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>Living Faith: Life in the Kingdom

Agonize to Enter

Jesus, while journeying toward Jerusalem and the cross, preached. On one occasion, described in Luke 13, one of the audience asked Him, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”

Jesus answered, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”

That word strive, incidentally, is basically our word agonize. In other words, Jesus was saying, “Agonize to enter.”

This concept of agonizing to enter into the kingdom of God is almost lost from Christian thinking in the free world, where other scripturally-based buzzwords like believing and assurance have completely taken center stage. Still, believers who are dead serious about entering into the eternal kingdom will strive, or agonize, to do just that.

This agonizing to enter is not an attempt to force God into allowing us to enter by our own strength; instead, it is the bitter struggle against all that is opposed to our entrance into the kingdom. Three simple—and admittedly interrelated—ways that all believers must agonize to enter in follow.

1. The agony of surrender. Entering in requires the soul struggle of giving up ourselves and surrendering, without reservation or negotiation, to the absolute Lordship of Jesus. Without this surrender, the cry of “Lord, Lord,” (Luke 13:25) is merely an empty profession.

2. The agony of the cross. Entering in requires crucifixion, and only those who have been crucified with Christ and will “take up His cross daily and follow” Him can enter into eternal life.

3. The agony of endurance. Entering in requires faithfulness to the finish. As Jesus said, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22). Believers endure, because of their love for Christ and commitment to Him, against all odds, persecution or temptation.

This striving, or agonizing, is the way of Jesus. Think of the agony He endured to be faithful to the will of the Father—the agony of surrender in the garden, the agony of being crucified on the cross and the agony of enduring the cross.

If you have set your heart to follow Jesus, expect no less for yourself. Seek no exemptions. Experiment with no alternatives. Agonize without compromise.

Like Jesus, endure the cross for the joy that is set before you—the ultimate entrance into the eternal joy of our Lord.

—Arlin Weaver

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