Mark 6:34 says: “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes that were lost as sheep without a shepherd. To us a Christians, Jesus is the great and loving shepherd who looks after and protects His flock from the threat of sin and darkness that encompasses those without Him.
Jesus also is the door of the sheepfold (John 10:7). It is through Him that we may enter into a right relationship with God and through Him we “will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9).” It is through Christ that we may be saved and, rightly so, He will also look after us and care for us as a shepherd cares for His flock of sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:10.” This is how Jesus is the door of the sheepfold through which we may enter into salvation and a right relationship with God, because He gave His life for us. It is through His death on the cross that we may be forgiven of our sins and enter a relationship with God under Jesus’ protection in the fold of the church.
The sheep fold spoken of in John 10 is an illustration of the Church. Acts 2:47 says “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” So the question might arise- can one be saved and not be a member of the church? Well as we see from John 10, when we are saved from our sins through baptism, we enter through the door of the sheepfold into the fold and Acts tells us that Jesus adds us to the church.
This is the universal church we are added to at the time of baptism, which consists of all baptized believers, but what of the local church, do we really need to belong to one to be saved. This comes down to what we should want to do if we are true believers in Christ. How are we to serve God and live for Him, if we do not regularly assemble to worship Him and work to further His cause in the world?
God designed the local church as the means whereby we may serve God in this life and as a way that we may come together to strengthen and encourage one another to stay on the pathway of righteousness, so that we may be saved at the last day. Who are we to say that we don’t need what God has ordained for us?
The local Church, with Jesus as its only head, is the true sheepfold and we cannot benefit from the loving care of our good shepherd without it. In a sense, it is through the local Church that we are kept in the fold and can work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12). How could we not want to belong to something that was set up by God and established by Jesus (Matthew 16:18) and that will enable us with the help of others to reach the goal of heaven in the after while.
We really cannot do this on our own, but need others to help and encourage us along the way, not to mention the need to worship God in the way He has prescribed (see “One True Church” under worship category). We need each other so that we may all go to heaven together, although we cannot cannot be saved for others, we can help each other along the way, as I have said.
This is the way God designed for our lives in Christ to be and we should not think so highly of ourselves that we are willing to do without what God has prescribed. If we are to do His will in this life, we need to belong to a local congregation and take advantage of the loving care of Jesus, our Loving Shepherd as God intends. This is right and just and required, since God has provided it and intends for us to serve Him in this way.
May God bless and keep you until next time.