Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Jesus: "Fear Not Little Flock" ]

Luke 12: 22-31

Jesus said in Luke 12:31, “Fear no little flock, for it your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. The words of our text contain four thoughts:. Jesus has a flock; the followers of Jesus is a little flock; they are not be afraid; it is the good pleasure of their Father to give them a kingdom. First of all we are informed that Jesus has a flock. This implies two things, namely, that Jesus may be compared to a shepherd and his followers may be compared to sheep. The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would appear in the character of a shepherd. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs with His arm and carry them, in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young. He shall gather the lamb's with his arm, and carry them in His bosom and shall gently lead those that are with young.”( Isaiah .40:10,11). Accordingly, when our Lord appeared in human nature, he claimed this character, saying, “I am the good Shepherd, and. know my sheep, and am known of my own”(John 10:14).

As a shepherd, Jesus feeds our souls and gives us precious promises on which we stand. The Lord is our Shepherd we shall not want. He makes us to lie down in green pastures. He leads beside still waters. He restores our souls. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His namesake. Though we walk thrugh the valley of he shadow of death, we will fear no evil. For you are with us; your rod and your staff they comfort us. Our cups run over.Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life.(Psalm 23). He leads them beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:2). Jesus as a shepherd, safely protects his flock. They have many powerful, enemies, but he is an all powerful friend. Jesuss as our shepherd safely protects His flock, for we have powerful enemies; but He is an all powerful friend. Israel was God's Old Covenant flock, and surely the 23rd Psalm has a greater application to God's New Covenant flock. Israel was God's Old Covenant flock, and during His earthly ministry He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel(Matthew 15:24). However, Jesus said that He had other sheep not of Israel's fold and them Hemust bring also. In the Christian age of the world the Jewish fold and the Gentile fold became one flock and one shepherd. In the Christian age of the world God has one flock, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, and this flock is called the Church of Christ, also called the Church of Go(John 10:16).

God has greatly honored Christians by comparing them to sheep. 0f all the animals in the world, sheep are the most striking emblems of a true Christian. Like that animal, the Christians are harmless, meek, and inoffensive. The malignant and violent dispositions, which predominated them before becoming Christians were brought into a state of entire subjection, by the scriptural conversion of the new birth. Isaiah predicted in very figurative language the peaceful change that would come on Christians. After predicting the beautiful character that Christ would have, he then described the character of His followers. Isaiah 11:6,7 says, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb; the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. The calf and the young lion and the fatling together. The cow and the bear shall graze.Their young ones will lie down together. And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” This was a prediction of the intensive and extensive power of the gospel to change the lives of people with the the most violent dispositions. This was fulfilled when Jews and Gentiles who literally hated and despised one another became Christians.. The life changing gospel gospel of Christ regenerated them, and they dwelled in peace and harmony as members of the Church of Chris, also called the Kingdom of God. Thus, as Isaiah predicted, the lion becomes a gentle lamb; and the haughty, mischievous, and turbulent dispositions of men, obeying the Gospel became humble, useful, meek, and gentle. people. Christ has a flock, and it is His church.

Secondly we are told that the followers of Christ are a little flock. The first disciples of Jesus were a little flock. One would have supposed from the sinlessness perfection of Jesus' life, and the mighty miracles He performed that the entire Jewish nation would have received Him as their shepherd. This, however was so far from being the case that He had only a few obscure individuals in His Jewish flock. The great bulk of that nation, being extremely prejudiced, unacquainted with the law of Moses, and morally wicked, hated and persecuted Him even unto death. The religion of
Christ, after the Day of Pentecost, indeed had a rapid spread. In a short time, the greatest part of the Roman Empire professed the faith. But even then, when we consider the great number of unfaithful Christians and the numerous Gentile nations who remained in darkness, we are constrained to say that Jesus had a little flock. Afterwards, during the dark ages of Popery, the number further diminished, and during that period of persecution, the true church was a very little flock, and there was little vital religion for many hundreds of years. But God took care of the church, but it was hidden from the world during the Dark Ages. At the Protestant Reformation in 1500 religion revived somewhat. The Bible was given back to the people, but there was no return to the primitive church that existed in the first century.

The Christian religion was divided among seven or eight warring, differing denominational churches from 1500 to 1700. Thanks be to God in 1800 men who loved the Bible tried to reform the Protestant churches but failed. Preachers from most all the Protestant churches separated from those churches and restored the primitive church to the world. Most of those men have been forgotten, but we owe them a debt of gratitude Preachers in the 20th and 21st centuries did not restore the primitive Church of Christ. The preachers who got the job done lived in the 1800's. The church had already been restored over 200 years before you and I were born. Since the Protestant Reformation, the number of genuine Christians has been very small, when compared with the great mass of mankind.

Thirdly, the flock of Jesus are not to be afraid. Our Lord, in this passage, does not forbid necessary fear. Fear of evil and danger, is a natural and necessary concern It leads men to caution and circumspection, and it is a safe-guard in times of real danger. Without a filial fear of God, and a fear of sin we would ruin ourselves to all eternity. In these respects, “Happy is the man that fears always: But he that hardens his heart shall fall into mischief.”(Proverbs. 28:14). The fear against, which our Lord cautions his followers, is an unreasonable and slavish fear, which unfits the mind both for duty and enjoyment. Christians should not fear temporal want, for God will supply all their wants out of the riches of His fulness. They should not fear persecution for God
ither support them under it, or deliver them out of it. They should not fear any affliction which may befall them because God will make all things work together for good, to them that are called according to the eternal purpose of God. Nor should they fear the powers of darkness, who will not be permitted to tempt them more than they are able to bear. In short, out of every trial and temptation, a way will be made for their escape.

Finally, it is the Father's good pleasure to give the little flock a kingdom. This, in the first instance, may refer to the apostles and disciples. Jesus was about to set up a spiritual kingdom upon earth. It was near but had not begun. It was the good pleasure of the Father that they should both be instruments in setting it up, and serving in it after it was set up. This Messianic kingdom was the church. After the church had begun in 33 A.D., Christians received this message from God: “Wherefore receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and godly fear(Hebrews 12:28). Not only have Christians received the earthly kingdom of Christ which can never be removed as long as time lasts, but Christians will be given entrance into the everlasting kingdom of Christ when He returns. Every follower of Jesus has the promise of the everlasting and eternal kingdom in heaven. With that prospect who can yield to doubts and fears? Will not He, whose good pleasure it is to give us the kingdom, provide every needful blessing on the way? “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”(Romans 8:32). What God gives is given with delight in making us happy, and our happiness and his glory are inseparably connected. Therefore, commit yourselves, you flock of Jesus, to the care of the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. You will soon be conducted to His heavenly fold. There all his sheep will be gathered together, and will be placed out of the reach of danger. They will be richly supplied with every good thing, and will spend a blessed eternity with their heavenly Shepherd.

I close with the statements by the inspired apostles regarding God's little flock.In Acts 20:28-30 Paul said to the Elders of church in Ephesus, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has made you Overseers to shepherd the hurch of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know that after my departuere 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 disciples after themselves.” The ravenous wolves who would attack God's sheep have always been unsound religious preachers and teachers. In the present day they continue to attack the God's little flock.

In I Peter 5:1-4 the apostle had this to say about God's flock: “The Elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow Elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed; shepherd the the flock of God which is among you, serving as Overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will not fade away. Christ is the Chief Shepherd, and Elders or Overseers are the under shepherds. These men are the highest officers in the church and are properly called shepherds. They are the guardians of the flock and guardians of the faith once delivered to the saints. Many churches allow unsound preachers and teachers to be the guardians of the flock.

I close with Peter's words to God's flock in I Peter 2:24,25: "Christ Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree that we having died to sins might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” So called “miracle working preachers” use the phrase, “by whose stripes you were healed,” to wrongly teach that Christ died to heal our physical sickness and diseases. The stripes that were put on Christ's back gave us the spiritual healing of our souls. Peter referred this phrase to the time before we were Christians, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. The healing we have received was the forgiveness of all past sins of our life when we were like sheep going astray, and by faith in God and Christ, repentance and baptism we returned to God the Shepherd of our souls. Jesus did not die to heal all our physical diseases. Rather He died to raise people from a sinful condition of being dead in sins and trespasses.*

* Severl ideas in the message came from a message preached by J.P. Durbin, a 19th century preacher.
---Lonnie Branam

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