I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.
I Have Other Sheep. . . Not Of This Fold
We conclude this morning the series on the theme, "I am God Almighty: Be Fruitful and Multiply." I want us to focus on verse 16 because it is such a clear statement of the authority and power of Christ to be fruitful and to multiply his church. If we are to fulfill the prayer goal of 2000 by 2000, especially on the home front (winning 2,000 people to faith in Christ by the end of the year 2000) it will be because of the power and authority of Christ revealed in this verse. Jesus says,
I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
Let's clarify some of Jesus' terms here. He says, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold." "This fold" refers to the fold of Israel. He is saying that he has sheep that are among the Gentiles, the nations. They are not Jews. They do not belong to the Jewish fold. I begin gathering my sheep from the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24; 10:5–6). But I have sheep that are not in Israel. I must gather them also.
But he also clarifies that not all Jews are his sheep. Some are and some aren't. When Jesus says in verse 15, "I am the good shepherd; and I know my own, and my own know me," he was implying that some sheep (in this fold) are Christ's and some are not. This is a different image than we have in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31–46). Here some sheep are Christ's and some are not. Notice this more clearly in verses 3b–4:
. . . he calls HIS OWN sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them.
I am the good shepherd; I know MY OWN and MY OWN know me.
In other words, not all the people in the fold of Israel truly belonged to Christ. Some were his sheep. Some were not. As Paul wrote in Romans 9:6, "Not all those from Israel are Israel."
"My Sheep Hear My Voice . . . And They Follow Me"
Now this raises the question: How is it that some sheep inside the fold are not Christ's sheep and some people outside the fold are Christ's sheep? It sounds like people are sheep before they meet Christ. "I have other sheep—outside this fold, among the Gentiles—I must bring them also." So how did they become his sheep if he has not called them yet?
God Has Chosen His People from Israel and the Nations
The answer is that God has chosen a people for his own from Israel and from the nations; and these are his sheep. He then gives them to his Son. You can see this clearly in John 17:6. Jesus says to his Father,
I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; thine they were, and you gave them to me.
So before the disciples came to Jesus, they belonged to God. God had chosen them. This is the deepest reason why the sheep come to Christ. It's even clearer in John 6:37,
All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.
Those who come to Jesus come because they have been given to Jesus by the Father. They were his by his design and choice, and they come to Jesus because they are God's own. (See 6:39, 44, 65; 17:9, 24; 18:9.)
Hope-Filling and Humbling
Be sure you see the staggering implication of these verses. They are designed to fill us with hope that Christ will indeed be fruitful and multiply his church triumphantly. "All that the Father gives me will come to me." And they are designed to humble us and nullify all our presumption that we could have or would have ever come to Christ on our own. Look at verse 27:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Why did you recognize the voice of Jesus when he called you? Because you were his sheep. It's not the other way around.
Being one of Christ's sheep enables you to recognize your shepherd and respond to his call. Responding to his call does not make you one of his sheep. If you hear and recognize his voice, it is because you already are one of his sheep, chosen by the Father. You come to the Son because the Father gives you to the Son (John 6:44, 65).
That is the startling thing about this chapter. It reveals to us the presumption of thinking that the final determination of our life lies in our own power. In John 10:24 unbelievers were demanding of Jesus that he tell them plainly who he is. Jesus said in verse 25 that he had already told them plainly enough. So why hadn't they believed? Could they boast that their unbelief was the final, ultimate power of the human will to frustrate the designs of God Almighty? Listen to Jesus' answer in verse 26:
You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.
Make sure you get the order right here. He does not say, "You are not my sheep, because you do not believe." He says, "You do not believe because you are not my sheep." The final boast of unbelief is destroyed by the sovereignty of God to choose his sheep before they believe, according to his own grace and wisdom (2 Timothy 1:9).
Now on the basis of that great free and sovereign grace consider how full of hope verse 16 is for our mission as a church. "I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also; and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd." "I am God Almighty, be fruitful and multiply" rings powerfully from this verse.
John 10:16: A Basis For Hopeful Evangelism
1. "I Have Other Sheep Not of This Fold"
Start with these words: "I have other sheep that are not of this fold." Christ has people in the world besides those already converted—other people besides us. There will always be people who argue that the doctrine of God's sovereignty over the will of man makes local evangelism and foreign missions unnecessary. If God chooses his sheep before they believe, why evangelize the lost in Minneapolis? But the fact is, the sovereignty of God over the wills of men doesn't make evangelism unnecessary; it makes it hopeful.
John Alexander, a former president of Inter-Varsity said in a message at Urbana '67, "At the beginning of my missionary career I said that if predestination were true I could not be a missionary. Now after 20 years of struggling with the hardness of the human heart, I say I could never be a missionary unless I believed in the doctrine of predestination." It gives hope that Christ most certainly has a people among the nations. "I have other sheep."
There are numerous motives for pressing on in evangelism in Minneapolis and among the nations—for persevering and pleading and preaching and praying for the lost. One of them is the confidence that God has other sheep, and they will respond. It was precisely this truth that encouraged the apostle Paul when he was downcast in Corinth.
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9–10)
"I have other sheep that are not of this fold." It is a promise full of hope for those who dream about pressing on in evangelism here and about new fields of missionary labor.
2. Gathering the Scattered Children of God
Here's another evidence of this hope-filled purpose of Christ to gather other sheep into his fold. Look at John 11:51–52. Caiaphas, the high priest, has given a prophecy which John now interprets like this:
He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Christ died to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. These scattered children are identical with the "other sheep that are not of this fold." Which means that world evangelization, for the apostle John, is the ingathering of the children of God—that is, the finding and saving of the "other sheep" that are not of this fold.
The mission of world evangelization is as sure as the death of Christ is effective. John 11:52 says Jesus died to gather into one the scattered children of God. John 10:15 says, Jesus laid down his life for the sheep (including those that are not of this fold). So the evangelistic mission of the church can no more fail than the death of Christ can fail. Gathering in the sheep of God is as positive and sure as the blood of Christ is precious to the Father.
3. "They Will Hear My Voice"—Through You!
Another encouragement in John 10:16 that our evangelism will not be in vain is that the Lord himself has promised to bring his lost sheep home. He promises to do it. "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also; they will hear my voice." HE will bring them. They will hear HIS voice. But how? How today, when Jesus is not physically here?
The answer is: through your word. As the Father sent the Son to seek and to save the lost, so the Son sends his people. The key verse is found in Jesus' prayer in John 17:20, "I do not pray for these [his disciples] only but also for those who believe in me through their word." "Through their word!"
This is the text that everyone has to deal with who would say, "Well, if Christ calls his own sheep and if Christ gathers the children of God, and if the sheep and the children are already chosen, then we don't need to evangelize." That response is mere human presumption. It's not logical and it's not biblical. The simple fact is Jesus uses us to call his sheep and gather God's children.
Just as Jesus called his sheep with his own lips in Palestine, so he still calls them today with our lips, and in the gospel they hear his voice and follow him (cf. 1 John 4:6). He does it. But not without us!
This is the wonder of the gospel. When it is spoken truthfully in the power of the Spirit, it is not merely the word of man. It is the word of God! (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
In other words even today it is just as true as it was in Jesus day, "My sheep hear MY voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). It is Christ who calls in the gospel. Christ gathers. We are only ambassadors speaking in his stead. So we can take heart: all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Son of God and he declares, "I must bring in my other sheep." He will do it. "I am God almighty, be fruitful and multiply."
4. "They Will Hear My Voice"
Which implies one brief, final word of confidence from the text: if he brings them, they will come! Verse 16: "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and THEY WILL HEED MY VOICE." None of Christ's sheep finally reject his word. He allows some of his sheep to resist the word for a long time. But never do they reject it finally.
To Those Not Yet Believing
My purpose this morning has been mainly to give encouragement and hope to press on confidently in the great work of personal evangelism and missions, but I close with a word to those who are not yet believing. If you say, after a word like this, how shall I know if I am one of Christ's sheep, or one of the children of God scattered abroad, the answer is: Do you hear the voice of your Shepherd? I speak on behalf of the Son of God this morning:
Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest; I lay down my life for all who come; I welcome all how come; I give you eternal life and you shall never perish, and no one shall snatch you out of my hand.
Do you hear his voice? Do recognize your Savior and Master and Friend? If you do, you will come. And if you come to him, you will have life. And that life is the proof that you are Christ's. I urge you: Come.