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WHI-1098 | The Narrow Gate

Posted by on in 2012 Show Archive
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Jesus tells his disciples that "the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life..." Is Jesus teaching a kind of salvation by works? And when Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom," is he saying that we need to add good works to our confession in order to qualify for heaven? On this edition of White Horse Inn recorded during our recent listener cruise, the hosts discuss these issues as they conclude their series through Christ's Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus tells his disciples that "the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life..." Is Jesus teaching a kind of salvation by works? And when Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom," is he saying that we need to add good works to our confession in order to qualify for heaven? On this edition of White Horse Inn recorded during our recent listener cruise, the hosts discuss these issues as they conclude their series through Christ's Sermon on the Mount.




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[audio:http://www.whitehorseinn.org/whiarchives/2012whi1098apr22.mp3|titles=WHI 1098|artists=White Horse Inn]


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  • Guest - Alexa

    Dr. Horton:

    Next to the narrow gate verse it says, "Many will TRY TO ENTER the narrow gate but will not be able to"

    Does this mean there are people out there who want to be saved, begging christ to give them saving faith, but He will not let them come to Him?

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  • Alexa, I cannot respond for Dr. Horton, but I believe I know the answer.

    "Many will try to enter by the narrow gate but will not be able to," speaks of those who sincerely regard Jesus as having a significant role in salvation, but nevertheless attempt to be united to Christ while holding onto their own will and works as the decisive factor in God's acceptance of them. They try to enter at the name of Jesus, but misunderstand and deny the exclusive place which His righteousness and grace demands.

    For ten years prior to my conversion I believed, "Jesus is the way." I was trying to enter by Him, in the way I understood. You see, I believed He had purchased a "second chance" to prove my fidelity, and "belief in second chances" was how I conceived of faith. He still required more-or-less sincere obedience to "seal the deal," or else I would lose in the end. Therefore I thought the gospel assured me of provisional acceptance upon condition that I remain earnest and contrite—works which must ultimately come from my own power to will.

    I was trying to enter by Christ, yes, but the Way was too narrow to let me through with all my self-righteous baggage.

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  • Alexa, I cannot respond for Dr. Horton, but I believe I know the answer.

    “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” [Luke 13:24]

    This passage does not imply that some who sincerely want to be saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, will be rejected at last for lack of zeal. This interpretation would fly in the face of gracious salvation and flatly contradicts such texts as John 6:37, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out,” and Romans 9:16, “[salvation] depends not on human will or exertion, but on God.” What, then, does Jesus mean?

    First we note the door is narrow, and Christ is the door. Second, that many who try entering by way of Jesus are kept outside. Is there a way to attempt entrance into Christ which is not valid? Yes, and that way is self-righteousness. The text warns of those who regard Jesus in some sense as having a necessary role in salvation, yet attempt to secure His blessings by some merit in themselves. Jesus is an important first step, they acknowledge, but suppose their will and works make the final, decisive factor on the road to God's acceptance of them. There are many who say Jesus is the door to salvation, yet who spend their whole lives outside that door trying to pick the lock with their works and good will, instead of simply trusting that, in His goodness, He has left the latch open for all who will simply pass through.

    This was my story. For ten years prior to my conversion I believed in some sense that, “Jesus is the way.” I was trying to enter by Him, in the way I understood. His death had procured for me a “second chance” to prove my fidelity; “belief in second chances” was how I conceived of faith. More-or-less sincere obedience was still required to seal the deal, and that had to come from me. Therefore I thought the gospel was a provisional assurance of acceptance upon condition that I remain earnest and contrite—which must ultimately come from my own power to will. This is not the gospel! The gate is narrow, but not so narrow that one cannot easily slip in once he has abandoned his self-righteousness baggage.

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  • Guest - Josh

    Does anyone know where the Hodge quote (2:41) is from? I can't find it online.

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  • Guest - matt

    Alexa,

    I would add that the many that try are both those who think they can help Jesus and those who believe they don't need Jesus.

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