As part of His amazing “Sermon on the Mount,” the Master declared, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13,14). In these verses, we read about two gates, two ways, two groups of people, and two eternal destinations/destinies.
If you and I are familiar with those words of Jesus, that is great. If we accept the truthfulness of them, that is better. If we are applying their teaching in our own lives and declaring them (along with the
principles and specific Bible teaching which are connected with them) to others, that is even better. After all, at the end of the day, of what benefit is it to me personally if I acknowledge the truth but fail to use it properly in my own life?
Jesus’ message about paths, gates, and destinies involves a choice, and that choice is ours to make. What does our Lord want each one of us to do? His message is clear, but does our desire match His? He implores mankind to enter “by the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13). If He calls on us to take that action, then it is possible to do it, correct? We are reminded that Jesus also said we must “Strive to enter through the narrow gate . . .” (Luke 13:24). To “strive” means to put forth great effort, even when difficulties are faced.
Let us compare the two ways. One way is broad. It is, as we say, the path of least resistance. It is the way of doing your own thing, going along with the crowd, or focusing on the here-and-now aspects of life. The broad way leads to a wide gate. There is a better choice, though, and that is taking the difficult path which leads to a narrow gate. One who decides to travel this path will not find it easy to stay committed to it. It is one thing to begin going
down this path, but it is an entirely different matter to stick with it until the end of life. One who travels the difficult path will face resistance along the way. Come what may, he is required by the Lord to sacrifice himself, forsake all for Jesus’ sake (Luke 14:33), and keep his focus on the spiritual and eternal. Such a life is not for little children!
Let us compare the two eternal destinies. According to the Christ, one path leads to destruction. That would be what He later called “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). It will be eternal destruction from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The other way/path sounds much better! It leads to life, which the Bible calls “eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). And the only way to have such wonderful, never-ending life is through Jesus. In
God’s arrangement, there is no third alternative: there are eternal life and eternal destruction, period.
Let us compare how many people are taking the two paths which Jesus mentioned. The Master said that “many” are traveling the path to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Such a declaration is heart-wrenching for those who genuinely love the souls of men. The reality of many humans living out of harmony with the Creator’s will does not shock us, though, as we reflect on the widespread, yes, universal rebellion against God in the days of
Noah, when only eight people were spared destruction (Genesis 6:5; 1 Peter 3:20).
What about the number of people who are taking the path that leads to life eternal? The Christ said, “. . . there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). In these matters, did Jesus speak accurately? Of course, He did! Never did He or the Holy Spirit-guided biblical writers tell us exactly how many folks will be lost or what percentage of people will be saved eternally. The contrast, however, grabs our attention: many to destruction and few to life.
The only thing that can keep us out of heaven is sin . . . our own personal sin. Why will so many be lost when they leave this world? There are multiple correct answers to that question, but from the context of what we have been examining in Matthew 7:13,14, here are four matters to consider:
(1) Some live for self and think of self above others rather than apply “the Golden Rule” (7:12).
(2) False prophets lead people astray and devour them (7:15).
(3) Some are involved in religious activities, but do not submit to the Father’s will (7:21-23).
(4) Some make the unwise choice to disregard what Jesus says and build their life on sand (7:24- 27).
Friend, the choice is ours. Will we make the wise decision to submit to the will of the Lord so we can live with Him eternally? Let each one of us make this resolution in our heart: “Regardless of what any other human might do or say, I want to live for the Lord and follow the path that leads to heaven.”
— Roger D. Campbell