Christ and the Door

Luke 13:23‑30  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The question here raised is one of deep, personal importance to the sinner, namely, that of salvation. "Lord, are there few that be saved? " The Lord Jesus had spoken of the certainty of coming judgments on impenitent sinners, and on mere professors in the kingdom, however flourishing
in appearance: "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:18, 19, 1-1018Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. (Luke 13:18‑19)
1There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 6He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. 10And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. (Luke 13:1‑10)
.) This is truly solemn as coming from the lips of their own Messiah. " Ye shall." If impenitency and mere formality be persisted in, there is no hope for the future: the soul must " perish." What a dreadful thought is conveyed by that dreadful word "perish." It means all is lost-forever lost! the soul perished-hope perished-all forever perished-body, soul, and spirit, in the place of woe. Oh! that careless sinners and mere professors would think on such things now, ere it is too late- ere the Master be risen up, and the door shut.
It is to such the gospel is preached, and preached by the same Jesus. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).) Here the mere worldling is represented as perishing-, but not yet perished. Glorious Gospel! It perfectly meets the case; only listen to its voice, and believe its message of love, to thee, oh! perishing sinner. God loves the sinner; Christ died for the sinner-whosoever believes it, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. " God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:88But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).) Thus saith the word of the Lord!
The question here put, "Lord, are there few that be saved?'' seems to be a merely curious or idle question, on the part of the one that asked it; such as unconverted men will sometimes ask about the doctrine of election. But the Lord, in His usual way, so answered it as to turn it into a serious one. What a lesson for us. He replied, so as to meet, not the question, but the real state of the man's soul. As if the Lord said, Few or many, do you " strive to enter in at the strait gate." That is your personal, all-important matter. " For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." "When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and lie shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
Surely this is a solemn and searching reply, and well fitted to turn the curious into an anxious enquirer. The Lord, in His rich mercy, grant that it may do so in the case of many into whose hands this paper may fall. There are many who are still merely curious enquirers, whom we desire to see deeply anxious and earnest ones. Surely the salvation of the soul is of all others the most personal matter possible. The door is still open-the invitation is to all: " Come, for all things are now ready." Enter while there is room. The Master is patiently waiting; Oh, delay not! " Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
The connection, and strict interpretation, of this passage refer to the Jews. Christ was speaking to Jews, and of their then present privileges, and future miseries, because they were rejecting Him. He plainly showed them, that although their privileges had been great, such as eating and drinking in His presence, and hearing Him preach the gospel in their streets, still there was no salvation for them, and no entering the kingdom, while they refused to own Himself-receive Him as the true Messiah, and the only Savior of sinners. He would at last say, " I know you not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." Observe, He does not deny, that they enjoyed their privileges; but He repeats this awfully-solemn truth, '' I know you not whence ye are." They had never made themselves known to Him. They had never come to Himself, individually, as sinners to a Savior. They knew their privileges, and boasted in them, but they refused Christ. '' Ο Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not.''' Christ Himself was rejected. Israel would have none of Him. Therefore they were left desolate, like chickens without the sheltering wing, and the " fox" in the midst of them. Oh, what a picture of utter helplessness and certain destruction.
But although this portion of scripture, strictly speaking, refers to the Jews, it has, nevertheless, a most solemn voice to us. And, morally, it strikingly illustrates our own present position, and the condition of things all around.
Let us now look at the subject in its application to our own time.
When Christ had finished the great work of redemption on the cross, He ascended up on high, and sat down at the right hand of God in heaven. His work being finished He sat down. " When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb. 1:33Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3).) The sacrifice for sinners was offered and accepted, by which their need was fully met. God was glorified. The rights of His throne were vindicated, by the blood of the sacrifice sprinkled on the mercy-seat. All the perfections of His character were displayed in their full glory, and the principles of His moral government maintained. All being done,-perfectly, and forever done -the door of mercy is thrown wide open to the chief of sinners. The way into the holiest of all is made manifest. And the voice of gracious invitation goes forth into all the world-to every creature-whosoever will let him come and drink at the fountain of the water of life freely-gratis. God is free to receive to Himself, and pardon with overflowing love, all who come to Him by faith in the finished work of His dear Son. Thus we have, glory be to God, at this present moment,
A SEATED CHRIST,-AN OPEN DOOR.
And whosoever will may come to Him, in the full confidence of the Father's perfect love, and the Son's finished work for them. All in heaven is favorable to the sinner who thus comes.
There need be no doubts, no fears, no trembling. To enter the open door in the faith of Christ,-simply trusting to the work which He has accomplished for us, is to enter heaven,-how? In what condition, think you? O, wondrous truth! It is to enter heaven in the full credit of Christ Himself. It is to cross the threshold-pass through the pearly gates-walk up the golden street, right to the throne of God; and stand in the pure light of that throne, in all the perfectness, and acceptableness of Christ Himself. To find fault with the believing sinner there, would be to find fault with Him who sits upon the throne. He stands there, not in his own right or title, but in the rights and titles of Christ. " To-day," said the dying Jesus to the believing thief, " shalt thou be with me in paradise." Not only, observe, in paradise, but " with me." O, that precious, "with me," It defines, so sweetly, where the departed spirit is-where heaven is,-and what heaven is. It is just to be with Christ. Now, we are by faith " in Christ Jesus;" by and by we shall be personally " with Him." In our bodies of glory we shall be forever with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:1717Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
But as to the immediate results-the present condition of all who believe in Jesus, the following passage is clear and decided, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (1 Pet. 3:1818For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18).) This is the full gospel of the grace of God. There is no missing link in this gospel. The believer, in virtue of the sufferings and death of Christ, is brought to God in Him. Not only to the cross, but to the throne. Not merely into a place, but unto a person. He can never get better,-he can never get higher than this. Oh! wondrous truth! Brought to God, in the condition of Christ!-In the condition of His life-righteousness-peace-preciousness-perfectness-and glory I "Because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:1717Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17).) This passage clearly expresses the believer's vital union,-real oneness, with Christ, and that he stands, even now, at this present time, in all His completeness, in the presence of God. And is it, my reader may ask, to all this blessedness, that the open door leads? Yes, dear reader, to all this wondrous, present blessedness! And while Christ is seated at God's right hand, the door stands wide open night and day. Entering in by the strait gate, simply means, coming in faith to Jesus-conversion-reconciliation to God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, then, enter now! To-morrow may be too late-the Master may be risen up, and the door shut against you forever.
Alas! that any should prefer present things to coming to Jesus!-that any should need to be entreated to come to Him. What can be more encouraging-more inviting than -a seated Christ-an open door? The present position of Christ, assures the sinner that the work is finished. There is no ground for perplexity. The work required by God, and needed by the sinner, is done-perfectly done, and accepted by God for the sinner. The divine proof of this, is, a seated Christ-an open door. There, the blessed Jesus waits in patient love, to receive to Himself all who come by faith. And this glorious word, " Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out," He has sent forth into all the ends of the earth, that every doubt may be dispelled. Oh, then, tell me, ye trembling, troubled, doubting—unhappy ones—where is there the smallest ground for all your fears, as to your acceptance? Certainly, it is not in the love of God-the work of Christ- the witness of the Holy Ghost-the open door-or, in the patient, waiting One. It can only be in the unbelief of your own hearts. For, surely, the work of Christ is finished-God is satisfied, and well pleased in Him-sin has been put away-the power of Satan destroyed-death vanquished-the grave spoiled-and Christ, the mighty Victor, seated in triumph on the right hand of heaven's Majesty, waiting for sinners to be gathered to Him, that they may adorn His crown, and reflect his glory, throughout the countless ages of eternity. " Now, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." Rom. 15:1313Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13).
We will now glance, very briefly, at the second part of our subject, namely,
A RISEN CHRIST-Α SHUT DOOR.
The Lord solemnly assures us, that the moment His position is changed, the door is shut; and that there would be no hope for those who were outside, who had refused to enter by the strait gate. The position of the door depends entirely upon the position of the Master. While He is seated, the door is open; but when He is risen up, the door is shut. "When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are." It was those who had enjoyed the greatest privileges, such as eating and drinking in the Lord's presence, and hearing Him teach, that were hopelessly shut out. They might seek to get in at the shut door, but there was no admittance for them. " For many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able." The seeking here, and the not being able to enter, do not refer to the strait gate, but entirely to the shut door. So it may have been in the days of Noah. Those who refused to enter the ark through the preaching of Noah, could not get in after the door was shut. They might seek, and seek earnestly, pleadingly, and touchingly, as they saw the waters rising on the earth, but it was too late, God had shut the door and none could open it. They had despised the day of His long-suffering grace, although He had waited a hundred and twenty years for them, but a day of solemn reckoning came at last, and there was no escaping. They might see the ark of God's salvation rising securely on the swelling deep, but there was no refuge for them. Some might flee from one summit to another, but the raging- billows pursued after them, until the highest summit was reached, and every mountain swept by the black waters of judgment.
Surely, dear reader, there is something peculiarly and especially solemn, in the truth "here stated by the Lord. Does it not plainly teach us, that the doom of all would be sealed forever, who have refused to come to Him by the open door, were He, at this moment, to change His position? Assuredly it does. " When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door," &c. All depends upon this. How solemn! Were He to arise to-day, where would you be? on which side of the door? The question is not, 'I am young, in good health, and may live many years.' Oh, no! but in a moment when we think not, the master may rise up, shut the door, and what then? If outside the door, amongst those who have deliberately refused to come in, all hope is lost. He is " the master of the house;" "he openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth."
And now, in conclusion, let me faithfully and affectionately warn my dear reader, not to rest in privileges. Privileges, however great, are not Christ. These can never save the soul. lie only can. Have you-oh, have you, come to Himself! Have you ever spoken to Himself about your condition as a sinner, and His grace and love as the Savior, in dying for you? Oh! let me again ask you, have you come to Himself? Have you had to do with Himself, in the secret of His own presence? Your precious opportunities may be near an end. Who can tell how soon the Master may rise up. Is He not now gathering souls in great numbers, and filling His house rapidly? May it not be nearly full? Oh, delay not while the door is open, enter in, and be at rest. " The master calleth thee" and every poor blinded sinner. Why refuse? " Come unto me," are His own words of gracious invitation, and His sure promise is, " I will give you rest." Do, then, oh, do, come to Jesus. " Strive to break away from everything that would hinder thee coming. " Strive to enter in by the strait gate." Oh, let nothing hinder thee. Come to Jesus. He is worth more to thy soul, than the whole world a thousand times over. Only think, then, of the precious Jesus. Oh how precious He is, and at once come to Him. The companionship of Jesus, the fellowship of the holy, the bright glories of heaven, and the unutterable torments of hell are set before thee. Oh! which is it to be? Canst thou hesitate for a moment? Choose, oh! choose at once, as the portion of thy heart, that blessed One who has waited so long, and so patiently for thee. Rest on His finished work for thee. Let Him have thy whole heart, and be eternally happy in His changeless love.