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COLUMN: Jesus speaks about the narrow gate

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By Steve Gettinger

The text of Scripture from Luke 13:22-30 is one that many people are uncomfortable with, because Jesus talks about people going to heaven and  people going to hell.
In Luke 13:23-24 a person poses a question to Jesus: Then one said to Jesus, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And Jesus said to them, “Strive (struggle) to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Jesus declares how narrow the door to heaven is and that many will not fit through.
I suggest that the people who will not fit through the narrow door of heaven are those carrying sinful baggage. What kind of sinful baggage might cause a person to not fit through the narrow door of heaven?  Well let us consider the following types of sinful baggage:
*The sinful baggage of trusting in yourself  and/or your good works.  
This can include the person who subscribes to the worldly belief that if you do more good than bad during your life on earth God should let you in heaven or if you live out your life helping others and trying to do good, then God should be happy with you and let you into heaven. They see no need to have faith in Jesus, repent of their sins and ask God for forgiveness for their sin. The Bible address this in Ephesians 2:8-9: “... it is by grace we are saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift from God, not by works, so that no can boast.” Many people will be surprised to find out that trusting in pilgrimages to the holy cities, large donations of money and time to good causes, following special dietary rules, vows of poverty, etc., will not get them to heaven.
*The sinful baggage of living a sinful unrighteous life. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” People who live contrary to God’s commands and refuse to repent will not fit through the narrow door to heaven. Think about this: Approximately 50 to 80 percent of the sinful lifestyles listed by the Apostle Paul in these verses are perfectly legal to live out in America today. Just because they are legal does not mean that they are OK with God. God will not be mocked. It is spiritually deadly to live out a life of unrepentant sin, no matter how accepted it is by the culture or society you live in. If you are living out one of the lifestyles listed in the verses above, repent and turn to Jesus for the forgiveness he freely offers to you.
*The baggage of trusting in membership, ethnicity, or ancestry.
The narrow door to heaven is far too small for group admissions.  Listen to Jesus’ words: “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” (Luke 13:25-28).
Groups who claim to be spiritual, but reject faith in Jesus or groups who claim membership to a church congregation, but have no faith in Jesus or groups who believe they are saved by their ethnic heritage or ancestry, but reject faith in Jesus will likewise be denied entrance to heaven.
 Jesus warns that the door is narrow, but he also proclaims this good news: “They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke13:29). Who are “They?” They are the people of this world who have a faith and trust in Jesus and his life saving work through his death on the cross resurrection from the dead. Jesus is the narrow door that each of us must pass through to get into heaven. Jesus explains this to his disciples in John 14:6 when he says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Some people find these words upsetting and they get upset with the preacher. If this verse upsets you, I suggest that your problem isn’t with the preacher. It is with Jesus, they are his words, not mine.
The heavenly door may be narrow, but there will be people from all over the world that pass through it. This will happen because Jesus sent the apostles, disciples, and his church to preach the good news of salvation and to make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). Therefore, anyone who has faith in Jesus, repents of their sins and is baptized will be saved! This is for young, old, male, female, any ethnicity, any ancestry, any nationality, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, anyone in the whole world. This is for you and it is absolutely free. In Jesus name, thanks be to God. Amen.