Call To Worship June 17 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke J.C. Ryle Luke 13:22-30

“We see in these verses — a remarkable question asked. We are told that a certain man said to Jesus, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’

We do not know who this enquirer was. He may have been a self-righteous Jew, trained to believe that there was no hope for the Gentile, and no salvation for any but the children of Abraham. He may have been an idle trifler with religion, who was ever wasting his time on curious and speculative questions. In any case, we must all feel that he asked a question of deep and momentous importance.

He who desires to know the number of the saved, in the present time — need only turn to the Bible, and his curiosity will be satisfied. He will read these solemn words in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leads unto life — and few there are who find it.’ (Matthew 7:14.) He has only to look around him, and compare the ways of the many with the Word of God — and he will soon come to the conclusion, if he is an honest man — that the saved are few.

It is a dreadful conclusion. Our souls naturally turn away from it. But Scripture and facts alike, combine to shut us up to it. Salvation to the uttermost, is offered to men. All things are ready on God’s part. Christ is willing to receive sinners — but sinners are not willing to come to Christ. And hence few are saved.

We see, secondly, in these verses — a striking exhortation given. We are told that when our Lord Jesus Christ was asked whether few would be saved, He said, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate.’ He addressed these words to the whole company of His hearers. He thought it unwise to gratify the curiosity of his questioner by a direct reply. He chose rather to press home on him, and all around him — their own immediate duty. In minding their own souls — they would soon find the question answered. In striving to enter in at the strait gate — they would soon see whether the saved were many or few.

Whatever others may do in religion — the Lord Jesus would have us know that our duty is clear. The gate is strait. The work is great. The enemies of our souls are many. We must be up and doing. We are to wait for nobody. We are not to inquire what other people are doing — and whether many of our neighbors, and relatives, and friends are serving Christ. The unbelief and indecision of others — will be no excuse for us at the last day. We must never follow a multitude to do evil. If we go to Heaven alone — we must resolve that by God’s grace we will go. Whether we have many with us or a few — the command before us is plain, ‘Strive to enter in!’

Whatever others may think in religion, the Lord Jesus would have us know that we are responsible for exertion. We are not to sit still in sin and worldliness, waiting for the grace of God. We are not to go on still in our wickedness, sheltering ourselves under the vain plea that we can do nothing until God draws us. We are to draw near to Him in the use of the means of grace. How we can do it, is a question with which we have nothing to do. It is in obedience — that the knot will be untied. The command is express and unmistakable, ‘Strive to enter in.’

We see, thirdly, in these verses — a day of dreadful solemnity described. We are told of a time when ‘the master of the house shall rise and shut the door.’ We are told of a time when some shall ‘sit down in the kingdom of God’ — and others be ‘shut out’ for evermore. There can be no doubt about the meaning of these words. They describe the second coming of Christ — and the day of judgment.

A day is coming on the earth, when the patience of God towards SINNERS shall have an end. The door of mercy, which has been so long open — shall at last be shut! The fountain opened for all sin and impurity — shall at length be closed. The throne of grace shall be removed — and the throne of judgment shall be set up in its place.

The great tribunal of the world shall begin. All who are found impenitent and unbelieving — shall be thrust out forever from God’s presence! Men shall find that there is such a thing, as ‘the wrath of the Lamb!’ (Revelation 6:16.)

A day is coming when BELIEVERS in Christ shall receive a full reward. The Master of the great house in Heaven shall call His servants together, and give an unfading crown of glory to each of them. They shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and rest forever from warfare and work. They shall be eternally shut in — with Christ, and saints, and angels, in the kingdom of Heaven. Sin, and death, and sorrow, and the world, and the devil — shall be eternally shut out. Men shall see at last that, ‘To him that sows righteousness — there is a sure reward.’ (Proverbs 11:18.)

We see, lastly, in these verses — a heart-searching prophecy delivered. Our Lord tells us that in the day of His second coming, ‘Many will seek to enter in at the strait gate — and shall not be able.’ They will ‘knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us!’ — but will find no admission. They will even plead earnestly, that ‘they have eaten and drunk in Christ’s presence, and that He has taught in their streets.’ But their plea will be unavailing. They will receive the solemn answer, ‘I don’t know you. Depart from Me, all you who do evil.’ Religious profession, and formal knowledge of Christ — will save none who have served sin and the world.

There is something particularly striking in our Lord’s language in this prophecy. It reveals to us the solemn fact, that men may see what is right — when it is too late for them to be saved. There is a time coming, when many will repent too late, and believe too late. They will sorrow for sin too late, and begin to pray too late. They will be anxious about salvation too late, and long for Heaven too late. Myriads shall wake up in the eternal world, and be convinced of truths which on earth they refused to believe. Earth is the only place in God’s creation — where there is any infidelity. Hell itself, is nothing but truth known too late.

The recollection of this passage should help us to set a right estimate on things around us. Money, and pleasure, and rank, and greatness — occupy the first place now in the world. Praying, and believing, and holy living, and acquaintance with Christ — are despised, and ridiculed, and held very cheap. But there is a drastic change coming one day! The last shall be first — and the first last. For that change, let us be prepared.

And now let us ask ourselves whether we are among the many — or among the few? Do we know anything of striving and warring against sin, the world, and the devil? Are we ready for the Master’s coming to shut the door? The man who can answer these questions satisfactorily, is a true Christian.”