“Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. ”
Luke 13:24-30 NLT
This was how Jesus answered the man who asked how many people will actually enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
It’s a scary answer isn’t it? As Christians we all like to think that those people who are denied entry are other people and not us, but what Jesus says here is that many will try, and fail, they will stand outside knocking and trying to convince Him to open the door again but His reply will be “I don’t know you”.
Persistently these people will say they ate and drank with Him and still He will say “I don’t know you” and then, they’ll be thrown out! Permanently.
The very first word of Jesus’ answer is work. And when I read that I immediately think wait, our salvation doesn’t depend on works and yet Jesus answers this question of how many will get into heaven starting with the word work?
One of the most fundamental of Christian teachings is that we are not saved by works, we are saved by faith. And then you come across a passage of Scripture where Jesus Himself brings up the works aspect of our faith…. or does He?
This is why it is so important not to take verses out of context, though it seems that Jesus is saying work hard to get into heaven, what He is actually saying when you read further is that He will deny entry based on whether or not He knows the person on the other side of the door.
So why would He say “work” when what He wants is to know us?
It’s often pointed out that Jesus wants a relationship with us, the religion of Christianity is different from other religions because our God seeks us, where with other religions it’s the people whom must seek God.
“All other religions centre on people’s righteousness- what we do and how good we are. Real Christianity centres on Jesus’ righteousness- what he has done and how good he is.”
“Religion says do. Jesus says done. Religion is man searching for God, Jesus is God searching for man. Religion is pursuing God by our moral efforts. Jesus is God pursuing us despite our moral efforts. Religious people kill for what they believe. Jesus followers die for what they believe.”
(Quote written by a friend, not me)
It’s not work as in earn your righteousness, it’s work as in pursue the relationship that He wants to have with you. Relationships require effort (work) in order for them to work, make sense?
A husband and wife will not remain husband and wife for very long if neither of them pursue each other, try to please each other, talk to each other, help one another, and most of all love one another! The relationship that Jesus wants is much like that, He talks to us, we talk to Him, He helps us, we help Him by helping His people, He pursues us, we pursue Him, and most of all we love Him because He loves us.
Suffice it to say that Jesus is not advocating for a works based form of Christianity but rather a true faith results in good works type of faith. We don’t do good works to earn our way, we do good works because the way has already been earned! Our works are done simply because we love Jesus and want others to love Him too, not because He requires it but because we love Him so much that we can’t help but do the things that please Him.
I hadn’t really intended this to be a works vs faith blog but I started typing and…. here we are, so I’ll continue….
There are other verses we could quote when it comes to whether or not works play a part in our salvation and yes, I am aware of them. James (the half-brother of Jesus) mentions that faith without works is dead (James 2:26) while Paul says (Romans 5:1) we have been made right in God’s sight by faith. There are more but I think the overwhelming theme is that faith saves you, works is the proof.
Think of it like this, if you see a masked man break into a jewelry store and run off with thousands of dollars worth of gold and silver what does his works show you about his faith? You’ll probably say that this man has no faith, even if he believes there is a God, he obviously doesn’t trust in Him, or you could say he has no faith in Him.
Now, if you see a man handing out meals to the homeless, meals that he made and then wrapped up in his own Tupperware containers knowing he’ll probably never see those containers again, and then you the same man literally take the shirt off his own back and give it to a shirtless homeless man before going home empty-handed and shirtless, would you say that these are the works of a man who has no faith? Not likely, these are the works of a man who loves Jesus! And since Jesus was famous for feeding the hungry, this man is simply mimicking the actions of His savior, this man wants to be like Jesus. Not because feeding the hungry means he gets to go to heaven, but because this is what Jesus did for him.
One last thing before I go, Jesus finishes off His answer like this… Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. If you’re like me this doesn’t answer the question, it raise more questions.
Our social status here on earth may also play a part in the social status we have in heaven?
Oh Jesus, He has a way of answering a question and then flipping the script and making you think of something completely different. “Hey Jesus, how many will get into heaven?” Jesus answers “not a lot actually, for many who think they are, they will be disappointed. The real thing to think about here is this, if you think you’re important now you might not be later, and for those who are at the bottom of the social totem pole, will move all the way up to the top.”
That’s an odd way to answer that question, unless of course the person who asked it was someone of importance and Jesus is trying to make an example out of him. Since we don’t know whether or not the man who asked the question is a man of importance I think it better to look at the question as if we were the ones who asked it.
Are you “important”? Or, do you think you are important? Do you worry about where you will spend eternity? There are assurances in the Bible for those who believe and yet Jesus says that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:22) and again His reply is “I never knew you”.
Don’t gamble with your eternity friends, invite Jesus into your heart today and repent of your sins. Forget what people say, there are no sins too big for Jesus, He can and will forgive all those who ask for it. Believe in His name, don’t try to earn your way to heaven, He already earned it! Don’t try to clean yourself up before you come to Him, come to Him and He will clean you up. John 1:12 says this, “To all who believed in Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God”.
Believe in Him, Accept Him, and then you will have the RIGHT to become a child of God!
Thank you for reading and please… the purpose of this blog is to let others know that Jesus loves them, so please share it, talk about it, like it, do whatever it takes to let your friends know that this life is not all there is.