The Narrow Door22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from.Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 Andpeople will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Accompanying John MacArthur sermons: Are Just a Few Being Saved? Part 1 and Part 2
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus the Narrow Door
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: Small Seeds, Narrow Doors
This passage reminds me of the "Not a Fan" series we're doing in Sunday School.
We can know a lot about Jesus, and not know Him at all.
We can have a head knowledge, but if that doesn't transfer into the will, the heart, and action - it's not saving knowledge. After all, the demons know Jesus is the Son of God, and they're obviously not in the Kingdom of God.
We're big Jets fans at our house. Nathan could likely tell you all sorts of things about Andrew Ladd, or Evander Kane, or any of the other players. But he doesn't know them. He just knows about them. He doesn't have a relationship with them.
Do we know about Jesus? Or do we know Him? Do we love Him? Worship Him? Obey Him? Pursue Him?
The gospel message is exclusive - because there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ.
The gospel message is inclusive - because absolutely everyone is invited to enter.
We are so used to a watered down gospel message though, that we think practically everyone's getting in!
We hear the gospel presented in ways that make it seem very easy to be a Christian. Pray this prayer, say these words, it's a gift, just reach out and receive the gift. That's all it takes. It's really simple to be a Christian. It's really easy to be a Christian. Basic understanding, Jesus died for you and if you want your sins forgiven believe in Jesus, say these words. Jesus save me and you're in.
What's the striving about? What is this about wanting to enter and not being able to enter. This makes salvation seem very, very difficult. That's just contrary to everything we've experienced. We've grown up, some of us have, in evangelistic churches and we're pretty familiar with how we do evangelism. We're familiar with what's often called the invitation at the end of a sermon or the altar call..... get them to walk down the aisle when the music was playing. And another way to do that was, and it's still being done today, when you hold an evangelistic meeting and you want people to come forward, you get counselors or other people who are already Christians to start coming. They create a flow. People get caught up in the flow and down they come because you've made it easy for them and they get down to the altar or the anxious bench or whatever.
You keep singing and working on their emotions and when they get there you give them a prayer. You get them in a mass group. You see this all the time, and you say these words and after you've said these words, you're in. Or maybe more individually presented to people sometimes in a book or perhaps on a radio or television or whatever, pray this prayer, say these words, and you're saved. It's just that easy. Now we've been warned many times through the years here about easy believeism. We've been warned many times about cheap grace, shallow repentance. Scripture is very clear about that, but it's pretty much a dominating approach in the evangelical world in which we live.
It's not wrong to want people to come to Christ, not wrong to want people to embrace Christ. And it's not wrong to give an invitation. It's right to do that. That's what we're supposed to do. Jesus was always calling sinners to His kingdom. And the apostles went and preached the gospel and called people to come into the kingdom. And the whole New Testament tells us our mandate is to go into all the world and call people to salvation and the kingdom.....
It's not about an experience. It's not about inducing a feeling. It's about understanding. We read that this morning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And we must get understanding.
You start out fearing God, that is having a right relationship to God of respect and worship. When you have wisdom, that is when you understand truth. Jesus was a truth teacher. That is the compelling character of ministry. It's about the truth. That's why I'm so rabid about the truth and about getting the truth right and interpreting scripture correctly and understanding that the meaning of the scripture is the scripture and if you don't have the meaning right, you don't have the scripture. It's about the truth.
It's not about an opinion. It's not about inducing a feeling. It's not about creating some kind of "spiritual experience." It's about the truth. Jesus was a teacher and preacher....
So when you're talking about being saved, it's very important to understand you're saved from what? And I only need to remind you that if you were to listen to what's being said today in the name of Christianity, it would seem that you're being saved from unfulfillment. Or you're being saved from dissatisfaction. You're being saved from poverty to prosperity. You're being saved from inadequate feelings about yourself. You're being saved from sort of purposeless living. That's not what you're saved from. To put it real simply what you're being saved from is God. You're being saved from God by God.
Just so we're clear on that. You say what do you mean? You're being saved from God the judge and handed over to God the Redeemer. Do you understand? You're being saved from God. You're being saved from God's wrath. It's not about how you feel in this life, it's about your eternity that we're talking here. This is about eternity. Are just a few really being rescued from divine judgment....It's not really relevant to you what that number is, but it is relevant to you whether you're a part of it. ...
Do you want to be a Christian do you? Okay, "Strive to enter by the narrow door for many I tell you will seek to enter and will not be able." In an easy believeism approach of our modern evangelism, this seems almost heretical; almost heretical. The Lord is saying stop being concerned about the total number who are going to be saved and make sure you're one of them. Lord doesn't save anybody apart from human will. It's not apart from the will of the sinner. And He starts with an amazing analogy, "Strive to enter by the narrow door." The door to the kingdom is very narrow; it's very narrow. In fact, it's so narrow, it's hard to get through. It's not about take the free gift. It's not about passively receiving something.....
It's a fight. It's a striving. About what? What are we fighting about here? We go right back to that critical passage in the 9th Chapter of Luke and verse 23 where Jesus explains exactly what it's about. Verse 23, Luke 9, "If anyone wishes to come after me," so you want to come into my kingdom do you? You want to be saved, "let him deny himself." That's it. It's not about self-fulfillment. It's about self-denial. It's the end of you. And then take up His cross be willing to die if need be, daily. In other words, you so desperately want to enter the kingdom of God and be saved from your sin and receive eternal life, that you are willing to die physically every day because this gift is so surpassing.
And then follow me. And He says this, "For whoever wishes to save His life shall lose it." You try to hold on to your life the way you want to live it. You'll lose it. Here's where the battle lies. The battle is between you and Christ. If you lose, you win. If you win, you lose. You save your life, you lose it. You lose your life, you save it. What's the point he says if you gain the whole world and you forfeit your life, your soul.
This is the battle. The battle is in you. The battle is repentance, legitimate honest self-denial.....It's about the end of you and the end of your dreams and ambitions and desires and longings. It's a stunning statement, stunning. You give up your life. You give up your dreams. You give up your goals. You give your desires. He could cost you your family. He brings a sword between people in your family. You might have to give up all your possessions, who knows. You have to willing to hate yourself. You have to be willing to hate everything around you in this kind of repentance....
You want salvation? Then you've got some things to do. Then there's a work to be done in your heart. The ravine is the low place and it speaks metaphorically of the dark things of the heart. They have to be brought up and brought to light. Have to deal honestly with the deep dark sinful secrets of the heart. The high places, that's all the stuff of pride, self-will, self-glory has to be brought down. The crooked is the twisted things that need to be dealt with and honestly confessed. And the rough all the other garbage that clutters your life, you come if you want a highway on which the Messiah walks into your heart and brings you salvation. This is what has to be done. The sinner's heart has to be ready under the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The sinner's will is broken and you become that broken and contrite heart.
The Lord comes to a heart prepared by repentance....He [Arthur Pink] goes on to say, "Salvation is by grace, by grace alone. Nevertheless, divine grace is not exercised at the expense of holiness. It never compromises with sin. It is also true that salvation is a free gift, but an empty hand must receive it and not a hand which still tightly grasps the world. Something more than believing is necessary to salvation. A heart that is steeled in rebellion against God cannot savingly believe. It must first be broken. Only those who are spiritually blind would declare that Christ will save any who despises authority and refuse his yoke. Those preachers who tell sinners that they may be saved without forsaking their idols, without repenting, without surrendering to the lordship of Christ are as erroneous and dangerous as others who insist that salvation is by works and that heaven must be earned by our own efforts."
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 13:31-33