Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďGODíS GRACE MINISTERED TO THOSE OBEYING CHRISTíS COMMAND THAT SINNERS STRIVE TO ENTER IN AT THE STRAIT GATEĒ

Luke 13.24

 PART TEN

 Because the Saviorís indication that those who have resisted the gospel are to ďstrive to enter in at the strait gate,Ē and because the word strive does translate the Greek word agonizomai, implicit in the activity of striving is agony and pain. Let us not err in thinking that proper striving will involve physical pain such as that which is self-inflicted by Roman Catholic flagellants who scourge themselves for public penance. Bible Christianity knows nothing of such behavior. However, striving has resulted in sinners suffering mental anguish and psychic pain.  As well, I know of people in our church whose striving led to some level of physical suffering as they agonized over their sins. Such suffering has included very painful headaches, stomach cramps accompanying loss of appetite. Should a sinner intentionally hurt himself in order to strive? Absolutely not. However, sinners will sometimes experience painful physical symptoms that accompany great grief over sins.

Before I set forth the benefits of striving, and because striving does frequently result in experiencing emotional pain, heartache, suffering that is associated with profound personal humiliation, and other kinds of pain, it is appropriate that we take stock and review what we have uncovered in Godís Word to this point:

The first main topic of consideration was our exploration of the problem that is addressed by striving. Remember that striving was the Saviorís remedy to those who had heard the gospel preached on numerous occasions without response. It is the remedy made available to the unsaved to address the consequences they had brought on themselves by their resistance to the gospel. We notice as we consider the context within Lukeís gospel leading up to Luke 13.24, the (mostly) parabolic teaching of Christ is significant.

 Ÿ  It begins with the parable of the sower, Luke 8.4-15, with its three of four examples of no conversion, and two of the four being examples of false hopes.  

Ÿ  Luke 13 begins with our Lordís rehearsal of Pontius Pilateís slaughter of Galilean victims and the Siloam tower tragedy showing the absolute necessity of repentance.

Ÿ  Next comes the parable of the fig tree, in Luke 13.6-9, showing the possibility of even a fully leafed tree bearing no fruit.

Ÿ  After that is the daughter of Abraham who was loosed from her infirmity, Luke 13.10-17.

Ÿ  In Luke 13.18-19, we find the short parable of the mustard seed showing the kingdom to begin small and become large.

Ÿ  The final parable leading up to our text is the parable of leaven, in Luke 13.20-21, which I think shows that even in the future millennial kingdom sin will spread.

 Through this development of parables and histories, we find the persistence of sin, the absolute necessity of repentance, and the appearance that all is well when the reality is that only fruit gives evidence of life.

Is this matter of fruitless responses really a problem? We see that it is a grave problem, as was seen in the fruitless response of Cain, the fruitless response of Esau, the fruitless response of the prophet Balaam, the fruitless response of Judas Iscariot, the fruitless response of Simon the magician, the fruitless response of the Corinthian fornicator, what might be the fruitless response of Demas (who forsook Paul), the fruitless response of Diotrephes, the fruitless responses of Hymenaeus and Alexander, the fruitless responses of those men who provide not for their own and who are ďworse than an infidel,Ē the fruitless responses of Hymenaeus and Philetus, the fruitless response of Alexander the coppersmith, the fruitless responses of those Titus was told profess that they know God but in works deny Him, the fruitless responses of those the Ephesian elders were warned about, the fruitless responses of the Nicolaitans, the fruitless response of the woman labeled Jezebel, the fruitless responses of those holding the doctrine and committing the error of Balaam, and those branches of the true vine that are pruned and cast into the fire. Does the matter of fruitless responses seem now to be serious? We have recently reflected on the danger and the damage associated with fruitless responses. When someone seems to have responded without being truly converted, there can be apostasy due to disillusionment, there can be abandonment due to discouragement, and there is always the possibility of acceptance into the church despite a failure to obey the gospel.

The second main section of our study involves exploring the pain caused by striving. However, before addressing the pain that is caused by striving, to establish the seriousness of the spiritual problem striving is prescribed to counteract, it is important that we understand the complications that result from unresponsiveness to the gospel. First, there is the cost of damage done to others by a sinnerís disobedience to Godís command that he repent of his sins and believe on Jesus. It can be damage done to a congregation. It can be damage to individual Christians. It can also be damage to unsaved onlookers.  As well, there is also damage done to oneself by a sinnerís disobedience to Godís command that he repent of his sins and believe on Jesus. First, there are the consequences affecting the mind. Second, there are the consequences affecting the conscience. Third, there are the consequences affecting the heart. Finally, and most importantly, the consequences of gospel refusal affecting the sinnerís own soul.

It is very easy to underestimate the damage that is done to others and also to oneís self when Christ is refused, the gospel is rejected, the Father is dishonored, and the Spirit of God is repeatedly grieved. However, as we have seen from our cursory consideration of Godís Word, the problem is vastly greater than even most Christians imagine. Sin is harmful in a variety of ways, with consequences that must be dealt with before the sinner is willing to seek forgiveness through faith in Christ. Allow me to reiterate that striving does in no way earn salvation. However, while there is no merit in cleaning out oneís ears, earwax must still be removed for one to hear without impairment. Does cataract surgery merit anything? No, though it is necessary in some cases for the afflicted person to see more clearly. Therefore, since Jesus prescribed striving, striving cannot rightly be understood to be works righteousness. Can a scriptural remedy be misused? Scriptural remedies can always be misused, misinterpreted, and misunderstood. However, abuses by some do not negate the validity of the Saviorís directive, or of the benefit that can be realized by sinners properly striving to enter in at the strait gate.

Sometimes potent medicine is distasteful. Sometimes a strong remedy will be understandably dreaded. There is a reason why physicians make use of anesthesia before painful procedures. Doctors know perfectly well that without pain killing steps many patients will refuse necessary healing treatments because they fear the pain they anticipate from surgery, or from the setting of the broken bone, or from the grafting of skin to a burn victim. I well remember being taken to the doctorís office as a boy with a dislocated wrist suffered when I fell from a tree. My wrist hurt so badly I would not allow the doctor to do anything. The wise old country doctor asked me if he could very gently put his hand around two of my fingers, giving him enough leverage to quickly pull and remedy the dislocation. Sinners behave similarly, dreading anticipated fear and pain. This is why faith is needed, the kind of seeking faith that trusts enough to comply with Christís wishes that the sinner strive, so that the sinner will come to Christ in due course.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org