Hey all my UR pals,
16 "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
Sigh ... it's always the questions for which many seem too ill-equipped to ask that remain to be still answered. So, let me offer some ideas which might help.
We are living in a day and hour when the door of the sheepfold remains open because it stands for repentance and forgiveness of sins through our Lord's suffering and death. As such, the Lord said: "I am the door".
John the Baptist was the first servant of God alluding to this truth in his preaching and his message made John the 'doorkeeper' who showed the sheep the correct entrance into the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist was the preparer of the way; whose word put the axe at the root of the tree of the Old Covenant. John's task was "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared", (Luke 1:17). Later, (after John's preaching), Jesus "made purification for sins" and so opened the door to the sheepfold.
So there is a preparation. The message of John creates a new disposition or will to obey, and it makes man fit to enter into the Kingdom of God. The message of Jesus, however, not only makes the disobedient willing but also gives them the ability to obey and to enter, because they are set free from the powers of darkness who prevented them from entering. Therefore, Jesus declared: 'If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you", (Matt 12:28). In this way the disobedient 'lost sheep of the house of Israel' were able to enter. This placed them in a near identical situation to the little children whose parents took to Jesus and about whom He said: "For to such (consecrated and protected children) belongs the Kingdom of heaven" (Matt 19:14). Later, Paul fulfilled Jesus' words: "And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16).
In our days there still are followers of the teachings of John the Baptist. They preach repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, but that is where they stop. Those who accept this message enter into the Kingdom of God, because the perfect sacrifice has been made and forgiveness of sins is accepted in faith. Repentance includes a turning away from the powers of darkness.
The parable of the sheepfold mentions the voice of the shepherd Himself. So there is a voice, or teachings of Jesus which is "much more excellent"; although it fits in with what John taught. There is a salvation which was declared at first (for the first time) by the Lord, of which "God bore witness by signs and wonders and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will" (Heb 2:3-4). There is a brotherhood through the forgiveness of sins which leads the sheep into the same fold. But simultaneously there is also a gospel of the Kingdom which creates a separation between the sheep in that one sheepfold.
That is the reason why Paul asked the disciples of John at Ephesus: "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" The apostle added: "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:1-7).
John's teachings led the erring sheep of the house of Israel back to the sheepfold. There they form the remnant chosen by grace. So in the sheepfold there is now a spiritual Israel from among Jews and Gentiles. But in the midst of these tribes there is the "royal priesthood" too, (1 Peter 2:9). They are anointed with the Holy Spirit and sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel (Rev 7:4). These are the Good Shepherd's 'own' sheep. He came to the sheepfold, "to lead many sons to glory", for the Kingdom of God reaches beyond the walls of the sheepfold, that is beyond the knowledge that sins are forgiven and that one has become a child of God.
The Good Shepherd brings his 'own sheep' out of the fold, and then He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know his voice (John 10:4). 'Knowing His voice' means accepting His words and His ways of thinking. Following Him means: use His methods, do the things He did and by expressing His teachings through acts.
It is not for nothing that we confess with Paul: "And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus". When the Lord added here that His sheep 'go in and out and find pasture', He was indicating that they are active in the heavenly places. This is where they receive their spiritual food and drink the water of life, that is where they are filled with the Holy Spirit and are kept by the Lord from the enemy, the thief and robber who always tries to kill and destroy them.
Going in means: entering into the rest of the sheepfold through the forgiveness of sins and the knowledge of being a child of God, entering the rest of the perfect sacrifice of Calvary, (Heb 4). The Lord said about this: "come that they may have life, and have it abundantly", (John 10:10). All sheep in the fold have life, but those who follow the Good Shepherd have it abundantly, "for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev 7:14).
In some of the other parables of Jesus we see the same differentiation. The Kingdom is compared with paradise; in it there are many plants and trees, but the trees of life have a prominent position in the garden. The trees of life are symbols of the sons of God, as the Tree of life symbolizes the Son of God. These trees are on the banks of the river of the waters of life which flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. So this parable shows us the infilling with the Spirit of God from the Father and from the Son (Rev 22:1). Another parable is that of the city of God and its temple. The 'city', the New Jerusalem, are those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb of God. But those who have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit and function in the heavenly places are the 'temple', the dwelling place of God in the spiritual world.