Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

The ability to hear is wonderful beyond description, and how we need to thank God for it. If you have been blessed with this gift, how often do you stop to listen to leaves rustling in the wind, or waves splashing on the shore, or the mighty power of thunder rolling across the sky? Maybe you enjoy the soothing tones of wind chimes or water dripping from a fountain. And, most of us are greatly affected by beautiful praise music.

On the opposite side of the spectrum we find less pleasant sounds such as the jangled rush of traffic, the non-melodious, nerve-assaulting clash of so-called “music,” the intrusion of the telephone, and certain obnoxious television ads. Then, there are times when our ears hear voices raised in anger, or the slamming of a door, and we long to find a peaceful refuge.

Door slamming was one of my outward expressions of inner anger when I was growing up. Many times during my childhood, my mother had to reprimand me for this practice, and make me properly open and close the door a number of times to prove a point.

The subject of doors can prove to be a very interesting study in the Word of God. Take, for example, Noah’s ark and Genesis 7:16 which reads: And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” At the time appointed by God, after those who would be preserved from a watery grave were safe within the ark, God Himself shut the door. Try to imagine what the ears of Noah and his family heard at the precise moment the hand of God shut that door. Was the dreadful sound an unforgettable thud? This chilling sound of finality must have reverberated through the silence that always precedes judgment. Then, the deafening roar of God’s wrath upon the entire earth pounded against the ark of safety. The thunder of the deluge and the terrified screams of the damned must have been horrible beyond description.

Jesus talked about another door in Matthew 25:1-13 in the parable of the ten virgins. We know that the five wise virgins were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom because they had oil for their lamps. When the foolish virgins realized that they didn’t have what it took to finish their course (oil for their lamps), they tried to buy it from the wise virgins. The wise virgins, however, could not sell the oil that they had paid a price for to those who had failed to pay the price. This is a strong warning to flippant, complacent, lukewarm Christians who are careless in their daily walk and relationship with Christ. Jesus warned that each of us must count the cost if we are to be His disciple. He warned that there is a price to pay, and He meant it when He said that the way is narrow and the gate (entrance) strait. (See Matthew 7:13, 14.) In verse 10 of this parable, we read of the dreadful thud: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”

Another account of the dreadful thud can be found in Luke 13:24-28 where Jesus said: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth…” The sound of the dreadful thud signifies eternal doom for all who find themselves standing outside the door.

How, then, can we ensure that we will never hear the dreadful thud-that we won’t find ourselves on the wrong side of the door? The answer is we must know Jesus. We must have a personal relationship with Him. He said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9.) According to Jesus, there is only one door to eternal life, and He is that door.

In these end times, there are multitudes of false “doors.” There is the tantalizing door that beckons to the carnally-minded to enter in and enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. There is the fascinating door that leads to universalism where the foolish believe that there really is no such place as hell. There is the wide door that leads to worldly fulfillment-riches, success, fame, abundance of material possessions, and sexual indulgences. There is the familiar door of pride, camouflaged by fake nobility, which ensnares its unsuspecting victims in the inescapable quicksand of delusion. There is the seductive door to the occult through which one can pass into the dark and twisted corridors of the damned. There is the heady door to religion and all of the delusion, self-righteousness and false light it produces. The time will come, however, when every false door, along with the victims within, will hear the dreadful thud.

You see, God has given believers the ability to perceive, or hear, in the spirit. This spiritual inner ear can be finely tuned to hear the “still, small voice” of God. (1 Kings 19:12.) In fact, Jesus commanded repeatedly, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” and “If any man have an ear, let him hear…” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9.) Note that Jesus is saying that not all people have spiritual ears to hear, but He is distinctly addressing those who consider themselves believers, not the unsaved who have not received the Spirit.

But, how many Christians turn a deaf ear to the tender wooing of the Holy Spirit? How many ignore the rebukes and warnings that God gives to those who “have ears to hear?” Let’s face it–most “modern” Christians insist on making their own plans, remaining in control of their own lives, and pursuing their own pre-determined goals of fulfilling their own earthly dreams. Everything revolves around self as the heart grows hot towards the world and cold towards God. The result is the worst kind of deafness-the inability to hear the Voice of God. Such double-minded people are half-way believers. They are trying to stand half-way through God’s open door of invitation, while at the same time, keeping the door of their hearts half closed against the truth. The problem is, half-way Christians will some day hear the dreadful thud.

God does not shout at us to get our attention, but He does expect us to listen to Him as He speaks to us through His Word and by His Spirit. Jesus will never chase us down and arm-wrestle us into the Kingdom of God-it’s up to us to respond to His invitation come. And, while Jesus sought out certain individuals to present the Gospel to, such as the Samaritan woman at the well, Scripture reveals that He never chased after anybody. Remember, the Good Shepherd always leads His sheep-He never drives them. Satan is the one who pushes us to act impulsively, drives us to extremes (religious or otherwise), and intimidates us through fear into believing his lies.

Finally, Jesus is saying to His people, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20.) Jesus likens our heart to a door. We are on the inside, and He is on the outside, unless we open the door to Him. He wants to come in and commune with us, but He is a gentleman. He stands and knocks. He wants to come in, but he will never force His way in. It’s up to us to open the door for Him to come all the way in. He, unlike so many of us, cannot sup with us while standing in the doorway. It’s either all or nothing. We call it “totally selling out” or “getting real.”

It is bad enough being half-way in (or out), but there is something horrible about being completely locked out. Have you ever experienced being locked out of your own home by someone’s cruel act? I have, and the feeling of helplessness and rejection was overwhelming as I pounded on the door to be let in. Have you ever been locked out of a loved-one’s heart? No matter how much you tried to “get in” and commune with that person, they either kept the door tightly shut, or only let you in so far before you heard the dreadful thud? If you have, you know how painful it is.

Can you imagine how utterly hopeless you would feel if you approached the Lord in prayer only to find the door shut fast against you? What if God treated us the way we treat Him, and one another? We would be utterly rejected and lost, without hope in this world or for the next.

Is Jesus standing outside of the door of your heart today? Is He knocking there for you to open to Him? Are you keeping the door fast shut, or have you already slammed the door in His face, causing Him to hear the dreadful thud because you refuse to give up your right to yourself? Are you resisting the call of God, the gentle wooing of the Holy Spirit, and the unconditional love of the One who died on the cross for you?

Listen to the Spirit’s call. Hear the voice of God with the spiritual hearing. It is the most quickening and awesome experience imaginable. In an immeasurable instant, God’s voice unites a person’s entire being into a single point of focus that dispels any influence outside of His sovereign presence. Suddenly, the material world vanishes as if it never existed. Absolutely nothing matters beyond the Almighty, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient Creator of the Universe. When God speaks, all else is truly vanity and less than nothing.

If you have kept Him waiting outside the door of your heart, or if you have tried to let Him in only half-way, won’t you fling the door wide open and let Him in now? The choice is yours. But, be warned-if you continue to keep the door shut, the time will surely come when the dreadful thud will echo through your soul for a Christ-less eternity.