Summary: Many people today believe that God’s kingdom is governed on the same basis as our nation, democracy, if this was true then the right way to heaven would be that of the majority. Although the nation Israel knew nothing of democracy as we have it, they, t
The Wide Gate or the Narrow Gate
The Lord Jesus Christ, in this great Sermon on the Mount, has distinguished His kingdom from that of contemporary Judaism, while identifying it with that spoken of in the Old Testament. As He concludes this sermon, we come to the bottom line, the destiny-deciding hour of decision. It is not just enough to hear His words; they must be acted upon. In this concluding section, Jesus put before His audience the choice which every man must make, the choice between mere religion and Christianity. In verses, 13 and 14 we have the two gates, in verses 15-23 we are encouraged to distinguish between the two kinds of guides, and in verses 24-27, we see the two foundations upon which men build their lives.
Many people today believe that God’s kingdom is governed on the same basis as our nation, democracy, if this was true then the right way to heaven would be that of the majority. Although the nation Israel knew nothing of democracy as we have it, they, too, were inclined to follow the majority in spiritual matters.
When Jesus concluded His message, He told His listeners that if they were to enter into His kingdom, they must “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus made it clear that there are only two gates, only two paths, only two destinies before every man, and each of us must choose one or the other. This may seem surprising to some. Many believe, even in the Christian community, that men are confronted with an almost infinite number of alternatives to them. It is not a choice between only two options, but of many. Among so many alternatives, how can a man choose the right one? Because of this dilemma, many have concluded “all roads lead to heaven” and that it matters little which one we would choose. However, Jesus narrows our choices to only two: religion and Christianity. Religion, in brief, can be defined as man’s efforts to reach God, while Christianity is God reaching down to man. Religion rests upon man’s work for God; Christianity on God’s work on behalf of men.
The small gate is the entrance to the narrow way, the way which leads to eternal life. That gate is our Lord Jesus Himself. In the words of the Savior: “… Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep… I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture… I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:7, 9, 11).
In another place, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). God’s only provision for man’s salvation and entrance to the kingdom is through faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah and our Savior.
However, why is the gate small and the way narrow, simply because it is restrictive. It is not that the gate is poorly marked, for Jesus publicly pointed out that He was God’s provision for the forgiveness of sins and entrance into eternal life. The gate is narrow only because it is exclusive and restrictive. Men can approach God only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:11). Furthermore, men enter into the kingdom one at a time, as through a turn-style. This is because men must be saved by a personal act of faith. We are never saved in clusters, but individually. To be saved men cannot add to or take away from God’s one way of salvation.
While God’s way of salvation is exclusive and restrictive, the gate to hell is broad and inviting. You can go to hell as an atheist or an agnostic. You can go there under any denominational label. You can go as a preacher, priest, rabbi or layman.
If you want to enter God’s kingdom, do not follow the crowds, but trust in the Son of God who died for your sins and who offers to give you His righteousness. Do not attempt to add to or take away His means of salvation, for in this God is rigid and unbending. He will not tolerate or accept any other means of salvation, for He must receive all the glory and the praise. “Salvation is of the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us (Psalm 3:8).
Now this is precisely what really irritates unbelievers, “Why do you Christians think you have the only way?” The answer, God has declared in His word that there is no other way of salvation than through faith in His Son. While Christians may wrongly convey an exclusive and superior attitude, God has declared that there is only one way to heaven. Men would gladly choose any other way than God’s way because all other ways allow men to keep their pride, their possessions, and their preferences. God will have none of that. Men are not perturbed at the fact that there is really only one answer, but over the realization that this way is not one that appeals to them in their sinful state. The way of our Lord is not that of the majority.