“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. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NLT)
Jesus tells us that there is only one way to enter God’s Kingdom, through the narrow gate. Therefore, since there is only one way to enter, it’s important for us to know where that way is, especially since He says that only a few ever find it…
I love trying to discover shortcuts and new ways home, however, my children have never fully appreciated this little quirk of mine. Whenever I would suggest taking a shortcut, my children would usually groan and whine, and try to talk me out of it. You see, exploring and trying to find shortcuts might be okay if you have a sense of direction, but they learned at a very young age that their mother has absolutely no sense of direction. My shortcuts often found us miles and miles away from home, by the time I figured out where we were.
I always looked on it as an adventure. I figured we would eventually wind up somewhere I recognized. However, this was more troubling to my children, who may have wanted to get home in time for a favorite show, or even more urgent, they may have needed to use the bathroom.
Now, I have to tell you that as much as I like to ride, and as much as I enjoy riding around aimlessly in my car (Of course, this was when gas was affordable!), it would be horrible to spend my life, thinking I’m on the right road to the Kingdom of God, only to discover that I missed it. And listen to this, Jesus said that only a few ever find that road. Did you pick up on that? That means that there’s a whole lot of people who are going the wrong way, and only a few who have managed to go the right way.
Now for someone like me, who has no sense of direction, I want to make sure I study the road map and check to make sure my GPS is up to date, because I definitely want to be on the right road for the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I’m going to really dig into this so that I’m prepared for my journey to the Kingdom of God… Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.”
The Greek word for narrow is stenos, which means narrow & strait.
- of little breadth or width; not broad or wide; not as wide as usual or expected: a narrow path.
- limited in extent or space; affording little room: narrow quarters.
- limited in range or scope: a narrow sampling of public opinion.
- lacking breadth of view or sympathy, as persons, the mind, or ideas: a narrow man, knowing only his professional specialty; a narrow mind.
- with little margin to spare; barely adequate or successful; close: a narrow escape.
- Often, straits. ( used with a singular verb ) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.
- Often, straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need: Ill and penniless, he was in sad straits indeed.
- Archaic. a narrow passage or area.
- an isthmus.
- narrow: Strait is the gate.
- affording little space; confined in area.
- strict, as in requirements or principles.
The first thing we have to know if we plan on journeying to the Kingdom of God is that the gate we’re supposed to go through is very narrow… It affords very little space, it’s very limited… And look at this – this narrow strait way is very strict in its requirements and principles. Do you understand the magnitude of this?
If we want to go on this journey to the Kingdom of God, then we’re going to have to go through a very narrow gate. We’re going to need to search for it, because it’s small and tight… And we’re going to have to meet some strict requirements and principles…
Okay, I can almost hear what you’re saying – “What about grace?” And that’s a fair question… Let’s examine this closely, because I don’t want to miss it, and I certainly don’t want to steer anyone down the wrong road.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB) Brothers and sisters, you will never hear me dispute that we are saved by grace through faith, and that works do not save us. Scripture is very clear about this.
However, why were we saved? For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) We are not saved as a result of our works, but we are created to do good works after we’re saved… So, brothers and sisters, let’s examine ourselves, because the road is narrow and there are some strict principles that we must meet, not to earn our salvation, which is a gift from God, but as proof of our salvation.
Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well” — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all — it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.”
Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did — by his actions. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” He was even called “the friend of God.”
So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions — when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds. (James 2:14-26 NLT)
Do you see, brothers and sisters? On this narrow road, we must have a living faith, and faith without works is dead. There’s so much to say about this narrow road. You see, singing in the church choir, preaching from the pulpit, even casting out demons is no guarantee that you are walking on the narrow road.
In John 14, when Jesus is speaking to the disciples about His imminent departure, He talks about the way to where He is going. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:1-6 NKJV)
Do you see it again brothers and sisters? There is only one way, and this straight and narrow one way road is through Christ alone. And understand this, even though obedience is not popular, it is required. Do you love Jesus? Obey Him. Do you really love Jesus? The evidence of your love will be shown in your obedience to Him. Obedience is a requirement on the narrow road, don’t let anyone mislead you. Look what Jesus says about this:
- Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV)
- “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)
- Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23-24 NKJV)
- “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10 NKJV)
- “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:12-14 NKJV)
Do you see how important obedience is to Jesus? Brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone mislead you. I’m not saying you have to obey in order to get saved. If that was the case, none of us would ever find that narrow road. But once you are born again, that changes.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) You see, my old sinful nature passed away (it died), and I got a new nature… Before, I had no desire to obey or to please God. Now, I love Him, and more than anything, I want to please Him. Because I love Him, I want to obey Him, and because I love Him, when I disobey Him, it breaks my heart.
Brothers and sisters, if you’re not living a life of obedience, if obeying the Lord doesn’t seem important to you, then you need to begin to question yourself. Am I walking on the narrow road, which is difficult and confining?
Or is my way fairly easy? I don’t worry about obedience, because God loves me. He knows my heart. Brothers and sisters, I assure you that you’re right. God does know your heart. Remember? He’s the One who said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV)
Brothers and sisters, let’s pray to the Father of Lights that He would show us the strait and narrow way, and that we would boldly walk that road, knowing that there will be periods of loneliness, because only a few ever find it.