Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pentecost 13 - Proper 16

Almighty God, You gave Your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Himself. Grant that we, Your adopted children by grace, may be renewed by Your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

People from every nation enter through the narrow door of righteousness. Every person would like to know if he is going to make it to heaven. “Heaven” is the same as being “saved”, being in a right relationship with God. Jesus makes it clear that not all who think they are going will get there. We need to know where we stand and know of the necessity of being in a right relationship with Jesus Christ. On this subject we must be clear.

Who then shall be saved?

1. Not necessarily one nation or race – v. 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.

A. God is no respecter of persons. Scripture is so clear on this matter. Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved”. {Acts 2:21} For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. {Romans 10:13}

B It’s a matter of faith. . He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. {Mark 16: 16} He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. {John 3:18} He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." {John 3:36} They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household {Acts 16:31}

Transition: Who then shall be saved? Not necessarily one particular nation or race nor those who claim church membership.

2. Not necessarily church people – Vv.26-27 Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'

A. Your pious deeds as good as they appear before your neighbor can’t cut it. The Lord is seeking a people with contrite hearts living in repentance. "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham {Luke 3:8} The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" {Luke 5:21}
B. But to those who seek Him He is more then able to absolve and heal. The prayer of confession needs to be ours prayer daily. Almighty God, our maker and redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto You that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against You by thought, word and deed. We flee for refuge to Your infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Your grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Transition: Who then shall be saved? Not necessarily one particular nation or race nor those who claim church membership. It belongs to those who walk by faith.

3. But they who walk through the narrow door of obedience – Vv. 24-25 Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 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.'

A. The word strive in the Greek is “agonizomai”, from whence our word agonize comes. Think how many who were very confident that they should be saved will be rejected in the day of trial, and their confidences will deceive them, and you will say that there are few that shall be saved and that we are all concerned to strive. Do you agonize over your salvation or your neighbor’s? Do you agonize over the prevailing attitude of this world which responds with a shrug and says, “whatever”?

B. Our Savior came to guide men's consciences, not to gratify their curiosity. Ask not, how many shall be saved? But, Shall I be one of them? Ask not, what shall become of such and such? But rather, what shall I do, and what will become of me? Strive to enter in at the strait gate. This is directed to each of us; it is, Strive ye. All that will be saved, must enter in at the strait gate, must undergo a change of the whole man. Those that would enter in must strive to enter. Here are awakening considerations, to enforce this exhortation. Oh that we may be all awakened by them! They answer the question, Are there only a few that shall be saved? But let none respond either as to themselves or others, for there are the last who shall be first, and the first who shall be last. If we reach heaven, we shall meet many there whom we little thought to meet, and miss many whom we expected to find.

We are saved by grace through faith and not by good deeds. The test of true faith is obedience to God’s will. First we are saved by faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the confirmation of that condition is manifested in our obedience.

Face of Christ

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