“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matt. 7:13-14 NIV
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus also said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (Jn. 10:9). So, Jesus Christ is both the gate (the door) and he is the way (the road) that leads to eternal life with God.
So, how do we enter this gate? Jesus said, if we want to come after him, that we must deny self, take up our cross daily and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), for his sake, we will have eternal life with him (See: Lu. 9:23-25).
So, how about the wide gate and the broad road? How is that different?
First off, Jesus’ way is restricted to those who turn from (repent of) their sins and who turn to walk with him in obedience to his commands. Paul said that the righteous requirement of the law is fully met in us who walk (conduct our lives) not according to the flesh (sin, lust), but according to the Spirit (of God). For, he said, if we walk (in lifestyle; in practice) according to the flesh (our sins), we will DIE in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ forever (Rom. 8:1-17; cf. Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
In contrast to this, the broad (all-encompassing) way and wide (all inclusive, eclectic, diverse) gate is the half-truth, compromised, diluted gospel message that many false teachers are telling people these days, and this is very widespread, too, within the church, or within many of today’s institutional churches, which are largely man-crafted and worldly.
They teach half the truth, but they leave out the other half, the critical half which determines whether or not we are genuinely saved by God’s grace and going to heaven when we die.
They have turned the church into a business of human-origin, and they are marketing the church (these businesses) to the world. Thus, they make their product they are selling much like the world so that the world will feel at home in their places of business, called “church.” Thus, worship services are often more like theatres with big shows, and pastors like actors there to entertain, and sermons are more like pep talks and comedy shows to make the people happy and to make them laugh, so they will see church as fun.
The gospel presentation, in order to appeal to human flesh, has thus been stripped of the cross of Christ in our lives, and is presented more like us putting a “like” on something someone says on Facebook or on Twitter. There is no commitment required. No death to sin. No following in obedience. No surrendering of our wills to the will of God. We just put a “like” on it and, according to them, heaven is guaranteed us, no matter what we do from this day forward, and it can’t ever be taken away from us. Lie!
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matt. 7:15-20 NIV
Just because it looks good and it sounds good (pleasing) does not mean it is good. These false teachers of the gospel come to us as though they are sheep. They will pretend to be saved from their sins, followers of Christ, and walking in his truth. And, they will say enough truth and quote enough scripture to make what they say believable, too.
They are charming, witty, smooth talkers, likeable, and very persuasive, but we must not be fooled by them and their acts (performances). But, we must be discerning, not only of their messages, but of their lifestyles, their character, their temperaments, and their attitudes, values, morals and practices (behaviors). For, actions speak LOUDER than words!
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matt. 7:21-23 NIV
It is not enough to just acknowledge who Jesus is/was and/or what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins. It is also not enough to merely accept his grace and his forgiveness, because, in reality, his forgiveness is not given to everyone, but only to the repentant and obedient who leave their lives of sin behind them to follow Christ in his ways and in his truth.
We can’t merely make a public confession of him as “Lord” of our lives, either, and that be the test of our faith, for whether he is truly Lord will be evident by how one lives his or her life, by their conduct, attitudes, actions, behaviors, thinking, and believing, etc.
If Jesus is truly Lord of our lives, then that means he is our owner-master and we are his possession and we are his bond-servants, and he sits on the throne of our lives, not us. He bought us back for God with his blood, so our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, but they are God’s to be lived for his will and for his glory in humble surrender to him, walking in obedience, submitting to his will, and following him wherever he leads us.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matt. 7:24-27 NIV
The true test of whether or not we have entered through the narrow gate, which leads to eternal life with God, or whether we have entered the wide gate, which leads to destruction, is when our faith is put to the test; when it is put to the fire, refined by God and tested in the furnace of affliction.
Yet, this is not done on a case by case basis, for we won’t always respond well to the storms of life, but this has to do with our practice, our lifestyle. This is like Job, who responded well at first, but then began to have doubts and fears, but then responded well to correction, and he submitted to the Lord. And, this was because he had his foundation on The Rock, which was Jesus.
But, those who have entered by the wide gate and the broad road, who are not those who have made listening to the Lord and obeying the Lord their practice, but instead they have made sin their practice (Gal. 5:19-21), they will not survive, because their foundation is not the Rock, but it is sinking sand, diluted gospel messages with false hopes of salvation, based in lies, and not in truth.
They have believed the lies, and they have rejected the truth, and they have decided that they can continue in their sinful practices and that they can fool everyone into believing they are really saved. But, when tested with fire, they will fall, because their faith was in themselves, not in God, for they tested God, thinking he would do nothing about their lifestyles of sin. And, that will result in their destruction.
Thus, we need to be aware that, if we persist in sinful practices, thinking that God’s grace means he now looks the other way, we are believing a lie. Scripture says differently, and it tells the truth!
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
William Williams / John Hughes
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee. Amen.
Friday, January 19, 2018, 6:44 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your word. May we take this to heart and apply it to our lives.