The Exclusivity of the Kingdom
May 31, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Exclusivity Verse: Luke 13:22–13:30
Theme: Personal faith in Jesus Christ is the only way a sinner can enter the Kingdom of God.
Introduction: Salvation is exceptional. A miracle of grace and mercy that obliterates the guilt and shame of the individual sinner who believes, but eludes the proud and self-sufficient. In the history of redemption, a vast minority of people have known the blessing of redemption. In notable examples provided in Scripture, a small number of people have escaped the wrath of God. For example, consider how many people were saved out of God’s wrath in the flood – 1 Peter 3:20. Consider also the number saved out of Sodom – Genesis 19:16. Anecdotally, as we look around and see the unsaved dying – an overwhelming number of them lost … entering an eternity of suffering, anguish, regret, and aloneness.
Our text this morning addresses this issue – how many are being saved? What are we to think? Jesus receives this question and turns it around to impose upon each person who would ask the question the incumbency of concerning themselves with themselves. Essentially, Jesus answers: “Don’t worry about how many, worry about whether you are being saved!” He provides us the one way that a person is able to enter the kingdom – through personal faith in Jesus Christ. (Read text) …
I. The Difficulty Entering the Kingdom – 13:22-24
A. The Priority of the Salvation – vv. 22-23
- Luke picks up the narrative once again, picturing Jesus having set His face toward Jerusalem for the purpose of suffering in the place of sinners – “And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.”
- Clearly, the priority of Christ, as well as His sense of urgency, was a continual appeal to people to be prepared to enter the kingdom of God – cp. Luke 9:56; 10:2; 12:20, 40, 58; 13:3, 6-9.
- As Jesus constantly repeated His appeal for sinners to repent and be saved, someone sought to quantify what a successful number of people “saved” would be – “And someone said to Him, ‘Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?’”
- Jesus had not offered simplistic, feel-good antidotes to the problem of sin, but had called upon sinners to truly repent – suggesting that not many people are willing to do what Jesus was preaching – cp. Luke 9:23-24, 62; 12:8, 21.
- In the context in Luke, Jesus had compared the kingdom of God to a mustard seed and leaven, two unimpressively sized metaphors.
- Jesus interestingly didn’t answer the question but turned the question back upon the curious and admonished him to be sure that he was included ...
B. The Particulars of Salvation – v. 24
- “And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door …” – making it not some much a matter of how many will, but will you?
- This is similar to His response to those who asked about those killed by Pilate earlier in this chapter.
- There are several particulars of salvation disclosed by Christ here:
- The opportunity remains open as we are called upon the seek to enter the kingdom.
- Entrance to the kingdom is something that is not easy – we are commanded to “strive to enter …” [ἀγωνίζομαι] – a term that refers to a fight or struggle, the term where we derive the word “agonize” – describing the effort to countermand selfishness in true repentance and self-denial.
- Entrance to the kingdom is not through a wide open door but requires going through “the narrow door” [στενός] – referring to a small opening requiring preparations to enter – be as lean and unencumbered as possible.
- “Striving to enter the narrow door” is made even more difficult by several factors – such as the inclinations of our depravity; the deceptions by our enemy; the alternative approaches contrived by proud and unrepentant humanistic idolaters.
- Jesus warns that the time will come when those currently disinterested in entering will desperately seek to enter, but will not be able to do so – “… for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
- Sinners must not presume that the same availability for repentance and faith will prevail indefinitely.
- Here the mystery of how God’s sovereignty in redemption and the responsibility of the sinner to obey the command to repent merge in mystery.
- Jesus clearly appeals to the sinner to take responsibility for their own spiritual condition by repenting and believing – no one in Hell will be able to acquit themselves by claiming “But I wasn’t elect – what could I do about it?!”
Consider again the commitment of Christ as He purposely and knowingly heads to Jerusalem to lay down His life for us.
Have you ever been discouraged by the apparent lack of people being saved? How does Jesus’ answer in our text challenge you?
In what ways are you striving to enter the Kingdom?
II. The Disqualification from Entering the Kingdom – 13:25-27
A. The Remorse of the Disqualified – v. 25
- The occasion for the inability to enter the kingdom is the decision by the Lord to “close the door” – “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door …” – it’ll be too late.
- Similar to those condemned when the door of the ark was closed, these people will realize their plight too late - cp. Genesis 7:16
- Having neglected the opportunity the enter the kingdom when the chance was theirs, they will regret that decision and call upon the Lord to permit them entry – “… Lord, open us to us!”
- Similarly, those who reject the Gospel will not be permitted to be saved after the Rapture of the Church – cp. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.
- But, it will be too late – they wise up to their need after the provision of their need has been wasted.
B. The Renunciation of the Disqualified – vv. 26-27
- In response to their appeals, Jesus indicates that they will receive complete rejection – “Lord, open to us! Then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’”
- They will then provide what they have felt all along are their credentials – what they thought would have sufficed to gain them entry – “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’”
- They essentially claimed that since they had benefitted from the social enjoyment of the Gospel and had permitted Christ the freedom to proclaim the Gospel that they ought to be included.
- However, there is no indication of self-denial, repentance, or faith being exhibited.
- As a result, Jesus’ response is to reiterate what He said earlier: “… and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’”
- The designation “evildoers” [ἀδικία] – indicates how God looks at all who have not been reconciled to Him through faith in Christ Jesus – there is nothing to transform them into a state of holiness.
How do you react to the right of Jesus to “close the door” of salvation to exclude those who do not choose to “go in” while it was open?
What impact does this “window of opportunity” have on you?
How are we to distinguish between “religious activity” and “saving faith?”
III. The Distinctions in Entering the Kingdom – 13:28-30
A. The Suffering of Those Excluded from the Kingdom – vv. 28
- Their sentence is final and eternal – “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth …”
- The torment they face will be an unbearable torment – a suffering that yearns for annihilation and termination but will not be found.
- What makes the suffering even more unbearable will be the recollection of what was forfeited by their refusal to repent – even as the observe the blessing given to those who did repent – “… when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.”
- Their observation of those who demonstrated clear saving faith will be a constantly intensifying element in their suffering.
B. The Satisfaction of Those Included in the Kingdom – vv. 29-30
- Yet, those who did repent and place their faith in the salvation provided by God through His Messiah, they will be satisfied by their reward.
- Jesus promises that “they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.”
- By saying that those entering the “kingdom of God” come from everywhere indicates that the unthinkable will occur – Gentiles will be included.
- In this sense, those who thought themselves preeminently above the threat of condemnation because of their privileges will find themselves condemned, while those disdained will be preeminent in glory – “And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”
According to verse 28, what will intensify the suffering of those condemned?
How will the blessings received in glory make all of the “striving” to enter worth it?
What can you differently than you currently do to minimize living for temporal luxuries and rather live for Christ?
- You cannot be cavalier about the condition of your soul before the Lord - it must be of greatest priority.
- Entry to the kingdom of God is ONLY through Jesus Christ, hence it is imperative that He be the focus of our faith – not the claims of antagonists to the Gospel.
- The opportunity to enter is NOT determined by you or your intentions – God closes the door when He decides.
- There is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun – do not play the odds.
- If you have been saved, press on in faith rejoicing.