Matthew 18:12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? (KJV)
The other day I was challenge by a fellow blogger who stated that I dwell solely on one subject. If you read my blog you know that that is not entirely true. My sin, according to him, is that I point out the possibility from scripture of mans straying and losing what he has gained through grace in Christ Jesus. He said to me why don’t you dwell instead, on being the righteousness of Him and resting in Him? This of course, is the one thing that he seems to dwell on. Both concepts are true, but to deny any truth is in fact to stray.
Actually I started this blog to deal with misrepresentations of scriptures truth in the prophetic realm, but there are so many misrepresentations of scripture in our time. Some of these are simple omissions. These result in misrepresentations, and these I continue to be alerted to in my inner man, where God has been invited to dwell and where He expects to have the freedom to reign. These often come as checks to my thinking, or to what I hear and ponder. So after digesting one of these checks, which goes something like — is that really what was said here? — then, I had to branch out in order for the “little one” in Christ to understand, as they think on the dangers of the battle that lay before them. We are today living in a dangerous time, when believers are being misled, and become confused often by every wind of doctrine.
The verse that Is stated at the beginning of this post is one such verse. I continually hear it misstated to be about Jesus going after the unsaved, yet in its depths it isn’t about the saving of, but the keeping of a soul already saved, and Jesus in this section of scripture calls for us to not easily give up on one another, who are the saved, but who may have strayed.
In the above verse the Owner has 100 sheep. They are His, but one of them that He already owns has strayed away and He leaves the 99 to go and find the one that has strayed. The text indicates that this sheep is by straying lost. The mission is to find and return the one who has strayed to the fold. This one has by leaving the fold, has now lost his way. This message is about bringing of this one back into the fold.
This entire section of scripture is about reclaiming the fallen.
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (KJV)
The Lord In fact tells us that we are involved in this mission. We are not to give up on this brother, If this doesn’t work we are to go back with two or three and if we still have not accomplished the mission of restoration we are to go before the entire assembly.
But Jesus’ message to us began with a warning. What is that warning? He had been asked a question. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? His answer was that those who came to Him as little children in faith were the greatest, and then He said:
Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (KJV)
This one who strayed is often not far away, but he is easily ensnared, and can be set aflame within by some wild fire doctrine. On the ranch out west it’s often the one lone stray who is found devoured.
Today is certainly no different than Paul’s day: when he said, that there are those from within as well as without, who unfortunately are offending these believers in Jesus. Enticing those who believe in Him, with deception, and these offenders will pay dearly for that offense. The twisting of the scripture if it causes even one of the believers in Christ to stray is an offense that will not go unpunished.
Jesus will not give up on the little one, who if offended has gone astray, nor has He given up on the one who offends them, even though they are in grave danger as they too have strayed. And even though one may not know that they have strayed far from the path of truth, Jesus still loves us, and sends another of His own to turn us back.
He has delegated to us His mission. We are told to go after the one we see straying in an attempt to return them to truth in Christ.
James the brother of Jesus put it this way:
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 NASB
James is talking to us (brethren) and specifically about any one of us, who has strayed from truth. It becomes obvious that the one who we observe in this state, needs to be brought back to truth, to Christ. But Jesus says:
Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. (KJV)
This is harsh. Too harsh for many. Yet it is Jesus teaching us. God has given us His word to guide us, because we need guidance. We are followers of Christ (God Truth). Jesus gave us ears to hear and eyes to see at the time of our salvation. If what we are hearing from any of the prophets of our day is leading us as His sheep astray; then the passage says that the shepherd Himself will go after His sheep. James says that in addition to hearing from the Shepherd and His voice to us, that we are to also be doers of this word.
Many are offending the little ones today by telling them that there is no doing, but only resting. That there is no Tribulation, but only blessing. That there is no storm, but only smooth sailing. Therefore many have and are straying.
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (KJV)
For the little one and for the teacher of the little one, the Holy Spirit is our guide. He is our teacher, are we following His instructions? They are from His word. Men who twist His word do it to their own destruction.
Jesus was deeply concerned about even one of His flock straying — are we even concerned for ourselves? — when He comes to us or sends someone of the brethren for us — do we hear and return from or straying ways? Warning signs on the guest are to keep us safe. Warnings from God’s word are the same. Today’s message so often omits these, and in so doing over emphasizes unity at the expense of truth, bringing about compromise concerning truth, and this will lead to a people who honors God with their lips but not in their ways. A people who have become deaf in their hearing, and blind in their seeing. The message then will lead these little ones astray, and causes them to be rebellious and unhearing.
Warnings are for our protection, a failure to heed them will lead to God’s judgment. We never hear this following verse concerning this straying sheep.
Matthew 18:13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. (KJV)
If, is the most overlooked word in scripture. We think that Jesus the good shepherd will not fail in this mission, in fact He cannot fail to locate that one, because He knows all, but His teaching allows for a stubborn unhearing sheep, and even God will not force His will upon this one. Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.
So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ].
Philippians 2:12 AMP