Genuine readiness to suffer thins out the number of true Christians from the ranks of professing believers; it eliminates those whose walk goes no further than a cheap profession. A person who looks into the crowded sanctuaries of Christendom today and finds multitudes who flock after the Word might wonder why ministers say that this company of Christians is such a small one, and he might think that they who say such things cannot see the forest through the trees. This situation made one of the disciples question Christ: “Lord, are there few that shall be saved?” (Luke 13:23).
At that time Christ “went through the cities and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem” (v 22). When His disciples saw Christ preaching so freely in every town, and people thronging after Him with expressions of hope, it seemed almost incredible to think that only a few of them would have been saved.
Now take note of how our Savior solved this riddle: “And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (v. 24). Christ said His disciples were measuring by a wrong rule. “If following after sermons and testimonies and excitement were enough to save, heaven would already be full”, He was saying. But do not sift the pure from the impure by such a coarse sieve. “Strive to enter – fight and wrestle, risk life and limb rather than fall short of heaven”. “For many shall seek, but shall not be able” – that is, they are looking for a cheap religion through an easy profession.
Almost anyone is willing to walk through heaven’s door if he never has to risk pride in public or hazard his everyday interests by any inconvenience or opposition of the world. But “they shall not be able” to enter because their hearts are not willing to strive even unto blood. If we take the standard to be striving, not merely seeking, then the number of Christian soldiers will shrink, like Gideon’s army, to a little troop.