Dear Pastor Charles: Matthew 7:14 talks about the narrow gate, the difficult path, and how few find the way. I interpret the word “few” to mean more than one but certainly less than several, maybe 20%. That makes me wonder if all of the people who I thought were saved really are. What exactly is Jesus trying to tell us here? Thank you for your help. Sincerely Wondering…
Dear Sincerely Wondering:
Thank you for your question. When I ponder on some of the things that Jesus said it causes me to reevaluate my own salvation from time to time. These are hard words that should cause us all to evaluate our individual walk with God. For sure, Jesus did not stutter when He told us the way of salvation. He made it plain when He stated in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is an exclusionary statement that flies directly in the face of the bankrupt ideals of political correctness. It steps on our delicate sensibilities to the point that some want to redefine God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to the masses. This fact alone is causing many liberal theologians to depart the faith in search of a “historical Jesus” who more suitably fits their particular lifestyle or personal belief system. You will find them couched behind statements similar to this, “Surely God is big enough to accommodate other points of view and will find other paths to God acceptable.” This relativistic viewpoint is being taught and embraced by many today. Unfortunately for them, one of God’s attributes is that He cannot contradict Himself.
Let’s look at the Scripture from Matthew that is so troublesome to so many. Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” The words of this passage are not difficult to understand, ask any child to tell you what they mean. Our problem is that they are just too difficult to swallow. It is no secret that Jesus consistently calls for complete obedience and abandonment of the world in order to follow Him. There simply is no such thing as being a halfway Christian. Either you are all the way in or you are all the way out. Jesus makes that plain to us in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
I am afraid that the understanding of what it truly means to be a Christian has been watered down through the false teaching of what I call “easy believism”. The popular teaching of our day is that if one will give mental assent to the statement that “Jesus is Lord” and be baptized, then they are saved and can live their life in any fashion they please as long as they don’t go too far outside the norms of society. Dear friend, that is false teaching at it’s most devious and comes straight from the pit of hell via Satan himself. Look at what Jesus says in the very next verse. Matthew 7:15-16, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”
To the folks who believe that they really do not need to make a complete commitment to Christ by repenting of the sin in their lives should contemplate Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
In specific answer to your question, “easy believism” is the path that leads to destruction. I have heard this passage described as a funnel. The wide gate is the easy way that requires no change of lifestyle but gets narrower as sin begins to close in, which eventually leads to death and destruction. The narrow path begins at the narrow end of the funnel, which is Jesus Christ. If one enters through Christ, the Christian life expands and leads to the abundant life promised by Christ to His followers in John 10:10.
With all this said, I must caution you not to be the judge of another person’s salvation. That is Christ’s responsibility and He alone knows those who are His. It is declared in Scripture that the wheat would grow up with the tares and that Christ will, one day, do the separating Himself. Only He is the righteous judge who has perfect knowledge.
Try not to worry so much about percentages, just be sure that you are entering by the “narrow gate”. May God bless you as you continue to “study the Scriptures which are able to make you wise”.
My prayer for you is that God will use you in a powerful way in the service of Christ and His Kingdom.