Limited Time Offer

Where will you be when the gate finally closes?

by Edward Langenback

© 03/12/05

Most of the time that Jesus spent walking the Earth in His ministry He was teaching. He would travel from one village or town to the next teaching along the way. Upon arriving, He would speak in the synagogues where He would preach the fullfilment of the scripture that we know as Isaiah 61:1-2. After this, He would continue teaching. This was His routine in every town He came to.

Luke 4:16, "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read."

On any given Sabbath day, Jesus could be found in the local synagogue reading Isaiah 61:1-2 and preaching the message of The Anointed One and His Anointing. This message would be that the one Isaiah wrote about had arrived and the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

Luke 13:22, "And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem."

Jesus didn't stay in just one place. He traveled over a fairly large area, mostly on foot, teaching and preaching as He traveled and in towns and villages along the way.

Luke 13:23, "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,"

In one lesson He talked about the many people who try to convince themselves or others that they are sure to qualify for heaven but in reality would never walk it's streets. He made it clear that not everyone who claimed that they followed Him actually did (Matthew 7:22). At some point along the way (Luke 13:22-23) someone asked Him if the number who would be saved was only a few compared to the number who wouldn't. Jesus responded to him by talking about one of the two gates (Matthew 7:13-14).

The previous studies about the parable of the two gates "Two ways to go" and "What Kind Of Garden Are You?" have shown us quite a bit so far. We have seen the two basic ways of life and some of the differences between them. We have learned that the busiest, most popular of the two gates is the wide, easy to find, well traveled pathway that leads to ultimate distruction. There are far more people using the wide gate than the narrow one.

Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."

The first key word examine here is 'strive'. It is translated from the Greek agonizomai {pronounced ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee} [strongs number 75] and means to contend with adversaries, fight. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something.

To reach the goal of the narrow gate, we have to put in some serious effort. It's not simply as easy as saying "Jesus save me" and then going on about your life.

Luke 9:23, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

You have to contend with adversaries, difficulties, dangers, temptations every day. While Our salvation is a free gift that we cannot earn or do for ourselves, it is something that we have to make the effort to walk in every day even though the adversary and all his tricks and servants are against us.

The second key word in this verse is 'many'. Translated from the Greek polus {pronounced pol-oos'} [strongs number 4183] it means many, much, large.

There is a large number of people who will seek entry into this narrow gate. While there are vastly more that never even care about the narrow gate, there are large numbers of people who at one point or another, are seeking it and what it holds.

The third key word is 'seek'. This word is translated from the Greek zeteo {pronounced dzay-teh'-o} [strongs number 2212] to seek in order to find, to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after. And the fourth key word, 'able', is translated from ischuo {pronounced is-khoo'-o} [strongs number 2480] and means to be strong,to be strong in body, to be robust, to be in sound health, to exert, wield power, to have strength to overcome.

Given these definitions, it's obvious that Jesus is saying that there are large numbers of people who are actually seeking, striving, looking for and trying to find the way into that narrow gate which leads to life and will not have the ability to overcome the opposition. The reason for their failure is not in any way God's. In most cases it is because they are unwilling to do what Jesus said that anyone who would follow Him would have to do and deny themselves. This is because accepting Jesus as Savior means accepting Him as Lord. To accept Him as Lord means that we have to deny ourselves and our own self importance in recognizing His ultimate importance.

The point here is that choosing the narrow, less frequently used gate puts us in opposition to everyone that is on that rush to destruction. Christians face a daily battle in which they must constantly opppose the forces that would push them in the other direction. This again makes clear that entering that narrow gate is not the easy thing to do. It requires a constant, deliberate effort to walk the path that God has set for us.

1 Peter 5:8-9, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

This effort has nothing to do with God trying to make life difficult for us. It is required because the adversary of God is always there, trying to get us to walk off that path or even abandon it entirely. God is there for us, helping us if we will only come to Him. He will not allow us to be taken off of His path against our will but just as He allows us to decide for ourselves if we want to accept Jesus or not, He allows us to walk away from Him if that is our choice.

That last statement is no doubt going to start some saying "HEY! Once Saved, Always Saved!. No one can deliver you out of God's hand!!" and they are right. Nobody, no matter who they are or what power or authority they may have, can take you out of God's hand. However, God has given us the freedom to make our own choices (Deut 30:19). If this were not so, then salvation would be a snap. God would order it and everyone would accept. However, love that is forced is worthless. Love that is given freely is the kind that is beyond price. God is after that totally priceless love, the kind that we give freely because we want to.

Thus if a person who is a saved, born again, Holy Spirit filled, Bible believing Christian were to give in to some temptation or other and decide to forsake God and walk away from Him then God would tearfully allow it. Scripture confirms not only that we have the choice but that even the most dedicated Christian faces the temptation to give in and go along with the teeming crowds on the road to destruction.

2 Peter 2:20-22, "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."

Make no mistake though, just because God will permit us to make foolish choices if we insist on doing so, He still wants everyone to be saved:

Ezekiel 18:32, "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."

God is not sitting on His throne madly throwing lightning bolts at sinners. If He were, we would ALL be toast! Thankfully, He is not only not eager to punish but wants very much for everyone to be saved.

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

This desire that all should be saved is the central reason for Jesus' mission on Earth. While Jesus did many miracles, healed many people and taught God's truth wherever He went, these things are all secondary to His main reason for coming to us in the first place.

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Lost is the word that best describes most of humanity. To be spiritually lost is to be without God or hope to not have any spiritual anchor or foundation. Jesus came for one reason more than any other. To find and preserve or save the lost. He used the illustration of a shepherd to demostrate how God feels about the lost:

Matthew 18:12, "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?"

The faithful shepherd, realizing that one of his sheep has strayed away from the flock, leaves the group in a safe place and looks for the one that was lost. He knows that the lone lost sheep cannot survive on it's own for long.

Matthew 18:13, "And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray."

Nothing is ever valued or appreciated so much as when it has been lost. Because of this the shepherd values the sheep that was lost so much more. When he finds it he has reason to celebrate.

Matthew 18:14, "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."

God is the ultimate shepherd and we are his sheep that are lost. He has placed a high value on us foolish humans who have strayed away from Him and gotten lost. He set out to get us back and save us from our own foolishness. He came to us and became one of us by being born in a Bethlehem stable. He lived among us as one of us so that He could speak to us in a way that we could understand. Then He paid the price of our sins for us because He knew that if we tried to pay the price it would destroy us. This payment was made for us and the benefit of it is offered to us as a free gift.

All that remains is for us to accept that free gift while it is still available. A parent will offer something to a child for only so long. They will tell the child that they can have it and that it belongs to them. All the child has to do is accept it and take it. But if the child does not take the gift, the parent cannot force them to because then it would be something other than a gift and it would be unwanted. After the parent has given the child several chances to take the gift and it is still not taken, they tell the child "Ok, if you don't want it you don't have to take it. I am not going to stand here holding it out to you anymore."

God is the original parent. He is holding a gift for each of us . It's something that we can't ever get by ourselves. If we don't take it from God we will never have it. He has been holding that gift out to us for a long time now and He will only keep holding it for a little while longer. Once He has given us all the chances we need to accept it, the offer will be closed and the gift put away.

Genesis 6:3, "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."

God will not strive or contend with man forever. He will eventually reach the point that any parent does and say "I have done all I could to get you to accept this gift. You have steadfastly refused to take it. If that is your final choice, then I will not offer it anymore. Don't come to me later and say I didn't give you the chance to take it."

If you have not accepted this gift that God is trying to give you, now is very much the time. Today can be the day that your life changes and begins again.

2 Corinthians 6:2, "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation)"