Luke 13:23-30 – And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,  “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  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.’  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 where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’  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 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.”
A Puritan pastor named Matthew Meade wrote a very famous sermon entitled “The Almost Christian Discovered” in the 17th century. I would like to borrow the phrase and note a few things about “almost Christianity”. Apologies to Mead.
In Luke 13:22 someone asks Jesus if only a few will be saved. Jesus, in His typical manner of avoiding useless debates, gets right to the heart of the matter. The issue is not how many are going to be saved. The question is – will you? Whether it is many except for a few, as some said, or a few and not many, as others believed, the issue for you is – will I be numbered among the many who are or the few who are?
In answering the question put to Him Jesus points out in verse 25 that only God can open and shut the door and it is about to be shut. Don’t think that this is up to you. This is up to God. He shuts people out of heaven. This is not a view of God that is very appealing to us. But this is what Jesus is saying here. He shuts the door of heaven on people. They ask to come in and He refuses to allow it. Once the Master closes that door it is too late. You may beg and cry and shout out reasons that you should be allowed in – but it will not matter. The door is shut. Make sure that you are not on the outside of the door when He shuts it. This, it needs to be pointed out – is in the red letters. This is Jesus talking. This is Red Letter Christianity.
Note this well. Those in verse 25 fully expect to be allowed entrance. Deceit is an awful thing and there are serious and not so serious types of deceit. The CRA takes deceit quite seriously and if you lie on your tax form you will find out that they don’t like that very much. You can tell your teacher a real whopper about why your homework isn’t done and you might get away with it. Deceit is our natural way of doing things. But there is a deceit that is worse than all the rest. And that is self deceit. When a person deceives himself, then that is the greatest type of deceit there can be. That is what happens to almost Christians. They convince themselves that all is well spiritually when it is not. They do not have forgiven hearts. But they think they do. They are not God’s children. But they think they are. They are not going to live with Jesus for eternity. But they think they will.
These are not people who openly rejected Jesus during their lifetimes. These are people who can testify to having been with Jesus. They listened to Him. They ate and drank with Him. In Matthew 7:21-23 they preached His message, healed, and cast out demons all in His name. Who are these people? They are people who claim to know Jesus. They are people who when they pray – pray to Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are people who know that God is three in one, that Jesus is the way to God, that He is the only way to God … . But somehow they do not have Him, even as they confidently march through life sure that they do.
In verse 26 we see that these people are so certain of entrance into glory that they give reasons to the Master why He must let them in. They are so sure that they are suitable of eternal life that they think Jesus has got it wrong. It’s a clerical error. Some low level angel, like a civil servant, forgot to put them on the right list. If Jesus just has a closer look He will see the mistake and clear everything up. But that is not what has happened. What has happened is that these people have missed the Gospel. They heard it, they read it, they believed they had it. But they did not. They are almost Christians.
In verse 27 we see that they are refused entrance because they are evil workers. There they stand, explaining to the Lord of the house how deserving they are of getting in and the Master calls them evil. But they will insist that they are good. They will give proof of just how good they are. They will produce a long list of accomplishments and references and recommendations that will make most people look so unworthy. And all that does is convince the Master of the rightness of his decision. They are workers of evil.
What is it about these people that brings the Lord to call them evil workers when they look so good. Why is it that they were only almost Christians? What traits do they have that make them look so good and yet be so bad? That’s what we’ll consider over the next few days, because this is just getting too long.