Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

Have you ever driven along a steep mountainside on an old logging road or narrow lane? I have, and it can be a harrowing experience—especially if you meet someone traveling in the opposite direction which forces you to inch over to the edge in order to pass.

The last time we visited Hell’s Canyon here in Idaho we found ourselves in some challenging situations that were guaranteed to keep us wide awake and alert. The reward for these jaunts is usually fresh air and breathtaking scenery, but I have to admit, I’m always thankful to arrive safely home from such adventures.

Jesus understood very well about narrow roads. In response to the question,“Lord, are there few that be saved?” He said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able” Luke 13:24. Both the question and the answer should bring sobriety to our hearts and minds. But how many of us are too caught up with the cares of this world to stop and consider the implications of Jesus’ warning?

Again, in Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for 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.”

Here we see that there are two gates and two roads…not three or four or “many”. Just two. One is broad and the other narrow. Notice that the respective entrances to these two roads are either easy or difficult. Every individual on this planet has the choice to be on one or the other, but they cannot travel on both roads at the same time.

Contrary to Jesus’ warnings the popular and acceptable belief today is “There are many roads to heaven”. The philosophy is, “I’m okay and you’re okay”. The key word is “tolerance”. The theme is unity among all peoples. Bible-based Christian fundamentalists are considered a threat to the “global community” with its progressive advancement towards a New Age of “spiritual enlightenment”.

Jesus said that many would seek to enter in through the narrow gate but would not be able. One would think that if people were “sincere seekers” finding the narrow gate and entering through it would not be all that difficult. However, if we stop to consider who that gate is—Jesus Christ, then it becomes apparent why many people are kept from entering in. Jesus declared, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” John 10:9.

The first step to entering through the narrow gate is to recognize, believe and accept the fact that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate—God in the flesh. Multitudes of people believe that Jesus was a real historical figure who lived about two thousand years ago and that the Romans nailed Him to a cross. Vast numbers of people truly believe that Jesus Christ was a great teacher and that He did indeed perform many miracles.

New Agers believe that Jesus was a “way-shower” or a great “avatar” or even “a Christ”. Many cultists today will look you square in the eye and tell you that “Jesus was the Son of God” or, along with many “Christians”, tell you that “Jesus is the Savior”. And most people, religious or non-religious will admit, “Jesus was a good man”. Moslems believe that Jesus was a great prophet! All of these people think they are correct in their personal perspectives of Christ and a large percentage of them are reasonably sure that they will end up in “heaven”, Paradise or in a better after-life.

But are all these people destined to enter through the narrow gate? According to Jesus, the answer is a resounding “no”!

Consider what He said in John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” We see, then, that to truly enter in through the narrow gate, which is Christ, we must acknowledge and believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and we must be truly born-again of His Spirit.

A head-knowledge of Christ is not sufficient. Seeking for knowledge or some sort of “spiritual experience” will not save us. Trying to work or earn our way to heaven by our own efforts is presumptuous and futile. And that includes going “back to our Jewish roots” and trying to “keep the Sabbath” or observing the Jewish Feasts; attempting to keep the Old Testament Laws or in any other way working to become “righteous” or “holy”.

Holiness comes by identification with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is uprightness of heart, godly character and flawless integrity that is the result of self-denial in the light of God’s glory and grace! We either shine with the light of Christ in this dark world or we “shine” with the false light of that celestial deceiver, Lucifer.

You see, in order to enter through the narrow gate, which is Christ, His blood must wash away our sins. It is impossible to try to enter through a narrow gate carrying our “baggage” with us! The “baggage” of religion, good works, self-righteousness, doctrines, creeds, great education and intellectual knowledge simply won’t fit through the narrow gate. Only those who have confessed that they are a sinner, who have been purchased by Jesus’ blood and who acknowledge Him as LORD of their lives can enter through that gate onto the narrow highway to heaven.

The Greek word for “narrow” means afflict, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble. These are words modern-day Christians shy away from, refusing to be identified with Christ in His sufferings. Instead we want to hear “soft sayings” from “pillow prophets” and so-called “evangelists” who promise peace and prosperity! Those who run after such will never enter through the gate called strait because this gate is TRUTH. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 we read, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Those who try to squeeze through the narrow gate with their own perceptions and ideas of Christ (rather than the real Jesus) will never be able to enter in. Because they have chosen to dwell in darkness rather than come to the light of Christ, their delusion blinds them to the True Gate. It is forever closed to them.

Who, then, walks the narrow road? Only the remnant who have recognized that they are hell-bound sinners in need of a Savior! Only those who have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ! Only those who have “denied themselves, taken up their cross daily and who follow Him.” (See Matthew 16:24.) Those on the narrow road understand what Jesus meant when He stated, “…whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:25.

Only the faithful saints of God walk the narrow road, following Jesus as He leads them day after day until they reach that golden shore. Jesus said in John 10:4-5, “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” Jesus’ sheep follow Him alone on the narrow road. Even though goats, swine and wolves (who wear the Christian label) may be found among the faithful on this earthly plane, only sheep walk the narrow road that leads to heaven.

Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The key is in knowing Christ Jesus, the LORD—a personal, intimate relationship with Him. Some may contend that these verses also stipulate “doing the will” of God in the sense of keeping the Old Testament Laws, etc. But Jesus Himself summed up the will of God in verse 12 of this chapter and in John 6:39-40.

Those on the narrow road have humbled themselves and become as little children in their trust and faith for no high-minded person can walk that narrow road. In Mark 10:14-15 we read, “…Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

The feet of God’s real servants walk that narrow road for Jesus instructed His disciples as to the secret of true ministry when he said, “…whosoever shall be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” Mark 10:43b-45.

On the narrow road is that person who has “received seed into the good ground” and “that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” Matthew 13:23.

Are their dangers on the narrow road? Yes! But the Word of God warns of the enemy’s every device and subtle schemes to cause our faith to fail and our steps to falter. But God has also given His Word as a light to our path and His precious promises whereby we are upheld in times of temptation. Jesus is our Great High Priest and Advocate on the right hand of God.

Who walks the broad road to destruction? The answer is those who have chosen to enter in through the broad gate. The broad gate is easy to find. It appeals to people who boast of being “broad-minded.” Its compelling and imposing structure ever looms within our view. It looks incredibly beautiful to our fallen senses. Its glittering allurement and false light promise happiness, power; wisdom; fame and fortune. It beckons to all who are mesmerized by its siren call to enter in and taste of its deadly delicacies.

Who are these bedazzled people walking on the broad road? Among them are the “spiritual” and “religious” who have either consciously or unconsciously spurned the “narrow gate” of truth for a “feel good broader way”. Others shun the narrow gate of truth because they love darkness rather than light. These may choose obedience to legalistic laws, rituals and/or self-sacrifice to doctrines of devils. Inspired by pride, these deluded souls blindly follow their blind leaders to everlasting destruction. It matters not whether these “religious leaders” call themselves “Christians” or ascribe to another religious delusion, the end result is the same. It is idolatry inspired by Satan.

A careful search among the throngs of lost souls traveling this broad way will reveal many who heard “the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not.” There are others who “received the seed into stony places” with joy yet have no root in themselves and only endured for a while and when tribulation and persecution arose because of the word, became offended. There are those, too, who “received seed among the thorns” and who heard the word; but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choked the word so that they became unfruitful.

Also along this broad road are those who, unlike the few on the narrow road, have not “crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” Galatians 5:24b. These are those who practice adultery, fornication, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, strife, rebellion, false doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, excess, revelry” Galatians 6:19-21.

Some of these people have given lip service to “accepting Christ as their Savior” at one time or another. They have either convinced themselves (or been told) that they are on the road to heaven regardless of their wicked lifestyles, iniquity and rebellion. What a horrible shock it will be for them on that day when the Lord says to them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41.

While overcomers walk the narrow road to eternal life, Revelation 21:8 says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

“And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” 1 John 5:11-12.

Dear reader, which road are you on?