-->
[ theologia ]
   Home       About Us       
Theologia Cross Logo
Apologetics Bible Church History Miscellaneous Sacraments Soteriology Sermons Worship
ScreechTees


“Strive to Enter in at the Strait Gate”
A Sermon by Charles Hodge
[at the College of New Jersey, May 14th, 1856]

There are two modes of representation which run through the Bible, apparently at variance with each other. According to the one, the plan of salvation is represented as simple. Believe and be saved, touch and be healed, look and be made whole.

According to the other, salvation is represented to be very difficult. We must strive to enter in at the straight gate. We must work out our salvation. We must run as in a race where the prize is our life. We must fight the good fight. Many who seek shall not enter in. Even the righteous are scarcely saved.

Both these modes of representation are of course correct. They refer to different things. The former relates to the meritorious and efficient cause of salvation. We have not to work out a righteousness of our own, nor are we to attempt the work of regeneration or sanctification in our own strength. The whole work of meriting salvation has been done for us. We have nothing to do but to accept the righteousness which is offered to us, to trust in what Christ has done.

So, too, with regard to sanctification. It is the work of God. We are renewed by the Spirit after His image. It is not a natural process carried on by natural laws, but by the power of God, attending the use of the appropriate and appointed means. In one sense we are the passive recipients of salvation. On the other hand, however, the difficulty of bringing our hearts to a simple, constant and entire reliance on Christ, and the difficulty of avoiding the grieving and resisting the Holy Ghost, is unspeakably great. So that it is hard to be saved.

The Bible says expressly that no drunkard, or unclean person, or covetous man, no one who loves the creature more than the Creator, no one that is carnally-minded, no one who is not converted and made as a little child, can enter the kingdom of God. To these and other forms of destructive evil we are impelled,

  1. By the corruption of our own nature.
  2. By the allurements of the world.
  3. By the influence of evil companions.
  4. By the temptations of Satan.

These are formidable enemies, not to be overcome without effort.

Therefore,

  1. Lay it to heart that salvation is a difficult work. You cannot float to heaven.
  2. That a constant use of the means of grace, of secret and social prayer, of public worship, the reading of the Scriptures, and the use of the sacraments is absolutely necessary.
  3. That constant watchfulness against sin, avoiding temptation, company, associating with the people of God, are all necessary.
  4. That constant effort to advance in piety is the only way to avoid declining, and declension leads to apostasy.
  5. That with all these means should be united a constant sense of danger and constant dependence.
  6. At the same time, the spirit of the gospel is not a fearful desponding spirit, but a spirit of filial confidence and joy. The great thing is to remember that safety is only to be found in a lively and growing state of piety in the heart.


3 Responses to “Strive to Enter in at the Strait Gate”

  1. 1
    Harold R. Green Jr. Says:

    This is an excellent view of this portion of scripture. We are flesh and the works of the flesh are so contrary to the work of the Spirit. We are too use to the flesh and it’s coniving, scheming, cleverness that when faced with our sin and salvation many recoil and fight the Spirit. It is a difficult thing to abandon what we have relied on for so long as our hope (human, dead works) and repent to Christ alone and His righteousness to save our wicked souls. This is our struggle; not reformation of the flesh but condemnation of the same that Christ might have His will and way in our salvation. Pride must give way to propitiation.

  2. 2
    Matthew S. Says:

    You say that salvation is difficult. On one hand, one must do more difficult things than non-Christians. But on the other hand, the help of the Holy Spirit which a non-Christian does not get makes it easier and Christ says, “Take my yoke, it is light”. So how do you believe it is? That the requirements outweigh the strength that the Holy Spririt gives and makes Christianity HARDER over all or that the Holy Spirit’s empowering outweighs the difficulty of the requirement as well as the war between the Old and New natures and makes it easier over all. Or do they exactly offset one another.
    ANOTHER THING: I AM VERY SCARED ABOUT THE FEWNESS OF THE NUMBER SAVED. IT SEEMS AS THOUGH SOME HAVE SAID THE PROPORTION SAVED TODAY IN AMERICA IS LIKE THAT OF NOAH AND THE FLOOD OR THE ISRAELITES IN BABYLON OR LOT OUT OF ALL OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH WHICH WOULD SUGGEST THAT ONLY ONE IN A FEW THOUSAND WOULD BE SAVED. I GO TO AN EVANGELICAL CHURCH (ALTHOUGH I CONSIDER MYSELF A CALVINIST) WHERE THEY SAID 10% WOULD BE SAVED. WHAT DO YOU THINK? I’D BE FRIGHTENED IF IT WERE LESS THAN 1% BECAUSE I’VE TRIED TO FULLY REPENT BUT EACH TIME, AFTER A WHILE, SOMETHING ELSE IS BROUGHT TO MIND (A TYPE OF SIN) WHICH I SEEM NOT TO BE ABLE TO REPENT OF.
    SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PERCENTAGE SAVED AND MY SALVATION. ALSO, I HAVE O.C.D. AND COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN BY SAYING JESUS’S MIRACLES WERE ATTRIBUTABLE TO SATAN NOT OUT OF ANGER BUT OUT OF A COMPULSION TO DO SO BUT THEN, I WENT STRAIGHT TO A PASTOR BECAUSE I WAS SCARED. COULD I BE BEYOND FORGIVENESS?

    Matthew Swartz, 38, from Walnut Creek, California (about 20 miles northeast of San Francisco) 37 degrees, 54 minutes, 26 seconds NORTH and 122 degrees, 1 minute, 17 seconds WEST)

  3. 3
    bob Says:

    Matthew, Many will attempt to enter the strait gate, but few will be able? Why? Because the strait gate crucifies our flesh. Most can’t deny themselves. Welcome sufferings. This is how God tries and how God refines. There are 2 Christs. “Christ crucified” and “Blessings Christ.” Forsake all and follow Christ crucified. Obey the Lord without compromise, enter the strait gate of suffering and persevere. Only pray for God’s grace. Don’t look for gifts or for material things. Look to Heavenly things and trust that God will supply all your needs (some bread and water daily).

Leave a Reply