What about Jesus' words in John 10:26 to unbelieving Jews? He said, "But ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep ...." Note carefully what Jesus didn't say. He didn't say that they weren't his sheep because they didn't believe. It was the other way around. Their unbelief only demonstrated the fact that they weren't his sheep.
In Matthew 10, Jesus instructed his disciples as he prepared to send them out to minister. In verses 5 and 6, he began by saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
In verse 16, he warned them, "Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." At least some of the Jews were "wolves"! It should be obvious that "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" didn't include all Jews.
Understanding the truth concerning "his sheep" makes a great difference in our understanding of the things of God. Sheep are sheep. Goats are goats. Wolves are wolves. Goats don't become sheep, nor sheep, goats. They're different spiritual kinds. Although they're often difficult to distinguish, time and circumstance make the different kinds manifest.
A "lost" sheep is still a sheep. The "finding" and "saving" of a lost sheep is a matter of time and the outworking of God's sovereign plan. The gospel doesn't gather goats and magically make sheep out of them.
Consider Jesus' parable in Luke 15:3-7. He spoke of a man who had 100 sheep, lost one, left the 99 and went after the lost one. The rescue of the lost sheep by the shepherd is compared with a sinner who repents.
One key is this: the man had 100 sheep. Jesus didn't say that he had 99 and wanted one more, so he went out hunting for a wandering sheep to add to his flock so he'd have 100. That, however, is how a lot of people see this story. They think of all sinners as lost sheep.
The lost sheep in this story, although he was lost and wandering, already belonged to the shepherd! He didn't know it but the shepherd did! He didn't seek the shepherd---the shepherd sought him. After finding him the shepherd referred to him as "my sheep which was lost" (verse 6).
Think about it! This is glorious truth! It is a picture not only of Christ's
mission while on earth, but also of his ministry by the anointing down
through the church age. Those who are truly converted to Christ were sheep
long before they heard the gospel. In fact, God knew them before the
foundation of the world! 2 Timothy 1:9-10. Ephesians 1:3-4. I Peter 1:2.
Romans 8:28-29. Acts 15:18
"Despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him."
It's very easy to quench the Spirit; we do it by despising the chastening of the Lord, by fainting when we're rebuked by Him. If we've only a shallow experience of sanctification, we mistake the shadow for the reality, and when the Spirit of God begins to check, we say---oh, that must be the devil.
Never quench the Spirit, and let's not despise Him when He says to us---"Don't be blind on this point any more; you're not where you thought you were. Up to now, I haven't been able to reveal it to you, but I'm revealing it now." When the Lord chastens us like that, let's let Him have His way. Let Him relate us rightly to God.
"Nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him." We get into sulks with God and say---"Oh, well, I can't help it; I did pray and things didn't turn out right, and I'm gonna give it all up." Think what would happen if we talked like this in any other domain of life!
Are we prepared to let God grip us by His power and do a work in us that's worthy of Himself? Sanctification's not our idea of what we want God to do for us; sanctification's God's idea of what He wants to do for us, and He has to get us into the attitude of mind and spirit where at any cost we'll let Him sanctify is wholly.
"I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision."
If we lose the vision, we alone are responsible, and the way we lose the vision is by spiritual leakage. If we don't run our belief about God into practical issues, it's all up with the vision God has given. The only way to be obedient to the heavenly vision is to give our best for His glory, and this can only be done by continually and resolutely recalling the vision. The test is the sixty seconds of every minute, and the sixty minutes of every hour, not our times of prayer and devotional meetings.
"Though it tarry, let's wait for it." We can't attain to a vision, we must live in the inspiration of it until it accomplishes itself. We get so practical that we forget the vision. At the beginning we saw it but didn't wait for it; we rushed off into practical work, and when the vision was fulfilled, we didn't see it. Waiting for the vision that tarries is the test of our loyalty to God. It's at the peril of our soul's welfare that we get caught up in practical work and miss the fulfilment of the vision.
Let's watch God's cyclones. The only way God sows His saints is by His whirlwind. Are we going to prove an empty pod? It'll depend on whether or not we're actually living in the light of what we've seen. Let's let God fling us out, and let's not go until He does. If we select our own spot, we'll prove an empty pod. If God sows us, we'll bring forth fruit. It's essential to practise the walk of the feet in the light of the vision.