Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Narrow Gate

Jesus speaking:

Matthew 7:13 (KJV) - 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:

Matthew 7:14 (KJV)- Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Same verses in the New Living Translation:

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) - 13 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell* is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. 14 But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.

7:13
Greek The way that leads to destruction.


Commentary from Chuck Smith on Matthew 7:13,14:

v. 13-14 Jesus is the strait gate we must go through to enter the Kingdom (John 10:1, 14:6). We start on the path to the Kingdom by denying ourselves (Matthew 16:24; Ephesians 2:2-3).

Our flesh doesn't die easily. It's a painful, continuous struggle to keep the flesh under the control of the spirit (Luke 13:24).

Many people do not like the concept of a narrow path to God. They choose to believe that many roads lead to God, but Jesus says that the broad path leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12; Romans 8:6).

It isn't natural to live the life of self-denial. Crucifying our flesh is a slow, agonizing death (Romans 6:6).

The Holy Spirit enables us to endure the struggles with the flesh so we can walk in righteousness (John 8:29; Galatians 2:20).

***

David Guzik Commentary:

2. (13-14) Choosing one of two ways and one of two destinations

a. Jesus commits the awful "sin" of "narrow mindedness" here; to Him, there is no doubt that there is a right road and a wrong road. If Christians are accused of being "narrow minded" they should be following Jesus' example of telling the hard truth, but in love

b. The true gate is both narrow and difficult; if your road has a gate that is easy and well traveled, you do well to watch out!

18 comments:

Susan Smith said...

This is a good post, Christine. It is impossible to live the Christian life in the flesh. I've tried it over and over and fail everytime. Christ in you is the hope of glory. Only those who walk by the Spirit can stay on the narrow path. There are ditches (extremes) on both sides and self-righteouness is just as deadly as unrighteousness. They both come from the tree of good and evil. May you eat from the Tree of Life this day. Shabbat Shalom.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for your great comments. I hear what you are saying! When I look at my life before Christ entered it, that life "lived in the flesh" was NOTHING compared to knowing Jesus Christ as Lord. I don't say this to sound self-righteous, although to non-believers it ALWAYS sounds that way. There is a popular Christian song with lyrics (speaking of Jesus) that explains it well:

"Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done.

Not because of what I've done, but because of Who You are."

In my previous post, I quoted the words of Jesus: "Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins (John 8:24)" Of course this message is less popular now than ever. People don't want to hear this. But the bad news of our sin problem is necessary before the Good News of the Gospel can be realized and applied to one's life.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Your words here are so true:

Susan stated: "It is impossible to live the Christian life in the flesh. I've tried it over and over and fail everytime."

This is why we need a Savior!! If we could do it on our own we wouldn't have needed Him. But the truth is WE CAN'T DO IT ON OUR OWN. Similar to what you said about "walking by the Spirit", we need to be born again and receive the Holy Spirit of God into our hearts to guide us unto righteousness and lead us to obey and become more like Jesus every day!

Sanctification is a lifelong journey. We will never "arrive" this side of heaven. But we can strive for it every day, hour, and minute by minute with the help of the Holy Spirit guiding our way!

God bless you!

Christine

Susan Smith said...

Thanks for your encouraging words Christine. Words are powerful. I am a former lesbian and lived the lifestyle of homosexuality for more than 20 years. I accepted Jesus as my saviour at the age of 12, but had no assurance of my salvation during those years. I do not know if I was saved or not during my years of lesbianism. I was delivered from homosexual acts in 1985 and delivered from the identity in 1988. Several years later I was set free from alcohol abuse. When was I saved? I do not know. I know now I was chosen before the foundations of the earth were laid. Praise His Name. He is everything.

Stephen said...

Susan - now THAT's a REAL woman!! Wow. God bless you! I am so priviliged to know so many godly men and women in my life, to help me along the narrow path.

Thanks be to God for His merciful, undeserving love to us bunch of dirt pots who deserve hell - yet because of Christ, we are now the sons and daughters of the living King!

Much love to you both!

Steve

Christinewjc said...

You have an incredible testimony, Susan. I can see that you have gone through a lot of pain in your life and I truly empathize with you. The Lord has been with you through it all and when you look back can you see where he carried you? I'm so happy to hear that the Lord has released you from such bondage!

No matter what we have gone through, God uses everything that happens in our lives for good. He can use the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. When we allow Him to work through us, we can then help encourage each other and bring others to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

One of the most comforting verses (there are SO MANY) is this one that came to my mind after reading your testimony:

Romans 8:1 - [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

What grace he has bestowed upon us! I often bring to mind the thought about how I didn't deserve such forgiveness. But that's what mercy does!

Titus 3:5 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

I did a study on recognizing that through Christ's redemption for us through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins places those sins as far from us..."as the east is to the west"! The study contained some great analogies about this fact and if you are interested, maybe I can find it and post portions of it.

I love the entire chapter of Romans 8! I was tempted to post the whole thing just now! Here's a link for anyone who wants to read it.

http://www.blueletterbible.org/
kjv/Rom/Rom008.html#1

The ending verses are so beautiful and happen to be two of my favorites:

Romans 8:38 - For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,


Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a promise we have in Jesus!

Just as you stated, Susan:

"Praise His Name. He is everything."

He is!!

Revelation 21 (NLT)reveals our future hope:

The New Jerusalem
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.* 4 He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever."
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making all things new!" And then he said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true." 6 And he also said, "It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega-the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

He makes all things new! Including you, me and all who come to him thirsty! He is a fabulous Lord!

Jojo said...

Christine,

Just last night, during our VBS lesson, we were talking about Paul and pride. He had so much to be proud of - as far as human accomplishments - but he called them all rubbish for the sake of Christ. (see Philippians 3:1-11-subtitled "No Confidence in the Flesh") I have stated before, and will say it again - It seems whatever I'm studying in God's Word, I find or hear again to reinforce the point and grow yet further in my understanding. I LOVE THAT!!

Susan,
I have enjoyed reading your posts the last couple days. I have to say I too have wondered about when I became saved and here's what I have concluded. In 1986 I was sprinkled & joined the Presbyterian church because that is where my fiance went. Then after getting divorced in 1992, I went back to the independent Christian church I had attended as a child. There I accepted Jesus Christ and was baptized. I did not start living obedient to Christ until a few yrs later as I began getting into the Word and doing some Bible studies.

We see people who get baptized and fall away, never to return to Christ. We see people who accept Jesus and live for him right from that moment. Then there are many like us who accept the Lord and then become obedient later on as we get into the Word and come to personally know God. I can only conclude that only God knows the heart. He knows every choice we will make during our life. NOt because he controls our actions but because he is omniscient. So when you accepted the Lord at the age of 12, God already knew about your future lifestyle choices. And he knew where you would be right now in your faith. I do not think he writes anyone's name in the Book of Life and then erases it.

In my own life I have so much regret for the life I lived outside of Christ. It hurts to know the things I did and believed and how that hurt Jesus. But I truly believe God protected me because He knew I was searching for Him. (and that I would find Him) He also uses all the ugly stuff so I can have compassion and understanding of others.

The wonderful thing is - you don't have to doubt your salvation anymore. When you are on the narrow path following Jesus - there is no doubt or fear. Praise God!

Thomas said...

People are a "bunch of dirt pots who deserve hell"? I don't get it! I don't get it! That's crazy talk! What in the world could a person possibly do that would deserve an eternity of roasting and worm-biting in Hell? Stealing some candy in grade-school? Sneaking into an R-rated movie? Doing things with your genitals some old book tells you not to do?

It makes no sense! I think it's awful! Can anyone please explain why they think its a good idea to send someone to Hell for a million years, let alone eternity? Why does it make sense even to threaten people with Hell? It obviously has no deterrent value, as a glimpse at the behaviour of most people would reveal. Regardless, the whole idea is just plain rotten, and evil, and wrong! I wouldn't send my worst enemy to Hell -- not Osama bin Laden, not Joseph Stalin, and not all the Republicans in Congress! Adolf Hitler tried to wipe my entire people off the face of the earth, and nearly succeeded -- but even still, I would not want to see him tortured in Hell for upwards of a thousand years. Forgiveness, people! Jesus preached forgiveness! Regardless of whether or not he actually existed, forgiveness is a grand and glorious thing! There's no point in bearing a grudge against someone for forever and a day. No God worth His salt would ever torture some lowly created being like that. Why? What's the point? The whole fantasy is the work of some forgotten sadist. Can you imagine sending someone to be tortured forever for some petty indiscretion? Can you imagine signing the warrant and throwing away the key? I sure as a heck can't. I imagine most people couldn't do it. Do you think that they are more moral and kind-hearted than the God you speak so highly of? I doubt it.

Hell is the most demented idea that I have ever heard of, with the possible exception of the Christian heaven, which doesn't contain anything that any sane person could actually enjoy. Seriously, people, can't you see that this whole thing was made up in order to keep children in line and extract money from parishoners? It's a bald-faced lie. It's a horror story for the credulous. There's nothing to fear! We're not going to Hell! No one is going to Hell! Relax!

CrackerLilo said...

I too was thrown off by the phrase "bunch of dirt pots."

Leaving aside the fact that pots of dirt are good for growing tasty vegetables and beautiful flowers, I think this is a basic discrepancy between the conservative Evangelical mindset and some others right there.

I believe people are a mix of good and bad.

CrackerLilo said...

One other thing--for most gay and bisexual people, we grow up feeling "different", and our path is not all that well-traveled or easy. In fact, we've got people who are trying to make it more difficult. So I guess me and Thomas are doing just fine, by your standard!

Christinewjc said...

Thomas,

If you don't believe in Jesus Christ (or that he even existed), or that heaven and hell are real places in eternity, then what are you getting all excited about?

Relax....you have nothing to worry about.

Right?

On the other hand, if you are wrong and the Bible is correct then your eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

Crackerlilo stated: "I believe people are a mix of good and bad."

The real question is, are you (or I, or anyone else) good enough to get to heaven?

Curious?

Take "The Good Test" and see:

http://www.livingwaters.com/
good/001.shtml

Jojo said...

Thomas,
You ask, "Can anyone please explain why they think its a good idea to send someone to Hell for a million years, let alone eternity?"

The reason is simply because they have rejected God. He created us to have an intimate relationship with Him. He provided all that we need to live life to the fullest, to find truth and to know Him. He provided the perfect sacrifice for our sin (rebellion against God-It's all about ME!) and if we live our whole lives ignoring God then why would He want us in Heaven for eternity with Him? Hell is complete separation from God with the complete recognition of who He is and all He did to draw you to Him.

It's not about sending someone to burn for eternity because they stole candy or snuck into an R rated movie etc. It's about rejecting God.

CrackerLilo said...

The real question is, are you (or I, or anyone else) good enough to get to heaven?

Curious?

Take "The Good Test" and see:

http://www.livingwaters.com/
good/001.shtml


Christine, there are no surprises here for anyone who's grown up in conservative Evangelical Christianity.

I am less interested in beliefs about eternity than I am in how they affect the rest of us here on Earth. In other words, I care less about whether you or anyone else thinks I or anyone else oughta go to hell eternal, just as long as y'all don't go out of your way to create hell on earth for those of us who don't want to live in the way you think is right.

Christinewjc said...

Crackerlilo,

You were the one who brought up "the mix of good and bad" issue.

That is unfortunate that you are less interested in what happens in eternity for it is a whole lot longer than our measly 70, 80 or 90 years on earth! The Bible says, "God has...set eternity in the hearts of men..." Ecclesiastes 3:11a (NIV).

Many philosophers have attempted to answer the question, "What on earth am I here for?"

Just as the Bible states and Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life" summarizes: "if you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose."

Just as Jojo pointed out in her post:

"Paul and pride. He had so much to be proud of - as far as human accomplishments"

Humans fall into foolish pride of self. However, the second part of Jojo's comment:

" - but he called them all rubbish for the sake of Christ."

Warren's book starts out with this quote:

"It's not about you."

This flies in the face of human pride and accomplishment. But like Solomon records in Ecclesiastes, it's all "vanity." He concluded that without knowing your purpose, life will seem tiresome (Eccl. 1:5-8), unfulfilling (Eccl. 1:8b-9a) and uncontrollable (Eccl. 1:15).

The benefits of knowing the purpose of your life include focus, simplifying it (ref. "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Phil. 3:13); "You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm." Isaiah 26:3 (TEV), increase motivation and prepare you for eternity. (See Philippians 3:12b-14 NLT) Here it is:
But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,* but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.*

Perhaps none of this means anything to you since you claim to know evangelical Christianity. But I post it for the benefit of others who come here and read. Contrary to your view, there is a priceless gain in knowing Jesus Christ.

Christians don't just sit around and wait for eternity. They use this life to prepare for it.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,'says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11 (LB).

What truly matters in this life and the next?

Psalm 33:11 - The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

One day, when we all come face to face God, ultimately, the answers to two questions will be what matters.

What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?

What did you do with the life I gave you?


For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Thomas said...

If we live our whole lives ignoring God then why would He want us in Heaven for eternity with Him?

This God of yours sounds like quite the diva. "You don't believe in Me! Well, then zap!"

I personally don't care if people disbelieve in me. Most people have never heard of me. Most of the vast entire universe, with the exception of the small sphere 100 light years in diameter within range of our radio signals, has never heard of our little planet, and perhaps the news of our existence will be met with indifference as it percolates slowly through the galaxy, if there is anyone to hear that news at all. I don't care. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about God or anyone else. Our universe is simply to vast and unwieldy to have any purpose at all. The mistake you make is in assuming this enormous and ungovernable wilderness to be made for the purpose of your existence and the existence of our species more generally. It's not. Take a look at the night sky, darlings. Ponder the awe-inspiring river of light emanating from our galactic plane. Gaze at the smidgen of pale light sent to us from the Andromeda Galaxy, larger than our own. Seek the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, 60 million light years away, a galaxy of galaxies, a vast and devouring accumulation of stars, slowly reversing the expansion of our Local Group, accelarating the Milky Way and Andromeda towards its hungry maw.

And then tell me that the forger of all of these pitiless and sublime beacons in the night cares a fig for your transgressions or your salvation.

Morality begins with human love. Hope begins with reason and imagination. There is no salvation or plan beyond the stars -- there you will find only more stars, and the eternally rising inky emptiness of the night. It is vanity indeed to think this emptiness was made for our pleasure or pain.

Jojo said...

What I'll never understand Crackerlilo is how trying to help you see truth so you can spend eternity with God is making your life hell on earth. It's actually the most loving thing anyone has ever done for you. We speak about the things of the Bible to show love - God's love; not to make your life hell, my friend. Your soul is precious - that's why Jesus died for you.

Christinewjc said...

Very well said, Jojo.

Amen!

Christinewjc said...

Thomas,

It's really a matter of perspective. I once heard a story about a cosmonaut and an astronaut whose differing views taught a clear message regarding faith. During space travel, the atheist cosmonaut saw the distance and multiplicity of the stars; as well as the vastness and loneliness of space, and relayed a message that one could say reflected the emptiness of his soul, for he exclaimed, "I don't see God anywhere."

In contrast, an American astronaut saw the same things much differently. He saw the beauty of the earth from space; thought about the miracle of life and the wonder, vastness, and depth of space and said, "I see God everywhere!"

Godisnowhere. Many have seen this before. You can separate the words so that it reads, "God is nowhere," or, you can separate and read the words so that it says, "God is now here."

Thomas said...

Ah, but what did the Chinese taikonaut say when he orbited the earth, Christine? Something about the Tao or Confucius that he cribbed from a fortune cookie? No, I doubt it. I think the atheism of the godless Roosskie cosmonauts and the theism of the Yankee space imperialists were both exagerated for ideological purposes. In the U.S. it's hard to be a public servant and deny the creeds of your countrymen. In the ex-USSR, it was dangerous to decline the dialectical materialism of the authorities. Makes one rather regret ideological correctness and the oppressiveness of mental monotony, n'est-ce pas?

"God is no where." Well, I have a hard time getting behind that statement. I haven't looked everywhere in the whole wide universe, and who knows, maybe there's a god somewhere out there hiding behind an asteroid. "God is now here." All I'll say is that I do not see any empirical evidence to support the hypothesis of God's existence. There is no evidence that prayer has any causal effect upon illness, no evidence for a soul that can survive death and communicate with the living, no evidence for design in living things, and no evidence for an omnipotent being that cares about the suffering of life on earth. You got a bunch of anecdotes, but no evidence that can be independently verified in a controlled experimental setting. I'm sorry, honey, but when it comes to choosing between science or religion, I go with science. It's got a much better track record, and it's much more interesting. You know all that stuff I mentioned about galaxies and star clusters and stuff? You won't find any of that in the Bible. When the Bible was written, people thought that the earth was the center of the universe, and that the Sun and planets and the "fixed" rotated about the earth in crystal spheres. We now know this is wrong, thanks to science, but no thanks to religion.

Isn't it interesting that when all those brave astronauts and cosmonauts went into space, they did it on the backs of rockets that were built by dedicated scientists, who tried different things, and used skepticism and physics and chemistry to devise the best vehicles? They didn't find the answers in the Bible or from God, unlike Noah, who allegedly received instructions directly from God for building a (grossly undersized) boat for all the different kinds of animals on earth. Even modern engineers would have trouble coming up with a boat that big, although Republican environmental laws are making the task easier every day.