In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘choose the narrow path’.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to everlasting life, and there are few who find it. Matt 7:13
Few enter through
This is a sobering text. Wide is the gate that ‘many’ enter through. And small is the gate that ‘few’ enter through. The difference between the two gates? The wide one leads to eternal loss and the small one to eternal salvation. The question must be asked – how do we determine the difference between the two? The wide path is described as ‘easy’, the narrow path ‘difficult’. How difficult has our path been? The majority of us whether churched or unchurched could say we’ve faced difficulties. Difficulties in our beginnings, difficulties in our adult relationships, difficulties within our immediate families. I don’t believe these are the difficulties that are referred to here (for then all would find eternal salvation without having to choose a particular path). It also says few find this path.
And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Walk the same path as Jesus the narrow path
Here is described the narrow path. That of following the same path of Jesus. If we are to be fishers of men – in the business of helping others to find their true identity, their true path and so have the assurance of their eternal security – then we need to walk the same path as Jesus.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Eph 2:10
In the Amplified version of this verse, it tells us that God has prepared beforehand the paths set for us. He made us, He knows us and He alone knows the right paths we are to take. But His paths lead to us being conformed to the nature of His Son, Jesus.
Make this walk of faith our business
Henry says – We must make this walk of faith our business, and be intent upon it (Matt. 7:13, 14). The account that is given of the bad way of sin, and the good way of holiness. There are but two ways, right and wrong, good and evil. The way to heaven, and the way to hell. We are all walking in one or the other. There is no middle ground.
The wide gate and the broad road is the way that allures the multitudes, and keeps them in it. There are many travellers in that way. First, “You will have abundance of liberty in that way; the gate is wide and stands wide open to tempt all. You may go in at this gate pursuing your wantonness. It gives no check to your appetites or your passions. You may walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes. It is a broad way, for there is nothing to hedge in those that walk in it, but they wander aimlessly and there are many paths in it, a choice of sinful ways. Secondly, “You will have an abundance of company in that way. There are many that go in at this gate and walk in this way.” If we follow the multitude, it will be to do wicked. If we go with the crowd, it will be the wrong way. It is more natural to go downstream, as most do.
That which should scare us all from it is, that it leads to destruction. Death, eternal death, is at the end of it—everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. Whether it be the highway of open profaneness, or the back way of close hypocrisy. It will be our ruin, if do not we repent.
The gate is narrow
What is there in that way that frightens many from it? Let us know the worst of it, that we may sit down and count the cost. Christ deals faithfully with us and tells us. First, That the gate is narrow. Conversion and regeneration are the gate, by which we enter, in which we begin a life of faith and serious godliness. We must pass out of a state of sin into a state of grace, by the new birth, John 3:3, 5. This is a narrow gate, hard to find, and hard to get through, like a passage between two rocks. There must be a new heart, and a new spirit, and old things must pass away. The leaning of the soul must be changed, corrupt habits broken off. We must swim against the stream. Much opposition must be struggled with, and broken through, from without, and from within. It is a narrow gate, for we must stoop, or we cannot go through it. We must become as little children; high thoughts must be brought down. We must strip and deny ourselves, put off the world and our old nature. We must be willing to forsake all for our interest in Christ. The gate is narrow to all, but to some even narrower; such as to the rich, or to some that have been long prejudiced against God. The gate is narrow. But thanks be to be God, it is not shut up, nor locked against us, nor kept with a flaming sword, as it will be shortly, (Matt. 25:10 But while they were going away to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut and locked.)
The way following the gate is narrow
Secondly, That the way following the gate is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we have got through the narrow gate, no, we must go through a wilderness, must travel a narrow way, hedged in by the divine law. Self must be denied, the body kept under control, corruptions put to death, daily temptations must be resisted. Duties must be done that are against our inclination. We must endure hardness, must wrestle, must watch in all things, and walk with care and circumspection. We must go through much tribulation. The bodies we carry about with us, and the corruptions remaining in us, make the way of our duty difficult. But, as the understanding and our will grow more and more sound, it will open and enlarge, and grow more and more pleasant.
There shall be one more in me
Thirdly, Though the gate and the path be narrow, it is not strange that few find it, and choose it. Many pass it by, but will be willing to walk through it. They feel they are ok as they are and see no need to change. Others look upon it but shun it. They do not like to be limited and restrained. Those that are going to heaven are but few, compared to those that are going to hell. A remnant, a little flock, like the grape-gleanings of the vintage, like the eight that were saved in the ark, 1 Pet. 3:20. In vitia alter alterum trudimus; Quomodo ad salutem revocari potest, quum nullus retrahit, et populus impellit—In the ways of vice men urge each other onward: how shall anyone be restored to the path of safety, when impelled forwards by the multitude, without any counteracting influence? -by Seneca. This discourages many for they hate to be singular, to be solitary. Instead say to yourself, ‘If so few are going to heaven, there shall be one more in me.’
Let us see what there is in this way, which should invite us all to it. It leads to life, to present comfort in the favour of God, which is the life of the soul. It leads to eternal bliss. The hope of this repays us for all the difficulties and inconveniences of the road. Life and godliness are put together (2 Pet. 1:3 For His divine power has given us everything necessary for life and godliness, through a true and personal knowledge of Him who called us). The gate and way be narrow and up-hill, but one hour in heaven will make amends for it.
We all need the assistance of Divine grace
The great concern and duty of every one of us is that we enter in at the narrow gate. The matter is fairly stated; life and death, good and evil, are set before us. Let the matter be considered impartially, and then choose this day which path you will walk in. Delay not and deliberate no longer. Knock at it by sincere and constant prayers and endeavours, and it shall be opened. Yet we all need the assistance of divine grace. Grace is freely offered and shall not be wanting to those that seek it and submit to it. Conversion is hard work, but it is of necessity, and, blessed be God, it is not impossible. Luke 13:24 Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able to.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The narrow way If you would realise My blessings You must unhesitatingly obey My will. It is a straight and narrow way That leads to My Kingdom on the hill. If man turns aside to follow his own will Choosing a more comfortable route to go He runs the risk of slipping off the road Into by-paths where fruit doesn’t grow. Remember you have longed to help a world; A world overcome with sorrows. Which have eaten into your very souls As though to cloud your glad tomorrows. Do you not understand? I am the God who cares. Know this as I speak now I am answering your prayers. The world is not always helped By the one who walks in sunlight On flower-strewn paths which of themselves suggest That all is clear and bright. Patient suffering; trials bravely borne; Together they give a truer sign For they show men a courage which could only be Maintained by Help Divine. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, forgive me for taking the easy option at any stage of the path. Make me willing to take the narrow path of being conformed to Your will. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
Remember to choose the narrow path.