The Narrow Door

Avoiding all our sinful intellectual curiosities arising from our pride, we must strive to enter through the narrow door of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Narrow Door

In Luke 13:23, someone asked Jesus if the number of those who are saved would be few? Rather than dabbling into speculative theology which is all too typical when Christians try to answer this question, Jesus answered it with an imperative, a command for us to obey: “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” In other words, Jesus wants us to quit worrying about such matters of speculation and put all our efforts rather in working out our own salvation. It is the consistent emphasis of Scripture to dissuade us from mere speculation and encourage us to put our spirituality in the forefront (1Tim.6:4; 2Tim.2:23; Tit.3:9). Here also, the Lord wants us to see to it that we are first of all going to be saved and then worry about other matters like how many are saved. As one commentator put it, Jesus wants us to “Consider the question with reference to yourself, not with reference to others.

Speculative aspects of soteriology, however, have sadly been the preoccupation of many Christians throughout history. Unnecessary debates over matters not clear in Scripture and all the ensuing arguments and divisions over it makes us forget our main responsibility as Christians. God has not called us to resolve divine mysteries in Scripture, but to repent and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in faith. Avoiding all our sinful intellectual curiosities arising from our pride, we must strive to enter through the narrow door of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Greek, the root word for this command is the word from which we get our English word, agonize. Jesus is thus calling here for agonizing, painstaking, laborious effort on our part. We have to make every effort to enter the narrow door. For it, Jesus goes on to give two reasons why we should follow this command.

1. Strive to enter the narrow door for it is not acceptable to all (Lk.13:24)

In Luke 13:24, Jesus says, many will seek to enter this door, but since it is a narrow door they will not be able to enter it. In other words, though many seek salvation, they are unwilling to accept the narrowness of this door and thus are unable to enter the company of those who are truly saved. Everyone who seeks salvation wants the benefit of being saved but are not willing to submit to God’s will concerning how we are saved. God has provided only one gospel for all people everywhere to be saved which is to repent of our sins and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ with a heart full of faith. It is only those who take up their cross and follow Jesus faithfully, persevering in that faith through all their trials until the end that shall be saved (Mk.13:13). Those who would not submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, bearing His yoke by faith, cannot enter this narrow door. The Lord is clear the number of such people is many. In a way, He is answering the numerical doubt that the questioner had, but rather than answering it in terms of some unfathomable depths of eternal decrees or similar mysteries, the Lord answers it in terms of the rebellious arrogance of the many in not submitting to God’s will. Salvation is purely a gift of God that is given to us on God’s own terms. He has deemed it right and wise to leave this door narrow: Only for those who follow the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith until the end. This calls for steadfast submission and hence the command from Jesus to strive.

2. Strive to enter the narrow door for it is not open for all time (Lk.13:25)

In Luke 13:25, Jesus makes it clear that one day God will shut this door and it would not be open for anyone knocking after it. If they do, the answer is clear, the Lord would say He does not know them. There is a favorable time for which the door of salvation is open for us and we do not know when the Lord would close it with His coming. Right now we should, therefore, make all the effort to enter through it with repentance and faith. Now is not the time for dabbling into speculation or unnecessary quarrels over divine mysteries we do not know of anything. Rather, now is the time for working out our salvation in fear and trembling. Now is the time to repent and follow Jesus faithfully unto death (2Cor.6:2).

It is also clear from this verse that entering through the narrow door involves personally knowing the Lord. Salvation is not a list of to-do’s that we can check off on a logbook by our mere decisions. Rather, it is being ushered by God's grace into a loving relationship and fellowship with God through our union with the Lord Jesus Christ. To repent of our sins, believe in the person and work of Christ, and following Jesus by putting to death our flesh are means by which we commune with the Lord. Mere external association with the Lord or His church would not suffice (Lk.13:26-27). Evildoers of Lk.13:27 externally acknowledged the authority of Jesus by calling Him, 'Lord' (Lk.13:.25), accompanied His fellowship (Lk.13:26a), and attended to His teaching (Lk.13:26b). But apart from a heart of repentance and faith, all such religiosity accomplishes nothing. Knowing the Lord thus involves more than just cognitive knowledge. Since the time is limited and we do not know when it will run out for us, we should be diligent and vigilant in our relationship with the Lord. This again calls for steadfast submission and hence the command from Jesus to strive.

In conclusion, let us remember that though salvation is free, it is costly both for God and us. For God, it cost the death of His dear Son. For us, it will cost dying to ourselves daily. Rather than indulging in vain speculations, let us be agonizingly diligent to make our calling and election sure by growing in grace (2 Pet.1:10).