Other Sheep

Other Sheep

Author: The Rev. Dr. David Bridges, Priest
November 03, 2021

Would you believe anyone that died outside of the traditional church structure of faith could have a chance at entering the Kingdom of God? Many Christians would adamantly answer, “NO!.” That concerns me. I see something in Holy Scripture that offers grace and life even to “unbelievers” after death.

 At John 10:16, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold – I must lead them too, and they will hear my voice. And they will be one flock, with one Shepherd.” (TIB)

It is usually assumed the “other sheep” are the Gentiles who are “not of this [Hebrew/Jewish] fold”, an early indication that all people would be invited into the Kingdom of God.  However, there may be more to this.

In the Revelation to John, the writer has just described the calling of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to the heavenly kingdom, then he writes, “Then I looked again and I saw a huge crowd that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes, peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb … These are the ones that have come out of the Great Ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9, 14)

Could the “other sheep” and the “huge crowd” be connected? Ephesians 4:8-10 describes Jesus “descending into the lower parts of the earth.” In the Scriptural context, the “lower parts of the earth” denote (1) the grave, or (2) Hell.

Either way, the text seems to be telling us that even death, the grave, and hell cannot stand between the souls of the departed and the grace of God. Think about this, if someone has been hurt by false religion, or thrown out of church for some “violation”, that person may never come to know the saving, redeeming, reconciling Jesus.

If that person is then killed in an accident, before knowing the true saving grace of God, is that person destined to an eternity in a fiery hell? How could that make sense? Yet, there are millions of “religious” people that would argue the fate of that person to be eternal suffering.

Those are possibly the same religious people that turned the person away because they didn’t fit the mold of religiosity. How can God endorse a religious system that sends away seekers, then condemns them to hell for not fitting-in?

I believe the reconciling, redeeming grace of God reaches out to everyone with the invitation to know God and be blessed; even those who have died “outside” of the faith. What pleasure could the all-loving God gain from seeing otherwise innocent people suffer forever simply because they didn’t believe the garbage some religions teach?

If you have been cast-out, shamed, shunned, condemned, or otherwise robbed of your personality and dignity, know this, the One God and Yeshua the Christ loved you from the beginning and loves you today and forever.

Blessings and Peace to You All,
Fr. David+


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