Enter Through The Narrow Door
Today I want to talk about entering the narrow door. We have heard of the narrow gate. We have even heard of the narrow road, but very seldom in the church today is the narrow door talked about. Jesus said:
Luke 11:9-10 – So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Jesus Christ said many people try to enter through that door but cannot because it is a narrow door. Picture a house and how there’s a gate in front and a path that leads up to the front door. In the same way, everybody who desires to be a disciple of Jesus Christ must pass through the narrow gate. Then each of us must walk on the narrow road. But, it is the narrow door that allows us to enter into heaven. Many people have decided they would like to be a disciple of Jesus. They look at the narrow gate and decide they will give up give up everything and pass through that gate to begin to walk down the narrow road. But, that doesn’t mean they will be able to enter into the door. Jesus said:
Luke 11:10 – For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
I think a lot of us rejoice in the fact that the door has been opened, but we are not really making enough effort to enter in through that door. We have gone through the gate. We have traveled the path, and then the door comes into focus. Jesus Christ opened that door. We think we have already arrived and can enter through that door—even if we have bought into the easy believism that is around. It is a part of our human nature. It is much more comfortable to believe that we can just somehow easily follow Jesus Christ and we will be in. I wrote a book called Ears
to Hear about how to hear God’s voice. Again and again it comes back to the message of the cross and the suffering of the cross. Part of my flesh thinks it shouldn’t be this way—that it should be a little easier and a little softer. Yet, I know my flesh lies to me and, of course, I deny that flesh and continue to look toward Jesus Christ. The reason I know some of you simply rejoice in the fact that the door has been opened for you is that I don’t see you making enough effort to enter in through the door. You are all excited. You jump up and down, and are happy that you see the door, because the world doesn’t even see the door. The world and a lot of people in the church don’t even know the door exists. They think they have already arrived. So, God has opened the door before us and we are all happy about it—but then I don’t see the effort necessary to enter in through that door. We might as well believe in “once saved, always saved.” If we will live like that, let’s at least claim the doctrine and be consistent with our actions.
Luke 13:22 – Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.
Jesus always headed toward Jerusalem and the cross. That was the goal of his life and that is where we are headed also. As Jesus taught from village to village, the people stopped to ask him a question. They heard him speak and teach. They watched his life, and they saw where he was headed. They had something they wanted to ask Jesus Christ.
Luke 13:23 – Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
It just bursts out. As you look at Jesus Christ—as you contemplate what he has to say—the question naturally arises. A lot of us remember when we first came to Jesus Christ, we asked, “Well, just how many people will be saved? How narrow is this road and how narrow is this door?” Yet, if we back up and look again at what Jesus Christ taught and what he demands of each of us, that should be the realization. There should be a fear that comes before the Lord that asks, “Only a few people will be saved?” Naturally, the next question is; “Will I be saved?” Let’s look at what Jesus said:
Luke 13:23-24 – He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door …”
This strikes against all the gospel calls in the church today. To speak of effort is to fall under legalism. To speak of applying ourselves in any form or fashion is somehow a blasphemy within the church today that somehow if you put forth effort you must be in sin, you must be in legalism. But Jesus Christ said to “make every effort.” I want to talk about “every effort” today.
Luke 13:24 – Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
He did not talk about the gate or the road. He said a narrow door exists and many will try to enter but will not be able to. Every week we bump into people that try to enter in through the door. We talk to people on the phone, by e-mail, and face-to-face. You can see them examining the narrow road. They agree to the doctrines of it. They understand the message of the cross. I talked to a guy this week who really wants to believe he is Hebrews 6—that he can’t come to repentance. He kept repeating to me over and over again that somehow he has lost his salvation and there is no reason for him to even try. He sees the narrow road and knows the door is there, yet, he doesn’t want to put forth the effort necessary to enter. So rather than say, “I just don’t want to do it,” people blame God and say that somehow God has cast them aside and they can’t make it, so what is the point in trying? I want you to examine yourself and ask yourself one question: “How much effort am I putting forth to enter through a narrow door?”
Luke 13:24 – Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
If I were to ask you to write down how you made efforts to enter that narrow door this week and how you seized every moment in your life to enter the door, what would you write down? How much was God able to talk to you through the Scriptures today and speak to your life? How much did you act on what he was moving within your life each moment? How much effort do you really put forth? As I wrote this sermon, examining my own heart and asking and looking, the Lord told me to share something. It is just a little on the embarrassing side. When I go to the bathroom and I am by myself, I ask the Lord to remember me with mercy. Every opportunity, every effort. Sometimes that’s my only time of solitude during the day, and what is on my mind and in my heart are my sins and where I fail. I think about where I need to change and what God is trying to work and all that Scripture demands. I think about what Jesus Christ teaches and all that he asks, and the only thing I can say and seize for that moment—for I may be dead in the next moment standing before him—is to remember me with mercy. When Jesus Christ said every effort, he meant every effort, and we are fools if we don’t seize every effort!
Luke 13:24 – Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
Jesus Christ told us that many try to enter and will not be able to do so. This wasn’t Pharisee talking. These aren’t the words of Tim Williams. This is not ink-on-paper. This is the Savior of the world. This is Jesus Christ whom we put our faith in. And, he tells us many people try to lay hold of him. Many people try to enter in through that door. People try to get in and they will not be able to enter. This is totally contrary to what we are taught today, what we see in the church today. It is as if everybody is entitled to get in because they claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door…”
As my children grew up, I would say to them: “Don’t make me get out of my chair”—because once I get out my chair the talk is over with! It will be time for action. Jesus Christ told us: “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door…”—once God gets up and closes that door, it’s over with. Jesus Christ becomes very personal with these people. He didn’t say, “Some people out here will go to hell” or “This person over here won’t make it.” Look at what Jesus Christ said:
Luke 13:25 – 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.”
I have yet to see a case within this body where somebody who has fallen away or decided they don’t want Jesus Christ has not been warned specifically. Jesus Christ came to them personally, whether in dreams or visions, or God has sent me or someone else to say something to them. In every single case Jesus Christ has been extremely clear. “There is the narrow door and if you don’t pass through it, once God gets up and shuts the door you will not be able to get in. Now is your moment to humble yourself. Now is your moment to be broken. Now is the time to cry for mercy.” “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading.” Once God arises, once he calls us to his throne, once we die, once he comes back, once he has gotten up to deal with us, and we have not passed through that door, we will then knock at that door. We should have been knocking all along. We should have been making every effort today. But once he gets up, and closes the door, then they put forth the effort. “You will stand outside knocking and pleading…” At that time, you will pray. At that time, you will ask and put forth the effort. But that is not the right time. It is too late. Now is the time when God convicts you of something to make every single effort you can to overcome that sin. And, when God is quiet, make every effort to store up Scriptures in your heart so you can live it. Every effort, every single hour of every day we make ourselves ready to pass through that door. “You will stand outside knocking and pleading.” You will say: “Sir, open the door for us.” They will no longer be able to say, “Lord.” They call him “Sir,” so they show some respect. Oh, you will always respect Jesus Christ. You will respect the message. You will say: “Sir, open the door for us,”—but you won’t know him. You won’t know what he is about. When people leave and fall away, what happens? Do they retain the wisdom they had when they were here? Slowly, over time they lose the enlightenment they had, and then pretty soon the enlightenment becomes dark and they begin to believe the opposite about what they experienced. In the same way, once the door is closed, grace is closed. Mercy is closed. Enlightenment is closed. The grace and everything that would enlighten us to know how to do what we should do is gone. And so we say, “‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’” Again, Jesus Christ is talking to these people, saying, “YOU!” When God gets up, and you are outside the door, you will plead and ask, but God will turn to you and say: “I don’t know you or where you come from.”
Luke 13:26 – Then you will say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”
Oh, you make every effort to talk and debate. You make every effort to reason and discuss. How much do we see that within the body? God has come to you for a long time about things. He tried to reason with you. At first when you were young, you argued your point and then when you discovered that you couldn’t win, you began to get very, very quiet and hide in the corner. You are not in the light before God or man. You don’t make every effort to conquer what your flesh doesn’t want and push forward in the Lord. But, now when the door closes and there is no option, then you will say, “We ate and drank with you…” “We were with you. We fellowshipped with you. You were right there. You were at our table. We’re not pagans. We’re not atheists.” “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our street.” “We listened to the messages. We heard the sermons. You were right there with us.”
Luke 13:27 – But he will reply, “I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!”
It comes down to action. It comes down to making every effort to be righteous. We play at it. You can’t play at loving one another. You can’t play at fellowshipping. This is not a game. If you think it is a game, then go home today and sit down and contemplate how long hell is, that when you have been there for fifteen billion years you have just begun. God wants your sin overcome. He wants you to make every effort. He wants you to put forth everything within you to overcome that sin. “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’” It is what our actions declare. When people look at your life, will they say you made every effort? Or, are you someone that has to be moved along, kicked in the seat of the pants, and told to go do it? Do we see you making every effort to be made righteous?
Luke 13:28 – 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.
Jesus Christ talks specifically. It is as if he were walking in this church and saying to certain individuals that they will be thrown out. He tell them the truth. They will not be surprised when they come before the judgment seat. They have been told. In this body people have been spoken to clearly and directly. Let us not then think that somehow we will be surprised that it is a new revelation that God bring to us if we don’t make it.
Luke 13:29 – People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.
But they will be thrown out! We would be fooling ourselves to think, “Oh, this has to do with people who never accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.” Remember, these people said, “We ate and drank with you. You taught in our streets. We heard the sermons. We were in church.” In Romans 2:4, Paul wrote to Christians. He told them very directly:
Romans 2:4 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
God is quiet. He doesn’t heavily convict or pound you. He doesn’t show you the flames of hell. He quietly waits for you to make every effort. In everything we do, whether it is eating lunch, fixing lunch, serving or getting up or lying down, Jesus Christ wants to see every effort made to enter through the narrow door. But we pour contempt. We take it easy and become relaxed.
Romans 2:5 – But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
Jesus Christ comes to you. He speaks to you about your sin, and you just lock your heels. You might lock your heels in with prayer. You might lock your heels in with Scripture. But, you have locked your heels in and you refuse to give up the sin and the self that exists. Not only do you not put forth every effort to overcome what you supposedly see, you become stubborn to what he tries to tell you. “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart…” He spoke to Christians, to people that belonged to Jesus Christ. He warned them and told them they were not making every effort necessary to enter through that narrow door. It is not a huge, wide door. It is not a double door. When you go through that door you lose everything. You come with nothing before Jesus Christ. “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath…” How contrary to the message out there today! The wide road, the wide gate says, “God doesn’t remember any of your sins.” Paul didn’t seem to know that gospel. He knew a gospel where Jesus Christ said: “I tell you the truth. Make every effort to enter that narrow door.” It is time for a lot less talk and a lot more action. “You are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” Storing it up! Yet we act like we are forgiven. We march along just having a good time. When Jesus Christ comes to us and tells us to move on something, we need to move on it that day, at that moment, at that time! Let me tell you a secret—the longer you put it off, the less the conviction will be.
Romans 2:6 – God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”
“…what he has done…” How much has he cried out for the living God? How well has he humbled himself? What has he done in terms of actions during the day?
Who did he serve? How have you put into practice the things that Jesus Christ has shown you? Do we play at evangelism? Do we play at denying of self? Do we play at overcoming our sin? Do we take advice? What kind of people are we? What do our actions declare? Who of us would let our children run around through the house destroying things and being disobedient, and just stand there pretending they are fine? How often has a mother turned to a child and said, “Wait until your father gets home!”? We act like the father won’t come home, or when he does any actions we did were just fine, no matter how much we have trashed the room. He “will give to each person according to what he has done.”
Romans 2:7 – To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Persistence—day in and day out. Every effort. Every moment to overcome. I don’t know what your besetting sins are. You know what they are. Persist in overcoming those until they are overcome by grace. Do it now and do it with all your heart. “To those who by persistence in doing good…” Look at your actions first before you look at all your words. Every day counts—when you sit down with your children to feed them lunch or breakfast—it counts! When you fellowship with people at home or out in the world—everything counts! Use that to make every effort to enter in through that narrow door. When you hide and do what you want to do, when you are lazy, when you let your sinful nature control you, all you do is store up wrath for yourselves. Don’t worry about the whole huge big picture—start somewhere! Start with one thing and overcome it. “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory…” You can’t just persist and persist. I know a lot of people that persist. They persist in their stubbornness, their rebellion, their sin, their excuses, their justifications, their fault-finding, and all their sins. They persist. They might even pray about it and fast about it—all those things they do. But, you persist in seeking glory—doing what Scripture says about setting your mind on things above, not on things of the earth! Be consumed with things of glory so that when you stand before that door you see something that you recognize. “…in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” Make every effort.
Romans 2:8 – But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
“…for those who are self-seeking…” They repent that they might feel better. They repent that they might just get to go to heaven. They do good to get along with everybody else or to look good. The bottom line, when push comes to shove, in all that they do, they seek to please themselves. Yes, that is a lot of our motivation when we first come to Jesus Christ. We are selfish by nature, but you need to persist in seeking glory, honor, and immortality. Get past the point of selfishness. “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” You must pursue and make every effort to lay hold of all that is good in Jesus Christ. You must make every effort because many people are trying. Do you understand that? Picture this narrow
door and a mass amount of people trying to get in through the door, putting forth effort, denying themselves, praying, talking about God, preaching the gospel, doing all kinds of things. If we looked at them, we would say they zealously seek the things of God. They are trying to get in. But they are self-seeking in their trying, and they never persist long enough to be dead to self. They never fall to the ground. You have to pursue. You have to put forth effort.
Romans 2:9 – There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil:
Proverbs tells us that even a child is known by his actions. Forget all of your talk for just a moment and just back up and look at your life. What has your life declared? What would it speak to other people? Forget all of the talk of, “Oh, I really want God.” Do you understand people are outside that door saying they want God, even more so once the door is closed? People outside that door confess their sins. What do your actions declare? Do they speak of a life of humility and brokenness? When you say, “God have mercy” do your actions show a life that seeks mercy?
Romans 2:9-11 – There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
We are talking actions, here. I know that Christianity in America is one of talk, but it wasn’t in the New Testament. Don’t sit there, and whine to me, “Oh, I want to overcome my fear of men.” Then overcome it! Make every effort to do so! Take every warning. Get the scriptures in your heart. Take the time. Turn off the TV. Turn off the radio. Whatever you have to do in order to make every effort—do it! We know the good that we ought to do. We know what is before us. Everybody in this body know what they should be pursuing and doing. “…but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” If God doesn’t show favoritism, how come it is first for the Jew and then for the Gentiles? I’ll let you chew on that for a little bit.
Titus 1:16 – They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
They want to get in through the door. They claim to be disciples. They claim to believe the truth. “They claim to know God, but by their actions…” God gives you something to do, but your actions demonstrate something. God lays something out for you overcome and you refuse to overcome it. Your actions demonstrate something. “They claim to know God…” They claim to fellowship with him. They claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit, “but by their actions they deny him.” What do our actions declare? We say we want to walk in the light. Do we walk in the light? We say we want to love one another. Do we love one another? We say we want to hear God’s voice. Do we listen? “They claim to know God, but by their
actions they deny him. They are detestable…” Nothing is worse—and I hate it— than giving somebody something in the Lord to go do because they won’t hear from God themselves to go do it. I give them that job to go and do, and I know that when they set out to go do it, it will fail and it will be miserable. “They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Yet they claim to know God! We have been given a trust and Scripture says we must prove faithful. Tell yourself that you will go that direction whether you want to go or not. Begin to deny yourself. Put forth the effort that is necessary. I don’t even want to hear you whine or moan, “I don’t want to fall under self-effort.” Fall under self- effort! I’ll rejoice! I’ll throw a party! We will celebrate that you fell into self-effort because you put forth effort and I’d rather have you get off the boat and try to walk on water to Jesus Christ than to sit on the shore. Let’s see some self-effort. Let’s give God something to work with.
I have felt this next Scripture in my own life as I wrestle with sin. I cry and wail and I do it from a position in my bed. I have to wake myself up. I have to say, “No more of this.”
Hosea 7:13 – Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me.
God spoke and directed, yet they rebelled. God said: “I long to redeem them.” God longs to overcome the sin in our lives. He longs to bring us out of self. Well, what is the problem? Are we making every effort for God to see something, so that he can work life? “I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me.” We deny we have sin. We commit the sin of 1 John 1:8: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
How many times has God brought this up to us and we denied that we have the problem? Indeed, somebody else has to bring it to us and enlighten us.
Hosea 7:14 – They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me.
If you cannot cry out to God from your heart, then admit that you can’t cry out to God from your heart! Admit you are lazy. Admit you are being slothful. I have done the same before the Lord. It has scared me when I have wailed, moaned, and groaned, but I am still on my bed. “They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me.” Oh, they get up to do things that will feed their flesh. They will get up for the new wine and the grain, but when it comes to dealing with sin— when it comes to action of really dealing with some things in their lives they lay on their beds, they cry, “Oh, Lord, deliver me,” as they prop the pillow behind their heads. Or, you just sit there and cry in your chair. You wail from your bed.
You don’t cry out from your hearts. The actions would declare otherwise! It is all talk. It might be tears, crying, and hurting, but it is all discussion.
Hosea 7:15 – I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me.
They get bitter roots and attitudes. They want to run away.
Hosea 7:16 – They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.
God comes to us and tells us we are cold, lazy, and prideful. We are arrogant, slow, and dull. Whatever he might call us, we turn away from him. We would rather believe our lies and the delusions about ourselves than make every effort. God doesn’t ask a whole lot of us! How hard is it to sit down before the next day and outline a plan and a course of events where you can make every effort to seek righteousness? Just how hard is that? Yes, you might fail and stumble, and your flesh might be there, but cry out from your heart to be delivered, for everyone who asks receives. God said: “I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me. They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow.” Oh, the bow looks powerful and useful, but it is faulty. By their actions they deny him. It can’t be used for anything. There is no fruit. I ask once again, who has God placed in your life? What job has he given you? What job has he laid before you that you finished and went all the way to the point that self was put to death? One commission. One job. One person. One thing that you are praying for. I don’t know what it might be. We beat the air! We don’t know our course. We are a faulty bow. “Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.” We know people that have gone back to the world. The world laughs at them. As much as they embrace them and take them back. If you want to fall and leave, the world will take you back, but they will ridicule you inside. They will walk away from you thinking, “What a fool.”
Hosea 8:1-2 – Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle is over the house of the LORD because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law. Israel cries out to me, “O our God, we acknowledge you!”
They have done all of these things, but do they admit the truth? No. No Israel cried, “O our God, we acknowledge you!” People will cry, “We worship you! We know about the narrow road. We know about denying self. I know that sin!” What do you mean you know that sin? What do you mean you know it has been brought to you time and time again? Then, begin to make every effort to overcome it! You might stumble for ten years, but you’d better make every effort to overcome that one sin because many, I tell you, are trying to enter in through
that narrow door and will not be permitted to go through! Do you think you will be allowed just because you put forth a lukewarm effort of wailing upon your bed?
Hosea 8:2-3 – Israel cries out to me, “O our God, we acknowledge you!’ But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him.”
I know a lot of people that have left the Lord, wandered from the faith, skipped out, rebelled, become stiff-necked—just name it. Whatever term you want to use. Their sins pursue them, and enemies come after them. Sadder still, I know some people who stay in the church because they don’t want the enemy pursuing them and they think they are safe for a time while they sit here. It won’t always be!
Hosea 8:4 – They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.
Look at verse 5! Ask yourself a few questions! “OK then, how do I know whether I am one of these people that say, ‘Oh Lord, I acknowledge you’? What would be the fruit? What would be the sign? What would demonstrate whether I am one of those people or not?”
Hosea 8:5 – Throw out your calf-idol, O Samaria! My anger burns against them. How long will they be incapable of purity?
Who by persistence seek glory and immorality as opposed to those who are self- seeking. Are you able to do what God has called you to do in purity—where no self is involved? God asks and pleads with the question: “How long will they be incapable of purity?” where you raise your sons and daughters for the Lord only, where you get nothing out of it except the glory of raising them for the Lord? Or in a marriage, do you serve one another because you love Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ? Do you speak boldly to men not so that you can pat yourself on the back and say you have spoken boldly to men, but so that you can say you glorify God because he is worthy? “How long will they be incapable of purity?” If we do not have purity, then we need to pursue it and make every effort to obtain it.
Let’s remember when Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” If you want to enter through that narrow door, then get a pure heart. There can be no sifting of motives. There cannot be shadows in there. We need to do all we do because we love Jesus Christ, not because we get something out of the deal, feel better about it, or whatever the motive—not even so that we go to heaven.
2 Peter 3:7-8 – By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
He spoke to Christians:
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Peter spoke like Jesus Christ, when Jesus turned and said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Action! Fruit! Changes beyond our words! Purity of heart. A life that is transformed and changed. “He is patient with you.” He gives you time to change; to become a different person.
2 Peter 3:10-11 – He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
Once he gets up out of the chair and closes the door, you don’t get in!
2 Peter 3:10-11 – But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
Let us remind ourselves of verse 10: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” You will be surprised and shocked at the day of death. It is human nature. Obituaries state a man dies at 90, and they say it came as a shock! In my book, if he was alive when he was 90 that would be a shock! “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar.” Everything will vanish. All of your problems—everything will be burned up. Everything will be destroyed. “The elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Your whining and concerns, your laziness, your slothfulness, the sleepiness, everything that is self-centeredness—everything will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?
2 Peter 3:11-12 – You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
What do your actions declare? If you don’t know, go ask somebody! What does your life declare? “You are to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God…” How many people really look forward to Jesus Christ coming back? How many of us know that we make so much effort that we can look
forward to Jesus Christ’s return? We can’t wait until we die in our bed or in a car wreck. We are ready to meet Jesus Christ. We look forward to that moment because we know that we make every single effort and we will walk through that door. He repeats this over again.
2 Peter 3:12-13 – as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Peter looked forward because he made every effort! I know that if some of you looked in your hearts you would hope that Jesus Christ takes another day. You hope, as you lay in bed, “Well, I will deal with that sin tomorrow.” “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
2 Peter 3:14 – So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Three times he said that you look forward to Jesus Christ’s coming. Right now! This moment! The volcano goes off, an earthquake happens or how about both? We look forward because we make every effort, and can say with Paul “God is my witness! I will stand before him. I have fought the good fight. I have won the race!” Yet many people look forward because they are delusional! Look at it! “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Make every effort you can make!
I know that even when I make every effort it is still worthless, but he wants to see me make every effort and I want to make every effort. “…make every effort to be found spotless…” Spotless! Not one little white lie that covers over a sin! Not a hint of greed. Spotless—where Jesus Christ can’t find anything! Let the word of God dwell in us richly—spotless is our goal and what is in our hearts. “…to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Are you at peace with Jesus Christ? Are you kissing the Son? Once he gets out of the chair—I wish all of you would have had a father like that. You know what I am talking about. There comes that moment—talk to my sons if you don’t believe me—when you don’t want to get me out of my chair. The door will be closed. Action will be taken. I was imperfect in it. One time I got out of my bed, took action, and it took four or five minutes to communicate to me that nothing going on. But I got out of my chair, and if I have to get out of my chair you will know I’m there! The same thing is true with God.
2 Peter 3:15 – Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
You are not under heavy conviction at the moment perhaps. Why? To give you a chance to change. This body is at relative peace right now. We enjoy a time of peace so we might repent. The other day, as Carla and I drove over to the picnic, I said, “I don’t like this.” This is tough as your flesh screams out to enjoy it. I need to make every effort. I need to deny my self. Grace needs to be there. We know that it was because I played football all day long.
2 Peter 3:15-16 – Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Are you getting into the weightier things of Paul, and figuring out how they apply? Are you stable enough for God to move and work those Scriptures in your life? You have a few basic things, you stand before the door, and put forth some effort, but that doesn’t mean you will get in.
2 Peter 3:17 – Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.
Literally hundreds and thousands of messages, books, and sermons exist from lawless men who will tell you that none of this applies, and they will carry you away into their sin. If you want a false prophet or a false teacher they are a dime a dozen.
2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Be overwhelmed with effort, brothers and sisters: Overwhelmed with saying “No” to ourselves. Overwhelmed with shutting our mouths and listening to what God might say. Overwhelmed with work and labor. Overwhelmed with conviction of sin and repentance. Overwhelmed with reading Scriptures and asking God to apply them and then storing them in our hearts. Overwhelmed with looking for opportunities and situations to glorify God and seize every moment when we fellowship to walk in the light, love one another, and lay down our lives for each other.
Ephesians 5:13 – But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
You just have to step into the light. I will tell you right now, some of you in this body who have not stepped into the light. We quit running a long time ago to bring you the light, to try to bring those things out in the open. I know you think you are fine! Nothing is exposed. Nothing is visible. You can’t see anything. It is like walking into a room, turning out the lights, looking into the mirror and saying,
“Oh, I look beautiful.” You can’t see any faults. You can’t see any sins. Nothing is there. What little bit you do see is because you just bumped into something.
Ephesians 5:14 – for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Make every effort to wake up! Jesus Christ will meet you there. Make every effort! I don’t care if it is in self-effort. Jesus Christ will meet you there. When I think of the things that I did as a young Christian I laugh. I was a complete idiot. I was out there making a complete idiot of myself.
Ephesians 5:15 – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
If you don’t know what to do, then make every effort to be very careful. “Be very careful, then, how you live…” What do your actions declare? “…not as unwise but as wise…” Every day should be loaded with wisdom. When you get up in the morning you should know what Jesus Christ wants you to do, and if plans change or things go differently, you still have wisdom from God on how to behave and conduct yourself in that situation. Even when I am in sin and wrestling with things, I have a wisdom that allows me to wrestle through and persevere. When sins come in and I’m struggling with things, I know to go humble myself. I know to get quiet. I know to keep saying, “No” fifty times that day. “Who by persistence in doing good seek glory”—not by excuses and putting it off. Some of you aren’t even wrestling with anything because you have no wisdom about the day.
Ephesians 5:15-16 – —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Go to the bathroom and ask Jesus Christ for mercy “because the days are evil.”
You don’t have eternity to change.
Ephesians 5:17 – Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Don’t be a praying Pharisee and don’t be a doubting Sadducee. Understand from the Lord and listen to his Holy Spirit tell you what you are supposed to do that day. Find out how he wants you to repent and what he wants you to battle with— whatever work he wants you to do. Hear his voice and act according to that voice. Do not be a fool running around quoting Scripture to yourself or fooling yourselves by your own words of, “Oh, if I just knew what God wanted me to do I would do it.” He will give you wisdom. James promised us that God gives it to us generously without finding fault. He will tell you and show you. Whether you do something about it or not is a whole different matter. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Understand what Jesus Christ wants you
to do with purity and the kind of heart that he wants, and then make every single effort to perform that.
Ephesians 5:18 – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
It is a command. We walk around acting as if God doesn’t give us his Spirit. It says to “be filled with the Spirit.” It is a choice you make. It literally comes down to: Here is my sin. Here is my selfishness. Here is my religiosity. Here is all that I am. Here is the Holy Spirit. Now you have a choice of which to be filled with. If you don’t know what to do, make every effort to do verse 19.
Ephesians 5:19 – Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
Go up to one another and talk about the Psalms and Scriptures.
Ephesians 5:19-20 – Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Do it when he convicts and do it when you fail. Tell the Lord, “I’m not worthy of the blessing I’m praising you for. I’m not worthy to praise you. I’m not worthy to do any of these things.” Tell him from your heart. But then praise him, work, love others, and do what you need to do for the day. Put forth action and effort.
Everybody wants to know where the peace is in this kind of message. It comes with persistence and perseverance. It is there. Sometimes I have laid on the bed and I rested from my passion. I did not have to go do something or be entertained—the desire was not there. It was all dead. A particular sin no longer plagued or troubled me. That does not mean it will not be back tomorrow, but I have tasted of a Sabbath-rest in a lot of areas, and you will too if you persist. You are promised!
Hebrews 4:9 – There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
The Sabbath is not on Saturday, by the way. It is every day of the week—every hour. I am at rest with certain sins, I am not overconfident in thinking they cannot come back. But, I know my God and I know my Savior. I have my deliverance at work. I make every effort to enter God’s rest.
Hebrews 4:10-11 – for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
God calls us to enter his rest—the grace, the mercy, and the fellowship with him. Nothing is better than being able to lay down your life for somebody out of a selfless love and experience no other motivation. Just pure selfless love that doesn’t even know that it did the work. How long, Hosea 8:5 says, will you be incapable of purity? “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” Look to your actions. I have had a rule for years in my house that we don’t read the Sunday paper until sundown. It is a practice in holiness, of just being a little bit more separate from the world by saying “No” to those things. How easily we are tempted, especially with the Internet. I have sinned at times because I had to read or look at something. I need to make every effort to maintain a Sabbath-rest, a separation from the world.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Let it judge you! Let it judge you to the smallest degree between joints and marrow, from soul and spirit. People often ask me: What is the definition of a soul? What is the definition of a spirit? I give one but it is never satisfactory because I can’t divide it that well. Yet, people whine, moan, and complain that we bring them under too much conviction. Look, I’m a sledgehammer, at best! I have a sledgehammer in this hand and a nail in this hand, and all I can do is hit the rough stuff. But, the word of God is alive and active, and it wants to condemn you in certain areas, encourage you, and convict you. It wants to take the work that you do or don’t and speak to you in those situations. Store the word of God in your heart and make every effort to put Scriptures there so that when the Holy Spirit speaks you can hear what he says. The word judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. We wail upon our beds, but we do not cry out from our hearts because when the Holy Spirit seeks to bring in those Scriptures on a daily basis, not from some sermon, we can’t hear him. We are calloused. God has to bring somebody else or bring about a certain situation. We have to fall flat on our face or be rebuked, and even then we are shocked because we have not let the word of God do the penetrating. We have not let the word of God do the dividing. We only let him deal with the gross things we don’t like. “Lord, you can change this sin and you can take that one away. I don’t like it.” But, a Sabbath-rest remains within the heart, where you sense the word of God and it judges and cuts. Before the action ever comes out it is already judged, condemned, crucified, and confessed instantaneously; directly and with purpose. When God comes to encourage and speak, you can accept that, also. Most of us aren’t even at this level. At best we are using sledgehammers in our own lives. Make every effort to enter this Sabbath-rest where the word of God dwells, works, divides, judges and does all of the things it does. If you have a hard time accepting what we bring to you or what somebody else brings to you in the body, then what does that tell you about your walk with God? People years ago used to moan, groan,
and complain that I never confessed my sins enough. No, I didn’t jump up and down, and whine and throw a big fit like a baby. Just because God brings you something you kick and scream, throw up all over yourself, bounce around the room, and act like it is the end of the world. Instead, just humble yourself before the living God and say, “Yes, Lord,” and let him deal with you. Now, don’t get the idea that it is always that soft because that’s not true.
Hebrews 4:13 – Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Shut up and let God talk! And when he comes to us and says, “This is your problem and what needs to change,” then put forth every effort to change. “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” We will come before God and give an account for our day and our life. God will ask, “What did you do with this day? How did you repent? How did you make every effort? Was it by grace? Was it from you? Who was it for?”
Acts 14:27 – On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
The door of faith has been opened for us. What will we do with it? Will we make every effort to enter through? Or will we just stand outside the door saying, “Oh, yeah, it is opened,” but not walk through? The door looks pretty narrow. Faith is there and everything is in place, but it takes a lot of work to pass through that door. We just don’t want to put forth the effort. So, we stand outside with the rest of the multitudes offering our excuses and reasons. We bemoan the time we have wasted and how we should have gotten on with what we needed to do. Brothers and sisters, there comes a time when the father gets up and closes the door, and you will be gnashing your teeth in hell, in the darkness, because of the time wasted. We have the perfect excuse, every justification, and wasted prayer. I will give you some basics of where to begin:
Number One: Make every effort seeking the presence of the Holy Spirit in everything.
Number Two: Pray continually. You know when you are not praying and offering things to God. When you do not seek him, the world comes and settles in. I know that seems like an impossible command but make every effort to grab hold of that which is impossible. Every time you fail and every time you sin—and you will fail and you will sin—get back up again and make every effort. Become persistent.
Number Three: Fight only the battles God has chosen for you to fight. You will be so full of self-pity that when God comes show you something to work on you will go, “Oh yeah, I know! Yeah, it is all there!” Take the one thing that he has shown you to battle and battle it until it is overcome.
Let me tell you a little secret. If you can overcome some of the basic things God shows you, learning how to do it by the Spirit, learning to do it in the Spirit, learning to surrender your heart, fifty other things will fall automatically. Eventually, Scripture says, you will be able to run on the highway of righteousness.
Number Four: Let the Bible dwell in you richly. If you can’t think of anything to battle with—if you don’t have the grace to battle anything else, then you get Scripture in your heart. Don’t worry about your other brothers and sisters. They may be able to go somewhere else and do something else. Take that moment and read some Scripture—five minutes here or ten minutes there. Devour it! Eat it up!
Number Five: Enter the door daily. Pick up your cross daily. Then when you get up to the door in heaven and it is time to enter through, nothing will be different! Every day you picked up the cross. Every day you humbled yourself. Every day you made the effort. By the time you get to that door will be nothing left to give up.
Let’s go ahead and pray:
Father, we ask that you grant us your truth and your love. Keep delusions and lies far from us. Baptize us with a fire, Father, that puts forth every effort. Father, even if we made every effort how short that is of your glory! Let no excuse live on our lips, Father, or in our hearts. Even, Father, if the effort is grabbing for mercy, let us grab for it, Father, in truth. Father, speak to us just how narrow that door is that we might make every effort. Amen.