Jesus is the Son of Man
The Narrow Door
(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)
All right, Lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 13. As always, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can work to get one into your hands.
Jesus has been teaching and preaching over the last few chapters that we are to focus on the right things. This is specifically that you should believe on the LORD Jesus Christ and to repent of your sins or you shall perish.
We are to focus on having a right understanding of scripture, a right understanding of who Jesus is and was. We are to focus on having a right understanding of why He came and a right understanding of the purpose and application of the Law.
Having a right understanding of who Jesus is and why he came will bring you to salvation. Belief in that, faith in the work of Christ and Christ along will make you citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and the adopted children of God.
Many people didn’t like this. They wanted the benefits of salvation without the work or the limitations or the exclusivity of true salvation. They and most people today and in all of history want inclusion onto Heaven through any door they choose to walk.
And many believed that this was the case then. Certainly, the Roman Empire believed in many gods. The Jewish people believed that they would gain entrance just simply by the fact that they were Jewish, with rare exceptions. And they believed no one else would gain entrance, again with very rare exceptions.
But Jesus came and told them that their understandings were all completely wrong. They were looking at things from the wrong perspectives. And I don’t know if you have noticed, I know I have, especially with myself, but people don’t like being told they are wrong.
But Jesus told them just that. And they didn’t like that. But they thought on it. And that’s where we are going to pick up this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 13, verses 22 through 30. As Always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.
Luke 13:22-30, Luke inspired by the Holy Spirit records:
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 And people 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.”
So, as I mentioned last week, we see the setting in the first few words. This week starts with, “And he went…” This is a transition phrase. We are moving on from the previous setting, but in time and in space. People had time to think about Jesus had said. They had time to reflect, and they came to the realization “What he says is hard!”
As Jesus is journeying and people are following him, someone finally gets up the nerve to ask him this question. I picture it like one of those scenes, there is a group, and they are arguing with each other. “You go up!” “I don’t want to go up, you ask him!” “Uh… Jesus uh… Levi here wants to ask you a question…” “Gee, thanks Judah…
“LORD, will those who are saved be few?”
Now, there were a couple things that were going into this question. First, as I said, the things Jesus was saying were difficult. IT made people wonder and think. It made them question their underlying assumptions. The assumption in Israel at that time was that all Jews, with a few extreme exceptions would enter into Heaven. The assumption also was that, with a few extreme exceptions, all gentiles would be excluded from the kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus was teaching that less Jewish people and more Gentile people would enter the Kingdom than had been previously assumed. And Jesus responds to these questions, but not in a way that the people wanted. He didn’t give them a straight yes or no answer. And I think its because the answer is both yes and no.
He answers them, strive to enter through the Narrow door. This phrase is very understated in English. The original language gives the understanding of not simply to try, but to strive, to do everything possible, to physically exert yourself. Do everything you can to try to get through the narrow door.
The narrow door is very similar to the mustard seed we looked at last week. The narrow door is a very small opening that leads to a large, vast, grand kingdom.
The door is narrow because there is only one way through it. Popular opinion is that there should be many ways, many doors, many paths to heaven. That’s what would be fair. And there are many doors to walk through, but only one leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. The other doors are lies.
RC Sproul writes that if you believe the Gospel, “Then you have chosen the narrow path, and you have said this way and none other. Ove Christ, no more. Jesus is the monegenes, the only begotten of the Father. All the rest are thieves and robbers. But there are thieves and robbers at every gate that is wide. They are beckoning, inviting, seducing, controlling, and saying, “Come through my gate. Its plenty wide for all of us. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you believe. The gates big enough for everybody, so you all can come.”
It is interesting to me, what Sproul is saying here. The temptation to the wide gates is super string. And one would think that it would be our own sins that would tempt us to the wide gates. And I think that’s accurate for many of us. But I have seen other phenomena and seen it come very largely into the public eye over the last number of years.
I see many who were brought up in the church, many who claim belief in the name of Christ (we will get to that later) many who know exactly what the Bible says about sin. And its not often the sin that they commit that tempts them, but the sins and unbelief of their friends and family. They see their loved one caught up in a life of sin, a specific one often. And the loved one doesn’t believe or go to church because they know the Bible says that their sin is wrong. We don’t want to think about our friend and loved one not believing and going to Hell. And so, we reject what the Bible says about sin, and we go with the thought that our friends and family are good people, there is no way that God would send this person to Hell, and I wouldn’t want to be in a Heaven that doesn’t have them in it. It is at this point that we are tempted to the wide gates, with their robbers and thieves.
Jesus point here is simple. Focus on yourself and your salvation. Quit worrying about everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for that, of course. We are called to share the Gospel with all who will listen and to make disciples of every nation. But Jesus is telling us that before we worry about anyone else’s salvation, let’s make sure we know our own salvation.
Paul tells us in Philippians 2 to work out our faith with fear and trembling. Jesus also tells us to take the plank out of our own eye before we deal with the speck in our neighbors.
One commentator says: What was and is essential is the destiny of one’s own’s own eternal soul. Rather than trying to figure out what god will do with someone else, the most important question for me to address is my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ: Am I certain that I have walked through the door that leads to eternal life? Do I know for sure that I will be saved? Whether God saves many people or only a few, the important thing for me is to make sure that I have eternal life.
Again, one of the points is that we must not assume salvation, weather for us, or for anyone else. Many will assume their salvation and be wrong. This is Jesus next point. Salvation is a limited time offer. IT has an expiration date. When we die or when Jesus returns, we will stand before him, and our opportunity will be over.
Many will be on the outside. Many will be on the outside and think they “deserve” to be in.
Some think they deserve to be in because they are Jewish or because of their nationality.
Some think they deserve to be in because they live a good, loving, moral life.
Some people think they deserve to be in because of their church attendance or church service.
Some people think they deserve to be in because of love and goodwill towards men.
And some think that they deserve to be in because they have faith.
Now, wait, that last one… Isn’t faith what saves us?
Yes and no. First of all, God is who saves us and nothing else. He has communicated to us that they method he chooses to save is through faith in the work of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross. Nothing else. By his grace alone, he saves us through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Not only is our salvation through faith, but that faith is a gift from God as well. So, we don’t even have that to boast on. If we think that we deserve salvation because we have faith, we have entirely missed the point of it all!
Monergism vs synergism
The people on the outside, they will say to Jesus, but we were with you! We ate and drank with you! We told people about you! And Jesus will respond, I do not know where you come from! Go away!
This is of course another instance of Matthew 7:21-23, where Jesus says:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Now, notice that Jesus doesn’t say, I don’t know you anymore. Or You are no longer welcome in the house. He says, I don’t know where you are from, and I never knew you.
And he says” Depart from me!” These people are pounding on the door, the door they refused to enter, shouting let us in! And Jesus will say, No! You had your chance, depart! This carries very strong allusions to the scene in Genesis 7 where God closes the door of the Ark and starts the rains and the people who had been mocking Noah and his family are now trying to climb on board, but they are too late.
Those who are on the outside will be spending eternity with weeping and gnashing of teeth. The gnashing of teeth is a sign of the severe hatred that they will have for those in Heaven, for the many who will assume eternal glory. Those in Hell will see Abraham, Isaac and all the prophets. And they will see those if us whom God has chosen to save by faith. And they will seethe. As Sproul says, they will say: “That’s not fair God! You put me here I’m a good person!”
C.S.Lewis wrote a book called the Great Divorce. It’s my favorite of his books. It’s a parable about Heaven and Hell and shows many who end up in Hell and they are offered another chance. Its not a theological textbook of course, but a story that shows some points. And one of the groups of people that are offered a second chance into heaven are not able to enter because they cannot let go their anger that “so and so was let in and I wasn’t!”
That’s what I am seeing here. We are going to very surprised at some of the people that we don’t see when we get to Heaven. Some of the most religiously dependable, some of the most charitable, some of the most faithful attenders, some those who do the most and the best works, some who speak up against sin and injustice and fight for religious morality the most. Some of those will be nowhere to be seen in Heaven. Because they did not trust in Christ alone for their salvation. They trusted in those things we just listed instead. They trusted in themselves even while some believe in Jesus, they never truly knew Jesus.
But there are many who are not expected, many who, from the outside, don’t look the part or live the right life, there are many who don’t get things quite right that will dine with Christ in his Kingdom while the Father sits on the throne.
Jesus says that people will come from all nations, from all corners of the Earth. Jesus says that Salvation does not belong only to the Jews. Salvation belongs to the LORD. Paul says in Romans 9 that Not all Israel is Israel. He writes in Galatians 3 that believing Gentiles, that’s you and I, are heirs to the promises that God has made to Israel. Salvation belongs to the LORD and all who believe in Christ, all who have a saving faith in Christ, all whom God calls, all who repent of their sins and call on Jesus and he alone for salvation will be a part of true Israel.
We can look around when we get to Heaven and be surprised, “God saved that person?!?!” (By the way, many will be saying that about you too, and me most of all!) But Yes! What Glory to God, What Grace that they and we are saved!
We don’t know who or when God will save. WE don’t need to. We need to make sure that we have responded to the invitation that Jesus has extended. For we are the only person we are responsible for.
And when we experience God salvation, we can’t help but share with as many people as possible. WE are not responsible for them, but we are responsible for extending the invitation.
I’ve shared it before, but I’m reminded of what Charles Spurgeon wrote:
If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel.
But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.’
Strive to enter the narrow door. It is the only way. Any other way is not of Christ and is not the way to salvation. The narrow way is a vital part of the Christian identity.
I’m going to end with a story that Kent Hughes shares about Alistair Begg. He heard Begg speak at a conference and Begg shared this story from Cambridge Massachusetts.
Hughes writes that Begg was in a coffee shop and he “Looked across the aisle and saw an Asian girl intently reading what appeared to be a Bible. He watched further and saw that she was indeed studying the scriptures. SO, he asked, “I see that you are reading the Bible. Are you a Christian?” She smiled and replied, “Oh yes. I’ve found the narrow way.”
Her answer was remarkable. Neither he nor I in all our years in ministry had ever heard anyone answer like that. In the ensuing conversation she explained that she had come form Korea to study at Harvard, and she was the only Christian in her family. Here was a young Christian woman 10,000 miles away from her Buddhist home (with its 3 million gods, the antithesis of “the narrow Way”) in the midst of Harvard’s aggressive pluralism (which tolerates everything except for the narrowness of the gospel) who so profoundly understood her Christian faith that she expressed it with unabashed acumen as “the narrow way.”
The narrow way is the only way, but Jesus makes clear that the narrow way is what provides hope. The narrow way is the only way, but it is open and available for all to enter. Any who would respond to the call of the Gospel. All who trust. All who obey. All who respond to the invitation. All who believe.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)