“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24
The Son rises.
God impressed those words upon my heart a few days ago as my family participated in our church’s Easter sunrise service. I had closed my eyes in worship, and while we sang, I began to feel the heat of warm rays reaching my legs as the sun crested over the treetops. And God whispered into my spirit, “the Son rises.”
He does, you know. The Day of the Lord draws nearer with each setting sun. My heart rejoices with anticipation for His approaching glory. But concern quickly follows my joy. Concern for the lost—particularly the lost within the church.
Yes, dear one. You read that correctly. Many who sit in our pews are lost. And my Father has burdened my heart for them. Which is why our recent celebration of our Savior’s resurrection seemed a perfect opportunity to write this plea.
Are you sure that Jesus knows you, beloved?
Even as I write the question, I know many will recoil from it. In a generation raised on the certainty of a magic prayer, the question seems unthinkable. Who am I to cause someone to doubt their salvation?
And yet, nowhere in scripture can I find the assurance of magic words. Instead, I find plea after plea to live by faith according the Word of God, and “…to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).”
So, I write in obedience to 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
We can say that we know Jesus, beloved. But scripture teaches that what will save us on the day of judgment is whether Jesus declares that He knows us.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23
Precious one, when Jesus walked upon this earth, He issued a warning. Nestled between teachings about bearing good fruit and building on the rock of His Word, He declared that when He returns, many will cry out in baffled surprise when He refuses them.
Indignantly, they will plead their case. They called Him Lord. They served Him, even doing mighty works in His name. Of course they belonged to Him! Yet Jesus will declare, “I never knew you; depart from me…”
He issues a similar warning in the parable of the ten virgins.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” Matthew 25:1-4
Notice that all ten believed they were betrothed to the bridegroom. All ten fully expected admittance into the wedding feast. But five of them had no oil in their lamps. Lamps without oil produce no light. Five did not examine themselves and failed to meet the test.
After a delay, the call rang out.
“’Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’” Verses 6-9
You may be tempted to judge the wise virgins’ unwillingness to share their oil. But the truth is, our salvation can’t provide someone else entry into the kingdom. Everyone must receive their oil from the Bridegroom Himself. Only He can give the Holy Spirit through an authentic encounter that results in repentant faith.Looking like a Christian won’t make you one. Many follow people but never follow Jesus. Click To Tweet
The five virgins without oil discovered they acted too late. The bridegroom arrived while they were trying to figure out how to get oil.
“… and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” Verses 10-12
Jesus’ words in the parable echo those from Matthew 7:23. I never knew you. His next words offer a mirror with which we can examine ourselves. “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Our works in Jesus’ name mean nothing if our hearts remain bound to the lawless one. Judas offers proof of that. He preached and performed miracles in Jesus’ name, yet he never repented of the evil in his heart. Greed made him a thief and a liar, willing to sell his friend for 30 pieces of silver. Though he walked beside true disciples, lack of repentance kept him from becoming one.
So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28
We cannot follow Jesus and embrace the ways of the world. You must choose, beloved. Jesus or the world. His Word doesn’t allow for both.
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14
Repent, dear one. Leave the world and cling to Jesus. Invite Him to govern your heart, and He will count you among them.