STRIVE TO ENTER
Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
We have here the same kind of conversation that the Lord had with Nicodemus as recorded in John chapter three. Nicodemus leads off with what he must have thought was a flattering statement concerning the Lord being a teacher come from God. Then the Lord Jesus abruptly informs him, without any hint of response to his flattery, that Nicodemus needs to do something concerning his own lost soul!
And here in Luke, this unnamed man puts forth a question for doctrine. But again, the Lord replies regarding a quest for duty! And his point seems to again be, that the revealing heavenly things was of no earthly good to an unregenerate soul! (Compare John 3:12).
In John 6:37 we find both the doctrine and the duty! In the first part of that verse – All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; – we see the doctrine of God’s Sovereign grace! Every single soul chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), shall, without fail, come to Christ in salvation! And in the latter portion of this verse – and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. – we as clearly see that the sinner has the responsibility to come to Christ in belief! For he that believeth not is condemned already! (John 3:18). We must not fail to keep this heavenly balance!
This word, Strive is the same word the great Apostle Paul uses to show how he is made ready for eternal glory. In 2 Timothy 4:7 he uses this same Greek word which is there translated, I have fought. He says, I have striven in fighting the good fight of faith. He equally believes in God’s preservation and his own need of persevering! For only those preserved by the free Grace of God will persevere! And those only who persevere are those preserved by the Lord’s mercies!
And just one glance at the English spelling of this Greek word, Strive, will cause you to immediately know that it is where we get our English word, “agonize!” The Greek word, spelled in English is Agoonizesthe. For one must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22).
The rich, young ruler was said to fail at this striving, as he went away sorrowfully, unwilling to depart from his great riches in exchange for his soul! (Matt 19:21,22).
It Is Better
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Three times in the above passage we see that the all wise and holy God emphatically states that striving should be taken to these unbelievable and shocking extremes, in order for one to avoid losing their soul in Hell! Judging by the love of worldly comforts of “Christian” America, it seems that these religionists would flee from a God who requires such mortifying of their members (Col. 3:5). It seems, according to the religious spirit of this age that all would cringe from a God who would dare to say, It is better to take such drastic action as this bodily maiming implies. We don’t mind being required to memorize bible verses, or having to attend meetings; maybe even being required to be financially involved in the building fund, but this chop-off-my-hand kind of devotedness? Well that’s too radical for even the most extreme among us! – But that’s what the God of the Bible says! That’s what the Lamb of the cross states without apology! (Now you do have to wonder are there few that be saved?)
Abuse of Opportunities
In verse 26 of our Luke 13 passage listed above, we see that the testimony of this shutout group was not concerning repentance. It was one of argument. They argued with the Master that their social involvement with religion should be acceptable to him for their eternal vacation in “Heaven!” How many pitiful Americans, are involved more with the church’s Dining Halls than with the church’s Divine Head? Yet, even without repentance, and without conversion, they slumber in their souls with the warm fuzzy feeling of church fellowship.
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
But you have to see the twice repeated indictment the Master spoke against them. In both verses 25 and 27 he states, I know you not whence ye are! In other words, “You are not of this house! In fact, I don’t know what house you are of!”
And you have to think with this repeated judgment that their presence was never felt in his house when the door WAS OPENED! They could only claim that they were with him for the food and drink, and knew him as a teacher out in the streets! By their own admission, they were never involved within his house!
So those nice attenders of religion’s halls, seeking entrance into the eternal kingdom by their casual religious fellowship that we call “members,” God calls workers of iniquity! Psa. 28:3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.
Then he gives them three reasons why Hell shall be tormenting to them. First, they shall see some of their familiars enjoying God’s glory, while they are cast out! – V.28. See Luke 16:23. Secondly, they shall see those not of their familiars in that glory, while they, themselves are cast out! – V.29. See Matthew 21:31,32. And lastly, they shall see that boasting of being “Number One,” based on their bringing casserole dishes to the church dining hall, is that which rendered then to be last! – V.30. See Romans 1:22; Isa. 47:10,11.
May God have mercy on deceived, unregenerate church members!
Pastor Gene Breed