“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice" (John 10:1-5, NIV).
“He calls his own sheep by name…” “He” who calls is the Good Shepherd, as we read in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd…”
He is Faithful. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The one who calls you is faithful…”
We also read in Deut.7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deut. 32:4 adds, “A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
He is also Holy, as we read in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’"
God’s Word extols this essential attribute of God.
We read in Exodus 15:11, “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you -- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Also in 1 Sam. 2:2, “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you…”
Consider Psalm 99:9, “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.” And we read in Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
However, we tend to focus so much on the verse which says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom. 10:13, also Acts 2:21). But the Good Shepherd, Faithful and Holy calls. And since the time of Adam, it was the Lord who has been calling his own sheep.
We read in Genesis 3:9, “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’"
When Abraham was about to offer his son, we read in Genesis 22:11-12, “… the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’"
Moses was also called by God. We read in Exodus 3:4-6, “…God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”
The Lord God called “his own sheep by name” not only in the Old Testament time. During the time of Christ, He called twelve men to become His apostles. After His resurrection, He called Saul (later named Paul) and also Ananias (Acts 9:1-16, especially verses 4 & 10).
Will He still call during our time? Why? How will He do it?
Christ said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). He was calling, then, not only the people in His time.
Peter told the Jews in Acts 2:38-39, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- FOR ALL WHOM THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL."
He will call not only the Jews, but also the people “who are far off” – even the non-Jews. As we also read in Romans 9:23-24, “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory -- even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” We also read in 1 Cor. 1:24, “…to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks…” (also Romans 1:5.)
And they are called, so that they “may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). They are called, so that they may “inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
They are called “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). They are called “to his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10). They are called “into his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12).
They are called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12).
They are called “to peace” (Col. 3:15; 1 Cor. 7:15).
They are called “to one hope” (Eph. 4:4; 1:18).
They are called “to be free” (Gal. 5:13).
They are called “to belong to Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:6) – “into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:9).
They are called “to be holy” (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Tim. 1:9).
And they “whom the Lord our God will call,” as we read in Acts 2:38-39, ”will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
During the return of the King of kings, they will also be with Him. We read in Revelation 17:14, “They (the leaders in this world) will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings -- and with him will be HIS CALLED, chosen and faithful followers.”
But are they called and chosen because of any good thing they have done?
Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
God calls “by His own glory and goodness.” Paul articulated it in 2 Tim. 1:8-9, “…But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”
They are called not because of any good thing, or even godly intention in their hearts, but because of God’s “own purpose and grace” – “by His own glory and goodness.”
God calls us not because we are calling to Him. We could not call upon God, unless He first called us to believe in Him (Compare with Romans 10;14-20).
But in our time, how does He call His own sheep?
Paul wrote God’s people in Thessalonica:
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:13-14).
Through the preaching of the gospel, through God’s Word – the Good Shepherd, who is Faithful and Holy, is calling His own sheep today.
Through His Word, do we also hear and recognize His Voice calling us “out of darkness into His wonderful light? Do we hear Him calling us “into His kingdom and Glory”? Do we hear Him calling us “to live in peace”? Do we hear Him calling us “to a holy life”? Do we hear Him calling us to inherit a blessing, so we can also bless others? Do we hear Him calling us to “follow in His steps” – suffering for doing good and endure it?
Is He calling us to enjoy His fellowship as our Savior and King?
If we belong to His own sheep, we will recognize His Voice and we will follow Him.
PRAYER: Our Faithful and Holy God – the Good Shepherd – who called us into Your Glorious Fellowship – we thank You so much for Your Grace and Love. Truly, we cannot fathom the wonderful favors You have prepared and called us into. What a great privilege to receive Your calling! In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.