So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to 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 comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. -- John 10:7-14 (ESV)
The bible likens the body of Christ to a cohesive body where all serve different purposes but work together for the common goal. That common goal is not ours but belongs to our God who does not wish to see any perish but all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and His glorious salvation. It seems today that the church will do anything to stay distracted and not work together for this common goal. A great portion of the church are blessing chasers, more concerned about what they can leverage from God instead of standing in awe of what He has already done. A huge chunk are dominionist at heart, worshipping this country and politics above all else. Pretending that God wants the church to be enamored in culture wars instead of saving people out from the culture that is consigning them to an eternity in hell. Still others chase false signs and lying wonders, try to usurp the power of God and do everything they can to recreate God in their own image. The result is the Christian haze we see throughout the American church today where sin is a forgotten concept and repentance is a dirty word. People in the church would rather see this country saved then their neighbor or even family members. The churched gather every week to have their ears scratched and to be assured that despite never changing their lives they are nonetheless heading on a shuttle to heaven.
This brings us to the key verses today which should seem familiar, albeit poorly exegeted usually. Jesus is making a direct comparison between Himself and false teachers. That is right beloved. The thief in these verses is NOT the devil. Jesus is the door to the sheepfold. The false teacher climbs over the fence to access the sheep because he wants to avoid Christ. There is only one Gospel and it belongs to the Good Shepherd. He entrusts it to the under-shepherds but if they alter it, water it down, sugar coat it or ignore it they have climbed the fence to the sheepfold and steal salvation from those who may be truly seeking God, destroying their hopes for eternal life and killing their very soul. That is where discernment comes in. Just another part of the body of Christ with its own unique functions, discernment is crucial in these end times as we await the return of our Lord and Savior amidst a world and a church that are falling away more each day. You see beloved, despite the revival pursuits of the NAR, the bible only promises a great end times falling away and we are in the middle of it. We are supposed to be in the business of redeeming the time:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. -- Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)
The days are evil and they grow more evil with every passing day. That evil has permeated the church as well as we see false teaching after false teaching embraced as orthodoxy and we see a church catering to unsaved goats while sheep lie starving to death in the pews. Discernment says you do not have to die there. You do not have to continue in a church or under a set of beliefs that are false. You can come out from among them and back into the light of Jesus Christ but it requires discernment to leave churchianity. These verses from Ephesians guide us to not be foolish with what little time we have remaining. We must redeem that time beloved. Take it back from the devil that has manipulated the purpose driven apostate church. We have wasted enough time dancing in the smoke machines and signing Kumbaya while everyone around us is still bobsledding to hell. So when you see discernment ministries realize that they serve a purpose for the body of Christ. They serve as the watchmen on the wall. They stand in the gap of a thankless ministry because the only thing worse than not being saved is mistakenly believing that you are. Let us begin with some basic underpinnings of our faith:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1:16 (ESV)
The Romans verse establishes the fact that only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man. Translation? No one gets saved without hearing the Gospel. Fancy light shows cannot save you. Slick marketing of the new sermon series based on the hottest summer movies cannot save you. Faux prayers that gloss over your sins and the need to repent cannot save you. Only the Gospel can. Not just any gospel mind you but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many false teachers say Jesus is Lord but mangle His word beyond recognition. There are those that proclaim the sloppy agape gospel that says God is always love and never wrath. There is the greasy grace gospel of Joseph Prince that says we never have to worry about our sins and the laws of God. There is the smooth delivery of prosperity and blessing from the folksy Joel Osteen to the powerful TD Jakes. None of them preach the actual Gospel. Their words of eloquent wisdom actually empty the very cross of its power:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. -- 1Corinthians 1:17 (ESV)