Yesterday, we looked at two very comforting passages that contain the word ‘knock’:
2. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7
And then I had to muck it all up by bringing up 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.’
It’s probably safe to assume that this passage, and the similar Parable of the Ten Virgins and the warning about false disciples in Matthew 7:21-21 are all warnings about insincere disciplehood, and cautions against waiting too long to turn our lives over to Christ.
And therefore, those of us who are have already signed up for the Jesus Team might be inclined to declare these passages as being ‘not for me’. But I wonder if there’s some danger in making that assumption.
After all, the people Jesus was speaking to in Luke 13 were probably pretty confident they were on God’s team, too.
The conversation begins in Verse 22, when someone asks Him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ The abstractness of the question suggests to me that the asker never dreamed he might be one of the non-saved people.
But Jesus’ response makes it pretty clear that nobody should take their salvation for granted:
‘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.”
‘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!”’
“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. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” – Luke 13:24-30
Many who think they’re in will be out, and many who we think are out will be in. And I think that’s not just a warning for First-Century Jews, but also for 21st-Century Christians.
Jesus repeats this phrase to the incredulously excluded: ‘I don’t know you or where you come from’ and I think that’s not accidental. He’s underlining, italicizing and boldfacing the importance of relationship with Him. Not church attendance, not rule keeping, and not even serving the needy. All of those things are important, but even stacked on top of each other, they’re not what saves us.
Meanwhile, at the start of the teaching, He urges listeners to ‘make every effort to enter the narrow door.’ (Other translations use the word ‘strive’ here.) The concept of ‘striving’ and ‘effort’ seems to contradict the assurance that we are saved by grace alone, and our efforts are not relevant to the equation. And it also seems incompatible with the spirit of the Revelation 3:20 and Matthew 7:7 door-knocking passages mentioned yesterday in Knock One Time.
In a study called Striving to Enter the Narrow Door, Texas pastor Bob Deffinbaugh provides some insight:
While it is absolutely true that no man can work hard or well enough to earn his salvation, it is also true that the free gift of God will not be gained by those who think the matter unimportant, and who do not pursue that which God freely offers. Let us be on guard against being so low-keyed in our presentation of the gospel that we negate or minimize the urgency of this matter. Just as the door was about to close for Israel, it will also soon be closing for the Gentiles. Time is short. Salvation is available now, at no cost, to those who diligently seek to enter through the narrow door, Jesus Christ.
The words that jump out at me in that paragraph are ‘low-keyed’ – a concept I often express with the term ‘lukewarm’. And that reminds me that just four verses before Jesus declared that He stands at the door and knocks in Revelation 3:20, he warned, ‘So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’ So maybe the ‘knock’ verses we’re looking at in this series aren’t that different after all.
More on that tomorrow. For now …
Peace be with you.
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