Summary: Three Characteristics that define the Narrow Way that leads to life
The Narrow Way
Introduction: As I was preparing this message I remembered a particular summer when I took a pastor with me to go four wheeling through the San Bois mountains. Before I left the last time I had rode through there I found a little out of the way trail that had a great view of the mountains. I couldn't wait to take my friend there to show him that great view. But As we drove along, none of the trails seemed familiar to me and the further I went the more obvious it was that I wasn't near where I thought I was. As I went back to the main road and finally got to the point where we had began. The pastor jokingly said "Well Shawn, if you can't find a trail you will make one." And I thought about how that exmplifies the American Spirit. If there isn't a trail, we will make one. I the days before Henry Ford's Model T people rode horses and wagons. All you had to follow was the way of previous travelers, who had gone to where you were going. It became a road because many people had traveled it, not because men were hired to make it. And this was the way roads were made in Biblical times.
"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 is the (way) road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13,14
A way is a trail that was formed by many people traveling it and when that trail had been beaten down smooth by many travelers, we called it a road. When we read that the road that leads to life is narrow, understand that it isn't because God made it narrow to keep people from finding it or choosing it, it is narrow because although many people see it and know about it they chose not to travel it because there was an easier way. How many people are lost for taking the easy way rather than the right way?
Transition: This morning I want to describe three characteristics of the Narrow Way in which Jesus tells us to travel. First, the Narrow Way is a way of affliction.
The Narrow Way is a way of affliction
Charles Spurgeon once said "The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." The narrow way is a hard way. It is a difficult path. Not many men are willing to pick up their cross and follow Christ. Very few men put their hand to the plow and keep their eyes ahead of them. Jesus told a zealous man looking to be a disciple to go and sell all he had and come and follow him and the man went away because he could not give up his possessions. Why would anyone want to travel this narrow way in being a Christian if it seems to be filled with such affliction? Well the only reason to travel any road is to get to where you want to go.
New Christians are often surprised that their lives are not trouble free once they decide to follow Jesus.
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." I Peter 4:12-13
Ellicott's Bible commentary says that the term "narrow" literally means: 'pressed, or hemmed in between walls or rocks, like the pathway in a mountain gorge.'
It's been said that "only dead fish swim with the current" It is very true. Let's face it, it isn't easy to live a holy life in an unholy world. It is not easy to pursue purity in a world of profanity. It isn't easy to stand up for Christ in a world that despises him, to stand firm in the faith, amongst a world of liars, murderers and deceivers with no sense of shame for what they do.
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." John 3:19
The narrow way is a difficult way because The shield of faith gets heavy on the battlefield, it's not easy to defend ourselves from all of those fiery temptations that are flung from Hell's bowman whose hatred for God's children is so intense he never rests in his effort to lead us down his broad way of destruction!
Although this way is a way of affliction, we are encouraged several times and in several ways, although the devil stalks about looking for someone to devour our Lord says to gain encouragement through the fact that you are not alone you have brothers and sister who are going through the same thing or much worse and reassures us in 2 Peter 5:10 that our struggles are only temporary and since he has called us to his eternal glory. He will restore and secure us. He promises us trouble in John 16:33 ". . . in this world you will have trouble.": But then he gives us this great encouragement, he says: ".. but take heart! I have overcome the world." Spurgeon once said "I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages." Anything that drives us forward in Christ and to his will no matter the difficulty is good.