If you haven’t already noticed by now, the ministry’s website has gone secure. This is yet another step in our efforts to give you that added peace of mind to know that whatever you are receiving from us; be they our posted messages, subscribed daily messages or even our emailed correspondences; they all come from the genuine source. No one has hijacked the material midstream.

While navigating through the maze of security certificates and authentication keys to find the most appropriate solution, I realized that searching for proof of authenticity is really a big part of what we are doing each and every time we are presented with information. We want to know, ‘is it authentic’, ‘is it from source’, ‘can we trust it’.

So the world has gone out of its way to make everything ‘secure’. In the online realm, there are security protocols. In the physical world, there are security companies. And all these use a myriad of keys and verification codes to ensure that we can be confident of always getting the genuine article.

But what about God? How does He make sure that we know that we are getting the genuine article? What is God’s key of authentication? How can we know that the preaching we are getting is genuine and authentic? What yardstick shall we use to discern the preaching that we can trust from that which we cannot?

Well beloved, the Bible does give us the key, and it is this.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7

In the Bible, we are liken to sheep, and Jesus is our gateway. We are cute, fluffy little four-legged mammals that are constantly looking for only one thing, food. We may have macho, grandiose illusions about what and who we are; but in reality, we are just that, sheep. Especially during the winter season, bundled up in our woolly apparel, we look no different to sheep heading off to our offices to seek pasture.

And you know what is the thing about us that is most like sheep? The fact that we adopt a herd mentality. In fact, Agent K from MIB described us best when he said,

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.”

We get very easily swayed by the testimony of two or three. And when it reaches two or three thousand, all hell breaks loose. Our heavenly Father knows our fallible condition and that is why, when given this revelation, Isaiah says,

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;” Isaiah 53:6

For all the smarts that we think we have, history has shown us that we don’t have enough smarts to fight against the populous opinion. No one, no matter how strong he is, has ever been able to successfully and consistently go against the tide of wrong public opinion. In fact, it just takes many ‘wrongs’ to make the ‘wrong’, ‘right’.

So we need a key. We need some way of authenticating what is from what isn’t. And especially when it comes to the things of God, we need to be able to tell the truth from the lie; and so Jesus is telling us today that He is the key. By Him, we can tell what is truly from the Father and what isn’t.

“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler!” John 10:1 [MSG]

We are the sheep and anyone who tries to gain access to us in any way, other than through Jesus, the main door, is a thief. Jesus makes no bones about this. If anyone else comes to you with a message that does not align with His, then that person is a sheep rustler and is up to no good. In fact, Jesus was even more explicit in His description of such people.

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.” Matthew 7:15-20 [MSG]

It is where the heart of the preacher is that makes the difference; and not merely the words that come out from the mouth. And in His parable, Jesus tells us what to look out for in trustworthy preaching.

“…he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:2

The key is intent. The one who comes through the door is the shepherd. And in Jesus, we have the perfect picture of what a shepherd should be like.

“…the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:3-4

> The shepherd knows his sheep and he is known by his sheep. The sheep trust him when he leads his sheep because they know that his intentions are good. Indeed, Jesus tells us very clearly what His intentions are.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Jesus’ intentions are to see to it that we are well provided for, by leading us into rich pastures for grazing; and to see to it that we are well protected, by giving His life to protect us. That sacrificial intent is the key of authenticity when it comes to discerning what preaching is trustworthy and what is not.

Therefore, anyone who comes with the intent to profit from the flock, is not the shepherd. Anyone who comes with the intent to spread fear and cause panic within the flock, is not the shepherd. In fact, anyone who comes with any intent, other than a sacrificial nurturing intent akin to what Jesus displayed, is not the shepherd.

So any teaching or preaching that goes against Jesus’ promises of unconditional salvation, protection and provision for all who believe in Him, does not have His seal of approval and is not authentic. It’s that simple.

But you know what? The sad fact of life is that our world has many distractions. Indeed, there are many out there who seek to profit from the flock by spreading fear and instilling panic. And when their voices become too numerous, their lies start sounding like the truth. So if you find yourself in such a situation, remember,

“…he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:2

When you feel shaken by the influences of the world and don’t know which to believe, turn to Jesus. Open up your Bible, go to the source and read what He has to say. For indeed,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Whenever you are unsure, let Jesus be your shepherd. Listen to His voice as He calls you by name and leads you out to pasture. For He won’t just open the door of the sheepfold and let you roam around outside aimlessly, because that’s dangerous.

Instead, He will go before you and point out to you the pits along the way. So follow Him as He leads you through your life and He will surely make you lie down in green pastures and lead you beside still waters.

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