The word Salvation is used in different senses in Holy Scripture: it is well to note some of the distinctions.  (1) It refers to the past time: “God who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1: 9).  (2) It refers to the present time: “The Lord is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7: 25).  (3) It refers to the future time: “Christ shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for Him, unto salvation” (Heb. 9: 28).


Salvation then refers to the [free] gift of Eternal Life [Rom. 6: 23], and also to the coming Kingdom of Glory.  Both Eternal Life, and the coming Kingdom are called salvation.  Eternal Life in the past (2 Tim. 1: 8), and the coming Kingdom [of heaven] in the future (2 Tim. 4: 18; [Matt. 5: 20]).  The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto His heavenly Kingdom.”


[* The Revised Version is used in all the quotations.]


The Lord’s teaching about the entrance into the Kingdom of God will help to clear our views with regard to the futurity of the Kingdom of God.  Not everyone that saith unto Me Lord, Lord shall enter (future) into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7: 21).  In all parabolic utterances of our Lord the Kingdom of Heaven relates to the present time of the Kingdom in mystery: Matthew 13: 11, and all the parables concerning it.  Also Luke 13: 18.  It was on this occasion that a question was asked by one of the crowd, Lord, are there few that be saved?  The answer is very searching:- “Strive to enter in by the narrow door.”  Into what were the hearers to strive to enter?  The context tells us that it was to enter into the coming Kingdom of God.  (The proof of this will be given later on.)  The narrow door seems to speak not of Eternal Life as the [free] gift of God, but of the attempt, after receiving eternal life by faith, to enter the Kingdom of God.


At this time Jesus was going up to Jerusalem for the last time.  The glad tidings of the Kingdom of God had already been preached by His twelve Apostles whom He had sent forth to preach the Kingdom of God (Luke 10: 2), first to Israel and afterwards to the Gentiles, when “He appointed seventy other disciples, and sent them before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to come, to say to the people, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10: 9).  The Kingdom of God had by this time been fully proclaimed, so that when the Lord entered into Jerusalem “the whole multitude of the disciples acclaimed Him saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest” (Luke 19: 38).


It was about a month before this incident that the question was asked - Are the saved few?  Must not we at least enter into the Kingdom of God, who are thine own people, Israel?  The Lord’s reply is, No, but strive to enter in through the narrow door.  How much more difficult was our Lord’s way than theirs, which was to enter by natural generation as the sons of Abraham.  Their hopes of the Kingdom were vain.  On account of their refusal of John’s message of repentance, and His own message (Luke 13: 5) the Master would rise up, and shut the door.  They vainly knock at the door outside asking for admission.  The answer comes, I know you not whom ye are.  Their pleas for recognition are - (1) They had eaten in His presence.  (2) He had taught in their streets.  This was against them - for they would not accept His teachings, who was the Master and King of the Kingdom of God.  The King’s answer was, Depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity (unrighteousness).  What profound disappointment, what vexation will be theirs, what weeping and gnashing of teeth, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets* in the Kingdom of God, and they themselves cast forth without!


[* The words, ‘All the prophets’ must include Moses, one, if not the greatest, from amongst the prophets of God.]


How will this affect the regenerate of this dispensation? Those who are ‘seeking to enter the Kingdom’ according to the Lord’s command (Matt. 6: 33), are striving to enter in by the narrow door (Luke 13: 24); for since John the Baptist’s day “the gospel [good news] of the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it” (Luke 16:16).  The gospel of the grace of God invites men to accept eternal life on the ground of grace without works, as the [free] gift of God.  These are the regenerate who are called to seek the Kingdom of God.  The time of seeking is limited to the Lord’s return to take the Kingdom, when He will shut to the door.  Then all who have not entered will stand without, and will entreat the Lord to open the door; but the Lord does not recognize them as worthy of the Kingdom of God (2 Thess. 1: 5), although they had every opportunity of learning His mind, which was to shut out from the Kingdom all workers of unrighteousness.


The Apostle Paul writing to the Church at Corinth gives the same warning:- “Ye are doing wrong, and defrauding and that your brethren.  Know ye not that the unrighteous (Christian) shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?” (1 Cor. 6: 8).


What vexation and sorrow will be theirs who refuse the Lord’s command to strive to enter into the Kingdom of the Christ and God by the narrow door, when they realize that they are debarred from entrance into that Kingdom of glory through their unbelief in the necessity of striving with all their heart to do so!


It may arise from a conviction that all who have eternal life as a free gift of grace will certainly be counted worthy of entrance into the Kingdom of God, i.e., into the temporary Kingdom of a thousand years as joint-heirs with Christ.


It should be noticed that a wrong punctuation in Romans 8: 17 seems to lead to this mistake.  It should be rendered – ‘And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, but joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.’  It is clear from this Scripture that the heirs of God have an unconditional promise of eternal life, and an heritage in the City of God ; but the joint heirs with Christ have a conditional promise of glory in the coming Kingdom, if the conditions are fulfilled.