Sermon #707 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: The Strait Gate
Text: Luke 13:24
Date: Sunday Morning – June 22, 1986
I am of the firm and ever deepening conviction that most religious people are lost. Most of the people I preach to in churches throughout this country and over the radio are yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. It is not as easy as you might suppose to find one who truly knows the Lord Jesus Christ. There are few who trust Christ, few who are committed to Christ, few who are in love with the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s elect, contrary to popular opinion, are not to be found in every church. It may well be true that there are few in any church. Many of you, I fear, are yet without Christ! In the last day, multitudes, vast multitudes of religious men and women who are absolutely sure they are saved, will hear the Son of God say, “Depart from me,” and shall be forever consigned to the torments of the damned (Matt. 7:21-23).
· They believed the truth about Christ.
· They professed faith in Christ.
· They preached in the name of Christ.
· They performed miracles in the name of Christ.
· They performed many wonderful works in the name of Christ.
· They had perfect peace, confidence, and assurance that they were saved, born of God, heirs of heaven, and eternal glory.
But they were lost, without God, without Christ, without hope. Any honest man who reads these three verses in Matthew 7 must be compelled to ask himself, “Lord, is it I?”
‘Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord, or no,
Am I his or am I not?
Will you hear me, as I endeavor to speak plainly and honestly to your soul one more time? May God the Holy Spirit give me your heart’s attention.
The vast majority of those who profess faith in Christ and think that all is well with their immortal souls are lost, in the broad road of destruction, which leads to eternal ruin.
Now, I want you to turn with me to Luke 13:24. Our Lord Jesus Christ says to you and me, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Let us make neither more nor less of this solemn exhortation than our Lord means by it. And the best way to determine what he means is to look into the context.
· Our Lord gave this exhortation in answer to a most remarkable question (v. 23). Our Lord had been preaching on the necessity of repentance and faith, and he had plainly declared the nature of faith, how that it gradually grows and spreads, permeating the whole man, like leaven in the meal. Then, someone asked our Savior, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”
We do not know who asked this question. It may have been a self-righteous Pharisee. It may have been a curious spectator. But I am inclined to think that it was asked by one of the Lord’s disciples who suddenly realized the impact of the Master’s doctrine (Lk. 18:26).
This is a fact, which we most naturally try to avoid, but it is a fact nevertheless: There are few who are saved (Matt. 7:14; 22:14). There are few who live by faith. There are few who love Christ. There are few who are committed to Christ. There are few who do not love this world.
· Then our Lord Jesus Christ gives us this very sobering exhortation (v. 24).
The word “strive” means “to agonize, labor fervently, and fight” to enter in at the strait gate. The word “strait” means “narrow, contracted, or close.”
Here the Lord is showing us our duty, our responsibility. Our concern must not be what others may do, or even what may happen to others. Our responsibility is to seek the Lord ourselves, whether anyone else does or not. J.C. Ryle said, “The gate is strait. The work is great. The enemies of our souls are many. We must be up and doing. We must wait for nobody.” The unbelief and indecision of others will be no excuse in the last day. We must never follow the multitudes. If we go to heaven alone, we must resolve by the grace of God to do so. If we follow Christ alone, we must be resolved to let all others perish if they will, but we will not perish with them. Whether we have many with us, or few, our responsibility is plain – “Strive to enter in.” We are not to go on in our unbelief, saying, “I can do nothing until God draws me.” It is my responsibility to draw near to God. “Strive to enter in.” God’s election and my own inability have nothing to do with my responsibility. I must “strive to enter in.” “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).
· Then our Lord sets before us a very plain and solemn warning (v. 25).
There is a day coming when the longsuffering of God shall come to an end. The door of mercy, which has been open to you for so long, shall soon be shut.
· There comes a time when men and women cannot be saved, even while they live they are dead (Prov. 1:22-31; Hos. 4:17).
Illustration: Noah’s Generation – Sodom – Israel.
· Our Lord is saying, “Strive to enter in now while you may, while the door is open before you, for the door will not always be open.” (Jer. 7:13-16). “Pray not.”
· Finally, our Lord tells us that there is a day of reckoning and righteous judgment coming (vv. 26-30).
· Many who thought they were saved find themselves at last under the wrath of the Lamb (vv. 26-28). Your religious profession, your great experiences, your doctrinal knowledge, your mighty works will all be vanity.
NOTE: These verses plainly reveal to us the fact that all men will see what is right when it is too late. Hell is a place where truth is known too late!
· But in that last day, all believers shall receive the full reward of heaven and eternal glory (vv. 29-30).
In this whole passage our Lord is making an illusion to the ancient marriage feasts, which were held at night. The house would be all lit up. And those who were admitted to the marriage feast would be in the light. Those who were excluded were in darkness outside, “outer darkness.” The guests entered by a narrow wicket gate, at which the porter stood to prevent any uninvited people from rushing into the feast. When all who had been invited were in the house, the door was shut. It would not be opened to those who were without, no matter how much they knocked.
· What is this strait gate?
· Why is it that so few are able to enter this gate?
· How can I enter in at the strait gate?
Our Lord said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” This is not a legal precept. It is a gospel exhortation. The strife we are urged to carry on is an earnest endeavor to avoid missing the gate, being turned aside by the allurement of some larger, broader, more eye-pleasing gate, which will only lead to our eternal ruin. You are in danger of missing the gate. And once you find the gate, you are in danger of not being able to enter. “Many…will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Therefore, we must “strive to enter in at the strait gate.”
I. What is this strait gate?
The word “gate” is not hard to understand. It is the means of access to an enclosed area. It is another word for “door”. And you know that the Door is Christ himself (John 10:9). When the Lord Jesus said, “I am the Door,” he might just as well have said, “I am the Gate.”
A. Christ is the Gate of access to God (John 14:6; Eph. 2:18; Heb. 10:19-22).
B. Christ is the Gate to the City of Refuge.
C. Christ is the Gate to paradise.
D. Christ is the Gate to eternal life, eternal glory, and eternal bliss.
1. He is an open Gate.
2. You are invited to enter in through the Gate.
3. The way to enter in is faith, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not enough to know that you will perish if you are found outside the gate. It is not enough to know the gate is there. It is not enough to know that on the other side of the gate eternal life is to be found. You must enter in through the gate. That entering in is an act of faith. The difference between those who live and those who perish is not what they know about the gate; but whether or not they enter in through the gate.
II. If entering in through the gate is so simple a thing as believing on the Lord Jesus Christ – Why is it that so few are able to enter this gate?
Our text says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
A. Many are not able to enter in at the strait gate, because their hearts are not in the matter.
It would be okay with them to enter in to eternal life. They would like to have their sins forgiven. And they would like to go to heaven when they die. But they will not strive to enter in, because their hearts are too much enamored by other things. It is not particularly important to them to have Christ. It would be fine to have him. That would be nice. But you do not yet feel that you must have him. There are many things that you must have; but Christ is not among them (Jer. 29:13; Matt. 6:19-33).
The only one who ever gets Christ is the one who is made to realize that it is Christ alone that he wants and must have (Ps. 73:25-26; Phil. 3:3-10).
When you realize that you must have Christ, you will enter in at the strait gate; but not until then.
B. Few there are who are able to enter in at the strait gate, because it is a strait gate.
The word “strait” here does not particularly mean that it has no crooks, bends, or curves in it. It means that the gate is “narrow, contracted, or close.” There is nothing particularly appealing about this gate.
1. There is a broad gate, which is far more flattering, far more appealing, far less costly, and far more popular.
2. The lintel of this gate is too low, and the gateposts are too narrow for most of you to enter it.
a. You have to stoop down and enter upon the same grounds as all other men – as guilty, helpless sinners.
Illustration: “Do you think that Betty, my maid, will be
in the same place I am?”
b. You have to enter this gate alone.
c. You can carry nothing in with you.
C. Few will be able to enter in at the strait gate, because you cannot carry any contraband goods with you.]
Illustration: Passing through customs.
· Good works
D. Many will try to enter in at the strait gate and not be able, because they have waited too late.
Illustration: Dixie, Repent! “My God, preacher, I can’t repent.”
E. And there are few who are able to enter in at the strait gate, because they think they are already in!
I tremble to think how many there are here this morning who think they are in the gate who are yet outside! You mistake the outside for the inside. You have rubbed your back against the posts of the gate for so long that you can describe every aspect of the gate’s character. You may even defend the gate with zeal. But you have never entered the gate. You have never crossed the threshold and found refuge in Christ. You had some excitement in a religious meeting a long time ago and joined the church. But you got in without a wedding garment. Satan has fooled your soul with one of his counterfeits, and you do not know the difference. You have mistaken:
· Reformation for regeneration.
· Feeling for faith.
· Emotion for love.
· Religious habits for commitment to Christ.
· Guilt for conviction.
You have been religious for a long, long time. But you have cheated yourself out of Christ, cheated yourself out of eternal life. Spurgeon said, “Of all cheats, the man who cheats himself is certainly the least wise, and, as I think, he shall be the least honest. Do not play the nave with thine own soul. Suspect thyself too much rather than too little. Better journey to heaven in terror of hell than dream of the happy land while drifting in the other direction.”
My dear friends hear me and be warned. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Take nothing for granted.
III. How can I enter in at the strait gate?
It is my responsibility to fervently labor, fight, and strive with all my heart to enter in at the strait gate. But the enemies of my soul are too great and too many for me: the world, the flesh, and the devil. And I know that unless God does for me what I cannot do for myself, I will be among the many who perish. The same is true of you.
A. I must be drawn to the gate (John 6:44).
Only as I am taught of God will I be drawn away from the broad and damning gate of free-will and good works, and drawn to the gate of free-grace in Christ. No man will ever see the beauty of the strait gate until he is taught of God.
B. I must be made willing to enter (Ps. 65:4; 110:3; John 5:40).
1. I must be stripped stark naked before God.
2. I must be made to bow down in the dust before Christ.
C. I must be drawn through the gate with the irresistible cords of divine love (Hos. 11:3-4).
Being drawn to the gate, being made willing to enter in at the gate, being drawn through the gate, I do with all my heart enter in at the strait gate!
Enter in now at the strait gate while the gate is open and the Spirit of God bids you come.