A series of articles exploring teachings from the Good News as reavealed by God in His Word to us.
The Narrow Way
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it. - Jesus of Nazareth
The Narrow Way.
What is meant by narrow way? Just what is this narrow way Jesus referred to in the Bible passage above? Haven’t we all always heard that God loves everyone? Don’t we see all kinds of bumper stickers and people that say Jesus (or God) loves you? What is Jesus talking about when He sais the "narrow way"?
Has the above passage out of context?
I don't believe so. Many people today believe that many ways exist in which we can get to Heaven. Let us examine some of these ways and see what the Bible has to say about them.
Some say “there is no God, so therefore I live for today, and have nothing to worry about.” Maybe that would be fine if there were no God, but let's see what does the Bible says about that:
Psalms 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.
God has clearly revealed Himself so that they who do not acknowledge God are without excuse:
Psalms 19:1-3 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utter speech, and night unto night show knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
In the grand scheme of things, if there is no God, then I have lost nothing by believing in Him. I will have attempted to live a decent and moral life out of my love for what God has done for me. I will die and cease to exist. Nothing gained, and nothing lost.
If God does exist, then I still have lost nothing. Rather I have gained more than I could ever imagine. If God exists, then the person who says there is no God is in big, big trouble when he dies. The one who has trusted in the false god is also in big trouble. Only those who trusted in the One, True living God are safe. A future discussion may explore why I believe the Bible to be true and that the God of the Bible is the one and only God.
Some assume that God loves everyone.
If God loves everyone, then why are some going to go to Hell? Why did Jesus say that the broad way leads to destruction, and many travel this path? The following Bible passages show us that God does not seem to love everyone as many people have told us. Read the following verses from the Bible carefully:
Psalms 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in Your sight: You hate all workers of iniquity.
Proverbs 15:9 The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loves him that follows after righteousness.
It appears we have been fooled by these bumper stickers and well-meaning people who would rather have it that God loves everybody. Unfortunately, God Himself has said otherwise in His Word to us. Does a God (who some say, loves everyone) throw people into Hell for everlasting punishment? What kind of way of showing love is that? The fact is, He is exceedingly angry with us because we disobey (sin) against Him and what He has clearly revealed to us. He is a perfectly just God, and His justice demands payment for sin. As we see in the following passages, the payment for sin is fierce:
Isaiah 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
We are all in big, big trouble with God. Praise God He has provided a way of escape!
Some assume that all go to heaven.
Unfortunately, this is just wishful thinking on their part. Hell is a real place. It is a place described in His Word where punishment is eternal. It is a place of darkness where the worm doesn’t die and the only sounds heard are wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is a place of fire and eternal torment. And as we saw at the beginning of this article, the way to Hell is broad and the majority of people on earth are on that broad path. Hell will be heavily populated as we see in these passages:
Revelation 20:13-15 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and the grave delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Thessalonians II 1:8-9 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Some assume that they are going to heaven because I don’t sin.
Any that claim that they do not sin are desperately deceiving themselves. We all sin before God just like God’s Truth states:
Psalms 14:2-3 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; - and the result of sin is:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death…
Some assume they are going to heaven because they are better than most people and basically a good person who does basically good works.
Are we indeed good in God’s eyes? Consider the rich young man who was quite sincerely informing Jesus that he has not broken the 10 Commandments since he was a young boy. He asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life (go to heaven)?
Matthew 19:18-23 … Jesus said “You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself .” The young man said unto him, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Jesus said unto him, If you want to be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Truly I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. --- This man was obviously a very morally upstanding individual. Not even Jesus argued with him about his morality. I could certainly not say the same of myself. However, as “good” as this man was, he hadn’t gained eternal life yet. Why? Jesus exposes a sinful attachment for money in his heart and tells the man to deal with this sin. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life because we all are sinners. Even if we are not aware of sin, like this man, we are still sinners because God says we are, and deep down, we know that we are. We can be as morally upright as this man was, and still not live good enough before God. Let's see what God says about our good works:
Luke 6:32-33 For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? For sinners also love those that love them. And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? For sinners also do even the same. --- Even sinners do “good” works according to Jesus.
Luke 17:10 So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. --- Even if we do “good”, we have just done what God has demanded, and still don’t deserve any reward as Jesus said in this passage.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. --- We are so tainted with sin that even our “good” works are as filthy rags before the all holy God.
Contrary to popular belief, God will not bring a balance out of His closet and weigh our good works against our bad works when we die. If that were the case, we would be sentenced immediately. For God says in Romans 6:23 (see above) that the wages (reward) for sin is death. A lifetime of good works could not make up for even one sin. The death in mind here is eternal death… eternal separation from the living God.
Some assume that all religious roads lead to heaven.
Are there indeed many roads to heaven? Let’s see what God says: Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [except Jesus] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Timothy I 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Corinthians I 8:4-6 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.
Only one way exists to Heaven…not multiple. And God tells us that the Way is through Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Some assume they will go to heaven because they believe in Jesus.
Unfortunately, even devils believe in Jesus. Just saying one believes does not constitute what is required to have one’s sins forgiven and go to Heaven. That is, a saving faith as opposed to just some idle words spoken with no real conviction. Saving faith comes only from God Himself. He freely gives it to whomever He wishes (see Romans 9).
James 2:19-20 You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Some assume their church membership guarantees them to eventually getting to heaven.
Many believe that we get to heaven because we belong to a church. The nation of Israel can be likened to the “church” of God during Old Testament times. The Jews of Jesus’ time were counting on their ancestry (being descendant of Abraham) to get to Heaven. They thought they were going to Heaven just because they were a member of Abraham’s family… just like some nowadays put their hope in being a member of a church. Jesus and the Apostle Paul told the Jews that being a blood descendant of Abraham did not guarantee a ticket to Heaven:
Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Just like being a member of Abraham’s family did not guarantee Heaven in the Old Testament, being a member of a church does not guarantee Heaven in the New Testament. Further we see that all men stand on an equal level before God no matter if they belong to a church or not:
Romans 2:11-12 For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned outside of the law shall also perish outside of the law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law
There are no favorites with God as we see in Jesus’ teachings:
Luke 13:2-5 And Jesus answering said unto them, do you suppose that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, do you think that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
The Bible tells us that we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There will be no church there to stand next to us or shield us from His judgments. The only shield we can hope for is Christ Himself, as we shall see shortly.
Corinthians II 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…
Some assume they can obey their church’s teachings and do good works to get to heaven.
Many believe that following the rules of a church will get them to Heaven. The Bible teaches two problems with this idea. One is that we can’t get to Heaven by doing good works:
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The other problem with the above statement is that the Bible teaches that many deceivers exist here on earth. These deceivers are found outside of the church, but more importantly, inside the church as well:
Mark 13:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. – the term “I am Christ” not only refers to those who claim they are Christ, but also to those who claim they have the “true teachings” of Christ. They profess that they are coming in His Name. They may be sincere in that they believe they are doing good, but are deceived themselves:
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? And in your name have cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”
Deceivers in the church are nothing new. Jesus exposed the deceivers in the Old Testament church of Israel who not only deceived themselves, but deceived the members of their church as well:
Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither allow them that are entering to go in.
Lest we get too hard on the Jews of Jesus time, the Bible reminds us that even back in Jeremiah’s time, church leaders were leading people astray. They were telling the people not to worry, God says we have peace. Sounds a lot like the kind of preaching heard from many pulpits today where they tell us all is well between us and God:
Jeremiah 6:13-15 …from the prophet even unto the priest every one deals falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, “Peace, peace”; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed.
Jeremiah 14:13-16 … behold, the prophets say unto them, You shall not see the sword, neither shall you have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of naught, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
Jeremiah 16:5 For thus says the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, says the LORD, even loving kindness and mercies.
Jeremiah 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD.
As it tragically turns out, their church leaders were lying to them. The church leaders as well as the people ended up paying the price. Are your church leaders deceiving you? Will you find out that you have to pay the price after it is too late? Trust the Word of God as He gave it to us…the Bible. Read His Word and check the teachings of your church’s leaders against what God says. Many deceivers are teaching lies in God’s Name just like they have been throughout history. Don’t wait until Judgment day to find out you have been deceived.
Some assume they know in their heart they are going to Heaven. They trust their own convictions.
Many tend to think that they know in their heart that what they believe is true is the Truth. What most people don’t realize is that if we rely on our own hearts, we will always be deceived. The stain of sin is in every part of our being. We cannot be trusted to know what eternal Truth is:
Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkens unto counsel is wise.
Proverbs 28:26 He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoever walks wisely, he shall be delivered.
Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
Corinthians I 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Don’t trust your own heart or beliefs. Trust what God has told us in His Word, the Bible.
Some trust in what the Bible says about getting to heaven.
What is truth? This is the ultimate question that everyone wants to know the answer to. Let us see what God tells us Truth is:
John 17:17 Sanctify them through your truth: your [the Father’s; i.e. God’s] word is truth.
Psalms 119:142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth.
Psalms 119:151 You are near, O LORD; and all your commandments are truth.
God’s law and commandments are synonyms for His Word. All of Scripture is God’s law and commands toward us. In addition, Jesus directly quoted Scripture or referred to the authority of Scripture at least 53 times. He obviously endorsed the Old Testament as the ultimate source of Truth while He was on earth. This would apply also to the New Testament too nowadays. After all, the whole Bible is God’s Word as seen here:
Peter II 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. --- How can God’s Word not be truth? God would not be God if He lied.
Some believe on Jesus and trust in Him and what He has done to get them into heaven.
Relying totally on what Jesus has done is the only way to Heaven. It is He that justifies us before God and saves us from the wrath of God that we deserve for offending the one and only God. The only way to Heaven is to rely totally on His mercy. Like a prisoner doomed to the death penalty, we can do nothing but plead for mercy from the mighty King of the universe like the tax collector below did:
Luke 18:13-14 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I [Jesus speaking] tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
---and trust only Him to save us from our sins:
Romans 5:9 …being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Thessalonians I 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 2:1-5 And you has he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conduct in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)
Acts 13:39 And by him [Jesus] all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
We cannot get to heaven by our own good works. Rather, good works are a symptom of being justified by Him. They are a symptom of being a Christian.
A judgment day has been appointed.
God has appointed a day in which He will judge. It shall come as a thief in the night. There will be no warning. He is waiting until that day. That day is referred to the great and terrible day of the Lord. Great in that His saints will be fully redeemed. Terrible in that those who are not His saints will be cast into Hell:
Acts 17:31 Because He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.
It will be a terrifyingly fearful day:
Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
It will be a horrible day for those who are not found on the narrow Way to Heaven:
Revelation 20:10-15 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Why am I bothering to write this?
It is not my intention to offend anyone. I am not going to twist anyone’s arm. Feel free to disagree with anything this article says. To be sure, I will not think any less of you. I would certainly not consider myself “holier than thou”. The opposite is probably true. I am simply a sinner that has been saved by grace who wants to share the gift of forgiveness I have been given in hopes that others may also be given this gift too. I am a hypocrite in the sense that I do not keep God’s commands as I should. I fail. But,… but, my trust is not in myself, it is in my Savior who is not a hypocrite…Who kept God’s commands perfectly. It is simply my intent to share the Good News with you that you may not have heard before. I wrote this in hope that you might consider what is presented here. I wrote this also because I am commanded to share the Good News by my Lord and my God:
Luke 24:47-48 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name [Jesus] among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.
In the following passage, God speaks to Ezekiel, who is referred to as the Son of man. He warns Ezekiel to warn the people. While I am not Ezekiel, I believe that the warning given to him applies to Christians as well. We all are “wicked” in the sense that we have all sinned (as we have seen previously). We are wicked in comparison to God. Therefore, the warning should go out to all of us:
Ezekiel 3:17-19 Son of man, I have made you a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the Word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say unto the wicked, you shall surely die; and you don’t give him warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked, and he doesn’t turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.