Summary: This message is for those of you who have read and sung and listened to people talk about Jesus for years without meeting him personally.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 36
“The Narrow Way”
You see them every Sunday when dressed in their Sunday best they respectfully make their way into the worship service. They sing the words projected on the big screen, they greet one another in the service, they put their bit into the offering plate and they listen to another sermon. When the service is over they leave the service and tell the preacher he did a good job. Then they return home, take off their “church clothes” and forget about God for another week. Meeting with God has become for them nothing more than listening to messages, singing songs and placing a token amount in the offering. Yet somehow this routine seems to fill their need for reassurance. And because they have been “faithful” to come to church on occasion, they feel that they are all right, that they have secured a place in heaven. What a distortion of the message that Jesus delivered. Jesus told the religious crowd that even those who appeared the most dedicated were at best, last in the kingdom and probably would not get in at all, because they had too much religion and too little relationship with Jesus.
This message is for those of you who have read and sung and listened to people talk about Jesus for years without meeting him personally. For far too long the church has claimed to be rescuing the perishing, when all they have been doing is protecting the dying.
“And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. (23) Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, (24) "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (25) 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,’ (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 you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ (28) 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, and yourselves thrust out. (29) They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. (30) And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."
As Jesus walked along on his journey to Jerusalem someone asks him, “Lord are only a few going to be saved?” It may be that this man senses from what Jesus has already said about the kingdom that salvation is not going to be automatic or based on simple genealogy as some had thought. The rabbis had taught the people that God was offering salvation to all those who had been born as a part of the Jewish race, that this gift of salvation was confirmed by the symbol of circumcision and maintained by the works of the law. The average Jew took heaven for granted because most Jewish people held the view that all Jews except the very worst would get into heaven. To the Jews they were already on the inside and a few Gentiles could get in by becoming Jews.
But then Jesus came along and taught over and over that God the Father offered salvation by grace through faith in him as the promised Savior.
But the world today is just as confused as the Jews about how one gets to heaven. “There is a growing tendency to believe that all good people, whether or not they consider Jesus Christ to be their savior, will live in heaven after they die on earth. In 1999 the public is almost divided on the matter: 53% agree, 40% disagree. . . Half of all adults (51%) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven.
Of those who have (claimed to have) made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ: (1999).
63% believe that they will go to Heaven when they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior.
11% believe that they will go to heaven because basically they are a good person.
10% do not know what will happen to them after they die.