Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. The lesson here is that in order to truly follow Christ, this must become the most important thing in our lives. Why would Jesus tell people that unless they met these undeniably stringent standards, they could not become His disciples, Christians? This section of Scripture is a composite of interactions with a variety of people.
Some wanted Jesus to repeat the miracle of producing food. Some were in audiences of synagogues at which Christ spoke. And some were Jewish leaders critical of Jesus. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
Clearly, Christ did not want just numbers. By analogy, failing to counsel them on the challenges they would face if they became Christians would be like taking a group of average citizens and sending them on a military mission meant for an expert team such as the U. Without proper training, the people would not likely survive such a mission. And it would be disastrous for the mission itself. God wants all to achieve their potential, and He wants Christians to understand the serious nature of their commitment to follow Him.
Of course, warnings about the challenge of becoming a Christian is not the only counsel Christ gave. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. So why would anyone choose the narrow gate, symbolizing the way Christians must live, when it is such a difficult path compared to the smooth, easy way of the world?
Because there are often adventures, thrills and vistas available only to those who take the difficult path. The difficult way brings rewards that those who remain on the smooth and easy way will never know! Similarly, the experience of being in the Church is incomparably rewarding to those who are called of God. They become part of the family of God now. They serve in His work. The narrow gate, on the other hand, is hard.
It requires confession of sin. Christ is the narrow gate.
He is the entry way into the kingdom. The gate itself is costly. It cost Him in order to construct. And it costs us. We, too, must go the way of confession of sin, and self denial. We must leave behind our self righteousness and our selfish ambition at that gate. That goes against current trends. Everywhere we go today, there are people telling us, speaking in our ear saying there are many ways to salvation, many ways up the mountain, many roads lead to God. And here is the Lord Jesus saying, there is one gate, there is one way. There is one way into eternal life. And I want to remind you friends, that that is not the Session of First Presbyterian Church saying that to you.
And that is not the great saints of the church, Augustin, and others. That is the Lord Jesus saying that. If you want to reject that, you have rejected Him. That is what the Lord Jesus says.
This is not the doctrine of men. This is the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Himself. And we, ourselves, must be certain that we are trusting in the only one who can save us from our sins. Have you trusted in Him, are you resting in Him? Or, are you holding back? Is there something else that you are holding on to? Do you think that the Lord will acquit you because you have tried? Do you think your own deeds will get you into glory? The Lord Jesus says, I am the only way. Enter by the narrow gate.
Two ways He contrasts. The way is narrow that leads to life. If we were using modern nomenclature, we would say two lifestyles. The lifestyle of righteousness, and the lifestyle of wickedness. The lifestyle of godliness, and the lifestyle of godlessness. And the Lord Jesus again here teaches us that there is only one blessed life. There are many people who are saying to you today, you can chose any alternative lifestyle that you want, and it can be a blessed way. The Lord Jesus says, there is one lifestyle that is blessed, and it is a lifestyle that lives by the grace of God under the reign of God according to the righteousness of God, as set forth in His word.
He sets forth before us, two patterns. The broad way, that is that pattern of living according to our own standards, wickedness. It is an easy way, because you make it up as you go. It is easy because it allows you to indulge yourself. It is easy because it gives you a kind of freedom from responsibility. There are no boundaries, there are no rules. But is hard in the end. Then, there is the way to life. It is a narrow way. It is the way of self-denial. It is the way of righteousness. It is the way of blessing though. The Lord Jesus wants you to know that when Satan whispers in your ear, if you repent, if you go the way of righteousness, you are going to be miserable.
The Lord Jesus wants you to know that the opposite is true. Is it a hard way? Is it hard to repent of sins? Is it difficult to be confronted with what you are? Couples having marital troubles, many of those troubles are caused by sinful ways in which the two are relating to one another. Is it hard when the two of them have to look at their own hearts and see the blackness that is there and the hurt that they are inflicting upon one another? Does it hurt to have to examine yourself week after week sitting down with the counselor to wrestle through those problems?
It is the only way forward.
It is just like the narrow gate. It hurts to see your self as you are. It hurts to know that you are rebellious in you heart. It hurts to know that you are rebellious against God and His law. And it is even better to do that when you have renovated, when you have been regenerated, when you have embraced Christ in repentance. The hard way of the narrow gate in the end is easy in comparison with the broad way of the wide gate. And we know what He means. The hardest thing in the world is to live looking in that mirror knowing that that conscience is not clean.
It is an easy way but it is a hard way. And it eats away over the years. We must learn to embrace the gospel paradox. The hard way is the easy way. The cross is the way to glory. The narrow gate is the gate that frees you. It is the gate that gives you liberty. Christianity promises this new way of life, which brings blessing and causes us to experience the righteousness of God, in our lives. Notice also the Lord Jesus speaks about our two final destinations. He speaks of the two final places that men and women come.
He teaches us that there is only of blessing in eternity. There is a way that leads to destruction, and there is a way that leads to life.
If you go the broad way, the wide way, you are literally on the road to hell and destruction, and to head down that road is literally suicide. When we go that way, we become progressively less what God intended us to be as human. So often sin is presented to us, as if it makes life more exciting. And more often it is presented to us as something that makes us more human.
Ever heard someone say? O, I am sin, well I have sinned. I am just human. To err is human we hear. But to sin, is not human. To sin is fallen. To sin makes us less human, not more. And I want to say that the Lord Jesus is deadly serious when He speaks about this hell. I know again that is not a popular doctrine today. But the Lord Jesus speaks about it, more than He speaks about heaven.
The Lord Jesus created it. He knows what it is. And the Lord Jesus warns us in deadly earnest that we be ready to make the wise choice and to go the narrow way that we might avoid the destruction which awaits all those who reject Him. Hell is no joke. We must think of it in symbol. What are we aiming for? What are you aiming for? There are lots of way to determine what you are really after in life.
What we shall now endeavor to set forth is very different from what most have been taught—but you reject it at your eternal peril. We repeat, that in that passage we are about to consider, He who was Truth incarnate made known the only way of escaping Perdition and securing Heaven , namely, by entering the "Strait Gate" and treading the "Narrow Way. The Greek word for "strait" signifies restrained or "narrow" and is so rendered in the revised version. Now a "gate" serves two purposes: All who enter this Narrow Gate gain admittance to that "Way" which "leads unto life;" but all who enter not by this Narrow Gate, are eternally barred from God's presence.
The second use of this Gate, is solemnly illustrated at the close of the parable of the ten virgins. There, our Lord pictures the foolish ones as being without the necessary "oil" the work of the Spirit in the heart , and while they went to buy it, the Bridegroom came, and "the door was shut" Matthew What is denoted by this figure of the "narrow gate? It is only as the heart bows to the righteousness of God's claims and demands upon us, as set forth by His Son—that any soul can enter that path which alone leads to Him. While the heart is rebellious against Him—there can be no approach to Him, for, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?
It is true, blessedly and gloriously true, that Christ Himself is "the Door" John Now it is only as Christ is truly received as God's authoritative Prophet , only as His holy teachings are really accepted by a contrite heart, that any one is prepared to savingly welcome Him as Priest. Christ is the "Way" and "the Truth" before he is the "Life" John In other words, His cleansing blood is only available for those who are willing to throw down the weapons of their warfare against God, and surrender themselves to His holy rule.
The wicked must forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, if he is to be pardoned by God Isaiah Why is this gate a "narrow" one? For at least three reasons:. First, because of sin.
The gate of heaven is far too narrow to admit such characters. The New Testament plainly affirms the same fact: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them! Second, because of the Law. There are two principal errors about the Law, and I know not which is the more dangerous and disastrous: Where there is not this personal conformity to the will of God—the strong hand of the Law will close the door of heaven.
Third, because none can take the world along with him: What is meant by "entering" this narrow gate? FIRST, the acceptance of those teachings of truth, of duty, of happiness, which were unfolded by Christ—the honest and actual receiving into the heart of His holy, searching, flesh-withering instructions.
This is like a person, with great difficulty, forcing his way through a very narrow entrance way. I say "with great difficulty," for Christ's precepts and commandments are, to the last degree, unpalatable to an unrenewed heart, and cannot be willingly and gladly received without a rigid denial of self and relinquishment of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. Christ has plainly warned us that it is impossible for a man to serve two masters.
Self must be repudiated, and Christ must be received as "the Lord" Colossians 2: Until this has been done, there is no salvation possible for any sinner. Christ Himself taught this plainly in Luke 15—the "prodigal" must leave the "far country" before he could journey to the Father's House! The same pointed truth is taught again in James 4: Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Grieve, mourn and wail.