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

   by Jeannette Haley

      As some of you know, the house in which we now live on the Priest River has a beautiful red door in the living room. To me, this is not just any old ordinary door. It is beautiful with it’s panel of decorative cut glass, and even though scenes of beauty can be dimly viewed through the windows, the red door hints of something that needs to be experienced on the other side. Sometimes, unexpectedly, I feel a tug in my spirit, an invitation if you will, to open the door, and step through it. I place one hand on the ornate handle, and unlock the bolt with the other. Then, in one small step I find myself outside on the deck, quietly closing the red door behind me as if any sound on my part might disturb the hushed tones of the Spirit within my own soul.

      This secret tryst with God is deeply personal. One could almost say that it is a few sacred moments, stolen out of the regulated time of a too busy life. Stepping through that door brings an instant change from a small, but comfortable, indoor space, filled with man-made things into a world where God’s creation surrounds and embraces all of your senses in one breathtaking moment.  The overwhelming feeling of awe, peace, power and majesty instantly flows through my spirit, lifting my soul up into a chorus of silent praise.

      The red door stands between two worlds. One world, the “inside world,” is within the confines of a man-made home which is often dimly lit on cloudy days (and especially so because of the pinewood ceilings). It’s a lovely, homey and cozy little house, situated in a gorgeous setting; however, life inside our earthly shelter, is, for the most part, just that—earthly. In other words, life basically revolves around normal physical needs such as meal planning, cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning, other responsibilities that never seem to end, along with a host of interruptions, and what we call “tying up loose ends,” or “details.”

      Once you step through the red door to the “outside world” and close the door behind you to the “inside world,” you are suddenly in a totally different environment. The “inside” responsibilities and problems have been left behind the closed red door, even if for only a few moments, along with computers, televisions, and other distractions. The “inside world” dwarfs in comparison to the “outside world’ where the vastness of the sky overhead, the majesty of the towering trees, the sweet music of the Priest River flowing below, and the vocal expressions of winged wildlife fill you with wonder. Fluorescent dragon flies and butterflies go busily about their mysterious pursuits. Breathtaking hues and contrasting colors of plant life are mirrored in the sky-tinted river. Does and fawns may silently pass by, and if the door of your heart is open to the Spirit, you can surely enter into sweet communion with the Lord.

      There are many kinds of doors in this world—both physical and spiritual. At this point, allow me to take a little trip into the past. (This is one advantage of growing old!) When I was a little kid, we lived in the north part of Seattle, in a decent neighborhood. Back in those days, everything was made better, and that is a fact. Manufactured in the USA, cars were real metal (instead of what I call paper mache), with real chrome (instead of “silver plastic,” made in China). Someone once told me a few years ago that even today’s small trucks are “fold up toys.” In the “old days” children’s toys were made of metal or handcrafted wood, and pretty much unbreakable instead of the cheap plastic stuff kids have today. Everything was made to last from houses, to cars, to appliances, to tools, to clothes and shoes, to you-name-it. This brings me back to doors. One of the things that my dad always insisted on was having solid (as opposed to hollow) wood doors.

      I will always remember our heavy, wood front door because it boasted another little “door” that was cute into it. It was high enough that only an adult could open this little door within a door. It was framed in metal, and had a little handle and latch. In my child’s eye, it was just plain cute, but totally out of my reach. My mother even gave it a special name. She called it the “Go to hell” door. Nobody ever came through our front door until they had been first screened through this little door. If those who knocked on our front door were peddling some brand of religion that my mother was opposed to, they got pretty much told where to go through that small opening. I have to admit, I felt safe and secure in our home because of that little door, and in my opinion, I think that a lot of unfortunate people would still be alive today if they still made doors like that.

      Other types of doors are dreadful. Rayola and I have experienced the heavy metal clang of prison doors closing and locking behind us when we were involved in prison ministry. They remind me of the gates of hell, and those who are prisoners of sin and Satan, of whom it is written concerning his captives, “That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners” Isaiah 14:17. By contrast, Jesus declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 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 10:7-9. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus told Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [Christ, the Son of the living God] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

      Concerning going in and out to find pasture, allow me to quote from the late evangelist, Zelma Kirkpatrick. She wrote, “As I walk with Christ Jesus, the divine and holy Son of God, and what is most important and wonderful to me, my Saviour; the veil becomes exceedingly thin between the natural and the spiritual worlds. At these times I become greatly conscious of the unseen world about me, until I realize at last that which Jesus meant when he said: ‘By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.’ The redeemed are in Christ, indeed, and do not go in and out of Him in order to find our spiritual food. Our life is hid in Christ in God. So it is the spiritual realm into which we enter to find our spiritual pasture, food for the soul; then out into the natural where we live our lives for Him and thus for others.”

      Just as the red door in our house is the only door that opens to the deck, it reminds me of the door to eternal life—Jesus Christ. The color red stands for His blood that was shed for our sins, and only His blood can wash us clean. In John 6 Jesus declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: So he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”  (Verses 53-58.) We know that Jesus was not speaking of “eating” Him literally. That would be cannibalism. Jesus was telling the people that through His blood and through His flesh He would be the perfect sacrifice for sin, as the Passover lamb. To “drink” His blood, and “eat” Him is to receive the gift of salvation purchased by His shed blood, and to partake of His life. Only then, by faith, can a person be truly born again. The wine and the unleavened bread of communion symbolize this, and it is never to be taken lightly.

      Concerning the blood of Christ, in Acts 20:28 we read, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.(Emphasis added.) Romans 5:8,9 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” It is only His blood that justifies us. There is nothing we can say or do to add to our salvation. There can be no reconciliation with God except through the blood of Christ. Colossians 1:20 tells us, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Are we saved to sit and do nothing, or saved to pursue our own life? Not hardly! When we repent, receive, and believe, and are born again by His Spirit, washed by His blood, then we have entered into a blood covenant with God. We are no longer our own, to live our life on our terms. We are bought with a price. Paul declared, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Galatians 2:20. According to Hebrews 9:14, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Emphasis added.) Peter declared, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1 Peter 1:18, 19. “…without shedding of blood is no remission” Hebrews 9:22b. And, as for Jesus’ flesh, we read, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Hebrews 10:10.

      The red door, as mentioned, has a beautiful glass window in it. This glass is beveled and artistically arranged in such a way that you can get tantalizing glimpses and impressions of the beautiful outside world. Yet, it is impossible to see it clearly in its entirety. This reminds me of how on this side of heaven’s door we can receive glimpses of glory, yet we still “see through a glass darkly.” Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” 1 Corinthians 13:12. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” 1 John 3:2. We cannot fully know or understand the wonders of heaven while dwelling in these vessels of clay in a fallen, material or physical world. In a very small way, when I step through the red door, I am sometimes reminded of what it must be like entering through the gates of heaven, leaving earth and all its cares behind. Likewise, when I step through the red door, I can’t bring the “inside” to the “outside.”

      The Bible tells us “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” 2 Corinthians 2:9. Therefore, how can people truly believe that heaven is a replica of life on this earthly plane? You often hear people talk about life in heaven as if departed sports heroes were “up there” happily playing sports, or departed musicians and movie stars were “up there” carrying on their particular brand of music or entertainment. I am reminded of a certain church service we attended many years ago where disorder, emotions and the flesh reigned. Over the din a pastor’s wife was heard to say, “This is just like heaven!” I remember thinking, If this is just like heaven, I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy it.

      Like doors, gates serve as an entrance. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” Matthew 13, 14. “Strait,” according to Strong’s Concordance, means, “to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly: with grief, groan, grudge, sigh.” This gives us a different picture from the one that is commonly assumed of hopping, skipping, and jumping through the gate, skate boarding down the narrow way, and then at the end of it somehow landing in heaven. In order to enter in at the strait gate and stay on the narrow way that leads to life, which, according to Jesus, few find, is a grave matter that must be understood in all sobriety and fear. Only those who have seen the depth of their sin and depravity in the light of God’s holiness, and their great need for redemption, cleansing, and salvation understand the agonies involved in entering in at the strait gate. The strait gate represents complete and total repentance, utter consecration, absolute self-denial, and unmitigated abandonment to God. Jesus said to count the cost.

      To “sigh, murmur, pray audibly” with grief and groaning speaks of a sin-sick soul in the throes of unutterable agony under the crushing burden of sin and separation from God. Entering in at the strait gate comes by faith through the washing of the blood as one surrenders all to the Lord Jesus Christ in exchange for His life. Walking thereafter on the narrow road is day-by-day dying to self, walking in the Spirit, and being washed by the Word of God through obedience. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The tragedy is, Christians who have actually read the entire Bible, even once, or who faithfully study it in earnest, are hard to find in our post-modern era. Another tragedy is the fact that multitudes of people who consider themselves to be “good” people, living “good” lives, doing “good” works are nevertheless lost, and missing from the narrow road. Full of the pride of life, they have never humbled themselves in their heart of hearts to come into agreement with God’s definition of sin, and their own lost condition.

      The other gate that Jesus talked about is wide, and easy to enter. The path is broad. Entering in through this wide gate requires little, if any effort. Living the life on the broad path is normal by the world’s standards. On this broad path one can find a variety of doors. One such door is religion. Behind the religious door a person will discover a variety of beliefs and practices that offer the way to “heaven” through man-made theologies and doctrines of demons. Behind this religious door one can also find popular “Christian” culture where he or she may play the game, talk the talk, and look the part without ever paying the price of self-denial, cross-bearing, and following Jesus. This broad path offers “another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4).  Other doors offered on the broad path are worldly pleasures, power, fame, fortune and the occult. The wide door of an altered state of consciousness through drugs, hypnotism, trances, transcendental meditation, New Age mysticism, and so forth lead a person straight into Satan’s domain. No doubt volumes could, and have been, written about these and other doors that lead to death and destruction.

      A number of years ago we knew a man whose agenda was to be the pastor of a certain church. We watched him over a period of time cleverly weasel his way towards his goal, and when a narrow window of opportunity arose, he “pole vaulted” his way into the pulpit where he led the sheep into spiritually poisonous pastures. Several years later, as he lay dying of cancer, he looked at his wife, and began pleading and yelling, “Open the door! Open the door!” It is a fearful thing to consider that perhaps, as his soul was departing, he stood before heaven’s door and it remained closed to him.

      God has provided “the way, the truth, and the life” in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He, and He alone, is the Door to eternal life. If you have grown lukewarm in your walk with the Lord, for whatever reason, Jesus says to you, “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.

      The question is, which side of the door are you on?