Opening Thoughts: How many of you ever read “The Jungle Book” growing up? The story of an orphan boy who was raised by wolves in the jungle. He grew up thinking he was a wolf, playing with the other wolf cubs as if they were his siblings. The problem was that although he lived with wolves, played like a wolf and ate like a wolf, he wasn’t a wolf. No matter what he did to adapt to this way of life, he would never be able to become a wolf. Thankfully though, he finds out that he is not a wolf and is in fact human.
The same is true for the church. There are scores of people who have been born into a church going home, they grow up singing all the familiar songs, playing with other Christian kids, learning their Bible stories, praying at mealtimes and bedtimes, and so on. They become so entrenched in customs and get so used to their surroundings that it becomes average and ordinary. They prayed a prayer when they were young and then began to live a life of Sunday School and Church without question or understanding of the context of salvation. Meanwhile their desire for the world and slavery to sin grows stronger and stronger. Shame, blindness, fear, or apathy could all be reasons why “Christians” of this definition would not consider examining themselves to see if they are actually in the faith.
So if someone quits sinning does that mean they’re saved? No, not at all, that would be self righteousness. I sin every day, in fact I’m a wretch at my best and I know it, Christ is the one who offers me hope. See I too was unknowingly living in this façade for my entire life, that was until God ripped the veil away and I discovered, like Mowgli, I wasn’t who I thought I was. Mowgli’s deception just caused him to act like a wolf, mine was eternally damning. God doesn’t have any grandchildren and you cannot be saved by association.
Luke 13:22-30 ESV … He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Few & Many: The Bible is so clear from cover to cover that there will be many deceived and lost, and in comparison only a few that will be saved. I think it’s one of those things that is really hard to grasp, that literally there will only be a few saved. The Bible speaks of a remnant like in the days of Noah where there were only 8 saved in the ark. Maybe you have never taken time to ponder on that thought, so let’s take just a few minutes right now and picture in your mind 8 people saved out of the entire world’s population. Luke 17:26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Can you clearly see it? The road is tough, the door is narrow. In fact it is perfection, which is impossible and only received and merited to us through Christ. 2 Peter 1:3 says that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” Apart from Him there is no goodness in us (Psalm 16:2).
The Bible says that through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). As we reflect on Gods law, it enables us to see just how wretched we really are (Romans 7:13). It not only reveals our ugly condition but convicts us through our own conscience (Romans 2:15) and it (the law) imprisons us based on the evidence that is revealed. The Law holds us guilty and it has placed us under the wrath of God, which we by rights deserve. It chases us straight to the cross of Christ where it is legally required to stop. All of its demands and legal requirements have been met in Christ on our behalf (Galatians 3:24, Colossians 2:14). When the law is used lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8-11), not as a means to lay an impossible burden on you to live out but rather as a mirror to reveal guilt, then it’s a beautiful and good thing because it leaves us with no other option than to fling ourselves on the mercy seat of Jesus and beg Him for eternal live. We beg for forgiveness and and then hope and trust in Him alone so that we might inevitably be saved by His merit and not our own. The Law is the key that reveals to all the Mowgli’s in the church their real identity, which is totally sinful. As I mentioned above Romans 3:20 says “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin“.
Strive to Enter:What does Jesus mean when He tells us to strive? Is he saying that we must work hard to get there, like some type of works righteousness? Not at all. He is saying it’s hard, yes, but he’s not talking about working on our own merit rather he is speaking of laying hold of something that has been given to us. We have been given sight, repentance, and forgiveness coupled with a sustaining grace and through it we must trust in Him alone by faith alone. The battle we fight is this constant struggle we face of taking our trust in Him and misplacing it onto our own efforts. God will indeed sustain all those who are His, but at the same token those who are His will be in the heat of a battle both striving and fighting through the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hold of all that He has for us.
1 Timothy 6:12 ESV .. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Depart from me you workers of evil: At the same token there will be many people as I mentioned before that appeared to be in connection with Jesus. In fact they will claim to have done many amazing things for Him (Matthew 7:21-23), and also claim that they hung around Him and were taught by Him (Luke 13:26). My heart breaks for the multitudes that reside week after week inside the church walls and who hear the teachings of Jesus; they hang out with him, but their lives do not reflect a regenerated heart, the fruit they display is works of evil, they are bound up in addictions and slavery to all sorts of sin, powerless to free themselves. In vain they try to rid themselves of the beast and put on a front like it’s all okay, even secretly believing that slavery to sin is common place for a Christian. Am I saying people can be sinless? I dare not, for I would be the biggest hypocrite, of course you will sin, and you will do it daily. But Hebrews 10:21, Romans 6:1 and 1 John all agree with Jesus words and reiterate the fact that anyone who continues to practice sin or is enslaved to sin does not actually belong to God, why? because those who belong to him are given a new nature, they begin to reflect His saving grace in their lives. Jesus not only saves us from the penalty of sin but also from the passion and the desire for the sin. Paul says that the taste for sin has been removed from his life and this is only possible through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, the new covenant and a new heart.
Weeping and gnashing of teeth: Perhaps the craziest images we get of hell in the entire Bible are not that of the flames themselves, but that of Jesus referring to the ones in hell having vision of those in heaven. Yes, Jesus refers to this more than once, indicating that those in hell will somehow be able to see what they rejected, what they could have had, but instead exchanged the very presence of God for a bowl of stew they thought they could not live without. Like Esau, they despised the promise and held onto to their own goodness thinking it was sufficient when in fact on their very best day their best works were like menstrual cloths. Jesus says here that those who feel like they will make it to heaven and yet are found in their sin will hear these words, “Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out”. Notice how they can see Abraham and Isaac and all the prophets in the kingdom, but they are cast out? Jesus refers to this once again in Luke 16 when the Rich man who was in torment in Hell sees Abraham and Lazarus from afar off and calls out to them for relief. I do not wish this for you or anyone that I know, and to that I end I will continue to preach the Law and the Gospel. Condemned by the law and saved by the Gospel, not the other way around.
I leave you with this dear friends, let no one who is truly His and under the Gospel be condemned and let all who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
2 Timothy 2:19 ESV… ”But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Grace & Peace,