The Door is Open. Strive to Enter It.
By James Wiese on August 19, 2022
The Sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost August 21, 2022
Text: Luke 13:22-30 CW-21 Series C 22:2339
Theme: The Door Is Open. Strive to Enter.
I was running late. I had errands to do but was confident I could get them all accomplished. I took care of the less important things first. They were easier to do. The last thing was the most important thing I needed to get done, but I put it off until the end.
I thought I should hurry, yet I was quite sure that I had plenty of time and that the store would still be open. If not, the owner would probably let me in, even though he had closed. After parking the car, I strolled to the door and pulled on it. Guess what? It didn’t budge; locked! Peering at the sign on the door I saw that I was over an hour late. The lights were out, the people were gone, and the door had closed at a time that I least expected. Oh, I was disappointed and upset at myself. But the place would be open tomorrow. I could come back then and get what I needed.
I might be able to do that with things for my life in the present, but I dare not try to play that game with God and eternity. If I do, I may find myself in the company of the 5 foolish bridesmaids without oil for my lamp. They ran to the store to get some before the bridegroom arrived. While they were away, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went in with him to the banquet. Later the 5 foolish ones came and found the door shut. “Sir! Sir!” they cried. “Open the door for us!” But he replied, “I don’t know you.” And the door stayed shut. I will be with them if I procrastinate in life and do not enter the door to God’s Kingdom when it is open.
The Door is Open now. “Strive to Enter,” Jesus calls, “because many will try to enter and not be able. Once the master of the house gets up and shuts the door,” it’s done. “Go away,” he’ll say. So…
I. …give it all you’ve got to go through the door now.
Some people are going to be mighty surprised when the Last Day rolls around and they are left on the outside. You aren’t automatically in heaven. When Jesus gives the encouragement to “enter through the narrow door” that indicates that we’re not already ‘in’ when we come into this world. You are not inside a house if you must enter it. You are standing outside. Likewise, the same is true with God’s Kingdom. If Jesus encourages us to enter, that means we’re standing on the outside until we go through the door. So, the question we need to ask
ourselves is whether we’re on the outside or the inside.
That’s what the man who came to Jesus with his question should have asked. Instead, he asked Jesus how many are saved; how many will be with God in His kingdom. Just a few? Why he asked it, we aren’t told. But if you think about it, it’s kind of a strange question. It shows concern for how many will or won’t be in God’s Kingdom rather than a concern for how to get there. Notice how Jesus doesn’t answer his question because “how many” is not important. Numbers don’t matter. Personal position does. “Strive to enter!” Jesus replied.
“Strive!” The word means: “to struggle, wrestle, grapple, fight.” Another way you could say it is, “Give it all you’ve got.”
The word is connected with athletic contests in which athletes strain with all their might. We get our English word “agony” from it.
Do you remember when the Apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2Tm.4:7f)? Or when he wrote, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life.” (1Tm.6:12)? It was also used by Jesus when he stood before Pontius Pilate and said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest” (Jn.18:36). That word “fight” is the same word used here. If you are going to fight to win everything, you’ve got to give it all you’ve got.
Think of a wrestling match where wrestlers are locked in combat. Sweating, struggling, grunting, pulling this way and that, striving with all their might to knock their opponent off balance and defeat him. They throw all their effort into it. They give it all they’ve got.
If you are running a race to win or fighting a battle to keep alive, you better be giving it all you’ve got otherwise you’re not going to make it. You’ve got to be striving for it. Likewise, the Lord Jesus wants our most earnest effort to enter His Kingdom.
You know, some people almost act like they find Jesus’ words surprising. “It takes an effort; God expects an effort from us?” Yes. That’s right! But understand the effort correctly. It’s not an effort that saves you, but an effort that results from the fact that Jesus has already saved you by His death and resurrection, and you’re not going to take for granted what He has done for you.
The devil and your sinful flesh want you to do that, to take for granted what the Lord Jesus did, to become lackadaisical in your life with Christ, to fail to see your daily need for repentance and striving for the holy life. A life of repentance and faith takes effort. It requires constant vigilance and daily renunciation of sin. No delays.
So, give Him your attention today. Wrestle hard against your flesh and the devil to enter the kingdom. The Door is Open. You’ve got to give it all you’ve got to enter. Yet, that takes nothing away from His promise of grace: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Strive to Enter the Open Door.
II. Do it before the door closes.
You know, there comes an end to everything in this life, and you don’t always know when the end will be. You need to be prepared. There’s a sense of urgency in the moment here. Jesus said, “Once the master of the house gets up and shuts the door, you will begin to stand outside and knock on the door saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ He will tell you in reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’” His words are spoken against the procrastinator.
I know what it’s like to procrastinate. The job is unpleasant, I’m short on time, I forgot, I just didn’t care to do it, all are reasons I delay. I can easily put some things off. My procrastination doesn’t always affect me so much. But if I delay about matters of faith and my last day catches me unprepared, there’s no second chance. That’s it; I’ve missed out forever. Late pounders on heaven’s shut door won’t get in. There’s no second chance once the door closes.
Ever since the fall people have contemplated second chances on eternity. Even churches do that when they come up with teachings like purgatory. Other religions teach reincarnation, which is basically another life to get it right or better. The Bible says, “It is appointed for people to die only once, and after this comes the judgment” (Hb.9:27). There is no second chance on eternity, nor are there other doors to get you there. It’s a narrow door. That door will close and not open again. Don’t delay or try to go through another way.
There’s one time of grace, one opportunity, one Savior. Paul encourages, “Consider carefully, then, how you walk, not as unwise people, but as wise people. Make the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ep.5:15f).
In grace God gave us today. “Strive to Enter the Narrow Door before it’s too late and it closes. Then…
III. Others may take your place at the table, and you’ll be left out.
God wants no one to be left out; least of all His chosen people Israel. He sent His Son to them; He wanted them at His table. They were happy when Jesus first came. He taught publicly; He healed many people; they felt a strong sense of community like they hadn’t felt in a long time. They cheered Him when He was among them.
But what good did it do? The cheering crowd on Palm Sunday turned into the jeering crowd on Friday, crying, “Crucify! Crucify!” And some who walked with Him for a time “turned back and no longer followed Him” (Jn.6:66). They left and now their time of grace is over. When the door closes on eternity, it will do them no good to say, “But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” Outwardly associating with Jesus is not the same as inwardly believing in Him. Without saving faith a person will lose his place at the table. How sad that must make Him!
Israel should have been there. They had all God’s promises. They had the Savior. They had such God-given advantages. But many of them will not be there. The ones seated at the table of God’s eternal grace are not necessarily going to be the logical ones. Even if some claim long standing membership in the visible church, yet lack total reliance on Christ, they will be on the outside looking in while strangers who relied only on Jesus will be welcomed there. He promised, “People will come from east and west, from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.” Such people from other places, who cling to the Lord Jesus, will take the places of those who thought they should be there.
A mission pastor once commented on this saying: “We are brown-skinned, black-skinned, pink-skinned, and every other shade except ‘thin-skinned’….We preach Christ crucified….All we have in common are our sins and our Savior.” Such are they who will take their place at the table in God’s Kingdom. “Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
So, dear friend The Door Is Open. Strive to Enter the Narrow Door. But enter the only way – through faith in Christ I. giving it all you’ve got…II. before the door closes…III. and others take your place at the table. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email: email@example.com
You can also find us on Facebook
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost August 21, 2022
“Strive to enter through the narrow door.” Luke 13:24
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. So great is His love for those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
The Door Is Open. Don’t Delay. Salvation is serious business. Sadly, some don’t seem to care. Others seem to take it for granted. Still others assume that all roads lead to heaven and all religions have a way. But the Lord God is clear; there is only one door and it is a narrow one, Christ Jesus. “I am the door,” He says.
Today the door is open and all who enter it shall find a Father’s welcome and pardon for their sin. But a day is coming when the door will close and those who have not entered shall be left out. Don’t procrastinate. Happy are those who have entered through faith in the Savior. If salvation is important, it’s important today. Don’t delay. Take hold of it in faith now.
To that end we pray: Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope, and love; and, that we may obtain what You promise, make us love what You command and so enter and work in Your kingdom today; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 66:18-24
Couched in O.T. pictures, the Lord points to three things: 1) the gathering of many before the end, 2) the glory of His Church in the New Testament times, and 3) the destruction that comes on those who reject the Christ as Savior.
The Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 12:18-24
All who witnessed the giving of the Law at Sinai were overcome by the divine demonstration of holiness and power. It struck fear in men’s hearts, as the Law must do. Thank God for the sweetness of the Gospel given to the Church, pictured as Mt. Zion.
The Gospel Lesson: Luke 13:22-30
The door to enter God’s Kingdom is narrow. But there is a door, and it is wide enough for anyone to enter. The door is Christ Jesus who gave His life for all. But only by faith in Him can we enter God’s Kingdom. Strive to enter today in faith before it closes.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
The Lord’s Supper is a wonderful gift in which we receive Jesus’ own body and blood to forgive our sins and strengthen us in faith. It is a gift given with certain responsibilities. The Sacrament is intended for those who have been instructed, understand, and confess as one what they are receiving and doing. Through it we express our unity of faith (1 Cor.10:17). Therefore, we ask that only confirmed members of Zion Lutheran Church or our sister congregations of the WELS or ELS approach to receive Communion. If you would like to become a communicant member of Zion or have any questions about our practice, the pastor would be happy to meet with you after the service.
The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “We are brown-skinned, black-skinned, pink-skinned, and every other shade except ‘thin-skinned.’ We preach Christ-crucified. All we have in common are our sins and our Savior. Such are they who take their place at the table in God’s Kingdom….Indeed, “there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
— adapted from a WELS missionary’s newsletter
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #912
Order of Worship: The Service: Setting Two with Holy Communion: page 172-187
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
The Gospel Acclamation pg.179
Sermon: Luke 13:22-30 The Door is Open. Strive to Enter It.
The Nicene Creed pg.180
Our Response to the Word
Prayer of the Church: pg.182
The Lord Blesses Us
Preparation for Holy Communion Hymnal page 183-186
(Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Distribution Hymn: #663
Thanksgiving & Blessing Hymnal page 187
Closing Hymn: #951
The Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost – Series C
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 66:18-24: Judgment and Hope
18As for me, because of their works and their thoughts,
the time is coming for me to gather people from all nations and all languages.
They will come, and they will see my glory.
19Then I will set up a sign among them,
and I will send out survivors from among them to the nations,
to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, to those who are archers,
to Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands,
who have not heard my message and have not seen my glory.
Then they will declare my glory among the nations.
20Then they will bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord. They will bring them on horses and chariots and wagons and mules and dromedaries to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, in the same way that the people of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel to the Lord’s house.21Even from among these people I will take priests and Levites, says the Lord.
22For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will remain standing before me, declares the Lord, in the same way your offspring and your name will stand. 23As often as one new moon follows another and one Sabbath follows another, all flesh will come to worship before me, says the Lord.
24They will go out, and they will see the corpses of the ones who were rebelling against me, for their worm will not die, and their fire will not be quenched, and all flesh will be horrified by them.
Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 12:18-24: You Have Come to Mount Zion
18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to burning fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a raging storm, 19to the sound of a trumpet, and to a voice that spoke. Those who heard the voice asked that not one more word be added, 20because they could not endure what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
22Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God; to the heavenly Jerusalem; to tens of thousands of angels in joyful assembly; 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; to God, who is the judge of all; to the spirits of righteous people, who have been made perfect; 24to Jesus, the mediator of a new testament; and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better message than the blood of Abel.
Gospel Lesson: Luke 13:22-30: The Narrow Door
22He went on his way from one town and village to another, teaching, and making his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone said to him, “Lord, are only a few going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. 25Once the master of the house gets up and shuts the door, you will begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open for us!’ He will tell you in reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27And he will say, ‘I don’t know where you come from. Depart from me, all you evildoers.’ 28There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown outside. 29People will come from east and west, from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30And note this: Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
with Holy Communion
Fellowship & Bible Study
Divine Worship Service
online – Facebook
Fellowship & Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Many people in our world today believe that there are many roads to heaven. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Buddhist or Hindu, whether you practice Islam or Judaism, are a member of the Mormon church or a Jehovah’s Witness,” they’ll say. “All that matters is that you live a good life, try to treat others well, and do the best that you can.” However, while most world religions may espouse noble goals for earthly living, these goals fall short of what God demands for entrance into heaven: perfection (Matthew 5:48). The bad news is, we aren’t perfect. The good news is Jesus came to be perfect in our place. He has given us his perfection. Through faith in Him we have eternal life. Jesus is the only way, the narrow door!
The Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 12:18-24 (answers are found on the back side)
- What does the scene described in verses 18-21 represent?
- What does Mount Zion represent and by what means can we approach this “mountain”?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; Elizabeth Lisenby; Barbara Long; Lois Wiese; all students as many return to school this coming week.
Welcome Today we welcome the Mistele family, Chad, Becky, Billy, Charlie and Ben into membership with us through profession of faith. We’re happy to have you join us at Zion! God’s blessings on our fellowship together in Him.
Did You Know that Judas was perhaps one of the most popular names in Biblical times? Do you know anyone with that name today? What happened? Who wrote the book of Jude and what is it about when he tells us of a fight over Moses’ dead body? Join us in Bible Study today after worship to find out.
Forward in Christ’s latest edition for August can be found in the narthex. Pick up a copy before leaving. Also, the next series of Meditations daily devotions has arrived. They will begin next Sunday, so hurry to get your copy. There are plenty of copies for family and friends in the narthex.
The Week in Review
Last Sunday Worship: 29; Bible Class: 18; Midweek Bible Class: 5; Offering: $3,600..
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 12: Proverbs 25:6-7; James 2:1-13; Luke 14:1,7-14 (CW-21, Series C)
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- It represents the approach to God by means of the law (symbolized by Mt. Sinai). Attempting to approach God by means of obeying the law apart from faith in Jesus will only bring gloom, trembling and ultimately death.
- Mount Zion represents the Holy Christian Church in heaven and on earth. We approach this mountain through faith in Jesus who has made us perfect in God’s sight by the sprinkling of His blood. He’s the narrow door.
This week I am praying for……