God’s New Breed Of Super-Sheep
Rock of Offence Commentary
This is Part 1 of a four-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to continue
with this study.
Is That Really in the Bible?
Some Comments Before
After reading the title of this study some might say; "The term 'Super-sheep' isn't anywhere in the Bible - so what exactly are you talking about?" By deliberately using such terminology, we are attempting to address one of the most distorted and misunderstood topics in the Bible: Shepherds and sheep.
The relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is an analogy found throughout the Bible. It is specifically used by our Lord Jesus Christ who identifies Himself as “The Good Shepherd”. Yet, after the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, those who believe in and follow the Lord are a vastly different 'breed' of people than before Pentecost. Yet, many church leaders and their followers ignore or reject this change set in motion 50 days earlier at the cross.
Here is the obvious question that
all serious students of the Bible
If the Good Shepherd, through the Spirit of Christ, now permanently resides inside His people (previously referred to as 'sheep') ... doesn't it mean that Pentecost, where this revolutionary Divine act takes place - changes the previous Biblical model of shepherds and sheep?
Answer: Yes - it not only changes
the shepherding model ... but also
changes everything else! Contrary
to what many claim, the change is
real - and not symbolic.
The Epistles of Saint Paul provides the details about this all-important truth that continues to offend those who wrongly embrace the Old Testament brand of Shepherding. You see ... if the Good Shepherd (through the Spirit of Christ) rules His people from inside their body (now called 'the Temple of the Holy Spirit' - See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) ... then they no longer operate according to the traditional Old Testament 'sheep and shepherd' role model.
The New Testament reveals that
they now become something
entirely different. Paul refers
to them as "A new creation in
Christ" - while John calls them
"sons of God."
All of this took place when Jesus, through the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, came to indwell all true believers at Pentecost ... allowing Him to guide and rule them directly from His position inside. (Note: The Bible also calls the Holy Spirit; "the Spirit of Christ".)
AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
This study includes teaching about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. Yet, many find that their life continues to lack this power after being authentically saved. This is often caused by attending a church that refuses to teach about a spiritual benefit that Jesus, John and Paul all indicated was necessary following our initial salvation. It is known as; "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit" - and a vast majority of Christians have never received this New Covenant provision.
It's important to remember that believers are "sealed with the Holy Spirit" when they are initially saved. At the 'sealing' the Holy Spirit enters their physical body (which now becomes 'the Temple of the Holy Spirit') and remains until "the day of redemption" (also called "God's guarantee - See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Ephesians 1:13-14). This 'sealing' is the fulfillment of Christ's promise ... that when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside the believer, He will remain "forever" (See John 14:16-17).
However, the sealing with
the Holy Spirit - and the
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
are not the same.
In Holy Spirit baptism, the believer who is 'sealed' - is now fully immersed in God's Spirit for the purpose of empowerment. This is similar to what occurs at water baptism ... but instead of being immersed in water, we are immersed in the Holy Spirit. Contrary to popular church teaching (but according to Scripture), Holy Spirit sealing and Holy Spirit baptism are two separate events. However, in some rare situations, they can occur at the same time. This is why many Christians who are taught to reject the Baptism in the Holy Spirit - can be authentically saved, yet lack the Spirit's power in their life.
Rather than discussing this detailed
and lengthy subject in this study,
a link is provided below that allows
you to access more information.
The Next Step for New
Believers in Christ
As a result of this new "ministry of the Holy Spirit" that began at Pentecost - church leaders, who are often referred to as 'shepherds', must avoid overstepping their authority (and usurping God’s authority) when caring for believers who are now 'internally and directly ruled by God Himself'. This rather unpopular Divine restriction on a minister's 'spiritual authority' is also the reason many go to great lengths to undermine, circumvent or silence this amazing miracle of the new birth also known as;
"Christ in you, the hope
(See Colossians 1:24-28)
Our Lord Jesus Christ - along with
both John and Paul emphasize this
truth by saying;
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (Words of Jesus spoken before the cross in John 14:16-17)
"Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: For He shall receive of mine, and show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." (Words of Jesus spoken before the cross in John 16:13-15)
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (Words of Saint John spoken after the cross - 1 John 3:1-2)
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (Words of Saint John spoken after the cross - 1 John 4:4)
John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He (Jesus Christ) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (words of Saint John - Luke 3:16)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (Words of Saint Paul spoken after the cross - 2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s." (Words of Saint Paul spoken after the cross - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
As stated in many of our studies - the ultimate message of Christ's salvation is corrupted when churches and denominations illegally mix the Old and New Testament programs together. This is an error that Bible scholars refer to as 'Galatian religion - or the Galatian error'. This popular theology is condemned in both Acts chapter 15 and Paul's Epistle to the Galatians - where it is referred to as; "a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6-8). It has been around since the first century as a spiritual counterfeit that imitates - and seeks to replace authentic Christianity. Unfortunately, a majority within Christendom reject this warning from Scripture. As a result, they are tricked into accepting the counterfeit ... rather than authentic faith in Christ. When church leaders embrace the popular Old Testament brand of Shepherding and apply it to New Testament believers ... you are witnessing a characteristic of 'the Galatian error'.
Since many church leaders and their followers have adopted Galatian religion's concept of shepherding, we feel that our rather unorthodox use of the term 'Super-sheep' might be an acceptable way to address a complex problem. Yet in this case, what we tend to label as 'unorthodox' - may actually be in agreement with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Who said ...
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Words of Jesus spoken after His resurrection in Acts 1:8)
Common Misconceptions about
Shepherds, Sheep and Wolves
The following Bible study is provided to correct some common misconceptions found in shepherding and discipleship. This is an emotional and controversial topic. For the casual reader, our writings may appear to stereotype all churches and their leadership in a negative light. This is not our goal or intention. To keep the size of this teaching from spiraling out of control, we focus on the issues and warnings given by both Christ and the apostles in the New Testament. We do not oppose Godly leaders, church groups, congregations and movements that follow the principles of the New Covenant, which started after the cross. As a result, we do not want to paint every situation with a wide negative brush. However, Jesus warned - as we get closer to the end of the age - there would be many false and misleading expressions of Christianity along with deceptive leaders that rule over them. It means that the subject of this teaching is not about some “fringe” insignificant threat. It's a mainstream problem that ensnares millions of unsuspecting church members.
In this study, we address some of the differences that exist between Old Testament Judaism (or the Mosaic Law) and Christ's New Covenant Church. These differences are taken directly from Scripture to illustrate the emotional difficulties facing the churches established by Saint Paul - and the organized opposition against the Gospel of Christ. It might appear to the casual reader that we are "anti-Semitic" and oppose the Jewish people. Hopefully, this is not your perception. We do not oppose, but support this group. Contrary to popular teaching, God continues to accept them as "His Covenant people". He has not permanently rejected the Israelites as many in the church are taught (Romans 11:1-2, Romans 11:25-26). We view the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948 as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy for the end times. As a result, we agree with Israel's right to live in the land given to her through an everlasting covenant made between God and Abraham. The Bible uses the term "everlasting covenant" when describing God's relationship with the Jewish people. This means that it remains in force today. We support Israel simply because God also stated that He continues to supports Israel - and issued a stern warning to the Church "not to be ignorant of this mystery" (Romans 11:25-26).
Note: This does not necessarily
mean that we agree with all
decisions or actions of the
The topic of shepherds and sheep - and the disturbing subject of wolves within the Christian Church, can be very complex and confusing. By its very nature, it produces irreconcilable differences and vicious disagreements, like the ones that both our Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul faced in the first century. The subject is commonly “repackaged” in order to defend cherished, yet flawed denominational teachings which have existed for hundreds of years. The relationship between “shepherds and sheep” is also commonly distorted to defend spiritual leaders who attempt to use their authority in a way that Jesus said was forbidden. Abusive churches and even religious cults commonly operate in this “grey area” of Christian doctrine. We are now in the last days before Christ’s return. The proliferation of “Christian wolfism” and the various distorted teachings associated with the subject of shepherds and sheep now dominate many sections of the institutional church. If you don’t properly understand Christ’s warning about the danger of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and how crucially important His words are today – you will be a victim.
The Overcoming Church Of
The Church that Jesus Christ is currently
building is the most amazing spiritual
entity in human history. Jesus said:
"...I will build my church; and
the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it."
Jesus is making a bold and an incredible statement in this verse. Hell itself will not succeed in any kind of frontal assault against the Church, which is built by Christ. Yet, many expressions of the modern institutional church are not part of "The Church" Jesus is describing. They carry the 'Christian' label and claim to believe the Bible, but do not follow the New Testament tenants of the faith. As a result, the gates of hell will prevail against such churces, regardless of their good intentions.
In the following article, we discover the extraordinary reasons our Lord made this statement. Unfortunately, in many churches this information is suppressed and explained away.
Jesus’ statement that Hell’s power will not prevail against His Church doesn’t mean our enemy won’t try. It is foolish to sit back and say, “Well, spiritual warfare is not a concern because Jesus said our enemy can’t succeed.” Many Christians take that position because training ourselves to be discerning is a messy, painful and emotionally stressful task. We might anger our friends, lose cherished relationships - and even possibly have to leave a church fellowship as a result. Most church members consider this cost unacceptable and unnecessary. We love to go to church services, participate in corporate worship, hear an inspiring and informative message, enjoy our social luncheons and dinners, attend our yearly conferences and camp meetings - and go home thinking that our sacrifices are pleasing to God. Yet, while we spend our time on these activities, our enemy is planning his next attack. He loves to see us “at ease” and uninterested in what he’s doing behind the scenes. He knows that he can’t win the war. But, he can destroy many lives and, at the same time, hinder, discredit - or even temporarily stop the authentic New Covenant Gospel from going forth.
Satan’s Most Effective Weapon
Satan rarely performs a head-on frontal attack against Christ’s Church. He already knows it’s a losing operation before it begins. When he does perform a “head-on” attack, it’s only a diversion, while his real focus is in another, more vulnerable and unprotected area. I’ve mentioned this problem on numerous occasions. It's shocking that the most common response from professing Christians, actually borderlines on outright denial. It's shocking because we’re just repeating one of the strongest and most serious warnings that both our Lord Jesus Christ and the early apostles gave to believers. Our enemy's most destructive strategy - is not to attack using things that are obviously evil. He rarely uses our preconceived notions of evil (as opposites to good) that can be easily recognized. Instead, the devil disguises his agenda with things that appear to be moral, good, loving and righteous - performed “in the name of Christ and His Kingdom”. He uses “spiritual counterfeits”, or look-alikes. Similar to well designed counterfeit money, the devil's spiritual counterfeits are almost impossible to identify by inexperienced Christians and church members who only think of evil as being “an opposite of good”. Counterfeit money is a good example because it's sometimes used as an effective weapon in time of war to destroy an opposing country’s economy. Yet, almost nobody can spot a well-made counterfeit 20-dollar bill.
This is why both Jesus and the apostle Paul warned about our enemy’s most diabolical tactic by using the phrase “wolves in sheep clothing”. Why? The wolf can get maximum access to his most favorite source of food - sheep - by dressing himself up like a sheep. When a wolf shows up looking like God’s sheep they can wonder around the herd unhindered, undetected and most importantly, TRUSTED. Below, we provide a few Scriptures that illustrate this danger.
Jesus said: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:15)
Paul also warned us about the same dangers: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his (Satan’s) ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness . . ." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31)
Paul was so concerned about this danger that he warned the church weeping “night and day” over a three-year period. It wasn’t some small, insignificant problem to him. Yet, many of us shrug these things off as some “inconvenience” ... or because it might expose serious flaws in our deepest and most cherished traditions and beliefs.
Shepherds, Wolves and Sheep
In The Church
There are some excellent commentaries written about shepherds, sheep and wolves in relation to Christian Church congregations. In order to be brief, the names of various articles and their authors will not be cited here. We also took this route to avoid giving certain people, who seem to thrive off of being “contrary and combative”, any more ammunition than they already have. Our goal is to make an observation and shed some light on an area that is hurting and even shipwrecking the faith of many believers all over the world. Yet, this perspective is subtly avoided in most research efforts. As many already know, both Jesus our Lord and the apostle Paul warned about this dangerous and commonly ignored problem. For this reason these various third party commentaries about “wolves in sheep clothing” are informative and helpful in a general way. In the tradition of the Apostle Paul, the subject is considered to be so serious and important that we repeatedly address it in writings to the point of being redundant. I had an experience in a church movement, years ago, which operated in abusive authority and “cult-like” activity. Obviously, my wife and I didn’t initially view it as “abusive” at the time or we would have stayed away. But, hindsight is 20-20 and we were young believers at the time. We just thought we were on the “cutting edge” of God’s purposes, which is what the leaders constantly told the membership to appeal to their ego. Most of the problems surfaced when we tried to leave. My involvement in this popular Christian movement plunged me (almost against my will) into the area of Christian “counter-cult” studies – a fascinating and frightening area that very few Christians will ever touch. I still carry emotional scars from this unfortunate, yet educational experience today.
Christian authors who attempt to expose the threat of “wolves in the church” are to be commended. Many have good intentions and serve as authentic “watchmen” over the flock of God. The comments in this article should not necessarily be viewed as an attack on their efforts. Yet, there is a subtle problem with most of these “sheep and wolf” articles. Many of them dodge the real core issues because they don’t want to offend church members for various reasons. We don’t take this approach in this study. We also recognize that some authors are attempting to defend (and promote) their particular brand of theology by wrongly defining God’s shepherds (and the sheep they oversee) according to an Old Testament model that radically changed following Christ’s crucifixion. Unfortunately, this is often done to defend an unbiblical authority structure within their church or denomination. Also, casual readers may not be aware that some of these teachings about shepherds, sheep and wolves - originate from the leaders of the abusive movement (and similar churches that share its ideology) I was involved in years ago. The movement was, and continues to be a dangerous global influence, which is why this commentary was written.
On the Day of Pentecost the
Biblical Concept of Shepherds
and Sheep Changed Forever
In the beginning pages of the Bible, God made a covenant with Abraham, which later became the foundation for the program of the Law - given through Moses to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. This Law-based system continued until the time of Jesus Christ. But an event occurred on the day of Pentecost 50 days after Christ’s crucifixion. This event forever changed the way God provides salvation and deals with human sin. Before the cross, God’s Holy Spirit only dwelled “with” an individual who possessed salvation. The Spirit would only remain if that person avoided sin and was obedient to the Law. If they continually practiced sin and disobeyed God’s Law, at some point the Spirit would leave - never to return. This was the case with King Saul. Years later, when King David (Saul's predecessor) sinned with Bathsheba, he tearfully pleaded with God; “not to take His Holy Spirit from him”. These examples show, that before the cross, this “departing” of the Spirit was actually a loss of salvation. But, Jesus told His disciples shortly before His death - that this kind of Old Testament relationship with God would soon end - and be replaced with something new.
"And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:4-5 and 8)
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (Words of Jesus in John 14:16-17)
After the cross, Saint Paul
provides more details;
"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, He is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:8-11)
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (Paul is is speaking to all believers in the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 3:16)
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he (Jesus) hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Hebrews 13:5-6)
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought FOR A SECOND." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
"In that He (Jesus Christ) says, "a new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
The way God previously dealt with the human race through the Law - radically changed when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost. Jesus said that once the Spirit came to indwell - He would remain inside forever. The New Testament correctly encourages all believers to avoid sin. But now, when sin occurs, it no longer causes the Holy Spirit to leave – because Jesus, as “The Lamb of God” paid the price to take away all human sin (past, present and future). If Jesus truly takes all sin away (and He does), then the Holy Spirit has a legal obligation to remain (and He does). This is why Paul commands Christian believers not to take advantage of this situation and "grieve the Holy Spirit" through sinful behavior (Ephesians 4:30-32).
The popular belief that God deals with human sin the same way after the cross - as He did before the cross under Old Testament Law - is the primary reason many heresies and other false teachings exist in the institutional Christian Church. When this wrong way of believing the Bible is brought into our understanding of “shepherds and sheep” - we can be easily led astray.
We can see some of these problems
in the widely accepted comments of
one pastor who said ...
“Sheep must have a shepherd because, by nature, sheep are helpless creatures. They depend on shepherds to lead them to water and pasture, to fight off wild beasts, and to anoint their faces with oil when a snake nips them from the grass. Sheep are social animals that gather in flocks, but they tend to wander off and fall into a crevice or get caught in a thorn bush.”
However ... does this really
sound like sheep that has
God's Holy Spirit - and His
power - living in them?
In Old Testament times, a shepherd that ruled a religious congregation exercised great authority and control over the lives of their people. To disobey or resist the authority (and teachings) of a shepherd was a most serious offense and could result in what some would call “excommunication” from the “sheep fold”. In the Bible this was usually a Jewish congregation or synagogue. A good example can be found in John chapter 9 (read the whole chapter). It's a story about Jesus healing a young blind man. The religious leaders (the “shepherds” of that time) were offended that he gave Jesus the glory and credit for this miracle. After being unsuccessful in persuading him to reject Christ’s involvement in the healing - they “cast him out” (disfellowshipped) him. This was a serious disciplinary action, which caused the young man to be treated as “unclean” and an outcast in the society of that day. In this case, these misguided shepherds committed a serious offense against the very God they claimed to serve. Unfortunately, this attitude is still common in some fundamentalist Christian churches that oppose divine healing and in many “discipleship and shepherding” ministries.
This is Part 1 of a four-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to continue
with this study.
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