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8-25-19 Sermon

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost  Luke 13:22-30

 

O God, You declare Your power chiefly in showing mercy: please grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, may run to You, entering through the narrow door, to obtain Your promise of salvation, and become partakers of Your heavenly banquet; through Jesus CHRIST our LORD, Amen.

 

The Bible is the most important book in the world. It is God’s word, living, and active. It is the cradle of CHRIST and holds the message of salvation. Of all the things we do in this life, it is the time we spend with God in His word that is the most important. Only His word produces faith and hope--leads and guides us in the truth.

The man in the Gospel asked Jesus a very general question regarding how many people will be saved. He wanted to know how the Gospel related to all of humanity, rather than how it related to him personally. The Gospel isn’t about a nameless body of people-- it’s personal and specific. It’s about the narrow door, repentance and forgiveness.

So how many people will be in heaven and how many will be eternally separated from God? What will happen to the people who never have heard the Gospel? Will they suffer eternal punishment? If that’s the God of the Bible, then I don’t want to believe in him.”

As relevant as all these questions seem to be, they only detract from the focus on our personal salvation. When we question the intent and motives of God, we try to put God on trial. And if we don’t like God’s answers to our questions, then we reject the message, reject the Bible, reject the church, and ultimately reject God. If we ask hypothetical questions about salvation, we won’t get too personal. We can ignore repentance allowing our sin to stand between us and our relationship with Jesus.

Remember when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” The disciples gave various answers. But then Jesus asked then directly, “Who do YOU say that I am?”

The man in today’s Gospel spoke in generalizations, but Jesus said to him, what about YOU? Preaching the Word of God is never to a bunch of nameless people. It’s about repentance and forgiveness for each person. “Strive to enter Jesus says through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able…Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’” Are YOU ready for that day when Jesus comes to “judge both the living and the dead?”

This text clearly dispels any idea of universal salvation. There is however, God’s universal grace, which flows freely from the universal atonement Christ made on the cross. But there are many who never find a need to have a relationship with Jesus. But we must remember, we cannot choose our own path in life and remain in a right relationship with God.

We don't do anyone any favors when we water down God’s truth. "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."

In Holy Baptism you were bought with a price, not with gold or silver, but with Jesus’ holy and precious blood. In that water, you were made his very own. The Gospel is always personal. Each one of us is called by name and is His dearly beloved child.

He clothed you with His very own righteousness and He created in you a new heart that longs to enter by the narrow door, meaning Jesus. The striving, of which Jesus speaks, is an earnest cry of faith that calls out “LORD, have mercy.”

In Baptism you were marked with the sign of the cross. That cross-marked you as one redeemed by CHRIST the crucified. In that moment, God effected a monumental change in your relationship to Him.

The Gospel is always personal, and is always God seeking you. Yes, Jesus shed His blood for the sins of the world, but most importantly, He shed His blood for YOU!

Will there be many, or a few who are saved? I don’t know. Jesus doesn’t deal with salvation in an abstract manner. He always comes to each person, individually, by water and the word, with bread and wine. It is through such marvelous gifts one enters into heaven through the narrow door. Amen