Since the first century, Christian orthodoxy has presented Jesus as the only door. While this has been a central tenant of Christianity for two thousand years, today, there is great confusion on just how many doors exist. According to Dr. Dennis Hollinger, “…the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a major study on religious affiliation, beliefs and practices in the United States. One of the significant findings was that 70 percent of all Americans believe that many religions can lead to eternal life, including 65 percent of all self-identifying Christians. Perhaps the most surprising finding was that 56 percent of all Evangelical Christians believe that there are many paths, other than faith in Christ, to God and eternal life.”
Oh, how we need to hear again the words of Jesus, “Enter through the narrow door.” That door is not accessed by a sincere faith in some religion. That door is not entered by being a really good person, or doing wonderful things. That door is not opened by being in the right family or going to the right church. Jesus is the door! Read on…
Read Genesis 7:11-24 – The Door was Shut
Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God desired to recreate after His creation had become utterly corrupt. To further His plan, God commanded Noah to build the ark. He was the only living man who found favor with God. Noah was given very specific instructions about building this great ship. He was then instructed to fill the boat with two animals of every kind. There were two of every living creature, but only one door. When the day came, God commanded Moses and his family to go aboard. They entered through the one door. Then, the door was shut. Those who were aboard were saved. Those on the outside were not.
Read Luke 13:22-30 – The Door is Open
If you study the Bible long enough you will run into difficult sayings or teachings. What do we usually say when that happens? When I get to heaven, I am going to ask the Lord about that. Have you ever said that? Maybe you have a list of questions. Let’s say that you have been invited to ask Jesus one question right now. What question would you ask him? No, you can’t ask Him what the winning lottery numbers are. Some might ask about when is He coming back. Others might want to know what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is. Still others of us might inquire about the Nephilim. Or we might ask about dinosaurs.
As we saw in our reading from Luke 13, someone takes the opportunity to ask Jesus a great question. We are not told who the questioner is. But, we do have a record of his question. Essentially, he asks, “Lord, how many will be saved?” Did you notice that Jesus doesn’t answer the question? It seems like a really good one! Why didn’t Jesus answer him? It is very likely that Jesus is making an important point by not answering! You see, it doesn’t do us a lot of good to know how many will be saved. We need to see every person as a possibility. 2 Peter 3:9 declares that, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come unto repentance.
For some reason, mankind enjoys the thought of being in the select few, the frozen chosen. Allow me to illustrate this. A minister colleague of mine was working on his master of divinity. As part of is degree he had to attend a Jehovah’s Witness meeting. The message that night dealt with the 144,000 elect who would be in heaven. After the meeting, my friend went to the speaker and asked “How do you know if you are in the 144,000 who will be saved?” The man said, “If you have to ask, you aren’t one of them.”
Rather than focusing on how many will be saved, Jesus focuses on the way to be saved! How are we to be saved? We must enter through the narrow door. When Jesus says, enter through the narrow door, the word door is singular. He speaks of one door – not multiple doors. We must not miss this! There is only one door. It is said that the ancient city of Troy had only one entrance and that from whatever direction travelers approached the city they could only enter through that one legally-appointed entrance. This is the idea that Jesus is communicating. There is only one door – singular!
Aren’t you glad that truth is not based on polls and trends? God’s objective truth is timeless and changeless. The world may believe that there are a hundred doors, or a thousand or a million doors. But, Jesus said Himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is the only door! Acts 4:12 says without ambiguity, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the only door. Jesus alone is God Incarnate – fully God fully man. Jesus alone was born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus alone lived a sinless life. Jesus alone took upon Himself the sin of the world. Jesus alone died as the atonement for our sin. Jesus alone reversed the curse of Adam. Jesus alone arose from the grave on the third day. Jesus alone ascended to the Father. Jesus alone stands at this very moment as the Mediator between God and man. No other man can claim to be God. No other man can make any of these claims. No other man has the power to redeem, restore and recreate us. Jesus alone is the doorway to salvation.
Oh what glorious “Good News” is the Gospel of Jesus. And yet, despite God’s gracious provision for us, Jesus said that many will seek their own way. In Luke 13:24 Jesus offers a warning! “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Notice that Jesus says many will seek to enter but they won’t be able. Why won’t they be able? Because they will try to enter in their own way. They will try to find another door. They are convinced they can be saved without a Savior! I have a non-Christian friend who is asking a lot of questions. He is searching for answers in all of the wrong places. We ought not trust our eternal souls to the History Channel and lost secrets of the Bible, or some discredited Gnostic Gospel of Thomas that just happens to be at Barnes and Knobles in the religious aisle.
Do you know what’s trending these days in religious practice? A growing number of people, even those who claim to be Christians, are combining Christianity with other religions to create their own customized, personalized religion. Jesus warns us, there is one narrow door, and many will miss it because they are trying to find their own door. One day, the one door will be closed. I can’t help but imagine Noah and the Ark. With his family safely gathered inside, imagine the pandemonium when the rain started and the door was shut. It was too late for those who had seen no need for the ark! On that day they will not be allowed in.
Verse 25 tells us, “When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come 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 where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place 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 but you yourselves cast out.” How tragic is this scene? When we die, the door will be eternally shut, and those crying out for entry will not be permitted to enter. Why? They are not allowed because they will not be recognized. You see, in order to enter the Master’s house we must have a covenant relationship with Him. We must be part of the family! Those locked outside then argue, “We ate and drank with you – we heard your teaching!” Is it possible that even some of those who attend church will not be allowed in?
Matthew 7:21-22 makes it clear! “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” What’s missing? The Lord says, “I never knew you.” There was no relationship. We must be reconciled to the Father by uniting with the Son. The Son of God became a son of man so that the sons of men might become sons of God!
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” What must we do to be “in Christ”? What does it take for us to become new creations and to be reconciled to God? We must repent, or turn away from sin and evil, and, we must turn to Jesus by faith, believing we are: redeemed by His blood, restored by His sacrifice, and raised to new life by His resurrection. We must commit our lives to Jesus as His disciples, taking up our cross daily, denying ourselves and following Him. Romans 10:9 says, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” You see, this is the door! And this is the only way – through Jesus!
With this truth established…Jesus takes it a step farther in verse 29. Who will sit at God’s table? “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” The Lord desires people at His banquet table from the north, south, east and west. God’s covenant love is ever expanding to the nations. This was promised from the beginning. In Genesis 12, God promised Abraham: In your family line all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles. Is that what they did? Instead, they grew to despise the Gentiles. In 722 BC the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. In 586 BC the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians. What was God doing? The Assyrians and Babylonians dispersed God’s people all over the known world. Though it was painful and tragic, God’s chosen ones became missionaries to the world.
That is the heart of God – that all nations will hear. In the mid-sixth century – Jerusalem was resettled and rebuilt. And, almost immediately, the Jewish people began to revile the Goyim – the other nations. The Gentiles were called dogs!! The Samaritans their cousins, were half breeds!! Into this exclusivism and inward focus, Jesus came. What was Jesus’ mission? He came to seek and save the lost!
Ephesians 2:17 states, “[Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far off (the Gentiles) and peace to those who were near (The Jewish People). For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” In Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. You see, Jesus came to save those from every nation.
Let’s conclude with verse 30. “And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Recognize this – what causes many to miss the one door, what makes it almost impossible for people to receive God’s gift of grace is pride! Jesus says, the first will be last! But, the last will be first. A Sunday school teacher was telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus. She said that Lazarus sat outside the rich man’s gate covered with sores and begging for food. And that the rich man passed Lazarus without even seeing him. But when they both died Lazarus went to Heaven, while the rich man found himself in hades, which the teacher described most graphically. When she had finished, she asked the children, “Now which would you rather be—the rich man or Lazarus?” One little fellow answered, “I would like to be the rich man until I die and then Lazarus afterwards.”
That’s not how it works. The proud will be cast down. But the humble – will be raised up. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will raise you up! God is looking for those who are humble. We began with Jesus being asked a question. We will conclude this devotion with Jesus asking us a question. In John 11, Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosever lives and believeth in me will never die. Do you believe this?” As we walk this journey to Jesus and follow the pathway to the Passion, we must realize that Jesus is not only the destination, He is also the Way, and Jesus is the only door. Do you believe this?