Have the elect always been God's sheep?

Status
Not open for further replies.

thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
Would you say based on Biblical data that the elect are from eternity Jesus sheep or only once they are justified?
John 10 talks about how Jesus sheep hear His voice. Is that speaking about those who respond in faith and repentance and/or it it referring only to someone who is saved and therefore hears the voice of their shepherd? If it would include those who are responding it would seem they are considered Jesus sheep before justification. If does not include those responding then how can we hear the voice of the shepherd?
Now I know that eternal justification is not Biblical and that until we come to saving faith even the elect are referred to as "children of wrath". I also know this is figurative language which can sometimes be confusing but the truths behind the language I think are very important. Thanks!

For His Glory-
Matthew
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
It seems to me that since election is a reality and sheep are a metaphor, the question doesn't have a single right answer. Expanding a metaphor is only as correct or incorrect as the parameters we give it, although it doesn't seem out of the context to speak about the metaphor in terms of election (e.g. bringing other sheep into the fold)
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Tim is correct. A figure of speech must be interpreted in its immediate context. The same figure can be used to denote different truths in different places.

To approach it another way, you could start by saying that God's elect have never been sheep and never will be. They are people, not sheep. But they may be like sheep in this way or that. Their relationship to Christ may be like the relationship of a sheep to its shepherd in this way or that.

We shouldn't treat a figure like "sheep" as a technical term.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I'm assuming the question behind the OP has to do with the time at which God made us His own.
Eternity is a loaded word because God is the only self-existing, eternal being. As already cited, we know that He called us before the foundation of the earth, an infinite being acting on behalf of finite being He was yet to create. We were truly born into a state of sin, and in God's timing brought from spiritual death to life.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)

The first thing that came to mind was this, which shows Tim's point that the same metaphor, "sheep" for God's people, can be used in different ways in different places in Scripture. It would be a study to see all the different ways "sheep" is used in Scripture even only for God's people.

E.g. also:
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. (Ps 119:176)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm assuming the question behind the OP has to do with the time at which God made us His own.
Eternity is a loaded word because God is the only self-existing, eternal being. As already cited, we know that He called us before the foundation of the earth, an infinite being acting on behalf of finite being He was yet to create. We were truly born into a state of sin, and in God's timing brought from spiritual death to life.

Does God set His heart on us and elect us in eternity and the external and effectual call come to us in time in His providence and by His grace? Maybe I'm being pedantic, Jean.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Would you say based on Biblical data that the elect are from eternity Jesus sheep or only once they are justified?

They would not come to be be called and justified unless the Shepherd regarded them as His sheep. As the Good Shepherd says, John 10:16, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

Obviously we should not extend the metaphor beyond its purpose but the metaphor has been used for the very purpose of showing that the elect are in the hands of an Able and Faithful Servant of God from eternity to eternity, as much as any sheep was kept safe by the shepherd tending to it as it went out and came in.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Does God set His heart on us and elect us in eternity and the external and effectual call come to us in time in His providence and by His grace? Maybe I'm being pedantic, Jean.

Not at all pedantic, instead this made me think more on the word "eternity."

That runs right into WCF and God's eternal decree ...
God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will ...

This is quite mind-blowing when considered in terms of election or epistemology in general. Does this mean there was never a time that God did not know of my salvation? Or yours?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well this is the question that arises, but in a way that we cannot understand the Lord is not subject to time.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top