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.”
The question, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” isn’t really about numbers. They don’t want to know how many people are saved; they want to know if they are saved. The reason they asked the question this way is that they assume God grades on a curve.
But God doesn’t grade on a curve. So Jesus ignores their question and speaks to the real issue – how to be saved.
Except that Jesus’ answer is completely unsettling. It’s designed to be unsettling. The last thing He wants is for all these clueless people to become comfortable in their cluelessness.
So, everything Jesus says next is a wake-up call. For starters, “many … will seek to enter and will not be able,” is definitely meant to feel like, “Yes. Few are saved.”
The rest of His message deliberately avoids satisfying their desire to know the “trick” for getting into heaven. He just paints a vivid picture of the “damned surprised” – people who thought they were saved but were wrong.
That ought to get their attention.
We all know some of those “nominal Christians” who aren’t serious about Christ but who think they’re saved anyway. These are often called C&E Christians (for Christmas and Easter). They may be in more danger than an honest atheist.
But C&E Christians have one advantage, they enjoy Christian things. You can invite them to a picnic and they’ll come. That can lead somewhere.
This is an important (and often underappreciated) aspect of evangelism – reaching out to the “Christians” who still need to be saved. Social events are more important than most folks realize. The “partying” side of church has a holy purpose.
Give this the attention it deserves.
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