sins by preaching about the righteousness of God is a servant of God. This person is a true spiritual shepherd. Unfortunately, it is a tragic fact that there are many false shepherds on this earth. I want to give testimony about this. Truly there are many people like this. They do not roll away the heavy stone for the sheep. They do not roll away or remove the curse of the Law by the righteousness of God for their followers. They do not know and so are not able to share the fact that Jesus Christ bore all the curses of the Law once and for all by the righteousness of God. And so they preach to their congregation, saying, “Keep the Law. Have you been faithful this week in keeping the Law? You must repent if you have not done so.”
Dear fellow believers, what does the Book of Romans chapter 3 say about the Law. Let’s read Romans chapter 3, verse 20 all together: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” This passage testifies that the Law was given so that everyone would recognize their sinfulness. And what does it say in the Book of Galatians? It says that the Law is a tutor. The Book of Galatians testifies that the Law was needed until we come to have faith in Jesus Christ. The Law was given for this very reason.
Dear fellow believers, do you know what a tutor is? A tutor, epitropos in Greek, is someone who has the care and teaches children, either where the father is dead (a guardian of minors), or where the father is still alive. He has to guard his master’s children until they grow up to exercise their rights personally and fully. So, their role comes to an end when the children grow up as lawful adults.
So where does the Law take us to? The Law plays the role of taking us to Jesus Christ. Yes, that’s it. When all of those who were born as Adam’s descendants became sinners by committing sin, the Law fulfills the function of teaching us of our sinful selves and makes us confess before God that we are true sinners. When we recognize our true selves and our nature of sin through the Law, we cannot help but believe in Jesus Christ. We will then be drawn to seeking after our Savior. Yes, that is right. Through the Law, we come to seek after Jesus Christ. After that, through hearing the Word of Truth of the righteousness of God, we come to realize how Jesus Christ absolved all of our sins. After believing in the righteousness of God, we exclaim, “Jesus Christ is truly our Savior! The Lord was baptized by John the Baptist and bore all my sins once and for all! And the Lord died on the Cross for me while bearing all my sins. The Lord was baptized in my place and received judgment on the Cross and rose again and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father. He actually bore all my sins, every one of them! By the Lord’s baptism, He took on not only my own sins, but the sins of the whole world, and He bore all the curse of the Law. The righteousness of God bore all the sins of mankind, beginning from Adam until the day this earth comes to an end.” We must have true faith like this and obtain salvation and eternal life. Through learning from the Word of God, we truly come to believe in the righteousness of Christ with our hearts.
Nevertheless, there are far too many people in Christendom today who live their lives without knowing the purpose of the Law. These false shepherds just preach as follows: “You will become rich if you keep the Law well.” Many famous churches and denominations all seem to espouse this askew teaching. I can confirm such a tendency whenever I listen to the sermons of any worldly pastor on Christian television. What did the church members do when the pastor of a famous church said, “Dear believers, you must keep the Ten Commandments. Keeping the Ten Commandments is the same thing as turning bitter water into sweet water. If you keep the Ten Commandments, you will receive blessings in your life.” They said loudly, “Amen.” The members of that church must be spiritually blind and deaf for they do not know what the Truth is. They just blindly say, “Amen,” because the pastor said that they will prosper if they trust in Jesus like this. But if I said to you, “If you keep the Ten Commandments, you will be blessed,” there will not be any “amen’s” but you will rather throw stones at me.
Is There Anyone Who Can Keep All of the Ten Commandments?
Dear fellow believers, is there anyone among you who is able to keep the Ten Commandments? Even Moses was not able to do this. Let me speak to you about Moses for a moment. When Moses led the children of Israel into the wilderness, there was a shortage of water and the people complained to him and to God. When this happened God instructed Moses to strike the rock one time and then He would provide water for the people.
But what did Moses do? Because the people of Israel complained so much against him, he became so angry that instead of striking the rock once he struck it twice with his staff. Of course, the water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank from it. But what did God say to Moses? God said, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).
God gave us the Law through Moses, but even Moses was not able to enter the Land of Canaan. Moses was the meekest man on this earth. But even this Moses was not able to keep the Law of God. If this was the case, how can anyone on earth keep all of the Law? Nobody can.
But despite this fact, many false leaders and false shepherds in Christian communities keep saying, “Keep the Law. Believe in Jesus, but you must also keep the Law to be saved.” What are these people saying? They have the rationale that although they believe in Jesus, they must offer perpetual prayers of repentance and confess their sins in order for their sins to be cleansed. Such teachings only bring the curse of the Law upon themselves.
Dear fellow believers, keep this in your minds: Whether we confess our sins or not, Jesus Christ has already borne all our sins. He bore them all even before we were born. What then is the method by which we can truly receive the remission of sins before God? It is not by the Law. We must confess before God the following: “I am a huge lump of sin dependant on your mercy. I am a sinner. I am destined for hell. When I go before Jesus Christ, and gaze upon Him, I am able to see the scene of Jesus Christ bearing our sins once and for all by being baptized in the Jordan River. I also see the scene of Jesus Christ dying in my stead on the Cross. The Lord bore all of my sins in my place.” We must do this in order to approach the righteousness of God and receive true liberation from all our sins.
In the Word of God, Romans chapter 8, verse 1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Liberation from condemnation does not come from the Law, but it is received by faith in the righteousness of our Lord. Only when a sinner comes to know and believe in the righteousness of God will this person become righteous.
Nevertheless, many Christians on this earth do not know about the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. They assume the title of “so-called shepherds,” but when their church members come before them, they say, “You must keep the Law. No matter what, you must keep the Law” pressuring them in this manner. It is proper for us to love our neighbors before the Lord. What is real love? It is the love of the truth, the love of God’s salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:10). But is it possible for those who are not born again to love others? No, it isn’t. Without knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit and without being born again, and being a sinner in a state of being locked up in a dungeon, it is delusional for anyone to think that they can save others. Dear fellow believers, do you understand this now? It is only proper for people who have received the remission of sins to save others from their sins and to love their souls.
But how about those who are not born again yet? These who are not born again are still sinners, so how can they save others from their sins? Someone who is under the curse of the Law cannot help save others from their sins. But aren’t there so many of these types of Christians on this earth? Truly, there are far too many false ministers. On the contrary, those true and proper leaders who have been born again by faith by believing in the righteousness of God, who only begin in the ministry after being born again from their sins are in the extreme minority. There are indeed a multitude of false shepherds in this world.
The Word of God Is Mysterious and Profound
What does the Scripture passage we read today speak of? Genesis 29:2-3 says, “And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well’s mouth. Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth.”
Dear fellow believers, when we look at the Four Gospels, including the Book of Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven is referred to as a mystery. Matthew 13:11 says, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” What does this passage mean? For someone who does not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and is not born again, when they look at the Old and New Testament, everything appears to be the Law. To those who are still sinners, the Word of God just appears to be the Law.
It is written that after the flock was given water, the stone was always replaced back on the mouth of the well. Dear fellow believers, pay attention to this. To those who have not been born again because of not knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God in its entirety appears to be the Word of Law. This is the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven. What I am saying is that if someone has not been born again by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then it is not possible for them to properly understand the Word of God.
False shepherds give sermons based on their own thoughts, saying, “Jesus is our Savior. We are saved not by our works, but by the faith which believes in just the blood on the Cross. Jesus Christ has removed all our sins through the blood on the Cross. And so, we are righteous. But despite this, we sin every day. And so, we must repent of our sins daily in perpetuity, and in this manner we achieve sanctification.” They use the Law in this way to block the mouth of the well.
But what do the truly born-again shepherds do? When their congregation comes to the well, the true shepherd’s moves aside the heavy stone and says, “You are a sinner according to the Law. Because of your sin, you were destined for hell. You are not able to keep the Law, and you need to be freed from your many sins.” And the true shepherds proclaim the genuine gospel to them and help these church members to plant themselves in the true faith. These righteous servants rolls away the stone of the Law and proclaims the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is positioned behind this stone of the Law. And they allow people to drink from the living water in the well. People are able to get their thirst quenched and renew their strength through this water. In this manner, God’s true shepherds can feed the saints with the Word of Jesus Christ. And through this, the sheep that are gathered in the Church are able to receive life through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The false shepherds who have not been born again do the exact opposite. Each week they preach legalistic sermons. They say, “We have believed in the blood on the Cross of Jesus and have been saved. But we are still sinners. And so we must be sanctified every day. We must repent of our sins every day. And so, churches that are not governed by true shepherds grant positions of deaconship, evangelists and eldership to those who come to church, who give a lot of donations, and also to those who appear to be righteous in the flesh. They do not need to even know about the gospel of the water and the Spirit in their spiritual lives. And so, what does a pastor who is not born again preach about? His ministry consists of giving legalistic sermons, including moral and ethical teachings. What would be the inward orientation or characteristics of such a church? The spiritual lives of this church will be total mess. They are not knowledgeable of the Scriptures, and they are absolutely unaware of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Since these leaders are not born again they pursue church building projects, higher salaries and fame. And so, even a new believer who tithes well and submits to such a pastor becomes an elder overnight. A shepherd of a church like this is absolutely a false shepherd. Such false pastors always give the message that says, “Keep the Law and be blessed by doing so.” Each and every sermon they give talks about this. They say, “Whatever the case, if you want to be blessed, keep the Law. Do good and live according to the Word of God.” But dear fellow believers think about this. How can we humans live according to the Word of God just by making an effort? We can lead a virtuous life only when God allows us to seek His righteousness and to have the grace of salvation through it. Isn’t that right?
Hence, the Word of God is a mysterious Truth. False shepherds who are not born again are not able to understand and comprehend the righteousness of God. This is why these pastors are involved in false ministry.
The Bible Says That There Are Two Types of Shepherds
There are two types of shepherds in this world. A true shepherd rolls away the stone and has the sheep to drink from the well. A false shepherd is a person who does not roll away the stone and is not able to give the living water of the well. Nevertheless, in this world today, there are many more false shepherds who do not remove the stone that is covering the well, and they just tell the sheep to “take care of it yourself.” Everyone, you and I included, must differentiate properly between the true good shepherds and the false shepherds.
Then, what is the method for distinguishing between a true shepherd and a false shepherd? A true shepherd does not only place the Law before the sheep, but also places the righteousness of God with the Law so that the sheep can feed on both. This is truly so. A truly good shepherd does not only put forth the Law of God before the saints. The Word of God says, “The just shall live by faith.” Of course, true shepherds do speak about the Law. But they do not simply tell their flock to keep the Law. They teach that the Law is perfect and they tell of its function. And through this, they preach to us how the righteousness of Jesus Christ has blotted out all of our infirmities and sins. In other words, a true shepherd liberates every believer with the gospel Truth that contains the righteousness of God. It is like the ministry of Jesus that made the resurrected of Lazarus possible. Lazarus was brought back to life when Jesus Christ cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” He came out from his tomb bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to His disciples, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44).
It is the same with you. When you come to the Church of God, a true leader will resolve the problem of sin as well as the weaknesses and limitations in your lives through the Word of God. They will let you know the whole Truth, saying, “We humans are all sinful like this, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ has taken care of all of your weaknesses and limitations.” False shepherds will not be able to resolve the problem of sin, but the true shepherd will be able to absolve the sins of every sinner through the righteousness of God. Truly, a good shepherd provides for the saints who come to the Church as the flock of God so that they prosper and grow fat. The sheep grow in this manner under the care of the true shepherd. The servant of God teaches the Law of God first so that everyone recognizes his or her sin clearly. And when they recognize that they are grave sinners destined to hell, then the true shepherd helps them to be saved through God’s righteousness.
Then what does the servant do next? He leads these new saints to lead a life of workers of righteousness so that they as new workers help others also to receive life. Put differently, a true shepherd delivers to you the gospel of salvation by teaching you what the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Indeed, a true shepherd cares for his flock so that they are fed on the bread of life and grow healthily day by day. A true shepherd is like this.
Then what is a false shepherd like? Every time the sheep try to drink water, the false shepherd always blocks the mouth of the well by placing a stone in front of it. The false shepherd puts the Law before the flock and does not allow them to eat of the righteousness of God. False teachers put forth the Law and tell their congregations to uphold the Law. They state that sheep should live by the Law. But to tell the truth, they themselves do not keep the Law at all. They just sit in the seat of Moses and tell others to keep and uphold the Law. They do not keep the Law well themselves but they repeatedly urge their church members to keep the Law. They teach that their followers should keep the Law faithfully in order to be blessed. They teach that this is orthodox theology and the way to receive God’s love. Someone who does this is truly a false teacher.
What do these false shepherds who exclaim loudly about the Law do to their sheep? They place heavy loads on the sheep and burden them with works of service. They continuously place heavy loads and burdens on the heart and the flesh of the sheep. They give both spiritual and physical burdens. They make sinners into even graver sinners in order to ask for their hard earned money. Then they go on to tell their sheep, “Sell your house and offer it to God.” They do not even skin their sheep properly first before they swallow them alive.
Dear fellow believers, why do we serve the righteousness of the Lord? It is because the Lord has saved us perfectly from all our sins. We serve the righteousness of God because we are so thankful for the righteousness of the Lord. We are serving the Lord as well in order for others to receive the grace of God together with us. But these false shepherds simply tell you to serve God with your possessions and with your money. These false shepherds who have not been born again really go wrong to severe extremes.
Are there not many Christian sinners about who have fallen into the trap of these false shepherds and have had their lives ruined? There are a lot of Christians who sold their houses to satisfy these false shepherds. A long time ago, a certain revival preacher said this, “If you give a lot before the Lord, you will be greatly blessed.” And a foolish elderly woman who lived in the countryside heard this and really sold her house, saying, “My house is worth $10,000, and if I sell it and offer it to God, I believe that He will give me $20,000 worth of blessings.” But what happened? There is no reason for God to bless someone like this. This elderly woman waited for 1 year, 2 years and then 3 years. I was told that she later died of a mental illness.
There are so many people who live their Christian lives in this manner. What kind of faith does the conservative Christianity that prevails throughout our country teach? It teaches that if you live by the Law, you will be blessed. It is the “blessing-oriented” faith. This is why the spiritual lives of church members are such that when they come to church they are like angels and when they go out into the world they acts like prodigals. When they come to church, they appear to be so humble. They ask each other, “How are you doing,” as they exhibit false humility. But what are they like when they leave the church? Their humility disappears and they act just the opposite.
Do You Know That There Are a Lot of People Who Use the Bible to Defraud Others in Their Business?
Dear fellow believers, do you know that there are so many people who place a Bible in their offices and defraud others? It may not work now, but things like this worked in the past. People would say things like, “I went to his store and he had a Bible on the counter. Would a person who believes in Jesus fool us?” Koreans have such good hearts and trust others easily. We are the best in the world as far as the act of trusting goes. We Koreans believe in any religion that has entered our country. We believe false shepherds easily, we trust people who teach that if we keep the Law we will be blessed, and we just think that it is a good thing to simply believe no matter what. No nation believes things as easily as the people of our country do. We are called “the people of white clothes” and this implies that we are pure and non-violent. But the problem is that the white linen dyes well. Spiritually speaking, we Koreans believe anything and everything without any reasoning. Koreans are prone to believe what a shaman tells them, what the fortune tellers says, what a false Bible preacher teaches—we basically believe anything that anyone says. We Koreans believe anything that is said. And then how we react when a true and proper leader comes and speaks? We say, “Oh, what he says is different from our previous shepherds?” There is a tendency to treat the true shepherd who teaches the Truth of the righteousness of God as a heretic. This is truly quite foolish.
If we were to visit the so-called “orthodox” Christian churches or its mission organizations, we will find out that they are saying things that do not make any sense at all. If something is not right, we have an obligation before God to speak out against it. If our hearts are too nice and we proclaim what is wrong as being right, then we will be chastised by God. A false church imposes the Law. They emphasize only works to brag about their own righteousness before others. As they do this, they do not ever help others. Even if they do help, they only pretend to do this. They are busy showing off their deeds. They are not interested in glorifying the Lord, but they think only of the honor of their own church or denomination. This is not faith. It simply is the works of man.
Dear fellow believers, you must know what a true Church is like and what a true or false shepherd is like. As I told you, a shepherd who does not know of the righteousness of God and imposes only the Law of God is a false shepherd. In our spiritual lives, the first thing we must have is faith which believes only in the righteousness of God, and the second priority is our works. Did the chicken come to exist first or the egg? The chicken came first. The Bible says that from the very beginning, God created everything according to its kind. Think about this: Was Adam born as a baby? God created Adam as a young adult man, a person who was all grown up. And then He took a rib from Adam and created a woman. Yes. The Bible says that faith comes first and works come after that.
But what do false teachers teach? They say that faith which believes in the blood of the Cross is first, and works are second. It seems similar. But false teachers only preach about the blood of the Cross. And they always emphasize works more that Jesus’ blood in reality. They say, “Serve God a little bit more, a little bit better.” When the saints try to drink some living water from the Word of God, these false leaders will then obstruct this by placing a huge stone in front of them and say, “You must try harder. You must live a more righteous life. You must do better. You must live by the Law.” Then what happens to these believers? They become worn out and faint. Even now, there are so many people who teach and lead in this way.
Dear beloved saints, we must differentiate between the true shepherds and the false shepherds and the true Churches and the false churches. False churches speak a lot about love but they do not have true love in their midst. They do not have the love that flows out of heartfelt gratefulness.
Look at people who raise pigs. They raise pigs in order to slaughter them someday. It is the same with shepherds of false churches. In order to receive tithes and other donations, they tell their church members to do certain things in order to be blessed. They do not truly love souls and teach how to receive the remission of sins. And they do not nurture souls with the Word of God so that these souls will joyfully live in the blessings of the Lord. If their followers obey them first but then stop obeying, then it is the end. Legalists and false shepherds begin to consider these believers who do not submit to them anymore as their enemies.
As it is shown in today’s Scripture passage, the person who removes the stone from the well and has the sheep to drink from the water is a good shepherd. Who is a true shepherd in this time and age? A true shepherd is someone who proclaims the Truth that Jesus Christ bore all of our sins and the curses of the Law in order to remove them. Do you understand? I am telling you this because there are so many false shepherds in this world.
Dear fellow believers, think about this. Are there really are lot of true shepherds in this world? They are in the extreme minority. They are so few. Therefore, we must proclaim the gospel of the water and the Spirit to people. Do you have the spiritual discernment to distinguish between a true and a false shepherd? When you share the gospel with us, or when you come to a true Church of God and hear the Word of Truth, then you are able to find out whether our Church is a True Church of God or not.
In today’s Scripture passage, Jacob went to his uncle Laban’s house and tended his sheep. Dear fellow believers, you and I are just like Jacob. Jacob is a crafty person and a liar, but he received blessings before God by obeying his mother thoroughly. This is the same as those of us who were sinners but were truly born again by having faith which believes in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Jacob was a person who lied a lot and he was not a good person. He was like an earthworm. Then how about us? We are the same. Nevertheless, our God has saved those of us who are like this from all of our sins with His righteousness. This God has established a Jacob-like servant as your shepherd. He has made that person to roll away the stone from the mouth of the well, and to tend the sheep, and to be the true shepherd. Yes. Our God has made Jacob to be the true shepherd. God desires to be the God of those who believe in His righteousness like Jacob.
If the Law obstructs the way, then people cannot receive the remission of their sins. The Lord Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17). You and I must do the work of fulfilling the Law with the righteousness of God. When we teach the Law to anyone, and then afterward introduce the righteousness of God, then the listener will absolutely receive the remission of sins by faith.