Lord God, heavenly Father, out of Your fatherly goodness You have been mindful of us poor, miserable sinners, and have given Your beloved Son to be our Shepherd, not only to nourish us by His Word, but also to defend us from sin, death, and the devil: We beseech You, grant us Your Holy Spirit, that, even as this Shepherd knows us and helps us in every affliction, we also may know Him, and, trusting in Him, seek help and comfort in Him, from our hearts obey His voice, and obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you, and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
It happens to just about every little kid. The child grabs onto the leg of one who he thinks is his mom or dad, but then he looks up and is terrified to see that it is not his parent, but rather he has hold of the leg of someone he doesn’t know so well. He then goes running to find his mom or dad. So also, when we begin to hear some religious teachings, we need to make sure that it is not the voice of a stranger that we are clinging to, but rather seek only the voice of our Good Shepherd.
I had a parallel experience as a college student. I was a student at Southwest State University, and I drove 30 minutes to Tracy, MN to attend the ELS church there. I knew it was a small town, so I figured that I would easily find the church. I found a Lutheran Church, I walked in thinking it was one of ours, and when I saw that it was a woman who was leading the service, I realized that this wasn’t the church of my Lutheran Fathers. I was able to find our synod’s Lutheran Church shortly thereafter. There I enjoyed a church that faithfully proclaimed the full counsel of God’s Word, in fact, I was there served by a faithful servant of the Word, and a beloved man of our Synod, who just died and entered His rest yesterday, Norman Madson. There, by the grace of God, I heard the voice of my Good Shepherd in its truth and purity.
Jesus told His disciples to go out and teach the disciples of all nations to observe all things that He had commanded them. When the Word of God is proclaimed, that is the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking. The truth of Holy Scripture is the Voice of the Good Shepherd.
Human nature, however, does not heed the voice of the Shepherd. Paul speaks about men not enduring sound doctrine, but instead, “according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers” (2 Tim 4:3). In the Old Testament the Jews did not heed the voice of God as it was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah spoke against the sin of the people, and God’s judgment that was coming upon them through the hand of the Babylonians. But the people instead listened to the false prophets who said, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace.
So it is today, many will not listen to the voice of the Shepherd. Many mainline churches will not preach about sin, because they’d rather ignore the truth about God’s just character and the judgment He will mete out against unbelievers. They don’t like the idea that there is a hell and many are going there, and so instead they will listen to that false voice that says “peace, peace,” when there is no peace.
Many will create a Christ according to the image of their own desires and there are plenty who will proclaim a false Christ, a Christ who does not save from sin, but one who instead will give you riches, or who comes to free the oppressed and bring equity to all, maybe one who desires to bring about socialism, or the generic patriotic American god.
The false voices are tempting to us. The lying voice that says, “God’s forgiveness is a license for me to keep on sinning.” The lying voice that says, “I’m not totally fallen; I can contribute my part for my salvation.”
There is also the false voice that says, “we can tolerate a little false doctrine, that’s not a big deal.” The false voice that says, “the Synod’s doctrine of fellowship is silly. It doesn’t matter what church we listen to or what preacher we listen to, or what altar I commune at, they are all Christian.”
Yet, will we find false doctrine in the voice of our Good Shepherd? Does our Lord speak falsely? Does He contradict Himself and say that “this bread and wine really isn’t My body and blood?” Does He deny His words about Baptism having the power to save? Does He reject the Scripture and say that salvation you have some things on your end that you must do in order to obtain Jesus’ salvation. Does He say, “I was just kidding about that part of Scripture that says women should have authority over a man.” Ignore that part of Scripture.
No, the content of Christ’s voice is the truth of Scripture. There is no falsehood in His voice. Of course, there are different categories of those who speak falsely. There are the teachers who are Christians, but have some error in their teachings. Some have more error and some have less. And some of their errors are more dangerous than others, but error are a danger and are a threat to faith. But then there are heretics, who have teachings that put themselves outside the pale of Christianity, and to adopt their teachings would instantly destroy faith.
But when we find ourselves hearing a voice that does not teach the truth of Scripture, we must acknowledge that this is not the voice of the Shepherd, we ought to reject it and seek Christ’s voice. By the miracle of the Holy Spirit you have known His voice from childhood, for Scripture says, “from infancy have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Though we know it, we ought to grow in familiarity and intimate knowledge of His voice. It is good and important for us to grow in the knowledge of God’s grace, and better discern Christ’s voice from the multitude of voices in the world. So regularly hear His voice, continue to learn the Scripture and study it, that we may have a fuller knowledge of the counsel of God.
Thus knowing Christ’s voice, you may be better equipped to judge all teachings to Christ’s voice.
How precious is that Voice of Your Good Shepherd! It is the voice of Him who laid down His life for you to save you from the trouble we foolish and wayward sheep would go. Without a shepherd, we are certain prey of the ravenous wolf, the devil. But Christ laid down His life for sheep who love to wander. By His sacrifice He has delivered us from Satan’s fangs and from eternal death. And our Good Shepherd rose from the grave to shepherd you in His infinite love. By His grace He has brought you to into His fold, where you have forgiveness and life. And we need His voice to continually shepherd us through this life, through all the troubles of life, through the valley of shadow of death, and through the presence of the enemies and false voices all around us.
With His rod of the Law, He strikes you, preventing you from further wandering in sins and error’s ways. And with the staff of His gospel, He draws you to Himself, that you may find salvation and comfort in His love.
Our steadfastness to the voice of Christ is not our doing. But rather, it is God’s working in you. He has given you faith that you may know His Word. And we look to Him to sustain us in faith and increase in our hearts a love for His heavenly voice. He holds us in the palm of His strong hands. With His voice He keeps us safe from every false doctrine, and assures us that we are in His flock, that He is our Good Shepherd, and that He is with us and shall bring us to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.