Other Sheep I Have

Crown College | St. Bonifacius, Minnesota

What I want you to get from the text we’re going to look at in a moment is that missions, then and I believe now, can be and should be driven by a glorious vision of God. The song we just sang is very, very fitting:

God is bigger than the air we breathe, He’s bigger than the world we’ll leave.

There’s going to be a day when he triumphs totally and every knee will bow and say, “Glorious.” They won’t all say, “My glorious.” They will say, “Glorious,” and those who are his will say, “My glorious.” And our job, our passion, is to so display him in the world that more and more people will meet him with “my glorious” and not “glorious” with horror, and then ask for the rocks to fall on their heads and crush them lest the wrath of the Lamb have full sway.

A Great Vision of God

That driving force was there in the second generation of modern missions in the 1800s, in Thomas Chalmers’s students. But it was also there in the first generation. And you know who the founder of that is. William Carey is usually called the father of modern missions, not the beginning of missions, but the father of what is modern missions. And I want to give you a flavor of this vision of God that Carey had.

Carey left England in 1793 and four years later, he was giving a sermon among a very hostile group of Brahmans, and it was on Acts 14:16 and 17:30, where he was making the point that God formerly allowed all men everywhere to go their own way but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. And one Brahman stood up and objected and said, “I think God should repent for not sending the gospel sooner if that’s true. Instead of letting them all go their own way.”

This is asked to missionaries all the time, “What about my grandfather? We’re the first generation to hear the gospel. What about our grandparents and our great grandparents?” What would you have said if you were Carey? I’m going to read you what he said, and it blows my mind away. Here’s Carey’s response:

Suppose the kingdom had been long overrun by the enemies of its true king. And he, though possessed with sufficient power to conquer them, should suffer them to prevail and establish themselves as much as they could desire. Would not the valor and wisdom of that king be far more conspicuous in exterminating them than it would have been if he had opposed them at first and prevented their entering the country? Thus by the diffusion of gospel light, the wisdom, power, and grace of God will be more conspicuous in overcoming such deep-rooted idolatries, and in destroying all that darkness and vice, which has so universally prevailed in this country, than they would have been if all had not been suffered to walk in their own ways for so many ages past.

That’s a very unusual answer. He didn’t say the reason we haven’t been able to get the gospel here is because I’m dealing with a disobedient church all the time and I don’t know what to do about it. That wasn’t his answer. That kind of helpless God doesn’t keep people on the mission field. It doesn’t carry the day in the face of hard objections and insufferable opposition. There is something greater. It drove this first wave of missionaries and second wave, and it drives many, many missionaries today. I want to show you from a text. If you have a Bible and you want to look at John 10 with me, that’s where I’m going to go. So I hope you have good ears or good eyes.

I’m going to go to John 10. And the goal here is to take one verse, put it in context with about six textual observations, and then illustrate it and show how it’s worked out in history and then close with why this text is so amazingly powerful in encouraging missionaries even today. And it’s all designed to show you the kind of God and the kind of theology that was driving William Carey, Thomas Chalmers, and all those generations, including people like David Livingston, Adoniram Judson, Alexander Duff, and John Paton. These are all my heroes that I like to write little biographies about because they fill me with desire.

Every time we do our world missions week at Bethlehem, I have to stop and say, “God, do you want me here? Do you still want me here? I’ve been here at this church 29 years, do you want me here? I might have a few years left. Should I now leave and go there?” I have to deal with this, and I hope you’re dealing with it while you’re here at Crown, asking, “Where Lord shall I spend my life? I only have a teeny little life to live. It’s a vapor’s breath. I want it to count maximally. I don’t want to waste it and squander it on the American dream. I want to be where you want me to be maximally useful.”

I Have Other Sheep That Are Not of This Fold

I think what carries the day and gets people where God wants them and keeps them there in hard times is a theology that will emerge from John 10. The verse I’m focusing on is John 10:16, and then I’m going to put it in context. This is Jesus talking:

I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

This is the great missionary text in the Gospel of John. There are others. This is the most important in the Gospel of John, historically, in its effect on the global task. So let me put that verse — “I have other sheep that are not of this fold” — in the context of the 10th chapter with six observations.

1. Jesus is the Good Shepherd

John 10:11 says:

I am the good shepherd.

The first observation is that Jesus is the shepherd. I’m just clarifying who the shepherd is. In John 10:14, he says again, “I am the good shepherd.”

2. Not All Belong to Christ

Second, some sheep are Christ’s and some are not. You don’t have sheep and goats in this chapter, you have two kinds of sheep. So just keep each text as it comes. John 10:3 says:

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them . . .

Again, John 10:14 says:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me . . .

So not all the flock of Israel that the Messiah has come to are his own. He knows his own. And when he calls, they come.

3. The Sheep Are Given to the Son

Third, the reason that some sheep belong to Jesus and some don’t is most fundamentally that his Father has made them his own and given them to the Son. John 10:29 says:

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

And John 17:6 says:

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me . . .

So the reason he has sheep — “these are my sheep” — is because the Father has them and he gives them to the Son. He says it again in John 6:37:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

4. Jesus Knows His Own

Fourth, Jesus knows those who are his and he calls them by name. And when he calls them, they know the Shepherd’s voice and they follow. Again, John 10:3–4 says:

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

So when the shepherd speaks to this flock of Israel, those who are his know his voice and they follow. John 10:27 says:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Now, here’s the controversial, shocking thing in this context. The reason that some are his own sheep and some are not, is not because they hear his voice and come and become his own sheep. It’s the other way around. They are able to hear his voice and come because they are already his sheep. Let me read you the key verse. This is John 10:26. I remember when I first saw this, it just kind of made me reel.

You do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

He is saying, “That’s the reason you’re not believing. My Father has his own, and he gives them to me. And the reason they believe and come is because they are mine. They hear my voice. They recognize the voice, and the others, they don’t like the voice. They spurn the voice. They are not mine.”

5. Jesus Dies for His Own

Fifth, that’s not all he does for his sheep. He dies for them. John 10:11 says:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Or John 10:14 says:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

This is very, very similar to the way Paul talked in Romans 8. See if this doesn’t ring up Romans 8:30 to you. The Father has made some his own and he gives them to the Son. Those whom he has given to the Son, the Son calls, and those whom the Son calls come, and they believe. And he lays down his life for them.

6. Jesus Gives Eternal Life to His Own

Sixth, on the basis of this sacrifice, he gives them eternal life. John 10:27–29 says:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

So the sequence we have now complete is this. The Father has some who are his own. He has made them his own. He gives them to the Son. Those whom He’s given to the Son, the Son calls by name. Those whom he has called, he lays down his life for. Those who he dies for, he gives eternal life to and nobody can take them out of the Father’s hand. That is an amazing salvation. It blew William Carey away. It blew Thomas Chalmers away. They passed it on from generation to generation and this magnificent salvation over this totally authoritative Christ held them on the mission field. William Carey went 40 years without a single furlough.

A Killing Blow to Hyper Calvinism

And right at this point in the text comes a huge danger, which some of you are thinking right now. You’re wondering, “Is he going to talk about that?” The danger at this point in this text is that the devil, or my own heart, sinful as it is, will twist this truth that I’ve just articulated into, “Well, if God has his own and he gives them to the Son and the Son speaks as the shepherd and they come and they’re kept and died for and preserved forever, then that’s a nice little private, comfortable, in-house group, which I’m glad I’m part of. Too bad others aren’t part of it.” And just as that danger arises — it’s got a name theologically, it’s called Hyper Calvinism — when Calvinism is distorted into hyper Calvinism, John 10:16 lands.

Just when the Jewish disciples of Jesus start to think, “It’s us. Isn’t it so great to be chosen? Isn’t this so great to have our circle here of salvation?” he says, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold and I will bring them also.”

And just when American Puritans in the 1600s were settling into their chosen status in New England, God spoke to John Elliott, “I have other sheep that are not of this Puritan fold, Algonquin Indians who have words that are 26 letters long. And at 42 years old, I want you to learn their language and plant churches among them.”

David Brainerd, a hundred years later, just when the same thing was happening, God said to David Brainerd, “I have other sheep that are not of this congregational fold in New England in Susquehanna. I want you to go out there until you’re dead at age 29, and pour out your life to bring them the gospel.”

And just when the particular Baptists of England were frozen in their hyper-Calvinistic seclusion, God said to William Carey, one of them, “I have other people, other sheep, that are not of this English fold. They’re in India and I want you to go and stay there till you’re dead to bring my gospel to the unreached peoples in India.” And just when the mission agencies in the 20th century or in the 19th century were becoming very content that all the coastal peoples in Africa, China, and Asia had been reached, God speaks to the likes of Hudson Taylor and says, “I have other sheep that aren’t on this coastal fold. They’re inland.” And the China Inland Mission was born.

And then he spoke to David Livingston, not just along the coast of Africa, but inland, and David Livingston gave his life to forge trails inland where there were other sheep. “I have other sheep in there. Go get those other sheep.”

And just when Western Christendom, this is just very recent history, was celebrating that we’re in every country around the globe, God comes to a man like Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible translators and says, “Yes, you’re in every country, but I have people among thousands of people groups who have languages that don’t have a scrap of Scripture in them. The fact that we’re in every country doesn’t mean anything to me” — God would say — “if I’m not in every people group, in every language and tribe and nation, you go and you create a mission.” And my oh my, what an amazing thing God has done in the last 50 years in missions to bring the awareness alive concerning the reality of peoples around the world that don’t yet have the gospel. All of that on the basis of John 10:16, “I have other people that are not of this fold. I want you to go get them.”

The Motivation of World Evangelization

Now, what I want to do in the time that remains is to show why John 10:16 does what it does. Why is it so empowering? Why is it so encouraging to press on in the global purposes of reaching the unreached peoples of the world with the gospel of Christ, crucified and risen, the only way to heaven?

1. A People Besides Those Converted

I have four reasons. Number one: Christ has a people besides those already converted. He says, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold.” Now in the original context, that was the Jewish church. They were thinking, “The Messiah has come. He’s called the people. They’ve come to him. And here we are in Jerusalem.” And they had to be persecuted to get them out. Today the implication is, “I have people at Crown college. I have people at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and I have other people that are not of this fold.” And it’s always pressing on us, always. There are others. There are others. “I have other people that are not of this fold.” Now it’s just, here’s the implication. This is the doctrine of election. I haven’t used the word till right now, but that’s what I’ve been describing.

God has a people that are out there. They’re his. They’re his and they’re not here. I went to Urbana 67 with my fiancée when I was 20 years old and was blown away by a lot of things that are stamped on me to this day. The expositions of John Stott are ringing in my ears from First Timothy from 40 years ago. I thought, “Oh yes. I want to handle the Bible like that.”

Doctrinal Depth for the Sake of the Nations

But here’s another story. John Alexander, who was the president of InterVarsity, was talking and he said, “I went out years ago to Pakistan saying that if I believed in predestination, I’d never be a missionary.” There have always been people who said the doctrine of election and this biblical doctrine — these are biblical words (election, predestination) — are enemies of missions. He said, “I thought if I believed that I would have never gone to that mission field.” And then he looked at these 9,000 young people, and he said, “Today, after about 20 years of trying to save the impossible, I say, if I didn’t believe in it, I couldn’t go.” Now, that’s what William Carey thought. That’s what Thomas Chalmers thought. “If I didn’t believe that God was powerful enough, sovereign enough to break through Muslim peoples, Hindu peoples, Buddhist peoples, impossible peoples, save them, not just hope they’ll get saved through an invitation, but move by the power of the Holy Spirit and open the eyes of the heart and draw them when they hear the voice of the shepherd. He said, “If I didn’t believe that, I could never, ever go.”

Now his testimony doesn’t matter at all. Paul’s testimony matters a lot. Do you remember what Paul said about this? He went to Corinth and he was very downcast. If you remember this, it’s told in Acts 18:9–10. He was very discouraged, and Jesus came to him at night in a vision to encourage him, and listen to what Jesus says. The Lord said to Paul one night in a vision. Now you have to let yourself picture this. Corinth has zero Christians in it. This place is as pagan as any city on the planet you could go to today. It was as desolate and as hardhearted and as disinterested in spiritual things as any place you could go with many false religions holding people in demonic sway. And Paul was there with his little band and he was discouraged, looking at these mammoth forces that he was up against all alone with his little teeny band. And this is what Jesus says:

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

In other words, “Other sheep I have. I have sheep out there. You sound the voice and they will hear it. Go get those sheep.” That’s the first observation that encourages us. When he says, “I have other sheep,” it means they’re really out there. They’re really out there among all the peoples of the world.

2. The Sheep Are Scattered

Number two: these other sheep are scattered all over the world. “I have other sheep.” Listen to John 11. Do you remember this text where Caiaphas, the high priest, unwittingly spoke a word of prophecy concerning the death of Jesus, whom they wanted to put to death, and why he would be put to death. John interprets what he didn’t even know he was saying. This is John 11:51–52:

He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

So he shifted language on us. It goes from, “I have other sheep,” and, “I have a people in this city,” to what he says now, “I’m dying to gather into one the children of God.” In other words, God has a people, that was the point of those expositional comments, God has his own. He gives them to the Son. The Son speaks. They hear his voice. He comes and says, “I have a people out there. I’m dying for them. They will come.”

That’s the second observation. It’s simply amazing that they are so scattered and they are his own. How scattered are they, in John’s thinking? John wrote Revelation. In Revelation 5:9, one of the most important missionary passages in the Bible, it says:

You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation . . .

That’s how widespread the children of God are. That’s how widespread the sheep are. That’s how widespread the people are. That’s how widespread the ransomed are — every people, tongue, tribe, and nation. You will not go to any single people group on the planet where God doesn’t have a people. It was amazingly powerful for these early missionaries.

3. The Lord Will Bring Them

Number three: the Lord has committed himself to bring them home. He says:

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also . . .

Now here, a little voice could creep in, which it did, a little, hyper-Calvinistic voice that says, “Oh well, if he’s going to bring them, let him bring them. We’re not needed. He said, ‘I’m going to bring them.’ He said, ‘I will build my church.’ So we’ll just watch him do it from England. And we’ll watch India. We’ll watch God do it.” That’s demonic. It is unbiblical. It is wicked. Jesus said in John 20:21:

As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.

Or in John 17:20, he says:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word . . .

Did you get that? Jesus is praying for this band of disciples. And he says to his Father, “I do not pray for these only. I pray for those 2,000 years from now, or a hundred years from now, or 3,000, who will believe in me through their word.”

Any of you who says, “Oh, God is sovereign. Piper said God is sovereign. He has a people. He triumphantly brings them to himself, therefore we can go join the American dream, buy a house, live in suburbs, get three cars, have kids, pick a nice private school, and get rich and die,” you know that would not be an accurate representation. I said that Jesus prayed for the nations that would believe on him through your word. Right now, right now, God is calling some of you. Through your word, little, insignificant you, whether you have small dreams or big dreams, he will gather his people.

I can’t tell you how insecure I felt when I was sitting where you were sitting at Wheaton College from 1964 to 1968. I couldn’t talk in front of a group. I had a bad complexion. I felt so avoided by girls. I was a psychological basket case. I just want to encourage you so much. I don’t care how small you feel, how insignificant you feel, how homely you feel, how unpopular you feel. This is a great God. And that makes all the difference.

4. They Will Come Through Your Witness

Number four, they will come when you speak. Here’s the way it works. You might think, “Okay. I understand that God has a people. There are the sheep that are not of this fold. When the Shepherd speaks the voice, the sheep are, by virtue of the work of God in their hearts, able to discern. That’s true. That’s true. And they follow the shepherd. I get that. But what about me? I’m not the shepherd.” And here’s where this Book is so essential.

When you undertake to go into the world and let the Shepherd and his word (the Bible is his word) speak through this fallible mouth, as this infallible Shepherd’s word comes out of this fallible mouth, the same dynamic is true today that was 2,000 years ago, that God Almighty grants ears to hear and they will hear his voice. I see it happen every Sunday. I watch the sea divide. Here’s a group that is hearing, and here’s a group that is bored stiff with what I’m saying. What’s the difference, Lord? Why does one have ears to hear and the others don’t have ears to hear?

The text says, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” This filled Thomas Chalmers and his six, Andrew’s six, and William Carey, and David Livingston, and Alexander Duff, and John Patton, and Adoniram Judson. This truth filled these men with massive confidence so that they could go to a Burma or an India or an Africa with hordes of unbelieving people in centuries of bondage to the powerful devil and say, “They’re going to believe when I speak the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. He’s going to gather a people.” Jesus is saying, “I will build my church, but I will not build it without you.”

Oh, Crown College. What God could do. Indeed I believe what God will do as you say, “Alright, I just want to be used.” Why don’t you stand with me and I’ll pray and then dismiss you.