Early Writings


The “Shut Door” and the “Open Door”

In the special efforts which were made to proclaim the Advent message in the summer of 1844, the leaders in the movement had seen their own experience in the parable of the ten virgins recorded in Matthew 25. There had been a “tarrying time” followed by the cry, “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” This was commonly referred to as “the midnight cry.” In her first vision, this was shown to Mrs. White as a bright light set up behind the Adventists at the beginning of the path. In the parable, they read that those who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the marriage, “and the door was shut.” (See Matthew 25:10.) They therefore concluded that on October 22, 1844, the door of mercy was closed to those who failed to accept the message which had been so widely proclaimed. Some years later Ellen White wrote of this: EW xxvii.2

“After the passing of the time when the Saviour was expected, they [the Advent believers] still believed His coming to be near; they held that they had reached an important crisis, and that the work of Christ as man's intercessor before God, had ceased. It appeared to them to be taught in the Bible, that man's probation would close a short time before the actual coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. This seemed evident from those scriptures which point to a time when men will seek, knock, and cry at the door of mercy, and it will not be opened. And it was a question with them whether the date to which they had looked for the coming of Christ might not rather mark the beginning of this period which was immediately to precede His coming. Having given the warning of the judgment near, they felt that their work for the world was done, and they lost their burden of soul for the salvation of sinners, while the bold and blasphemous scoffing of the ungodly seemed to them another evidence that the Spirit of God had been withdrawn from the rejecters of His mercy. All this confirmed them in the belief that probation had ended, or, as they then expressed it, ‘the door of mercy was shut.’”—The Great Controversy, 429. EW xxvii.3

Then Mrs. White continues to show how light began to dawn on this question: EW xxviii.1

“But clearer light came with the investigation of the sanctuary question. They now saw that they were correct in believing that the end of the 2300 days in 1844 marked an important crisis. But while it was true that that door of hope and mercy by which men had for eighteen hundred years found access to God, was closed, another door was opened, and forgiveness of sins was offered to men through the intercession of Christ in the most holy. One part of His ministration had closed, only to give place to another. There was still an ‘open door’ to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ was ministering in the sinner's behalf. EW xxviii.2

“Now was seen the application of those words of Christ in the revelation, addressed to the Church at this very time: ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.’ (Revelation 3:7, 8.) EW xxviii.3

“It is those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of the atonement, who receive the benefits of His mediation in their behalf; while those who reject the light which brings to view this work of ministration, are not benefited thereby.”—The Great Controversy, 429, 430. EW xxix.1