Words of Faith 9-21-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
He said to them,  "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.  Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'
"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'
 "Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.'
 "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'
 "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.  People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.  Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."
Have you ever gotten to a flight just a little too late? While traveling, I once found my "close connection" had become too close to make. I ran through the air terminal and raced up to the counter. The waiting area was empty. Only one gate agent remained. I was politely told that the flight was now closed.
"But the plane is still here!" I argued. No amount of urging or begging could convince the agent at the counter. The door on the plane was closed. I could beg, plead, cry, and even gnash my teeth. The doors would not be reopened.
Jesus described a similar scene, but one of much greater significance. There is a closing of the door to eternity. There is a conclusion of the time given to respond. One can say 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets,' but the door will be shut and this cannot be changed.
Simple familiarity with Jesus does not gain for us entry through the "narrow gate.” Jesus says the response to those outside the door is unbending. "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'
These are some of the most sobering words in the Bible: "I don't know you or where you are coming from.” How sad to realize that we never bothered to get to know Jesus in a saving relationship.
And what is the standard at the gate? What is the "pass code?" Know Jesus. It is not enough to just say, "Look here is a picture where you were having dinner and I was there in the crowd. That feeding of 5000 thing? That was me! Remember!?" We must actually personally know Him.
It is interesting that in Revelation, Jesus turned the image of the door completely around. This is grace. Jesus says: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20).
We must remember that the Master of the house is not a reluctant host! He is begging that you would come to the feast! But here Jesus is clear about one thing. There is a point at which we must respond. There is a boarding call and we must hear and respond. And how painful if we should discover the door has been closed.
One of the most precious images in all of Jewish hope is that of the Messianic banquet, a grand feast in heaven at the end of time with Messiah. The great hope was that Jews from all over would be joined in fellowship with the Patriarchs. This was always thought to be reserved seating for only the Jewish people, but Jesus lets us in on a secret here. This banquet will have people from the east, west, north and south. The banquet will be filled with people from "the nations.” This means that Gentiles will be included.
The "last shall be first and the first last" seems to be applied here to Judaism and the Nations. Judaism was first to hear the truth of God as the chosen people, but if national pride becomes their hope the first shall be last and the last, the "the Nations", shall be first.
So what are we to do? Jesus says: Make every effort to enter by the narrow gate. Make every effort to enter by grace which is not by your effort. Take every effort not to fall back into "works righteousness" as our hope of justification. Take every effort not to fall back into ecclesiastical pride as a source of justification. Take every effort not to fall into "exclusive patterns" where we think we are better than others or where we exclude any group or type of people.
Where are you today? Do you know for sure that you have ready entry through the narrow gate? You do not need to live another day without that assurance. He stands at the door of your life and knocks. If you open the door of your life the feast begins. You are welcomed through the narrow gate.
Father God, show me the spirit of rejoicing that I may delight in You. Show me how to delight in my salvation and celebrate the wonders of Your grace. In Jesus' name.