Seeking, or Struggling?
A warning from the Lord that we must fight
to enter into His kingdom
One day, as the Lord was on the way to Jerusalem, someone asked Him whether only a few would be saved. He replied:
Struggle to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
— Luke 13:24
Here the Lord states that if we desire to “enter the narrow gate” of salvation, it is not enough merely to seek; rather, we must struggle to enter in. In fact, He says that “many” will fail because they were only “seeking,” not “struggling,” to enter. Moreover, it is not the sinners who cannot enter in, but those who are merely seeking instead of struggling.
So, clearly the Lord is not speaking in these verses of eternal salvation, for we receive that, not by our effort, but through simple faith (John 5:24). Rather, He is dealing with the question of whether or not we will gain the salvation of reigning with Him in His 1,000-year millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6).
He goes on to explain by means of an illustration:
When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us,” and He will answer and say to you, “I do not know you, where you are from.”
Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” But He will say, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.”
— Luke 13:25-27
Note carefully that, according to the Lord’s word here, it is not those living in sin who will be left outside after He has “shut the door,” but those who ate and drank in His presence!
Today, many dear believers do have at least some seeking after the Lord, such as in their morning time in the word and in prayer, or in fellowshipping with other believers and attending Bible conferences. This is very good; certainly it is much better than neglecting the Lord altogether. This may be what is meant in the parable above by “eating and drinking” in His presence.
However, according to the Lord’s word in these verses, those who only “seek” Him in this way will not be able to enter into the Kingdom; only those who truly struggle and fight will receive that reward. As the Lord says elsewhere, “The Kingdom of the Heavens is taken by violence” (Matt. 11:24, Darby).
In fact, the Greek word for “struggle” in Luke 13:24 is agōnizomai. It is related to the Greek word agōn, from which we have our English word, “agony.” According to Thayer’s, it is used in reference to contending in the gymnastic games and often refers to contending with adversaries, fighting. It is the word translated “competes” (NKJV) in 1 Corinthians 9:25:
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Clearly, to follow the Lord in this way is no light matter! If we desire to win this prize we must, like those competing in the games, go beyond merely seeking, so that we are struggling, even fighting and dealing with adversaries, to follow and serve the Lord at any cost.
In contrast, we may only seek the Lord and enjoy some fellowship with Him and His people, and feel we are doing well. In that case we must beware, for then the Lord’s warning in the verses above may very well apply to us, so that we find ourselves on the outside when the Lord and His faithful believers are reigning in His 1,000 year kingdom.
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— 5 August 2021 —