Essay- When Do We Close the Door?
Last month we had a discussion on “Feed My Sheep.” If you recall, we identified the sheep as God’s own (1 Peter 5:2). The ones He has called or brought forth. We are entrusted with their care, nurturing and growth in so much as sharing in the Word of God and guide as best we can to reaching God’s Kingdom. All with humble submission to God’s Will, obedience to His Commandments and being led by His Holy Spirit. We know it is a choice they too must make and they must progress on God’s time. We identified the importance of sharing the true gospel and not the lies and traditions of men, for there will be consequences- “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:8-10. Pretty heavy yet clear instructions for anyone desiring to share God’s Truth with His sheep. God will not take it lightly of us leading His sheep into the abyss (Jer. 23).
We closed the discussion with a comment we use frequently, “the door of the Ark is closing.” Time is running out to get on board but is there a time we are to close the door ourselves on reaching out to the sheep? Just to clarify, God shut Noah in the Ark (Gen.7:16).
This poses an interesting question. When do we stop trying to shepherd the strays of the flock? Is there such a time we stop reaching out? Please do not confuse this with “do we stop praying for them?” We know there are scriptures in which God says we are to stop praying found in Jer. 11:14- “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.” Jer. 14:11-12- “Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.” Jer. 15:1- “Then the Lord said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth.” In these instances, God is simply saying “My mind is made up and My will is set, no amount of prayers for them can change My Will.” This information can be found in an article from the Forerunner: “Should We Pray for the World?” by Staff
“Ready Answer,” September-October 2002, Church of the Great God.
If we did not pray, we would not be obeying scripture and the Bible would be in error (Acts 12:5, 1 Thess. 5:17, 2 Tim. 1:3).
Now, to address reaching out to the sheep of the flock. In caring for God’s own, there may come a time when we stop reaching out (we never stop praying) but there will come a time when discernment must be applied to our actions and those of the “wanderer.” For example, John makes it obvious in I John 3:24 that Jesus dwells in those who keep His commandments. Failing to keep God’s Commandments and Holy Days make it quite clear that Jesus does not dwell in them. If not Jesus, then who? I think we can make a safe guess (1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3). Knowing God’s truth, professing God’s truth and not doing what God says make you a liar and not of God (John 5:42, 8:44, 1 John 3:10). We cannot serve two masters (Josh. 24:19, Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13, Heb. 12:28). Pray for them but move on.
2 Cor. 6:14-18 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they will be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
We must discern between what is of God and for God (Ezek. 44:23, Mal. 3:18, 1 Cor. 2:14, Heb. 4:12, 5:14). “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine,” – Matt. 7:6 This refers to the sharing of God’s truth. It does not negate acts of kindness or charity to those in need.
Jesus Himself gives us the example we are to follow. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”- Matt. 10:16. This seems like quite a contrast but covers the use of wisdom and discernment a full 360 degrees. We must know the enemy and his tactics and be spiritually aware of them at all times (Hos. 4:6, Eph. 6:11-18). We must be on guard and keep a close watch over our flock as the enemy is clever and will infiltrate, deceive, lead astray anyone he can to disrupt the people of God from fulfilling their walk towards God’s Kingdom (Mark 13:22).
So, looking back to Genesis 7:16, God shut Noah in the Ark, it isn’t clear whether God Himself closed the door on the Ark physically, but He put Noah and his family inside and shut them in. He chose who would be saved at that time. We must do our part for all those whom He sends our way and with the proper spiritual discernment, application of His Word and guidance of His Holy Spirit, He will let us know when it’s time to close the door.
Essay- When Do We Close the Door?