The Good Shepherd Part 1
John 10:1-5 HCSB "I assure you: Anyone who doesn't enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. (2) The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. (3) The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (4) When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. (5) They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don't recognize the voice of strangers."
The doorkeeper of the soul is the conscience that recognizes the voice of God in Christ and admits the True Teacher. We are made in the image of God, with a conscience that is supposed to hear God’s voice. There is also something in us that senses lies and manipulation and the conscience that functions correctly will reject a false teacher and recoil from heresy.
The true conscience recognizes Christ as the Good Shepherd so the True Teacher appeals to this conscience and does not try to manipulate the believer by any other way. The True Teacher teaches Christ and appeals to the inner workings of the image of God in the person in a completely honest and non-manipulative fashion:
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 MKJV (1) Therefore since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not faint. (2) But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the Word of God, but by the revelation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11 MKJV (11) Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. But we are revealed to God, and I trust also that we are revealed in your consciences.
On the other hand the false teacher cannot get in through the door of the conscience so has to use other means such as fear, greed, flattery, deception and seduction.
2 Timothy 3:13 MKJV But evil men and seducers will go forward to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Peter 2:12-15 MKJV But these, as unreasoning natural brute animals having been born for capture and corruption, speak evil of the things that they do not understand. And they will utterly perish in their own corruption, (13) being about to receive the wages of unrighteousness, deeming indulgence as pleasure in the daytime, and reveling in spots and blemishes, feasting along with you in their deceits, (14) having eyes full of adultery and never ceasing from sin, alluring unstable souls, having a heart exercised with covetousness. They are cursed children (15) who have forsaken the right way and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness,
Highly manipulative people will not allow you to use your conscience and to think for yourself in the light of Scripture and the facts. Extreme manipulators try to control four things- your feelings, your thoughts, your access to information and your behavior. They will often deny followers access to information in newspapers, TV or the Internet and attack “logic” and thinking as somehow unspiritual. On the other hand a true spiritual guide leaves you free to follow your conscience and simply presents the facts of Scripture in a straightforward clear and prayerful manner.
Jesus never does a “hard sell”, nor does He ever manipulate anyone – even to save him or her from Hell. God is a God of personal freedom and the gospel is a gospel of personal freedom and nothing in the Kingdom is to be done “under compulsion”.
1 Peter 5:2-3 MKJV Feed the flock of God among you, taking the oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor for base gain, but readily; (3) nor as lording it over those allotted to you by God, but becoming examples to the flock.
2 Corinthians 9:7 CEV Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don't feel sorry that you must give and don't feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give.
So right persuasion is simply presenting the gospel clearly and truthfully to the consciences of the listeners and letting the Holy Spirit do the rest.
In chapter nine the Pharisees had shown themselves as spiritually blind – that is, unable to recognize the voice of God, their consciences were defiled and distorted (Titus 1:15-16, 1 Timothy 4:1-3).
So we have four groups of people here, the sheep – who have a pure conscience and run from the “voice of the stranger” and the Good Shepherd, who appeals to their conscience in sincerity and truth. The audience is the Pharisees who have a defiled and legalistic conscience, and the “stranger” is the false teacher who bypasses the gate of the pure conscience entirely and “enters in another way”.
This has HUGE implications for Christian ministry in an age of “marketing”. If the New Testament is correct (which it is) then we have two groups, one who are “being saved” whose consciences respond to the Truth and those who are perishing who do not love the Truth but pursue their own personal agendas instead. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)
1 Corinthians 1:18 MKJV (18) For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God.
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 MKJV (14) Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and He revealing through us the odor of the knowledge of Him in every place. (15) For we are to God a sweet savor of Christ, in those being saved, and in those being lost; (16) to the one we are the savor of death to death, and to the other we are the savor of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (17) For we are not as many, hawking the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Paul asks the question “who is sufficient for these things” and then answers it by renouncing commercial practices in his preaching: “For we are not as many, hawking the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
So our “audience’ is not all humanity – but a group within it, who love the truth and seek salvation and whose consciences respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd, and they are best reached by preaching the clear, pure, unadulterated gospel in all sincerity.