Summary: The true church of Christ will be blessed by Christ and be a blessing to the world, because it will reflect the spirit of Christ to the world.
THE TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST
A. Our text may seem rather unusual for our title, because it is in the Old Testament and is about sheep and shepherds.
B. The promises of the text are fulfilled in Christ, but not so much Christ as he walked the earth, but Christ as he indwells his body, which still walks the earth (vv. 23-24)
C. The true New Testament church is both a blessing and is blessed (v. 26).
I. THE BLESSINGS
A. Peace (v. 25; Eph 2:11-22)
B. Freedom (vv. 11-16; John 8:31-34)
C. Security (v. 28; John 10:22-30)
D. Fruitfulness (v. 29; Col 1:3-6)
[These blessings are poured out on the true church of Christ, which is a blessing to the world because it reflects the spirit of Christ. If it does not reflect this spirit, it has no claim to be the true New Testament church, regardless of how rigidly it may adhere to doctrine.]
II. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST REVEALED
A. The spirit of compassion (vv. 1-4; Jude 17-23; 1 Thess 5:14)
B. The spirit of mission (vv. 5-16; John 10:16; 1 Thess 1:8)
C. The spirit of servanthood (vv. 17-24; Matt 23:1-12; 20:20-28)
[This all adds up to one thing: The true church of Christ cares about people—all people, including those with problems. If a church does not have a well-worn path to its doors, does this mean that it does not care about people?]
III. SOME PEOPLE DON’T WANT THE BLESSINGS OFFERED
A. Some are not in the market for a savior, because they have found one or they don’t want one.
B. Some are not in the market for a church, because they have one or don’t want one.
C. Some have been turned off to all religion by the religious quacks and charlatans who prey upon the gullible.
[After considering these qualifiers, we still need to ask ourselves: Do we really care about people with problems or are we seeking to raid other sheepfolds in an effort to capture their prize-winning sheep?]
IV. POINTS TO PONDER
A. Have we ever been accused of violating the traditions of our spiritual ancestors?—Jesus was! (Matt 15:1-3).
B. Have we ever been accused of being soft on sin and friends of sinners?—Jesus was! (Lk 7:33-35).
C. Have we ever been accused of putting people before rules?—Jesus was! (John 9:1-16).
A. When a congregation commits itself to be the true church of Christ, hurting souls find their way to its doors, just as hurting souls found their way to the feet of Jesus (Lk 7:36-50).
B. Some may be offended, as in this passage, but hear Jesus (Matt 15:12-14)