AGCC Sun. a.m. 10/11/98
TEXT: John 10:7-10
INTRO: The greatest demonstration
of God's love to mankind was the gift of His son Jesus Christ. God so loved
mankind that instead of just encountering humans, he experienced
ILLUS: Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before them.
One morning before Damien was to lead daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever.
Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, "My fellow believers." But this morning he began with, "My fellow lepers."
In a greater measure Jesus came into this world
knowing what it would cost him. He bore in his pure being the marks of evil,
that we might be made pure. "For this I came into the world," he said (John 18:37).
No one else has been able to do what Jesus Christ has done, and for this
reason Jesus declared Himself the only "gate" to God! Heaven's "gate" is not a
comet, it is Christ!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
that Christ is the only way to eternal life. Not only is He the way to eternal
life, but He is the way to abundant life now too!
I. ENTRANCE TO SALVATION 10:7-9a
A. Sheep Pen 10:7
1. Shepherds built stone sheep pens when possible, if stones weren't available or one needed to be built in a hurry they might use thorn bushes of some type. Even when stone walls were used, thorns were put on the top of the walls to keep predators and thieves from climbing over the walls. Sometimes these walls were as high as 10 feet.
a. These sheep pens provided security in the dark.
b. They contained only a single entrance or "gate" or "door".
2. This exclusive entrance meant nothing went in or came out without going through the only door available.
a. This takes on great significance with Jesus' words here that "I am the door" (KJV)or "gate" (NIV).
b. Jesus was identifying Himself as the only hope and entrance for the sheep!
3. It is only Christ that can change a wicked heart to a godly one, Christ
alone has the power to save!
ILLUS: As John Wesley rode across Hounslow Heath late one night, singing a favorite hymn, he was startled by a fierce voice shouting, "Halt," while a firm hand seized the horse's bridle. Then the man demanded, "Your money or your life."
Wesley obediently emptied his pockets of the few coins they contained and invited the robber to examine his saddlebags which were filled with books. Disappointed at the result, the robber was turning away when evangelist cried, "Stop! I have something more to give you."
The robber, wondering at this strange call, turned back. Then Wesley, bending down toward him, said in solemn tones, "My friend, you may live to regret this sort of a life in which you are engaged. If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this, 'The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin."' The robber hurried silently away, and the man of God rode along, praying in his heart that the word spoken might be fixed in the robber's conscience.
Years later, at the close of a Sunday evening service with the people streaming from the large building, many lingered around the doors to see the aged preacher, John Wesley.
A stranger stepped forward and earnestly begged to speak with Mr. Wesley. What a surprise to find that this was the robber of Hounslow Heath, now a well-to-do tradesman in the city, but better still, a child of God! The words spoken that night long ago had been used of God in his conversion.
Raising the hand of John Wesley to his lips, he affectionately kissed it and said in tones of deep emotion, "To you, dear sir, I owe it all."
Wesley replied softly, "Nay, nay, my friend,
not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanseth us from all
sin." --James S. Hewett,
Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 50.
4. All roads DON'T lead to heaven!
a. It has become politically correct to hold to the idea that many religions are right and good, and that sincere followers of these other religions will be saved too.
b. Jesus strikes down any such thought in His proclamation here!
c. There can be only ONE gate into the sheep pen, and Christ Himself is that gate!
5. Sheep pens did not have wooden doors, instead the shepherd himself slept in the opening thus their own body became the "gate" or "door".
a. This is exactly what Christ meant to convey, that His body would be the entrance into eternal life.
b. This was accomplished on the cross of Calvary.
B. Sure Protection 10:8-9a
1. The sheep got their only sense of protection from the shepherd who became the "gate" at night.
a. They knew that they were safe as long as the "gate" was there.
b. This was the only way in, and the only way out.
2. No sheep in their right mind would refuse to use the "gate"…since it was the only one!
3. Why anyone would reject the only entrance to God is beyond
understanding … Jesus invites us to come through Him into a place of spiritual
life and protection, yet so many refuse!
When I was a teenager, the students in our
high school were called together and each given a sugar cube with pink syrup on
it. It was serum that had been developed by Dr. Jonas Salk to keep us from
getting polio in a time of a polio epidemic all across our country. Now, did we
turn up our noses and say, "I don't really think I want to avoid polio this way.
I'm going to wait until another means is made possible?" That would be crazy.
That's the sense in which we have to see what God has done for us in Christ.
-- John Yates, "Is Christ the Only Way?"
Preaching Today, Tape No. 121.
4. For a sheep to avoid the only entrance meant certain death at night while it stayed outside the confines of the secure sheep pen.
5. Any attempt to get to the inside of the sheep pen in any other way meant they were a robber.
a. The true sheep will only respond to the voice of the "gate" however, they will refuse to follow the thieves that would attempt to lead them another way.
b. All attempts by others to take the sheep by another route other than the gate demonstrates that they are thieves and robbers!
c. All those in history who have promised eternal life through any other way except Christ have been thieves and robbers…or any today that would promise the same!
6. The only safe way is Jesus Christ, the true gate!
II. ENTRANCE TO SATISFACTION 10:9b-10
A. Security & Provision 10:9b-10a
1. This gate gives great freedom, to GO IN to find security, and to GO OUT to find pasture.
a. The only truly free human being is the Christian!
b. Those who refuse the true "gate" are very limited.
2. There is both security and provision available for the sheep that use the gate.
a. In darkness, the gate is the entrance to a safe place, by day the gate is the entrance to green pastures!
b. Christ is the means to both security and having our soul fed.
3. All other attempts to find green pastures while just wandering around
in the dark and even by daylight will fail to bring the proper amount of
nourishment…but so many have tried through other means!
ILLUS: After the Crusades, Western
Europe received a number of supposed holy relics, including a tooth of Goliath,
a tip of the devil's tail, and a bottle that held the breath of Christ. Of
course, no one today takes such relics seriously. If we did have the breath of
Christ in a bottle, what would it mean? Nothing. It is the spiritual presence of
Christ in the life of a believer that counts.
-- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing
4. God made finding eternal life so simple that a child can understand it, rather than confuse the human race with dozens and dozens of ways to find Him He simply made a single way to Him, through His son Jesus Christ.
a. It is in Christ that we find our joy and security about the future.
b. It is in Christ that we find our satisfaction in the present too!
c. Indeed He does lead us beside still waters and green pastures to feed
our souls, and offers the place of safety in darkness while His body guards the
entrance to eternal life!
B. Satisfaction Perfect! 10:10
1. While every other way, and every other charlatan that has promised eternal life, they all have been only thieves and robbers.
a. They came to steal and kill.
b. There has been recent evidence of these false "gates" in America, the recent "heaven's Gate" cult, indeed the thief came to steal and kill!
c. Christ however does not take away, He gives us eternal life and adds abundant life even in the present.
2. Jesus promises us "abundant life" (KJV) "Life to the full" (NIV).
a. The word used here in Greek is "perissos" which literally translates as "superabundance" or "excessive"! It is not just a word for "full", it is a word of extreme fullness!
b. Nothing can fill a life like Christ!
3. Those who have never allowed Christ into their lives cannot understand the joy and fullness there is in Christ, this can only be experienced by those who have accepted Christ.
a. This is why the world does not understand the true Christian's joy in their salvation.
b. No wonder the world makes fun of Christianity, until it has tasted of
God's goodness in Christ they cannot comprehend the fullness of life that is
found in Christ.
ILLUS: A bold unbeliever was lecturing a group on the folly of religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular. At the close of the presentation the speaker invited people to propound any questions they might have. In the audience was the town drunkard, who had been converted to Christ. In response to the invitation the converted alcoholic came up front, took out an orange, peeled it, and ate it without comment.
The speaker asked if he had a question for him.
After downing the last segment of orange the convert turned to the infidel and
asked, "Was the orange I just ate sweet or sour?" Angrily, the speaker replied,
"You idiot, how can I know whether it was sweet or sour when I never tasted it?"
To this the converted drunkard retorted, "And how can you know anything about
Christ if you have not tried Him?" --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton:
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 190.
4. At the end of life only those who have known Christ will be able to look back, and look forward with satisfaction that their lives counted for more than the present, that it counted for eternity.
5. Why not enter by the one gate that will truly lead you into abundant life, both here and in eternity?
a. Christ awaits us to come to Him.
b. Why would you stay outside in the dark where thieves and robbers have
free reign, come through the one gate that will usher you into security and
CONCLUSION: Man is always striving for satisfaction and meaning with the goal in mind of happiness. History is full of man's attempts to know God, and finally in Christ the way has been made open! The ultimate security and satisfaction is only found in the single entrance to God, through Jesus Christ who alone is the gate! Have you entered in yet?