By Elizabeth Prata
As witnesses to His Gospel, in sharing with other people, I’m sure you, as have I, experienced the gamut of reactions. Some are curious, some are polite but have closed ears, and some, sadly are like wild pigs who turn on you ferociously and tear you to pieces.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Matthew 7:6 (KJV)
There is an example of such a ferocious rejection in Acts 13. Paul and Barnabas had reasoned with the Jews in Antioch. Some were persuaded to stay and follow Paul and learn more. Others rejected. But when Paul went to give the Gospel to the Gentiles, the Jews became jealous and when they began opposing Paul all the harder, they blasphemed. Paul’s response was this:
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, see, we turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46).
Those who reject put themselves in grave danger. Felix rejected. Though he was curious and listened to Paul then became alarmed to hear of the judgment, ultimately he remained apathetic. Stalling for a decision, he sent Paul away ’till a more convenient time, (Acts 24:25) putting off what he should do today. (2 Corinthians 6:2). How different from the reaction of the Philippian jailer who rushed in to Paul asking, “What must I do to be saved?”
Those who reject ferociously are in the greatest danger of all. Here is an excerpt from Barnes Notes on the Acts 13:46 verse. What does it mean when Paul said they judged themselves unworthy?
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
Ye put it from you – You reject it.
And judge yourselves – By your conduct, by your rejecting it, you declare this. The word “judge” here does not mean they “expressed such an opinion,” or that “they regarded themselves” as unworthy of eternal life – for they thought just the reverse; but that by their conduct they condemned themselves. By such conduct they did, in fact, pass sentence on themselves, and show that they were unworthy of eternal life, and of having the offer of salvation any further made to them. Sinners by their conduct do, in fact, condemn themselves, and show that they are not only unfit to be saved, but that they have advanced so far in wickedness that there is no hope of their salvation, and no propriety in offering them, any further, eternal life. See the notes on Matthew 7:6.
(1) When people, even but once, deliberately and solemnly reject the offers of God’s mercy, it greatly endangers their salvation. The probability is, that they then put the cup of salvation forever away from themselves.
(2) the gospel produces an effect wherever it is preached.
(3) when sinners are hardened, and spurn the gospel, it may often be the duty of ministers to turn their efforts toward others where they may have more prospect of success. A man will not long labor on a rocky, batten, sterile soil, when there is near him a rich and fertile valley that will abundantly reward the pains of cultivation.
I’ve shared the Gospel with people once, twice thrice, but when I see the reaction is hardening them more than producing a softening effect, I stop sharing. I stop talking about it. Withdrawing, I pray for them.
We like to think of a soft and seeking Jesus who pursues to the end (or woos as the lady snowflakes would have us believe). It is more probable, to use Barnes’ word, that once they reject, they likely put the cup of salvation away from them forever. When their conduct in so rejecting makes them act like unreasoning animals, they show themselves condemned.
This is one of the most heartbreaking things to watch, especially when it’s a family member or colleague or a friend. Even if it’s the guy at the gas station you’ll never see again…when you see them reject the Gospel, it’s sad. When it’s ferocious, the I get the haunting feeling that they have just sealed their coffin, and that is nearly unendurable.
In the coming year, I pray that your sharing and witnessing and loving will fall on fertile soil. I pray that the Lord gives you and me strength when we have to watch their rejection of You, the most beautiful person in the universe, casting away the only salvation that exists. I pray that many come through Your door, Jesus, in 2019.