“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.” Mat. 7:13-14
Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 2:15 to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Rightly dividing” means to teach the truth directly and correctly. I would like to do this with the words Jesus spoke in Mat. 7:13-14.
1. Dilemma or problem we face.
1) Wrong interpretation.
You can read commentaries, most of which say that the narrow way is a result of going through the strait gate. Granted there is a narrow way after you are saved (go through the strait gate), but the Scripture states plainly in verse 14 “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.” “Leadeth” is a continuous action verb which indicates a movement along the narrow way which brings one to the point he has life. “Life” is not just referring to heaven but to the point of salvation when a sinner is saved--a new creation in Christ. (II Cor. 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”) Therefore, there is a narrow way that leadeth unto life.
2) Preachers and people wrest the Scripture.
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” II Peter 3:16 “Wrest” means to twist or turn. Many twist the Scripture to suit their own situation, and to back up what they think or believe. Many have wrong beliefs due to false teaching and preconceived ideas about salvation. What a dilemma we are in!
2. Direction we need to travel.
Jesus spoke of two directions and called them ways--the broad way and the narrow way. These ways lead to two gates--the wide gate and the strait gate. “Strait” means a narrow restricted passage.
The broad way is wide enough to allow you to carry your sins and to stay with your so-called friends. On this way you can “do your own thing” as the world teaches today. Also, you can have the “come as you are” attitude (by this they mean, dress and live anyway they want to with no respect for the house of God) that many churches promote today. Many say we are all worshiping the same God. All of these practices are popular today but all these practices are on the broad way which is the wrong way--wrong direction.
The direction you need to follow is the narrow way--the right way for it leads to the strait gate where salvation occurs and life is given. The strait gate can not be found on the broad way. So there must be an exit from the broad way to the narrow way before one can be saved. The sad thing about this turning to the narrow way is that many claim that as their salvation experience. That is not their salvation for they have not been through the strait gate, which is where salvation occurs.
Let us look at what happens to you as you travel the narrow way to the strait gate. First, the Holy Spirit will teach you in the narrow way. (Psa. 25:8: “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.”) How much teaching do you need? Enough, so the Holy Spirit can convict and convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8-11: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”) This work is a must for one to be saved.
Second, the Holy Spirit will give you understanding in the narrow way. How much understanding do you need? Enough, so that the Holy Spirit can convict and convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This work is also a must for one to be saved. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that those on the good ground “understandeth.” (Mat. 13:23: “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”) The good ground hearers were the only ones saved in the parable and it was because they had understanding in the narrow way. Jesus said in John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” “Cometh” is a continuous action verb which means to travel along the path of understanding which leads “to me”--the Lord Jesus. When you get to Him you have life. Pro. 21:16 states that one must travel this path of understanding if he is to be saved. (Pro. 21:16: “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.”)
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit causes you to seek the Lord. I know Rom. 3:11 says “There is none that seeketh after God.” That is true of the natural man without the influence of the Holy Spirit. But when He awakens you and teaches you, and gives you understanding, you will begin to seek the Lord. It is His work and not yours.
When you get on the narrow way (headed in the right direction) you will arrive at a
Those traveling the broad way will also arrive at a destination--wide gate--destruction--hell. But those on the narrow way, who allow the Holy Spirit to work in their life, will arrive at the strait gate where life is (which is the point salvation occurs) and will eventually arrive in heaven. Both heaven and hell are real places.
4. Difficulty we have in these verses.
Jesus said in verse 14, “few there be that find it.” This is not talking about the strait gate but the narrow way. In other words few find the narrow way that leads to the strait gate. Jesus also said in Luke 13:24 (“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”) that many of those who seek (these are those who found the narrow way) will not be able to enter the strait gate because they did not strive to enter in. This is not talking about works for salvation but it means when you get on the narrow way, you must put forth a strong effort (this can only be done by the aid of the Holy Spirit) to overcome obstacles placed before you by the devil, flesh, and world. Therefore, Jesus is saying that few of the few will be saved. This is difficult for the religious world to except.
You say preacher you make salvation too hard! No, I make it impossible with man but all things are possible with our Lord. This is what Jesus said to His disciples in Mat. 19:26 after dealing with the rich young ruler. (See Mat. 19:16-26)
5. Danger or warning following these verses.
(Mat. 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.”) What a sad time it will be when these words (verse 23) will be spoken to those in religion, even Baptist, even preachers who never entered the strait gate. Please do not reject the light (truth) of these verses rightly divided and be one to whom our Lord spoke in Mat. 7:21-23.
I pray the Lord will give us ears to hear and a heart to heed these verses rightly divided. This article is just a skeleton of the message we have preached from time to time. If you would like a tape of this message please let us know. It is yours for the asking. We love you and are your friend.
THE PERSUADER - July-October, 2003