Oh, May I Go A-Wandering? No!
Read Matthew Chapter 18
Mt 18:10 “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Some Christians have taken this verse and used it as proof of universalism. They argue that because God is sovereign, and He is not willing for anyone to be lost, then He will do whatever it takes to save everyone. No one will go to Hell. More often than not, I have wished that to be true. The burden of knowing that some friends whom I love may not spend eternity with Christ is often too much to bear. Unfortunately, that theory cannot be reconciled with many other scripture verses. But that is not the theme for today’s study.
Upon close examination of this passage, I see something which would make verse 14 a bit narrower in scope than the unversalists see. I could be mistaken, so prayerfully consider these thoughts on the subject. Some of my thoughts are based on my own experience, and some of them are solid truths from God’s word.
We can be fairly certain that the “little ones” mentioned in verse 10 refer back to the previous verses, 1-9. The little ones are children. Also, in that passage, Christ likens those who are a part of the Kingdom to anyone who has believed upon Him for salvation. He stated that all who come to Him must do so as a little child would – in childlike faith. Therefore, can we conclude that all believers are ‘little children’ in God’s eyes? Is this train of thought taking too much liberty in interpretation? I don’t think so.
Where is all this going? How can it possibly have application to the SSA man or woman? Hang with me. When Jesus stated that ‘their angels in heaven always see the Father,’ I believe Jesus is saying that we, His children, are always under His watch/care. We have angels who are charged with seeing to our welfare, protecting us from our arch enemy; the devil and his forces. Further, in the parable of the lost sheep, the ‘man’ owns a hundred sheep. Those sheep belong to their owner. We belong to our Owner. When one of his sheep wandered off, the owner left the ninety-nine and went looking for the lost one.
My belief is that when one of us – we who have placed our faith and trust in Christ – wanders away from His authority, God chases after us. That would certainly be the case in my life. More than once, God has chased after me and brought me back home. Sometimes He did so with gentleness and deep compassion. Other times, He gave me a good ‘spanking,’ as any loving father might do. I have also witnessed Him doing the same with other SSA men.
Of course, we also have the parable of the prodigal son, in which case the Father patiently waited for His son to ‘come to his senses’ and come back home voluntarily. Yes, God does that too. In His infinite wisdom, He knows which of us will choose to return on our own, after a time of suffering the consequences of our sins. But at other times, He knows the stubbornness of the hearts of some of His children. In those instances, He chases after the wandering sheep and rescues him from danger.
Whew! That was a long discourse to get us to some conclusions. Verse 14 perhaps could be written thusly: “Your Father is not willing that any of His children, those who have accepted Him as Savior by child-like faith, should be lost.” Our Lord is so merciful, so loving, so possessive of His children that He refuses to allow us to stay off course forever. As I think of the times when He brought me back, I find gratitude and thanksgiving increasing within my way of thinking. Were it not for those times when He administered His stern discipline, where would I be? Not in a good place! I’m pretty sure that I have been that wandering, lost sheep. How about you?
Ps 118:18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.
Prayer: It’s difficult to say anything else here, except “Thank You!”