Introduction: Why do we have so many Christian denominations? For
that matter, why do we have so many religions in the world? Is this
God’s plan? Does one denomination have all of the correct doctrines?
All the truth? If a person is a Christian, is there any reason to try
to convert that person to a different Christian denomination? Let’s
jump into our study this week and see what the Bible says about
“other sheep” and their education!

  1. Unpenned Sheep

    1. Read John 10:1-3. How do we know the real shepherd from a
      robber? (The real shepherd enters through the gate.)

    2. Read John 10:4. How do the sheep know the true shepherd
      from a robber? (By his voice.)

      1. This is good information. But, it raises the natural
        question of who are the first three verses of John 10
        intended to benefit? Who has something to learn
        here? To what audience is the first three verses
        directed? (Obviously not the sheep. They make a
        decision on the bona fides of the shepherd based on
        his voice. The person to be educated here is not a
        sheep. It is an outsider who wants to distinguish a
        true shepherd from a sheep stealer.)

      2. Who would want to know about shepherds, but not be a
        sheep? Aren’t we all sheep or potential sheep?

    3. Read John 10:6. Looks like the disciples are having
      trouble with this question too. We learned that the sheep
      know who is the shepherd by his voice. How do we know who
      are his sheep? (If you did not know the shepherd’s voice,
      you would not be a sheep of that fold. We are all sheep or
      potential sheep – and that is the point. There are sheep
      who belong in the sheep pen and sheep who do not. If you
      were an outside sheep looking for the true shepherd, you
      would pay attention to how the person who claimed to be
      the “shepherd” entered the pen. The first three verses of
      John 10 are a lesson for sheep who are presently “outside”
      the sheep pen.)

    4. Let’s read on. Read John 10:7-9. Jesus tells us that He is
      the gate to the sheep pen. What is Jesus’ teaching us
      about all of the other potential shepherds? (Jesus is
      telling us that if a religious leader does not put his or
      her trust in Jesus, then this is a false teacher, a false

      1. What does this say about all of the other religions
        of the world? (A religion which does not depend upon
        Jesus is a false religion.)

        1. Is it that simple?

      1. What does this say about religious leaders who seem
        to be motivated by money or celebrity? (Unless they
        are motivated by Jesus, they are false shepherds.)

    1. Read John 10:10-11. What is the goal of false shepherds?
      How does it compare with Jesus’ goals? (They come to kill.
      Jesus came to die.)

      1. Do you know of religions which kill sheep? (The most
        prominent these days is that strain of Islam which
        kills others for religious reasons. Prominent in the
        United States is humanism which promotes abortions.
        The essence of Christianity is to be willing to give
        up your life to benefit others. Strains of Islam
        promote giving up your life to kill others. Abortion
        is the taking another life to benefit yourself. It is
        the complete opposite of Christianity – which teaches
        that you lay down your life to benefit others.)

    2. As you consider what Jesus is teaching in these verses,
      can there be more than one true religion? (Jesus says
      there is one true gate (which is Jesus) and therefore it
      stands to reason that there is one true sheep pen –

  1. Penned Sheep

    1. Read John 10:16. Who are these “other sheep?” Are they
      Christians? Are they members of other Christian
      denominations?(When Christ says “other sheep,” He appears
      to be speaking of those who will be converted to
      Christianity. He does not seem to be referring to other
      Christian denominations.)

    2. Look again at the second half of verse 16. What do you
      think Jesus would say today about all of the different
      Christian denominations today?

    3. Read Mark 9:38-40. What does this suggest would be Jesus’
      attitude about the many different Christian denominations
      today? (The disciples seem to be saying, “He is not part
      of our denomination – tell him to stop.” On the surface,
      the “one flock” idea seems opposed to all of the different
      Christian denominations. However, what Jesus says in Mark
      9 teaches us that as long as the other person comes
      through the gate of Jesus and relies on His name, we have
      no reason to complain. It appears Jesus is comfortable
      with various groups all working in His name.)

  2. Higher Education for Penned Sheep?

    1. If all of these denominations are fine with Jesus, and if
      the “acid test” for membership in the “sheep pen” is
      coming in through Jesus, what reason do we have to try to
      convert someone from one Christian denomination to
      another? Is this just a useless waste of resources that
      should instead be used to convert those who are not
      already Christians?

    2. To test your thinking on this issue, let’s start with the
      major division among Christians: Catholics and
      Protestants. On a very simple theological level, this
      division came about based on the Protestant understanding
      of righteousness by faith alone, revealed in verses like
      Romans 1:17. Read Romans 1:17. Is it a waste of time to
      try to convert the thinking of Christians on this topic?

      1. Some might argue that righteousness by faith is a
        “gate issue.” By that I mean that if you try to climb
        into the sheep pen based on your works, as opposed to
        coming in through the gate of faith in Jesus’
        righteousness, you are not in the sheep pen. Do you
        agree with this thinking?

        1. If you say, “yes,” are there any other issues
          that you think are “gate” issues – issues that
          determine whether you are really a Christian?

        2. If you cannot think of any other “gate” issues,
          then would you agree that if you are a
          Protestant, you should only be trying to convert
          those who do not believe in righteousness by
          faith alone?

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. What does Paul mean when he
      says that he laid “the foundation” which is Jesus Christ?
      (Paul is telling us that he is teaching potential “sheep”
      about the “gate” issue: coming to salvation only through
      belief in Jesus.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-13. What does it mean to “build”
      on the foundation? (It must mean Bible teaching that goes
      beyond the basic teaching of coming to salvation through
      Jesus alone.)

      1. What do you think is “straw” teaching as opposed to
        “gold” teaching? (Teaching Bible truths as opposed to
        teaching false doctrines or irrelevant doctrines.)

      2. Paul says that the quality of our teaching will be
        revealed by fire on “the Day.”

        1. What is “the Day?” ( 2 Peter 3:8-10 – The time of
          Jesus’ Second Coming.)

        2. What is fire? ( Numbers 31:23 teaches us that
          fire is a way of testing and purification.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. If a Bible teacher builds with
      straw or wood – teaches false or irrelevant doctrines –
      will he be saved? (It appears the answer is “yes.”)

      1. What gets burned up? The students or the doctrines
        or something else?

        1. If you answer “the students who accept straw
          doctrines are burned up,” does this mean that
          salvation requires belief in something other
          than faith in Jesus?

        2. How do you explain that the lousy teacher gets
          saved and his students do not? (The Bible text
          itself is not that clear to me, but it must
          refer to doctrines burning and not the students
          being burned. Otherwise, we run into
          theological conflicts with texts like Acts
          16:30-31, Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21 regarding
          the requirements for salvation.)

      2. What is the advantage of having sound doctrine? (It
        will help you to stand in times of trouble. If your
        temple is built on the foundation of Jesus and gold-standard doctrines, then you will be able to stand
        the test of fire.)

    6. Read Proverbs 2:1-5. What does this text teach about the
      benefit of continued Bible study? (If we study God’s Word,
      and pray for understanding, He will help us to better
      understand Him and His will. We need to continually mine
      for gold-standard doctrines. We should find and then share
      those doctrines.)

    7. Friend, once you repent and accept Jesus as your Savior,
      you are saved. But, this is only the beginning of your
      walk with God. While some may argue that “doctrines” are
      irrelevant and divisive, I believe that those who truly
      love God will want to continually increase their knowledge
      and understanding of His will. Educating “the sheep” with
      gold-standard doctrines is part of God’s plan for us. Will
      you pledge to never stop studying God’s Word to obtain
      greater understanding?

  3. Next week: How to Relate to Non-Christians.