There are a lot of people that use this passage in John to justify hearing the voice of God, which we have been looking at such things lately. Let’s look at it. It’s in John 10.
1“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Let’s notice something that the text says early on. This is a figure of speech. That means that you do not take the objects literally. We do not think Jesus is literally herding us who are literally sheep, into a literal pen. We do not take this text in the “literal” sense until we get to the voice part. Then “My sheep hear my voice.” What else could that be but hearing the inner voice of God?
Can I say something obvious here? (Of course I can. It’s my blog.) Everyone who was in the audience that day heard his voice. That must mean that he was talking about something other than a literal voice. (Note that it’s his voice as well.) So what is the voice that the sheep hear? It’s simple. It’s the call to salvation.
How do you know you’re a sheep? You’ve answered the call and come to the shepherd. Now we can get into the debate on if this fits into a Calvinist or Arminian view better, but that is not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to show the false use of this passage in the modern church.
Now someone might say “But I hear the voice of God.” Alright. Show me why I should think so from Scripture. I can’t interpret your experience, but I can interpret Scripture. If you want to show this is normative, I need it backed from Scripture. If you want to show it from this text, then show where I went wrong in my exegsis and how the hearers would have known he was talking about hearing the voice of God.
Friends. It has to be Scripture. Scripture must interpret our experience. Our experiences cannot interpret Scripture.