Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Sunday, August 21, 2016 - St. Luke 13:22-30

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Posted: Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 by Pastor Westgate

So many questions, so few answers. That’s how it feels sometimes, Christians. We wonder, especially during this Trinity Season, how The Trinity works. We wonder why God let Adam sin, why He created Satan when He knew he would get us to sin, why He created us able to sin. We wonder why people reject Christ, why His flock seems so small, why our churches aren’t full.

That’s what’s asked in today’s Gospel. “Lord, will the saved be few?” We can’t say for sure why someone asked this question. Certainly he was curious. Perhaps he thought Jesus issued too many threats against unbelief. Perhaps he wanted to think that pretty much everyone would end up saved; if He’s powerful enough to heal people, He’s powerful enough to make people believe, right?

That’s not the way He works. He is almighty, but He’s not about to force Himself on you. What do I mean? He doesn’t tell us to go out brandishing swords and guns to try to force people to convert. He doesn’t loudly say in thunder for all to hear: “Believe or die.” He doesn’t write threatening messages on walls every day. He just sends us out with the message of Christ Crucified.

He sends us out with the message of Christ Crucified. That’s what saves. That’s what creates faith. That’s what makes people trust in Him. A show of force doesn’t create trust. It creates fear. It scares people into obeying. Our God is not that kind of God. He doesn’t want you to be scared so stiff into obeying Him that you do what He wants just to keep from getting punished. He doesn’t want you to be brainwashed dummies just going through the actions.

So what does God want? He wants you to love Him and act out of that love. He wants you to keep His commands because you want to please Him. He wants you to want to please Him. That could never happen if you were forced. If you were forced, you would do things out of spite or because you had to. But He doesn’t want that. He wants you to truly desire to do what is good.

So He sends us out into the world not with swords but with His Word. He doesn’t want us to worry about the response. That’s what was behind the question. Did you notice He didn’t answer? He’s telling us to not focus on that issue. Instead, focus on your salvation. “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

Many seek to enter eternal life but are unable. How can this be? Why would God turn any away? Doesn’t He want everybody to be saved? Yes, He wants all people to be saved and to know and believe The Truth. But with that knowledge and belief you would enter at the right time and not get locked out, right? You’d know when to enter and where the key is. But those people who knocked after bedtime had to know it was too late, right?

What makes somebody late? Going the wrong way. I remember the first time I went to the school, for the dedication. I missed the turn in Verona and found myself at Washington Blvd. Back in June on my way to a school board meeting I missed a turn on Hulton and didn’t realize I was lost until I saw the Bessemer rail yard looming ahead.

How can people get lost on Salvation Way? By not going the right way. How does that happen? How can they make a wrong turn? Are they ever on the right way? Jesus says, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one can come to The Father but by Me.” So the wrong way is a way that avoids Jesus, doesn’t use Jesus, or forgets about Jesus.

What ways are those? There are many ways; you’ve heard some of them. If any way says Jesus is not true God, it’s the wrong way. If any way gives you something to do to get to eternal life alongside or instead of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, it’s the wrong way. If any way focuses on your wants and desires and not Jesus, it’s the wrong way. If any way cannot pray, “Thou art The Way, to Thee alone From sin and death we flee; And he who would The Father seek Must seek Him, Lord, by Thee” (TLH 355:1), it’s the wrong way.

Jesus is the only way to eternal life. The only way in is to follow the way He has laid down for us in His Word. What is that way? Part 1 is you repent of your sins: be truly sorry for them and wish to do better. And verily you should repent, because you can take God’s grace for granted. How can that be? How do you take it for granted?

You do it when you grieve God’s Holy Spirit. How do you do that? By sinning when you know you’re sinning – and not caring about it; when you engage in a pet sin without trying to avoid it; when you do the opposite of what you know God wants you to do, not because you can’t help it, but because you want to. You insert the details; don’t claim you can’t. Any sin you’ve committed any day could become something that if you don’t repent can drag you down to hell. Certainly this is one reason the way is narrow!

So what’s part 2 of the way to eternal life? Believe The Gospel! Christ Jesus was punished for all your sins. He even was punished for all your sins that put your salvation in jeopardy, all the sins that could have grieved His Spirit. Every sin, no matter how great, is paid for. He died on The Cross and shed His Blood to rescue you from your sins. Now He proclaims this good news to you and calls out to you that you should come to Him and find shelter from hell in His almighty arms.

What makes that way so narrow? It isn’t just our love of sin or the human desire to do it our own way instead of God’s way. There’s something else, no, really someone else. The devil is lurking around like a prowling lion just ready to pounce on you and devour you. He will use any opportunity you give him to steal you from God if you let him. It can be at home or at work or on vacation. It can be when you’re busy or idle. It can be when you’re doing good just as well as when you’re doing wrong. He’s always ready to pounce and devour you for hell.

How can you overcome his advances? Seek the shelter of The Lord. Seek Him where He may be found. Go to His Word daily for strength; the hymnals give you a guide. And do not absent yourself from this Altar if you can otherwise be here. For here He gives you His Body and Blood to strengthen you and keep you in the true faith unto life eternal. Here He gives you Himself, and He defeated the devil. Here He gives you the strength to defeat the devil. Here He leads you to the narrow door and shows you how to enter.

So now come to the gate. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets and apostles and evangelists, and all the faithful departed are waiting. God Himself is waiting for you. He is calling you to come to Him, to enter eternal life. Here is the gate in this life. When you come to it you are saying that you are the chief of sinners, that is you are making yourself the last in this life, one not worthy of eternal life. When you do that, He makes you first, one most worthy of eternal life, one who will enter the narrow door unto life eternal. God grant that we enter it, for Jesus’ sake.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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