The Narrow Gate

January 29, 2009

A friend the other day asked me an interesting question – “Do you think you have the right eschatology to be saved?” It’s a genuine and very real question to ask because of Jesus’ own words about deception coming at the end of the age. But I responded:

“My eschatology is definitely wrong in areas, but the way to be saved is not by having the perfect understanding of all of the end-time events.”

In pondering and searching out my answer a bit more, I came across Luke 13:22-30 where Jesus answers a pretty loaded question from someone He meets in His journeys through the cities and villages on His way to Jerusalem. The follower asks boldly “Lord, are there few who are saved?”

I’m certain every one of the people following Jesus on that day had many assumptions about Jesus’ answer, but the way Jesus responds totally blindsides them all. The Jews in Jesus’ day held to the vast collection of Old Testament prophecies that Messiah would come, restore all things, destroy Israel’s enemies, and bring her back to a place of prominence among the nations once again. They believed their ticket or entrance into Messiah’s kingdom was based on their ethnicity as children of Abraham and their adherence to Moses’ law.

Jesus indirectly answered his question by saying:

““Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets. ’But He will say, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’” (Luke 13:24-27 NKJV)

I love Jesus’ answer. The way to enter into God’s kingdom is not by blindly obeying the law of Moses, by being of the right tribe or family or people group, by believing the right eschatology, or by being a part of a church or people that teaches the “right things”. It’s by a life of faith in Christ that walks out that which Jesus sets forth in Matthew 5-7, by entering this “narrow gate” and walking this “difficult way”. But we must not limit the narrow gate and the difficult way to only refer to being born again. The gate to “life in the Spirit” – a vibrant life where we experience God on our inner man and have power over the lusts of our flesh - leads to a difficult way or lifestyle as a disciple of Jesus.

The road is truly difficult, and can never be treaded alone without divine help. Blessing our enemies instead of cursing them, not reviling when we are persecuted for righteousness sake, and persevering in prayer can be sustained in human zeal for a short while. But without the aid of the Spirit, it can never be sustained for decades in the ups and downs of life. This narrow way stands in contrast to the “broad way” and “wide gate” that Jesus said leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

Lest we become weary and discouraged in our souls (Hebrews 12:3), we must remember that we have a Helper that reminds us of every command that Jesus spoke and gives us divine power to walk them out. (John 14:15,16,26; John 16:13-15)

Knowledge, position, honor, or ethnicity will not give us entrance into God’s kingdom at the end of the day. I think many will be surprised as to who actually will be a part of God’s kingdom when it’s all said and done. Only a heart of loving devotion and obedience to Jesus in secret by us yielding to the Spirit’s working at every turn will cause us to stand before Him at His coming full of confidence and without shame. More than understanding the facts and events of the end-times, we must understand and obey the heart of the Man behind the facts and events. Then we can be assured of an “entrance supplied to [us] abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ”! (2 Peter 1:11)

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