Strive - Literally, “agonize.” The word is taken from the Grecian games. In their races, and wrestlings, and various athletic exercises, they “strove or agonized,” or put forth all their powers to gain the victory. Thousands witnessed them. They were long trained for the conflict, and the honor of victory was one of the highest honors among the people. So Jesus says that we should strive to enter in; and he means by it that we should be diligent, be active, be earnest; that we should make it our first and chief business to overcome our sinful propensities, and to endeavor to enter into heaven. This same figure or allusion to the Grecian games is often used in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 9:24-26; Philemon 2:16; Hebrews 12:1.
Strait gate - See the notes at Matthew 7:13-14. Dr. Thomson (“The Land and the Book,” vol. i. p. 32) says: “I have seen these strait gates and narrow ways, ‹with here and there a traveler.‘ They are in retired corners, and must be sought for, and are opened only to those who knock; and when the sun goes down and the night comes on, they are shut and locked. It is then too late.”
Will seek to enter in - Many in various ways manifest some desire to be saved. They seek it, but do not agonize for it, and hence, they are shut out. But a more probable meaning of this passage is that which refers this “seeking” to a time that shall be “too late;” to the time when the master has risen up, etc. In this life they neglect religion, and are engaged about other things. At death, or at the judgment, they will seek to enter in; but it will be too late - the door will be shut; and because they did not make religion the chief business of their life, they cannot “then” enter in.
Shall not be able - This is not designed to affirm anything respecting the inability of the sinner, provided he seeks salvation in a proper time and manner. It means that at the time when many will seek - when the door is shut - they will not be able then to enter in, agreeable to Matthew 7:22. In the proper time, when the day of grace was lengthened out, they “might” have entered in; but there “will be” a time when it will be too late. The day of mercy will be ended, and death will come, and the doors of heaven barred against them. How important, then, to strive to enter in while we have opportunity, and before it shall be too late!
The belated traveler, hurrying to reach the city gate by the going down of the sun, could not turn aside for any attractions by the way. His whole mind was bent on the one purpose of entering the gate. The same intensity of purpose, said Jesus, is required in the Christian life. I have opened to you the glory of character, which is the true glory of My kingdom. It offers you no promise of earthly dominion; yet it is worthy of your supreme desire and effort. I do not call you to battle for the supremacy of the world's great empire, but do not therefore conclude that there is no battle to be fought nor victories to be won. I bid you strive, agonize, to enter into My spiritual kingdom. MB 141.1
The Christian life is a battle and a march. But the victory to be gained is not won by human power. The field of conflict is the domain of the heart. The battle which we have to fight—the greatest battle that was ever fought by man—is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love. The old nature, born of blood and of the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up. MB 141.2Read in context »
Man is allotted a part in this great struggle for everlasting life; he must respond to the working of the Holy Spirit. It will require a struggle to break through the powers of darkness, and the Spirit works in him to accomplish this. But man is no passive being, to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every faculty in the struggle for immortality; yet it is God that supplies the efficiency. No human being can be saved in indolence. The Lord bids us: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Luke 13:24; Matthew 7:13, 14. 8T 65.1
I entreat the students in our schools to be sober-minded. The frivolity of the young is not pleasing to God. Their sports and games open the door to a flood of temptation. In your intellectual faculties you are in possession of God's heavenly endowment, and you should not allow your thoughts to be cheap and low. A character formed in accordance with the precepts of God's word will reveal steadfast principles, pure, noble aspirations. When the Holy Spirit co-operates with the powers of the human mind, high, holy impulses are the sure result.... 8T 65.2Read in context »
Satan uses the listless, sleepy indolence of professed Christians to strengthen his forces and win souls to his side. Many, who think that though they are doing no actual work for Christ, they are yet on His side, are enabling the enemy to pre-occupy ground and gain advantages. By their failure to be diligent workers for the Master, by leaving duties undone and words unspoken, they have allowed Satan to gain control of souls who might have been won for Christ. COL 280.1
We can never be saved in indolence and inactivity. There is no such thing as a truly converted person living a helpless, useless life. It is not possible for us to drift into heaven. No sluggard can enter there. If we do not strive to gain an entrance into the kingdom, if we do not seek earnestly to learn what constitutes its laws, we are not fitted for a part in it. Those who refuse to co-operate with God on earth would not co-operate with Him in heaven. It would not be safe to take them to heaven. COL 280.2
There is more hope for publicans and sinners than for those who know the word of God but refuse to obey it. He who sees himself a sinner with no cloak for his sin, who knows that he is corrupting soul, body, and spirit before God, becomes alarmed lest he be eternally separated from the kingdom of heaven. He realizes his diseased condition, and seeks healing from the great Physician who has said, “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. These souls the Lord can use as workers in His vineyard. COL 280.3Read in context »
We are to do all that we can do on our part to fight the good fight of faith. We are to wrestle, to labor, to strive, to agonize to enter in at the strait gate. We are to set the Lord ever before us. With clean hands, with pure hearts, we are to seek to honor God in all our ways. Help has been provided for us in Him who is mighty to save. The spirit of truth and light will quicken and renew us by its mysterious workings; for all our spiritual improvement comes from God, not from ourselves. The true worker will have divine power to aid him, but the idler will not be sustained by the Spirit of God. FW 48.1Read in context »