OSAS: Lost Sheep


#1

I’m playing the devil’s advocate here…

Who are the sheep in the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15)? They are Christians.

When one sheep (=Christian) leaves the flock, what does the Shepherd (=Christ) do? He goes “after the one which is lost until he finds it” (Lk 15:4).

When He finds it, what does He do? “he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” and takes the sheep home (Lk 15:5).

Thus, if we are the sheep, Christ will not let us be lost. Therefore, once we are part of the flock, Christ will never let us be forever lost. If we do stray (sin), He will find us, and He will not fail at doing so.

Likewise, we can compare this to John 11. Those who believe in Christ and die will live. Those who believe and live will not die. What is death here? Eternal spiritual death? No. Physical death? No, for many live and believe yet die. Death must be a temporal spiritual death. It is the lost sheep who died and will live, for Christ will find him, and it is those who remain in the flock who never died (or strayed) to begin with.

Any thoughts?


#2

I recently had a discussion with a Calvinist on this same topic in the following thread:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=218292&page=11

John 15 contradicts OSAS.

God bless,
Michael


#3

This is something that I posted in that thread:

Now let’s look at the Biblical evidence. First we have John 15:1-6, which has been cited often:

**1"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
3"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
6"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. **

Instead of imposing our own definitions based on our preconceived theological notions, why don’t we allow Christ to define His own terms. First of all, Calvinists want us to believe that when Christ says “every branch in Me”, he means “a person that is a member of My visible body (i.e. the Church) but that has not been spiritually united to Me.” Consequently, they make a distinction between being “in Christ” and being “in His visible body.” There are serious problems with this analysis. First of all, what does Jesus say “the Vine” represents? His visible body? No! He clearly states “I am the Vine.” In other words, the Vine represents the person of Christ. Branches are logically united to the vine and thus this metaphoric branch must be united to the person of Christ. That is the logical conclusion one draws without doing violence to the text. Otherwise, Jesus would not have referred to the person as a “branch,” since a branch – by definition – is an appendage of a plant (vine, tree, etc.).
Second of all, in every instance we find “in me” or a variant (i.e. “in him”, “in the Son”, etc.), it means a spiritual and salvific union with Christ.

1 John 2:24

24As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

1 John 2:28
28Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

1 John 3:24

24The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

See also John 6:56. Calvinists even admit that all the other uses of “in me” in John 15 (highlighted above in blue) refer to a spiritual and salvific union with Christ. So then why do they suddenly break away from the standard definition and use – by Christ and John - of “in Me” when it comes to John 15:2, making it the only exception of this established rule? Because they realize that it will contradict their theology.
The third problem is that the “false professor” arguments contradicts Jesus’s own words. False professors can fool Christians, but they can never fool Christ. The “branch” in question is not the one identifying himself as being “in Christ” or having spiritual union with Christ. It is Christ Himself who identifies this person as being “in Me.” Christ knows those who are His and I would highly doubt He would identify a false professor as being “in Him,” a phrase that He and the Bible always uses as a reference to those who are genuinely saved.
Fourth of all, lets take another look at John 15:6:

6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

The word “abide” - in Greek meno – means to remain, to stay, or to continue. bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/…06&version=kjv We find a variant of this same Greek word (epimeno) in Romans 11:22-23, which has a similar theme and clearly refers to true Christians:

22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in (epimeno) His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And they also, if they do not continue in (epimeno) their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

So in essence, what John 15:6 is saying is “If a man does not continue in me….” How can you continue in something that you were never a part of in the first place? Moreover, notice the order of events given by Jesus in this verse:
1)cast forth
2)withered
3)burned
The withering is a result of the casting off, not vice versa. This makes sense because once a branch is cut off from a vine, it withers because it no longer partakes of the life giving sap of the vine. Moroever, the fact that this person “withers” after being cut off means that it was once alive. Obviously, the “withering” does not refer to physical death, but spiritual death. The life in question is thus spiritual life and its origin is in the spiritual Vine (i.e. Christ). Therefore, this person once partook of the spiritual life that is found in Christ, but he was cut off and thus no longer partakes of this life and dies.

To be continued…

God Bless,
Michael


#4

The point of the parable is that Jesus came to save sinners and that there is great rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents:

Ezekiel 18:23, 31-32

**23"Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? **
**31"Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?
32"For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” **

Which explains why he does the following that the Pharisees criticize:

Luke 15:2

**2Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” **

He also says in Luke 5:30-32:

30The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?"
31And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
32"I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

So the point of this parable is that Jesus came to seek sinners and that’s why he eats with them. Consequently, the “lost” sheep represents those who never had a saving relationship with God (i.e. tax-collectors, prostitutes, sinners in general) and thus need to repent. In other words, those who are spiritually sick and need the healing that only Christ can provide.

God Bless,
Michael


#5

I appreciate the input mike, but I’d rather have thoughts on the particular argument I made.


#6

Why is there rejoicing, if the sheep was going to be returned anyway?

The joy and celebration comes because the lost sheep could have been forever lost.


#7

12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it

*, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish**Where does it say the he finds every one of them?

It seems that there is an “if” in there.


#8

Why is there rejoicing? Because the sheep was found. When you see someone whom you haven’t seen in a while, such as a loved one, you rejoice at their presence because they are present there with you, not because they might have died in the meantime.

Or if someone owes you something, and you trust that they will eventually give it to you, you’ll still rejoice because they gave it to you, not that it might have been lost forever.

As for the “if” statement, Luke’s version says “when” in every Bible I’ve looked in. But anyway, Matthew goes on to say that it is the will of the Father that the sheep not perish. God’s will is not always accomplished by us, but it is by Jesus.

If Jesus is the Good Shepherd who looks for His sheep because it is the Father’s will that the lost sheep not perish, is it possible for Jesus to fail in doing the Father’s will?


#9

I disagree with your premise. This passage does not indicate that the sheep are Christians. Let’s look at the overall passage in context. Starting with verse 1 and continuing through verse 7 we read the following:

"NOW THE tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Please note that those drawing near to Jesus were tax collectors and sinners. These are the sheep that Jesus is searching out as the Good Shepherd. They are not Christians that have simply strayed. In fact not a single one of them is a Christian. Jesus is correcting the murmuring of the Pharisees and the Scribes that are criticizing him for hanging out with sinners and eating with them. At the end of the passage the reference is again to sinners that repent. All of us needs to repent when we come into faith. Some of us are baptized as infants and receive justification shortly after birth. Perhaps those are the righteous that do not need repentance, while those that have not been given this same grace and privelege are still being sought out.

The use of this verse for purposes of supporting OSAS is merely one possible interpretation, and one that is not supported by the rest of scripture. Likewise, the verse speaks of lost sheep…it does not address the issue of sheep that simply no longer accept the Shepherd and refuse to hear his voice and follow him.


#10

While I don’t think we can separate this from the story of John 10, you are correct regarding the immediate context of this story, namely, that the flock is humanity as a whole and that the strayed sheep is a member of humanity who strayed even before birth. The two interpretations are not opposed to one another.

At first I was afraid that, given what I said earlier, using your explanation would lead one to believe in universal salvation, ie. not one will be damned. But that need not necessarily be the case, since Luke does not make the statement about the sheep perishing, and Matthew is not in the same context as Luke.


#11

While I don’t think we can separate this from the story of John 10, you are correct regarding the immediate context of this story, namely, that the flock is humanity as a whole and that the strayed sheep is a member of humanity who strayed even before birth. The two interpretations are not opposed to one another.

At first I was afraid that, given what I said earlier, using your explanation would lead one to believe in universal salvation, ie. not one will be damned. But that need not necessarily be the case, since Luke does not make the statement about the sheep perishing, and Matthew is not in the same context as Luke.


#12

It is God’s will that we all get to Heaven (somewhere, Sandusky’s neck is itching, and he doesn’t know why ;)), and yet this doesn’t happen.


#13

:confused: I thought I did that. I guess not. :smiley: :o

In order to understand a parable, you must look at the context in which it is being used. The context is the Pharisees criticism of Jesus’s “hanging out” with the unrighteous, the unsaved. So the parable used in this context cannot be about a “saved” person straying. If we take the parable too literally, then that means all of us are born righteous and only some stray. The point of the parable is to explain why Jesus associates with sinners. God desires all to repent and be saved:

Ezekiel 18:23, 31-32

**23"Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
31"Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?
32"For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” **

So God’s offer of repentance and salvation is made to all, though this offer will not be efficacious in all. Jesus uses this parable to illustrate His concern and outreach to the lost and the rejoicing experienced in heaven when a sinner repents, which is meant to emphasize the pleasure God has in repentance, not in the loss of the wicked. To use this to defend OSAS would be going beyond the clear intent of this parable. Just because Jesus uses the figure of “sheep” does not mean that he always uses that figure the same way.

God Bless,
Michael


#14

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