John 10:27-28 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
What an enormously comforting Scripture! However, it can make you wonder how many “false sheep” there are out there. One of the earliest and most fundamental definitions of “Christian” is very simply, “Christ follower.” There are sadly many people who follow religious tradition but don’t personally know Christ, much less follow Him. The benefits to following Christ are literally eternal, as He says here, but the “initiation” is by repentance, and we don’t like to do that. In a socially Christian nation, far too many people are baptized simply because it’s the thing to do, without any personal awareness of being a sinner in need of salvation. That is true even in groups that don’t practice infant baptism, but obviously it happens more easily in groups that do. The good news for such people that repentance is still possible, the moment they open their heart to recognize their need and God’s supply. There’s no telling how many “almost Christians” there are! For those who do follow Christ, and thus qualify as His sheep indeed, the challenge is to let people know the offer of salvation is open to them as well, without skipping over the essential step of repentance and faith. (Mark 1:15) If we will do that, the flock will continue to grow, to the joy and glory of our Shepherd.
I have someone who has indicated he wants to be baptized, probably within the next month, but I haven’t confirmed his repentance. I’ve got to do that! I have baptized some people in the past who said the right words, but then didn’t show any real evidence of following Christ afterwards. I don’t want that! In contrast, last night I attended the wake of a woman I met 37 years ago. Since before I met her she had failing kidneys, and endured dialysis for over 30 years. However, her trademark was her smile, which came from her assurance of salvation. I found out last night that she was saved through the nurses at Kyoto Baptist Hospital, where she was first treated as a single young woman. It was a joy last night to know that her husband and daughter also follow Christ, and the peace and even joy that were evident in them both, and particularly her daughter, were a clear testimony of the reality of this passage. I too need to rejoice in the assurance that no one can snatch me out of the hand of my Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the assurance with which we can go to Cathy’s cataract surgery this morning, even though we’ve heard some anxiety-inducing things recently about such surgery. I do ask for wisdom and skill on the part of the medical staff, but most of all I ask for Your complete presence and protection, so that Your will and Yours alone may be accomplished, for our blessing and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!