Restrictions of Salvation Demand that we "Strive" to Enter In
"Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."(Luke 13:23, 24.)
The breadth and freeness of the gospel invitation have been so emphasized in modern evangelism that most people have never heard or have forgotten or have failed to take seriously the teaching of Jesus that there are limitations or restrictions to the entrance and progress of eternal life. Universalism is the ultimate heresy against the words of Jesus on this subject, but a compromising Christianity is being used by Satan to delude millions of souls with false hopes and lead them on to destruction.
Without denying or forgetting the age-long and world-wide extent of the gospel message, let us nevertheless consider the meaning of Jesus' references to the "strait" or narrow gate.
A Strait Number Unlike the soft-soaping, sticky sweetness of modern so-called evangelism, the teaching of Jesus maintained such high moral and spiritual standards and made such stringent demands for unreserved repentance and fully surrendered faith that one of His hearers was moved to ask: "Lord, are there few that be saved?"
Now, of course, size and number are relative ideas. Whether a gate is narrow or wide, or whether a number is many or few, in our thinking, depends entirely on our point of view and comparative ideas.
So John in vision saw "a great multitude, which no man could number," that had "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9-14.)
But when Jesus compared the number being saved with the number going on to destruction, He said: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Mathew 7:13, 14.)
In view of this truth, we ought not to be surprised to find Jesus urging His questioner: "Keep on struggling ('agonizing') to come in through the narrow gate!" (Luke 13:24.)
The most important question for each individual soul is not how few or how many are saved. The important question is: Have YOU found the way and entered in?
A Strait Time "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (II Corinthians 6:2.) "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins" (Matthew 9:6), but the Bible holds no promise of forgiveness after the end of this life on earth. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27.)
Jesus warns unbelievers: "Ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. . . . If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:21-24.)
So for each individual there is a strait time, a restricted time, in which to find and enter the way of life. Keep on struggling to come in - your time is limited! And for a whole world of lost sinners, the accepted time will soon be past. Many then "will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." So enter while yon can - the time is strait.
A Strait Family Wide enough to admit souls from every nation, kindred, people, and tongue (Revelation 7:9), the gate to life is yet so narrow that it can be entered only through a new birth (John 3:5).
No earthly relationship or hereditary title of men can gain admittance at this gate; no works of flesh and blood can force a way through. Here is an aristocracy transcending time and space, a select family with an inheritance beyond imagining, a holy nation of kings and priests, all brethren. But only to "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which 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.)
A Strait Position Sin is the barrier between men and God. Sin must be removed from a man before he can stand before God. There can be no compromise on this point. God is holy. (Isaiah 6:3), of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity (Habbakuk 1:13).
Of His heavenly city it is written, "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth." (Revelation 21:27.) But of the human race it is written, "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10.) "The scripture hath concluded all under sin." (Galatians 3:22.)
Now, God has provided only one way to get rid of our burden of sin and obtain a position of innocence before Him, thus becoming fit for His presence: "In Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13.) This is a strait position, far different from the popular superstition that mere "sincerity" in almost any knd of religion can gain acceptance with God. Such superstitious nonsense is not Biblical Christianity. Jesus Himself said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.) He is that narrow.
A Strait Time Most of professing Christianity pretends to recognize some kind of a Christ as some kind of a Savior, in some manner and in some degree. But only the Christ of the Bible can give life and salvation, and He will do this only on His own terms.
Strait indeed are the means appointed whereby we enter into life: "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching: to save them that believe." (I Corinthians 1:21.) "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe to thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. . . . Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:8-17.)
So God has "opened the door of faith, unto the Gentiles" (Acts 13:27), though there be few that find it. "To him that worketh not" - that is what makes it so narrow - "to him that worketh NOT, but believeth on him that jnstifieth the ungodly, HIS faith is counted for righteousness." ((Romans 4:5.)
False religionists who complain that salvation by grace through faith alone is "too easy" ought to try it some time. They will not find it so easy as they think. But "keep on agonizing to come in," and, if you ever find this way at all, you will, "sure enough," ftnd it easier than the way of transgressors (Proverbs 13:15). ===========
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, November 12, 1969. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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