If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of the Nature of His Flock

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine," (John 10:14).

By these words Jesus teaches us concerning His sheep. They are a spiritual flock, whom Christ knows in love, and they love Him as their shepherd. They are His church and kingdom. Of them Jesus says, "My Father which gave them me," (John 10:29), that is "to me." His sheep were given unto Him of God from eternity and He knows them. He says also, "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15). Those given unto Him were bought in His blood, for them alone He dies. "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" (John 10:27, 28). They believe and are saved. They believe because they are "of God" and hear His words, as Jesus said, "He that is of God heareth God's words" (John 8:37). They are born of the Spirit, believe and enter His kingdom as He said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). And again Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit" (John 3:6).

Jesus teaches us that His flock, church, and kingdom is a work of grace, chosen and given unto Him, purchased in His blood, unto which He gives eternal life. It is a spiritual reality born by the power of His spirit, called unto faith and kept unto everlasting life. The church is a spiritual organism. Jesus describes it as a living plant when He says, "I am the vine and ye are the branches" (John 15:5). It is a living spiritual unity in Christ so that He says, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17:22, 23). Therefore He says also, "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you," (Luke 17:21). The flock, church, and kingdom of Christ in the world is an invisible spiritual unity in Christ the Lord, a spiritual commonwealth. That church and kingdom is not limited to one visible denomination or "church." To cling to a visible church because of earthly ties or tradition, when it has become corrupt and departed from the Word of Christ, is sin.

In harmony with the spiritual nature of His flock Jesus says of the gathering and growth of His kingdom, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation," (Luke 17:20). It grows by the spiritual gathering of His sheep through faith, not by earthly conquest, might, or power. Nor is its growth measured in earthly terms of size or influence in the world. It is a kingdom and flock gathered and ruled by grace now in this world.

It is then a spiritual and heavenly kingdom, called "the kingdom of heaven." Jesus says, "My kingdom is not of this world," (John 19:36). Not in this present world, nor in Jerusalem, nor in an earthly kingdom of glory, but in a new heavens and earth is to be found its visible glory. As Jesus said, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory...then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory...And he shall set the sheep on his right hand...Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:31-34). Are you looking for this kingdom or another?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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