‘There shall be one fold, and one shepherd’, John 10. 16.

There is no doubt but that the Jews in the days of the Lord were enclosed in the fold of Judaism with all its constraints and commandments that the followers of that religion practised. The Lord Jesus became for them the Good Shepherd. He did not climb up some other way as many who had come before Him had attempted but He appeared right at the door of the sheepfold. The porter (John the Baptist?) opened to Him and He then called His own sheep by name. They, few in number at that time, heard His voice, recognized it and followed Him, at great personal cost, out of that now discredited system. Many others of course remained in the fold and lived there without experiencing the glorious liberty of the gospel of the grace of God.

Also, in verse 16, the Shepherd said, ‘Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring’. Here, the reference is to Gentiles who were held securely in folds of their own; folds of idolatory, sin and shame. Yet, in His love and kindness, the Good Shepherd later called them also and joined them with the sheep previously rescued from the fold of Judaism.The AV text would suggest that He put both into one new fold, but He did no such thing.The word translated ‘fold’ in the latter part of verse 16 is not the same as the word in the former part. In fact, the word here means ‘flock’ and the phrase should read, ‘There shall be one flock and one shepherd’. One of the great things about salvation is that it sets us free from the restrictions of various folds to enjoy green pastures and still waters. Being free brings its own dangers and it is vital that we keep close to the Good Shepherd who gave His life for us and who has promised that eventually, together with Himself, we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Let us watch yet enjoy the privileges of freedom and the unity of the one flock.

We come now to the end of yet another year in which we have known the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. The New Year beckons with all its promise and expectations … perhaps this will be the year He returns for His own! In view of that we continue our endeavour to abound in the work of the Lord knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. This issue sees Question Time in the hands of Richard Collings and a new feature, ‘A Word for Today’ is by Brian Clatworthy.

There are a number of changes to the work of this ministry effective from the beginning of 2010. I will continue as General Editor and the magazine will be split into sections with dedicated section editors. John Bennett becomes editor for Bible teaching articles and Sandy Jack takes on the Reports and News section. Stephen Baker becomes responsible for YPS (Young Precious Seed) and Ian Grant for the Assembly Histories and Service Organisations section. Ian Rees who initiated and developed YPS over the years is now responsible as editor for our new series of New Testament commentry books the first of which will be published at the end of the year. No doubt, so many changes happening all at once will take time to settle but I believe that with the Lord’s help they will do so to the benefit all our readers.

As mentioned elsewhere in this issue three of our brethren retire from the committee (Malcolm Horlock, Michael Jones and Robert Brown) and are replaced by two new joiners, in addition to those mentioned in our last issue, Richard Collings of Caerphilly and David Coles of Bath. We welcome them to this ministry and I am sure that both will have much to contribute.