The Doorway In
You know, I’ve seen this for twenty-five years now. The doorway through which a person comes in determines the room that they’re in once they come through that doorway. If you tell everybody to bow their head, say a prayer, and sign a card you will have great mixture. You’ve introduced Laodicea on day one.
Instead, when someone says, “Brothers, what must we do to be saved?” you should answer in a Biblical way that there is no way through this doorway except through the eye of a needle. You must make yourself nothing. You must repent. You must change your reason for living. Your priorities must change. You must take up your cross and deny your very self in order to follow after Jesus. There’s no middle ground. There’s no “just pretend.” There’s no “I’ll grow into it.” The rich, young ruler says, “Oh, just let me grow into it! I’ll give you 10% now and the other 90% later.” He cried when he walked away. But there is no middle ground… that’s just the way it is.
The doorway in is to forsake your very life. That’s what conversion means according to Jesus in ten different places in the Scriptures, and fifty more places in the prophecies in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. The very nature of Christianity is a death so that there might be life. Unless the seed falls to the ground and dies it abides alone. If it dies, it bears much fruit. So, we invite people in through that doorway, which is hard, it’s like the disciples said, “Who can stand up against this?” Well, with God it’s possible. If you let go of your heart, He’ll catch you. If you refuse to let go, then you’ll only have man-made religion.
This doorway we come in is the same doorway for our children. We don’t let our children just play make-believe at five years old. They’ve never repented of their sins; they’ve never realized that their life is filthy rags and that they need a Messiah. “I need a Messiah!” They understand the stories and they have a minimal love as far as a child can, but Peter’s response to “What must I do to be saved?” was not, “Bow your head and believe the Bible stories.” He said, “Repent!” He said, “You’ve got to actually repent.” This means that you have to know that you’re doing something wrong in order to turn around and do it right! It’s a U-turn. The Greek word means, “I will no longer go this way because this way leads to death. I will go that way because that’s where the Messiah is. I will turn around.”
So the doorway that people came through in Acts 2 was a doorway of forsaking their very life, and, therefore, it was in very quick order that they could understand how their lives fit together in the picture. They were all Jews and thought in terms of tithing and synagogue or temple-worship. They understood only basics that were centered around a holy day, a holy man, a priest or a rabbi, and some Bible stories. They didn’t understand. What Jew ever gave their whole life away, and was just absolutely obsessed seven days a week, and gave all their possessions in order to be mixed in life with everyone else? That was new for them. It wasn’t their Jewish heritage that “led” them to forsake their very life. It was a teaching of Jesus and that was the doorway in. It wasn’t some new teaching that they matured into. It was 3,000 “rich young rulers” who all said, “Ok, I’ll sell all my possessions and give to the poor and come after you. I’ve obeyed your commands from the time I was a youth, but that’s not the doorway in.”
The doorway in is to forsake your very life and take up your cross. And three thousand people in one day said, “I’ll do that.” And then they found themselves in the room of God’s Glory and God’s Life because the door they came through was to forsake their life. That wasn’t something for later on. It was 3,000 rich young rulers. They didn’t even go back to their countries. They came from different lands for the Jerusalem feast, and they stayed there. We know that because it says, “ALL the believers were there.” This means they didn’t even go home to their families or to their jobs!
Now, it wasn’t a “common purse.” It wasn’t a “commune.” It was a lot of Believers who knew now that because of the second Birth they were one Family with everyone else who was second Birth. And their life from this day forward was defined, not by their first birth, but by their second Birth. They knew that was the teaching of Jesus, so that’s why it fit so quickly—because to forsake their very life was the doorway in. They weren’t messing around with this “easy believe-ism” or “sloppy agape” stuff that’s so common-place today.