In the beginning of my new life as an adopted child of God, which began in March of 2003, I assumed that anyone who said that he or she was a Christian or who regularly attended church was actually a Christian. Given this belief, I struggled to understand why most Christians didn’t behave in ways that were consistent with what I was reading in the Bible, and I didn’t understand why most Christians had no interest in studying scripture or doctrine. Even more baffling was their lack of interest in sharing fellowship with my wife and me or with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Nevertheless, my wife Kathleen and I tried to fit in with church life, but we always seemed to feel like aliens in a strange land.
Initially, I assumed that we must have some type of problem that needed to be remedied before we could fit in. Perhaps we just didn’t know enough about the Bible, or perhaps we just didn’t know the proper way to participate in church activities. Maybe God was preventing us from being welcomed, because we had sin and we needed to repent. After several years of intense Bible study, repentance for known sin, and exploration of church history, we began to suspect that the problem was not our defficiencies. Instead, we began to realize that we were coming face to face with the core problem that is found in most church buildings in America today.
Some who read the remainder of this article will be shocked by what I say and will have trouble believing my report. Others I am sure will be able to confirm what I am saying as being true based on their own experiences. If you are shocked or disbelieving, then I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to assist you in determining the truthfulness of my assessment. I did not come to these realizations overnight. My perceptions and conclusions were formed slowly in conjunction with my study of the Holy Bible. Without God’s inerrant Word to guide me and to be my reference, my observations and conclusions would be nothing more than opinion. But with God as my witness, I hope you will see that I am able to go far beyond personal opinion. I expect that God will confirm my testimony as true and you will begin to see things about the Church and Christians that have been hidden from you by Satan.
Ezekiel 36 (ESV)
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
The preceding verse is one of the Old Testament prophecies that describes the new covenant that would be established by Jesus. Jesus satisfied God’s perfect justice by becoming a sinless sacrifice. His death on a cross paid the debt of sinners past, present and future. His death, and resurrection 3 days later, established the possibility of sinners being given a regenerated heart. He gives a new heart to those He adopts into His kingdom Family and puts His spirit within them. In the New covenant, we repent and turn from our sinful ways, and focus on Jesus as Lord of our lives. This is what Jesus was speaking about when He spoke to the Jewish ruler named Nicodemus about being born from above. A person whose heart has been regenerated by God will have been given the Holy Spirit and is born again.
John 3 (ESV)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”
A person whose heart has been regenerated by God will have repented for his or her sins and will believe in Jesus. Believing in Jesus is more than an intellectual belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God the Father. It means to actually believe everything He said. A person who “believes Jesus” will faithfully do all He commanded us to do in the Bible without grumbling. His followers will have an intense desire to be conformed to His nature and character, and will show their love through ongoing repentance.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
After years of struggling to understand what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be a member of the spiritual Body of Christ, my wife and I have concluded that the majority of people who say they are Christians are not actually Christians. Somewhere along the way, they have decided that they were Christians, but God had not regenerated their hearts. As a result, we experienced considerable frustration and pain from trying to treat people as if they were Christians when they were not. We kept thinking that they must be sheep, but we continually found that there was little if any credible evidence that pointed to their being God’s adopted children and being in His flock.
John 10 (ESV)
24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
It seems that very few people who gather in church buildings are able to recognize the voice of Jesus. It also appears that most of them behave like goats. In other words, they have the typical characteristics of unsaved sinners. We were even more troubled when we began to realize that a large number of pastors also qualify as goats. Goats like to go to church and like to practice churchianity, but they are not known by Jesus as His sheep.
Matthew 25 (ESV)
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” … 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Matthew 7 (ESV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The existence of goats in the church is not a new revelation, since Jesus anticipated this and told us how He would resolve the situation when He returned in glory. He would be the final judge and He would separate the true Christians from the false professors. The new realization for us was that the goats significantly out-number the sheep. Even though this was a distressing thought, it was not our most troubling realization. We were more troubled by the character and allegiance of pastors and elders. Initially, the thoughts were almost unspeakable, but over time, as evidence continued to mount, it became clear that many pastors and many church elders are not just unsaved goats, but are in-fact wolves! Goats are just sinners, and will delight in butting heads with one another and with sheep when they can find them. However, a wolf is intent on neutralizing and destroying the sheep.
Matthew 7 (ESV)
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
Acts 2 (ESV)
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
The two preceding verses confirm my experiences in church buildings. We have encountered pastors who were goats, and others who were wolves in sheep’s clothing. It is a chilling realization to begin to comprehend that a man who stands in the pulpit before you on Sunday morning is not a child of God. Who would want to believe such a thing? We have seen it for ourselves and have been horrified by the sight. These are men who should protect, nurture, equip, and love the sheep, but they fail to do this on every count. Of course, they are warm and friendly, have a hearty handshake, know the Bible backwards and forwards, and can pray magnificent prayers. Despite their outward skills, they are incapable of feeding sheep because they actually hate the sheep. They hate the sheep, because the sheep want the elders and pastors to be submitted to Christ as head of the church. The sheep expect their elders and pastors to be conformed to Christ, and they desire to be loved by their elders and pastors. It is not possible for goats or wolves to do any of these things, because they are of the world and thus still belong to Satan.
John 15 (ESV)
19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
Luke 21 (ESV)
17 and you will be hated by all because of My name.
Luke 6 (ESV)
22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
1 John 3 (ESV)
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
I used to think that there was something wrong with me when I would return home from church feeling empty and spiritually hungry. Was I an insincere Christian or was I just being ungrateful? I found it so strange to come home from church and immediately turn on my computer and begin to watch certain pastors and Bible teachers so that I could be fed. I used to make excuses for my local church by telling myself that every pastor has different gifts. I used to tell myself that as long as they are teaching scripture then it is OK. Who was I to expect that I must be fed when I attended Sunday morning services? Who was I to judge a pastor’s ability to feed the flock? Isn’t a pastor God’s anointed and hasn’t he been positioned by God to pastor me? How could I be so ungrateful?
I wrestled with these kinds of questions in various ways for a long time. I spent time in various churches and at other times I worshipped at home with my wife. Regardless of where I was worshipping, I wanted more of God and I wanted fellowship with other Christians who love Jesus and were willing to do all that He said His brothers and sisters should do. I longed to associate with other sheep who have been broken by God to the point of humility and obedience. I wanted fellowship with those who were willing to give everything for the Kingdom of God. I was looking for so much more than I could find in any of my local church buildings.
I use the term ”church building” instead of the word “Church” to refer to the physical structures that provide a social or cultural home for goats and wolves. The towns, villages, and cities of America are filled with lovely church buildings, but few function as homes for sheep. True believers and true Christ followers will have difficulty tolerating life in the typical church building, because the goats and wolves worship another God. They do not worship the Christ of scripture, but another Christ who is more than willing to be conformed to meet the fleshly desires of those who manage and occupy the buildings. Much more will be said about the worship of a false Jesus in future articles.
The real Church is not a physical building with a steeple, rather the real church consists of people whose lives have been broken by God and whose hearts have been regenerated by God. The Church is present within each person who has been given a new heart through repentance.
1 Corinthians 3 (ESV)
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 6 (ESV)
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
My wife and I have been crying out for years for help with understanding the state of God’s true Church. Fortunately, He has been answering our prayers. We have come to see that the true Church is vibrant and alive. She is a radiant bride that is growing more and more worthy of being in holy union with the Lord Christ Jesus. The problem is that the Bride of Christ does not include all the people who participate in the activities that take place in church buildings. Actually, there are few sheep in the typical church building. Most sheep struggle with participating in the social game called church, and many have left the church buildings to go in search of other true believers. It is a central mission of this blog to encourage, feed, and connect sheep who want to share in true Christian fellowship.
It is important to consider Paul’s warning about wolves among the sheep. His advice is to put them out of the church. But what does a person do when the wolves occupy the pulpit and the leadership positions of a local church building? What are the sheep to do when their faith is being systematically beaten down by the activity of the wolves and the goats who worship another Jesus? What does one do when every attempt to enrich the life of the church through ministry is met with constant resistance? What is one to do when the goats and wolves are happy with everything in the church just the way it is, and they shun you because you want to submit your entire life to God’s Lordship and you dare to ask others to do the same?
If any portion of our struggle resonates with you, then you have begun to understand Christian loneliness. It is very lonely to be a Christian with a love for other brothers and sisters in Christ and to have a longing for true Christian fellowship, while living in physical isolation from true spiritual brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 10 (ESV)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Given the fact that there are many goats and wolves in church buildings, and given the fact that we are called to have fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, then how do we know who we can trust? How are we to worship God within church buildings where the majority of people do not fear God, respect His righteousness, or honor His holiness? How are we to function in church buildings that are occupied by goats and wolves?
Matthew 10 (ESV)
16 Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
How can we be as wise as serpents? Our wisdom lies in our willingness to discern the heart of those who profess being Christians. It is unwise to trust others in church buildings without discerning the heart. We begin with a simple fact. The mouth reveals much about what is in the heart.
Luke 6 (ESV)
45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 12 (ESV)
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 16 (ESV)
15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
Mark 7 (ESV)
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
Matt 12 (ESV)
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matt 15 (ESV)
18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
Matt 15 (ESV)
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
The words that people speak provide evidence about the condition of their hearts. Thus, it is important to listen closely to all that people say and to also attend to the things they never say even when asked. Trying to get a goat to engage in an extended conversation about the Bible or his love for Jesus is usually impossible. They can fake it for a short time, but they will try to change the subject before the conversation gets too deep or too intimate.
It is a common belief in church buildings that are mostly filled with goats and are run by wolves, that we cannot know the heart of another person. In fact, some pastors teach that it is actually a sin to try to know the heart of another. They teach that only God can have this knowledge. This false teaching contains a piece of the truth, but the truth has been twisted with lies in such a way to give Satan a stronghold in the church. This false Christian doctrine is intended to deter people from identifying the goats and the wolves. The truth is that we can have knowledge of the heart of others despite Satan’s contrary opinion.
The beginning point of examining our ability to know the heart needs to focus on God’s perfect knowledge. He most certainly knows the heart of all people.
Psalm 44 (ESV)
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Acts 15 (ESV)
8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us,
Only God has perfect knowledge of the condition of a person’s heart. Only God absolutely knows whether a person has been born of the Spirit and only God knows how He will judge a person at the time of death. However, this does not prevent the possibility of human beings having partial knowledge of their own hearts and the hearts of others. Just because God is 100% holy, this does not mean that we cannot be 50% holy. Just because God possesses 100% knowledge of the condition of a person’s heart, this does not mean that we are prevented from knowing 50% of what is in the heart of another person, especially when a person voluntarily reveals what is hidden within his or her heart through the mouth.
All true Christians have the Holy Spirit to comfort them, convict them of sin, and to lead them into truth. The Holy Spirit helps us understand and make discernments about the hearts of people we encounter. He can reveal truth to us about those who say that they are following Jesus. Of course, none of us can perfectly perceive the hearts of others. Our perceptions and our ability to listen to the Holy Spirit are clouded and distorted by the unknown sin that still resides in us and by the lies that we were taught to believe by Satan the master of deception. However, this does not mean that we are to avoid exercising discernment.
In most church buildings where goats and wolves occupy leadership positions, they discourage the members of the congregation Christians from judging or exercising discernment, because they might be wrong, they might break the “unity,” or they might expose one or more leaders as being a goat or a wolf. People are slyly taught to have a Fear of discernment and to doubt the possibility of being able to accurately judge situations in the church. This is taught as if these were biblical doctrines. The effect of such teaching diminishes respect for the Holy Spirit and portrays the Holy Spirit as not having the power to reveal truth.
Judgment and discernment through the Holy Spirit are discouraged, because goats and wolves do not want to be discovered and challenged. Goats and wolves cannot practice discernment, because they do not have the Holy Spirit and they will inevitably be wrong. Attempting to discern anything without the Holy Spirit will be nothing more than an intellectual exercise in futility. The human intellect has incredible power to ascertain truth regarding worldly matters, but it is helpless when it comes to discerning matters of the Spirit.
People with regenerated hearts are filled by the Holy Spirit, and have been equipped by God to be discerning. We should not focus our attention on the question, “What if our discernments are wrong?” Rather, the more important question is, “What if our discernments are right?”
What would be the consequence of rightly discerning the heart of others?
First of all, we would know who to trust. A sheep should never trust the intimate details of his or her inner life to a goat or a wolf. This would be foolishness. However, to share the inner reality of our soul with a brother or sister sheep can sanctify us and edify the whole Body of Christ.
When we share the bare truth of who we are and where we struggle, we become vulnerable, which is another way of saying that we humble ourselves before others. Vulnerability and humility are necessary conditions for building up the Body of Christ. Vulnerability and humility are the first steps that we take toward submitting to others. If I share my heart and others see in me places where sin still resides, and my brothers and sisters in Christ share their perceptions with me, then I have an opportunity to repent and become more holy as Jesus is Holy.
If no one shares their perceptions with me, because they are trying to be polite or are trying to protect a manmade unity by avoiding potential conflict, then I am denied the opportunity to grow in Christ and to grow in faith. This is not to say that sanctification is stopped, but it is seriously inhibited. The movement of a Christian should be constantly propelled in the direction of greater and greater closeness with God. Greater closeness means greater trust in God.
The process of moving closer to God is a process of becoming more holy. This positive movement will stagnate when we avoid submitting the truth of our lives to our brother and sister sheep. We systematically increase our trust as we become more holy. We become more holy through submission and repentance. Will our sharing and submission be perfect? Probably not, but over time, with God’s help and with practice, we will all grow in the ability to share our hearts and in our ability to submit to one another.
In the typical church building today, there will be no attention given to the process of how we can communicate with one another in love. There will also be an unwritten standard of conduct that discourages any type of intimacy or vulnerability. When sheep attempt to share their concerns about the purity of the Gospel that is preached, attempt to raise concerns about individuals and their sin, or to even speak honestly about themselves, the goats and wolves will always be the first to accuse the sheep of not communicating their message in love. They will object to the presentation of the message, because they don’t want to have to deal with the content. They will try to distract the messenger and to destroy his or her confidence, because they don’t want to hear the message. If a person doesn’t want to hear something, then one easy way to avoid the message is to attack the deliverer of the message by accusing him or her of being unloving, unkind, and judgmental. The second way to attack sheep, who are sharing their concerns about the local church, is to insinuate that the person is a baby Christian who needs to mature. The third way is to attack their knowledge of scripture by teaching twisted doctrines as a way of building up uncertainty in the minds and hearts of the sheep.
Goats and wolves love to point to Matthew 7:1 as their proof text for not judging, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” However, when this scripture is placed into context of chapters 6 and 7, it does not prohibit judgment, rather it tells us how to prepare ourselves to judge appropriately. When Matthew 7:1 is placed into the greater context of 1 John, 1 Peter, James, and Romans 12 it becomes very clear that judgment and discernment are required of Christians. Based on Matthew 7, we are to pursue our own sanctification, which means removing the log from our own eye, before attempting to help a brother or sister to remove the speck of dust that is in his or her eye. Removing logs or planks from our own eyes is not an optional activity; it is an essential part of life for the sheep of Jesus. As such, we are expected to help one another with this process so that we can help one another become more holy as Christ Jesus is holy.
Trust should be a real concern for all true Christians, because of the high level of distrust that exists in most church buildings in America. As true believers, we must learn to trust one another. This is something that we will need to learn step by step, because this is rarely taught in church buildings. Sometimes we may fall short, because we are learning a new skill, but this does not mean that we should stop trying to trust one another and to become trustworthy. The goal, as I see it, is not to try and get others to trust us, rather, it is to become trustworthy through our own sanctification.
The trust level among true members of the body of Christ will grow as each of us becomes more willing to submit to one another and to reveal the places where we are imperfect. Imperfection is not a sin. Refusing to repent and rejecting counsel for our sins is a sin. Having imperfect knowledge of scripture is not a sin, but refusing to be taught by others who have learned things from scripture that we have not yet learned is rebellion against God and reveals our need for sanctification.
Submission between brothers and sisters in Christ may not always be easy. It may not always be clean and pretty, because none of us are perfect. We are all works in process. We are all being sanctified and God has His hand on each of us as He prunes and refines us. I am laying out these statements, not as an expert, but as a sheep who has spent time with many goats and wolves. It is very painful to sit in a church building filled with goats and wolves, and to not have one person (other than my wife) with whom I can share my struggles and my faith. Thank God that I have Kathleen!
I am also very thankful for the few sheep that God has brought in to our lives. It is a true blessing to share fellowship with other sheep and to share God’s love with His other children. If you are a sheep who longs for fellowship with other sheep, then pray that God will bring you together with other members of His family. Please don’t settle for living among a flock of goats who are shepherded by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
I want to make one last comment about sitting under the teaching of wolves. They will often teach the Bible in such a way that it will never threaten anyone in the church building. As a result, no one will be exhorted to be conformed to Christ. If they apply scriptures to life, it will be done with such a low bar that any goat can easily jump over it. The danger for a sheep is that over time he or she will start acting like a goat. We might like to hold on to a fantasy that we, as sheep, are providing a positive influence for the goats, but that is not how it works. Goats do not become sheep by watching sheep and refining their behavior. Goats can only become sheep when God gives them a new heart. Goats can become sheep through being exposed to the power of the true Gospel of Jesus. Wolves are incapable of preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. They can imitate the preaching of the Gospel, but it will not have power. Powerful life transforming preaching is not a function of creative presentations, talking loudly, waving one’s arms, or showing sentimental video clips. Powerful preaching comes from a heart broken by God for the Gospel of Jesus. A wolf’s heart is not broken for Jesus, because it still belongs to Satan. A wolf has nothing to offer a sheep. Unless a wolf’s heart is regenerated, he will never do anything for a sheep other than to keep the sheep confused about biblical truth and keep them starved for fellowship.
Satan delights in seeing confused and starving sheep. He delights in keeping them from maturing and serving God. He is thrilled when the sheep obediently obey wolves and serve the agenda of Satan. A sheep should never trust a wolf no matter how much of a nice guy he appears to be. We are only to Trust God and His children.
We develop trust for God and His other children when we take time to walk beside our spiritual brothers and sisters as we navigate the twists and turns of life together. We cannot command ourselves to trust God or anyone else, instead, we can only repent for our sins and do what Jesus commands us to do in scripture. We grow in trust as God grows us up in His character. Jesus had 100% trust in His Heavenly Father and his Trust enabled Him to go to the cross with confidence. Jesus understood that He was one with the father, and that He is in us and we are in Him. Trust develops in the sheep pen as he takes care of us. Love can be shared between the sheep, because we can all rest in the peace and security that the true Shepherd continually gives to His sheep.
John 17 (ESV)
7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The portion of the High Priestly Prayer shown above was spoken by Jesus on the evening before His crucifixion. He was praying for His disciples and for us, and continues to pray for us today. He desires that we be in fellowship with Him and with His other sheep. We cannot have true Christian fellowship with goats or wolves. True Christian fellowship springs from a regenerated heart and is centered on Jesus. Nothing else qualifies for Christian fellowship. People can have worldly fellowship through any of a thousand points of mutual interest, but it will not be Christian fellowship even if it involves only Christians. True Christian fellowship depends on Jesus and will teach us to trust God and the other sheep in His flock.
I pray that everyone who reads this article will yield his or her life to the full authority and control of Jesus and will seek true Christian fellowship with His other sheep. For this purpose I invite you to pray that God will continue to refine the lives of all true sheep, so that we may be more pleasing to Him and better able to serve His Kingdom purposes.
Thank you for your perfect justice that required atonement for our sins.
Thank you for sending Jesus to atone for me and your other sheep.
Thank you for saving me from hell and giving me eternal life.
Teach me to identify my spiritual brothers and sisters that you have given into the hand of Jesus.
Teach me to become vulnerable and to share my heart with them.
Prune the selfishness from my soul so that I can hear your Holy Spirit.
Refine my heart so that I can lovingly exercise discernment.
Shape my character so that I can become trustworthy.
Conform my nature, so that my life will honor you.