Many Bible passages clarify the exclusive, all-important claims of Jesus regarding salvation. One of the most obvious is Luke 13:22–30. As Jesus taught His way through Israel’s towns and villages, someone asked Him a question for the ages: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” (Luke 13:23 ESV). Who will make it to heaven?
Salvation is one narrow door.
“Strive to enter through the narrow door,” Jesus responded. “For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24 ESV). Every home has a door, and God’s heavenly home is no exception. Jesus declares that such a door exists. It separates insiders from outsiders, family from foe, those who are welcome from those not on the guest list. God lives on one side, and we live on the other. On His side is holiness, and on our side sin. On His side is life, on ours, death. And the door between us and God is “narrow.” What does that mean? Few find the door. Fewer still go through it. Apart from this door there is no salvation, no forgiveness of sin, no hope for sinners, no eternal life. The only door of salvation is narrow indeed.
The narrow door is exclusive and inclusive.
On this point Christianity is the most exclusive of all religions. But it is also the most inclusive, because all are welcome to pass through the narrow door. In some religions you must be of a particular race, ethnicity, or people group, but not so in Christianity. All nations are invited to pass through the narrow door of salvation. In some religions you need to learn Hebrew or Arabic, but all tongues can enter here. In some religions you must be smart and studious, but at the narrow door even the simple can find the way in. In some religions you need to be rich so you can buy your seat or go through layers of teaching, training, and cleansing, but at this door the poorest of the poor are welcome, and even given a place of honor.
The narrow door is closing.
God has opened a door of invitation. But that door will close. Jesus said, “When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from’” (Luke 13:25–26 ESV). There is no reincarnation, no annihilation, no second chance for salvation after death. Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” You live, you die, you are judged. That is the truth. When you die, the door of opportunity slams shut behind you.
The narrow door divides heaven and hell.
Jesus also says this narrow door divides heaven and hell. He first describes hell: “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.” And then Jesus describes heaven: “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:28–30 ESV). Heaven will be feasting and laughing and blessing, an enormous sin-free party where sickness is conquered, disease destroyed, and God glorified. The nations will come together, and we will live forever under a good king’s gracious rule. But Jesus describes hell in the most painful of terms, speaking of unending torment more than anyone else in the Bible. People will weep profusely and never stop grinding their teeth in agony. Hell lasts just as long as heaven: forever.
The narrow door IS Jesus.
In the end, Jesus finally reveals that He is that narrow door. His death opens the way for us to enter heaven. He says, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem” (Luke 13:32–33 ESV). God has opened one narrow door from us to Him, and that door is Jesus Christ, who says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9 ESV). Jesus knew His mission and was absolutely committed to seeing it through. God became man to open a door of opportunity for men and women to come to God. He who had no sin became sin for us. He died in our place for our sins as our substitute and Savior. Jesus says, “I am the door!” He is the door of salvation, the door of invitation, the door from man to God, the door from hell to heaven.