- Sermon Notes
How Do You Go To Heaven?
May 16, 2021
1. Heaven. Questions about heaven are numerous.
2. Is there a heaven? If there is, then what will heaven be like?
ILLUS – The Pope and a Lawyer meet St. Peter in Heaven.
3. On a personal level, “How do you go to heaven?”
4. The Bible has a lot to say about this question and tonight we will discover the answer along with the reason why some will not go to heaven.
5. Let’s look to the teachings of Jesus Christ about heaven beginning with verse 22 of Luke 13.
1. Luke records that large crowds followed Jesus as He traveled from “one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.” (22)
2. It was common then as it is now for people to wonder about heaven, who will be there and why.
3. In fact, the Jewish scribes were known for offering their opinions about heaven, answering questions such as, “How many people will be saved?”
4. Now, in Jesus’ day when the Jews talked about being saved, it’s important to note that “salvation” was linked to entrance into the kingdom of God.
5. Remember that in Luke 13:18-19, Jesus had been talking about the kingdom of God and compared it to a mustard seed, meaning it would start out small and grow over time.
6. In light of what Jesus said, someone asked Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” (23)
Transition – Jesus’ answer to this question gives us divine insight into how to go to heaven and why some will not. If you want to go to heaven, then. . .
I. Strive to Enter the Narrow Door to Heaven
• Likely the questioner just wanted to know if they had understood Jesus correctly, that only a few will be saved and enter the kingdom of God.
• But Jesus did not answer their general question with an impersonal answer.
• In fact, Jesus gave a personal command to all within earshot and to all who would read His words later.
• In essence, Jesus was and is saying, “This is how you go to heaven. . .”
• “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” (24)
• The word “strive” literally means “to strain every nerve, to struggle, to fight with great intensity and effort.”
• Our English word “anguish” is derived from this Greek word.
• So if we put it all together, Jesus was saying something like this, “You all are commanded to make every effort, to do your best, to work hard, to exert maximum effort in order to enter the narrow door to be saved, to enter the kingdom of God.”
• What does Jesus mean?
o Are we saved by our good works?
o Or does God save those who save themselves by exerting great effort?
• The answer to these questions is revealed once we know the identity of the “narrow door.”
Transition – “Who” is the narrow door that we must strive to enter through to go to heaven?
A. Jesus is the Narrow Door to Heaven
1. You might be asking, “How does Matthew Dodd know Jesus is referring to Himself as the narrow door?”
2. Because there are other passages where Jesus refers to Himself in a similar fashion.
3. For instance, in John 10, Jesus calls Himself the “door of the sheep.”
John 10:7, 9, So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. . . I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved”
4. Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus says that if you want to come to the heavenly Father, you must go through Him.
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
5. Well others may ask, “If Jesus is the narrow door, then why do I need to strive or work to go to heaven?”
a. Or to ask the question another way, “What work does God require of us to go to heaven?”
b. Jesus was asked a similar question and His answer is relevant to our study.
John 6:28-29, Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
6. If we put Jesus’ teachings together we discover His answer for how to go to heaven.
a. First, we must recognize there is only one way to go to heaven, through Jesus. He is the narrow door, the only way.
b. Second, the only work that God requires to go to heaven is that one believe, trust, or have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
• Our good works will not save us because our good works will never remove our guilt for the bad we have done.
Isaiah 64:6, For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment
• Only Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary removes the guilt for all who believe in Him.
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Transition – Well, if all that is required is faith, then why did Jesus command us to “Strive to enter through the narrow door?” Because. . .
B. The Door will not remain open forever
1. Jesus continued saying, “. . . for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’’’ (24-25)
2. The truth is, Jesus is the narrow door and when the door of salvation is closed, it will never be opened again.
3. You might be wondering, “When will the narrow door be permanently closed?
a. The door to salvation is permanently closed the moment a person dies.
Hebrews 9:27, And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
b. This explains Jesus’ urgency, an urgency which is reinforced by the Apostle Paul when he wrote. . .
2 Corinthians 6:2, Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”
4. Then why do some wait so long or never enter the door?
5. First, because salvation is not easy, it’s the narrow door, the narrow way.
a. It’s much easier to do life the way the world does, traveling down the broad way.
b. But here again, Jesus gives a warning.
Matthew 7:13-14, Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
6. Second, because it appears the Jews who traveled with Jesus had a false sense of security. Jesus was specifically warning them to wake up and receive Him as their Messiah while the door of salvation remained open.
a. Just because they followed Him, enjoyed His teaching, or dined with Him did not mean they were saved. (26)
b. That’s why Jesus said in His parable, “I tell you, I do not know where you are from.”
• This means that many in the crowd were familiar with Jesus but did not have a soul-saving relationship with Him. (27)
• Familiarity is not enough to save one’s soul.
7. Third, because it’s easy to let the pleasures and troubles of life distract us from the reality of where we will spend eternity when this life is over.
a. Jesus is warning that there is too much at stake when it comes to the eternal destination of one’s soul.
• This is not the time to be complacent about eternity.
• This is not the time to be nonchalant about our souls.
b. Now is the time to get right with God so that we’re prepared to stand before Him when this life is over.
8. Fourth, because pride is the vicious enemy of our souls.
a. The Jews thought they were “first” because they were God’s chosen people through whom Messiah would come. (Genesis 12:1-3)
b. This privilege should have filled their hearts with humility and gratitude but their hearts were filled with pride instead.
c. The Jews were incensed when Jesus said they would be excluded from the kingdom of God, forever to dwell away from God’s presence, assigned to a place where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for all eternity. (28)
d. And they were shocked to hear Jesus also say they would be replaced by Gentiles who will come from “east and west and from north and south” to “recline at the table in the kingdom of God” with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets; that the first will be last and the last will be first. (29-30)
e. The Jews thought their biological connection to Abraham was their ticket into the kingdom of God.
f. The Jews also thought that religion and man-made traditions were enough to guarantee safe passage into the kingdom of God.
g. The problem is religion and man-made traditions will never save a soul.
Warren Wiersbe rightly said, “It takes more than reverence or tradition to get into God’s kingdom!”
APPL – Jesus’ words have direct application for us over two-thousand years later.
• Going to church does not mean we’re saved.
• Reading the Bible or paying tithes does not mean we’re saved.
• Having godly parents or grandparents does not mean we’re saved.
• We must confess with our mouths what we believe in our hearts, that Jesus is the Savior of our souls.
Romans 10:9-10, . . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
APPL – You see, the most important question is not, “How many people will be saved?” but “Will you be saved?”
Transition – And on this point, I want to be perfectly clear…
II. God Desires That All Be Saved
• To hear that there is only one way or that the way is narrow and so is the door to salvation can lead one to a wrong conclusion, namely, that God is exclusive; He does not want a lot of people in heaven.
• But that is a wrong conclusion.
• God loves all who are made in His image and wants all to be saved.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
• But not all will be saved because. . .
A. God respects our free will
1. That God respects our free will, a gift He bestowed upon us, is abundantly clear when we look at the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees in verses 31-35.
2. At this point, Jesus was traveling on the eastern side of the Jordan River, in Perea, a region ruled by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.
3. Herod Antipas is the one who beheaded John the Baptist after John confronted him for having an immoral relationship with his brother’s wife. (Mark 6:14-29)
a. After John was executed, Herod heard about Jesus’ ministry and was frightened that John had come back from the dead. (Luke 9:7-9)
b. Luke also records that at one point Herod wanted to meet Jesus to see Him perform a miracle. (Luke 23:8)
4. But true of people with hard hearts, Herod toggled between fear and fascination, from thoughts of wonder to plots of murder.
a. The threat against Jesus was likely real, but why would the Pharisees be concerned about Jesus’ welfare?
b. Why not hand Jesus over to Herod and be done with Him once and for all?
5. I have to wonder if they wanted Jesus back on the other side of the Jordan River, in the jurisdiction of the Jewish religious establishment so that they could keep an eye on Him and find some cause to put Him to death.
a. Either way, the Pharisees were done with Jesus and wanted Him gone.
b. But Jesus did not take the bait.
c. He was on a different timetable, one set by His Father.
d. He had work to do, truth to teach, demons to cast out, and people to heal.
6. Jesus was not intimidated by Herod Antipas, that “fox.”
a. Jesus’ words were dripping with sarcasm when He called Herod a “fox.”
b. You see, the Jews did not have much regard for the animal called a “fox.”
My former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Harold Hoehner, perfectly captures the essence of Jesus’ meaning, saying, “A person who is designated a fox is an insignificant or base person. He lacks real power and dignity, using cunning deceit to achieve his aims.”
7. After dismissing Herod’s threat, Jesus pivots to the real threat, His own people, the ones He came to save.
8. Like the prophets who died within Jerusalem’s gates, Jesus prophesied of His own death. (33)
9. Then Jesus’ laments over the holy city, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (34)
a. Here we get a window into God’s heart for the lost.
b. God does not rejoice over the wicked who reject Him.
Ezekiel 33:11, “As I live!” declares the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!”
c. God wants to protect us from the consequences of rejecting His offer of salvation through His Son, like a hen that protects her brood from danger.
d. But the Jews were unwilling, they “would not have it!”
APPL – The same is true today. Some refuse to have Jesus and God will respect their choice.
• God gave us a free will and He will not manipulate, coerce, bully, or force us to choose His Son.
• He gave us a choice and once we decide, He will respect our decision and give us what we want, an eternity without Him.
• Unfortunately, when those who reject Jesus realize what they are missing, theirs will be an eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth; an opportunity lost because when this life is over, the door is permanently shut.
Transition – But if you are listening to me now, it’s not too late. . .
B. Jesus is knocking at your door
Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
1. Will you please answer the door?
2. Will you please not put off the most important decision for another day?
3. Today is the day of salvation.
4. Today is the day which could define your eternity.
5. Please walk the narrow way.
6. Please enter the narrow door.
7. I invite you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and be saved.
John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Luke 13:22-35 NASB
22 And He was passing through one city and village after another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin standing outside and knocking on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ and He then will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 Then you will begin saying, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets!’ 27 And yet He will [a]say, ‘I do not know where you are from; leave Me, all you [b]evildoers.’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
31 At that very time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away and leave this place, because Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that [c]fox, ‘Behold, I am casting out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I [d]reach My goal.’ 33 Nevertheless I must go on My journey today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside Jerusalem. 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her [e]young under her wings, and you were unwilling! 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!’”