Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church

The door to heaven is going to close

When Jesus was asked if only a few people would be saved at the end of the world, he told people to try to enter God's kingdom through the narrow door, since many who were familiar with God would be locked out of God's kingdom.

The Bible uses the image of Noah's ark as a metaphor: lots of people outside the ark, only a few people in safety inside. This week we'll look at verses related to this theme and discuss what the Bible means by entering heaven through the "narrow door."

Monday Genesis 6:5-8 (NRSV)
The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the sight of the LORD.

One of the saddest passages in the Bible occurs in Genesis 6. Only a few pages into the story of creation, God is sorry for creating humans because of their evil and violent behavior.

Noah was different from the people around him, so God decided to rescue Noah and start over. God told Noah to build an ark. (Notice that God’s way to rescue Noah is to give him gigantic job to complete. If you get a big job to do, don’t complain! It may be God’s mercy for you.)

What do you guess grieves God about your household? What prompts God’s favor?
What do you guess grieves God about America today? What prompts God’s favor?
What do you guess grieves God about the world? What prompts God’s favor?

Tuesday Genesis 7:1-7 (NRSV)
Then the LORD said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. . . . In seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground."

God told Noah to build a boat about 450 feet long. If you know anybody who has built even a small boat, you know that building the ark probably took years. The people of Noah’s community had ample time to hear that God was tired of their behavior. They had plenty of time to repent. But they did not, and eventually the day came when God told Noah and his family to get in the ark so the door could be shut. The opportunity to repent was over.

What do you think it was like to be inside the ark?
What do you think it was like to be shut outside the ark?

Wednesday Matthew 24:37-42 (NRSV)
For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Jesus says that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah: it will catch people by surprise.

What do you think it means to “Keep awake”?

Thursday 2 Peter 2:4-9 (NRSV)
If God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; and if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

Friday Luke 13:23-27 (NRSV)
Someone asked [Jesus], "Lord, will only a few be saved?" He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’

In Jesus’ story, people who ate and drank with “the owner of the house” will find themselves locked out of the house, unable to get in.

What do you think it means to be “inside the house”?
What do you think it means to be “outside the house”?
Are you currently inside, outside, or traveling between the two?
Do you think you will be inside or outside the house when the doors are locked?

Saturday Romans 10:9-15 (NRSV)
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Do you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord?
How often? Only in church or other times as well?
Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?
According to Romans 10:9-10, are you saved?
How often do you bring good news of Jesus to people?

Now, a random question just for fun: What was a time you were pleasantly surprised?

Two more serious questions:
What are you doing this week because you follow Jesus?
What would you like help with?