Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
August 23, 2020
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
— John 10:1-10, ESV
Every four years we have a presidential election. Each one seems to become more acrimonious than the one before. No longer does one party present their ideas as better for the country than the other party’s, but rather each side predicts the violent death of America if the other side wins. With the future of the free world at stake, I suppose we should pay attention and vote wisely.
A similar tug of war took place near the end of Jesus’ public ministry. There was no separation of church and state in those days, because the state of Israel was the church, so to speak, the visible expression of the kingdom of God. Among the religio-political parties vying for control were the legalistic Pharisees, the liberal Sadducees, the big government Herodians, the ideologue Essenes, and the militant Zealots. One of them arose to fiercely oppose the would-be Messiah from Galilee, lest Jesus take away their power and prestige.
This opposing party was the populist Pharisees, who promised the people lower taxes on earth and a simple path to Heaven, by keeping their man-made, cookie-cutter religious rules. Jesus, on the other hand, preached giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, plus a more comprehensive plan of salvation that required giving absolutely all of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength to God.
The Pharisees warned that if people followed Jesus, Israel would be ruined and the Romans would take over (as if they hadn’t already). Plus, Jesus, they said, was a notorious sinner who kept breaking their Sabbath rules, so there was no way He could lead people to be right with God.
Jesus countered by claiming that if the people followed the Pharisees, they would become twice as much children of Hell as the Pharisees themselves. It was an ugly campaign, but it produced one of the most beautiful chapters in the word of God, John 10, where Jesus’ message is essentially, don’t follow them, follow Me.
We begin with the first 10 verses, with Jesus’ recurring claim of deity and constant offer of salvation. They are packed in His third of seven “I Am” slogans recorded by John. Jesus said, “I am the door.”
The Door is Legitimacy
The Pharisees were constantly critiquing Jesus as unqualified to sit on the thrones of David (as Savior) and God (as Lord). They bore false witness about Jesus being born in Galilee (He was born in Bethlehem, Judea), raised by peasants (Mary and Joseph were from the royal line of David and the messianic tribe of Judah), and a breaker of God’s law (He only broke their man-made, legalistic rules, never the word of God).
Jesus counters by claiming, “I am the door,” the only legitimate entrance and access to the kingdom of God, which is likened to “sheep” in a “sheepfold” in this chapter. On the other hand, all of the other leaders and parties, especially the Pharisees, were “thieves,” “robbers,” and “strangers.” They were the illegitimate ones, offering false gospels and empty promises.
It was established then, and it remains true today, that the only way to have legitimate access to the true and living God is through “the door” of Jesus Christ and Christianity. And God is guarding the door, assisted by “gatekeeper” preachers heralding the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you listen to the wrong message and try to slip in using another religion, God will ban you like a “thief.” If you try to buy your way in with money, your money will perish like that of a “robber.” If you try to convinced Him you belong because you are a good person, He will not hear you and draw you near to His heart because you are a “stranger” to Him.
Do you want God in your life? Do you want to be involved in the life of the kingdom of God, and live in it forever? Then you have got to enter in the right door, the only legitimate door to God and God’s kingdom. Jesus said, “I am the door.” I vote for Him!
The Door is Salvation
When you walk through the door of Christ, by grace through faith, you find salvation. Jesus said the second time, “I am the door,” then followed, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” “Saved!”
The Pharisees were insulted, for they saw no need for themselves or anyone else to be saved by Jesus. Good people who play by the rules don’t need to get saved. If anything, they felt they were saved already by their own works. They saw themselves as the “sheep” of God’s “sheepfold,” even the “shepherd” assigned to bring others inside. But in actuality they were wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Yet people followed the Pharisees then, as they do now. You ask the typical non-Christian or nominal Christian today, the man on the street or the mainline Protestant, the secular humanist or the lapsed Catholic, “Would you like to be saved?” They will laugh in your face. “Saved?” “Saved from what?”
Do you know what steals like a “thief,” takes away like a “robber,” and leaves you cold and alone like a “stranger?” Sin. Sin is the disobedience or disregard of God’s perfect will, best described and discerned from His holy word, the Bible. We all sin, and the perfect and holy God does not take it lightly. This is why sinners need the salvation found just inside “the door.”
It is hard to reach people who are lost in the throws of the drunkenness of alcohol and drugs, for they feel too good. It is hard to reach people who are lost in the pleasures of sexual immorality, spurning biblical marriage and morals, because they feel too much. It is hard to reach people who are lost in their own pride, greed, and lust for money, for they feel too little. It is hard to reach people who are lost, when the thieves and robbers and strangers of this present world have hypnotized them to feel like they not.
Jesus is different. He loves you enough to tell you the truth. His word teaches that we are all sinners, by nature, by commission, and by omission. His law condemns us to earthly consequences and eternal punishment. But His gospel saves us, with the imputed righteousness of His perfect life and the atoning for sin in His sacrificial death.
Many doors lead to sin. One door leads to salvation. Jesus said, “I am the door.” I vote for Him!
The Door is More
You know John 3:16. Take a look at John 10:10. It adds more to the salvation promised by God through Jesus Christ.
Have you seen the commercials that come on television during football season (Dear Lord, Let there be a football season this year?!). They taught the Southeastern Conference as the best and claim that to the member institutions and their states (including Arkansas and Georgia!), football means more. The SEC offers the best players, the smartest coaches, the greatest game experiences, the most champions. Amen!
People who walk through the door and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are not better than other people. But, we most definitely enjoy better lives. We have more. We have more quantity of life and more quality of life. We have a better eternity and a better existence. Our lives, because the door we have entered through, just means more.
Spurn the Pharisees and your own pride, walk through the door of the gospel of Jesus Christ, be born again by grace through faith in Christ, and you will have more. You will have more time when this life is over. The time is infinite and it is called eternity and the location is Heaven. But that is not all.
Before you go to enjoy your immeasurable life in Heaven, you will live the most meaningful life possible on earth. I did not say pleasurable, prosperous, or pain-free, I said meaningful. You life will just mean more, if it is lived for Christ and His kingdom.
You will give God glory in your public and private worship. You will give God pleasure in the way you walk as a disciple and help to make other disciples. You will give God joy in your fellowship with Him and your fellow sheep. You will give God help, yes, you will partner with God, as a means of ministry to others and in the mission to spread the gospel all over the world. All other lives are temporary and ultimately empty. The Christian life just means more.
And, you just might enjoy it, too. Luther championed sex, martial sex which he freed the priests to seek and enjoy. The Puritans had beer for breakfast. Spurgeon told the funniest jokes in Elizabethan England, drank brandy, and smoked big cigars. When Covid-19 is over, I’m going back to throwing my PPP’s, Pastor’s Patio Parties and dining out regularly with members of the church family. Being a Pharisee is gloom and doom and death; being a Christian is eternal and abundant life.
But, to be a Christian, you have to go through the door. Jesus said, “I am the door.” I vote for Him!
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org