“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.” Matt. 7:13-14
It is a cold, hard fact that not everyone will find the path that leads to life. What is harder still is that many of our friends and loved ones will not find the path to life either.
The above quoted scripture verse is not an isolated one, but this truth is repeated many places in the word of God. Jesus spent time teaching this very truth when explaining the kingdom of heaven to His disciples during His earthly ministry. For example, there is the parable of the wheat and the tares (or weeds) in Matthew chapter 13 where Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a farmer who planted wheat and an enemy came and planted tares in with the wheat. The farmer decided to let them both grow until harvest, and then separate the wheat from the tares. His disciples asked Jesus to explain this further; here’s what He said:
“He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matt. 13: 37-43
The more important question is who will be regarded as wheat and who will be regarded as tares. This truth is rather painful, so we must ask ourselves, “Is it better to lie to ourselves to alleviate the pain, or is it better to face the painful truth so that we can walk in reality?” I hope you will agree with me that the latter approach is the best.
This brings us back to the original scripture about the wide and narrow gate. Yes, the cold, hard answer is that there are few who will be seen as wheat, and many seen as tares. And we will know them by their fruit. Not all who call themselves “Christian” are wheat, only those who have truly found the path to life and show the fruit of righteousness in their life.
Of course we are tempted to take the naïve view that so many people we know and run into are so “nice” and “good”, but are they really? How would they respond if you seemingly “crossed” them in the slightest way?
Years ago our family moved into a house in a neighborhood away from town out in the country. Across the road there was another family with kids around the same age. They were thrilled to have another family with children moving into the area nearby them. At first they were so nice and friendly, seeming like they would do anything for us and help us in any way. After just a short few weeks, my daughter and their daughter got into a fight over something silly like young children often do, but the neighbors were deeply offended and suddenly became our enemies. They refused to talk to us and would not let their children near our children, and this went on for years as long as we lived in that house, even with many attempts to rectify the situation with them. There’s an old saying that you don’t know how good the tea is until you put it in hot water. This situation with my neighbors taught me not to be too quick to determine the quality of people’s character. As Christians we are commanded by the Lord to even love our enemies. This kind of love, for even our enemies, is the fruit that true Christians should be demonstrating to the world, and it should be the test that we require of others to pass before determining their depth of character. There are many who call themselves “Christian” but only a few who show the fruit.
“Beware of false prophet who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, ‘ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness.’” Matt. 7:15-23
Here in American we also have been diluted into thinking that we live in a great nation that has been founded on Christian values and has been uniquely blessed by God, but in truth, we as a nation no longer hold true to these original values that our nation was founded on. The goodness of our nation has become shallow and only a façade that hides the reality of what we have become. And now even that façade is crumbling and our true nature is being exposed at the surface. Our blatant sexual immorality and infidelity can no longer be hidden, but has become the norm in all areas of our society and even has infected the Christian churches. Also, our greed and dishonesty is apparent as seen in our excessive materialism and our criminal activity that is being exposed in our government and financial systems. It is very clear to other nations, but for us who are inside and have been brainwashed by the constant media propaganda, it’s difficult to face the reality of who we really are as a nation and a society. As Christians we must be honest with ourselves and judge correctly regarding our surroundings.
And yes, there are those who are awakening to the fact that our country is becoming more and more evil, and these awakened people have rejected the mainstream media and the status quo. But is this enough? Will these pass the test of having righteous fruit in their life? We must be careful here. We must admit that there are many who have had their eyes opened to the corruption of our nation, but have not entered the narrow gate that leads to life. Some of those who are awakened are even promoting violence and revolution as a means of correcting what they see. For the true Christian, our heart is in heaven and our true citizenship is with the kingdom of heaven, awaiting the return of our King to establish His true kingdom.
And so we come to the main question: what does this mean to me as a Christian? How does this truth impact the way that I live, and walk, and think as a Christian?
I must be very blunt here: We must realize that there are not many true Christians in the world. We must realize that not many people will listen to the truth, and not many will have any interest or hunger for the truth. We must realize that there are many people who will call themselves Christian, and may even sincerely think that they are Christians, but they are not on the path that leads to life. This is the truth as has been revealed in the Scriptures and we must face this truth.
You may think this is harsh or unfair or unloving, but it is what God has clearly revealed in His Word. Who am I to question what He says is true? How can the pot question the potter as to how he is shaping or has made it? God is a just and loving God, and yet He has created people who He will later send to the “furnace of fire” – this is His business and not mine!
For me, personally, I realize that not many people will be interested in what I write in this blog. I realize that I cannot use worldly wisdom to convince people of the truth, but only God can open their eyes. Therefore, I don’t try to “dress up” or otherwise compromise the truth that I convey here, knowing that people need to hear the clear truth in love, and the rest is up to God to accomplish. I only plant the seed, but God causes the growth.
My responsibility is more to point people to Jesus, to establish that He is the source of truth and everything else that they need. I am more concerned with encouraging people to continue on this way and to warn them against deception than to convince them with wisdom. As Paul the apostle said a long time ago:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe (lawyer)? Where is the disputer (debater) of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” 1 Cor. 1:17-21
It is interesting what Paul says next: that some people will look for signs and others will look for wisdom. Even today people will use these same excuses to reject the truth. Some want to see some proof of the power of God in a miracle or sign, rather than accepting the established Biblical revelation. Others will reject the Biblical revelation and will reject Jesus Christ because they are looking for some intellectually profound truth. These are just excuses for them to continue in their current world view, and to continue to feed their flesh, their worldly passions and desires.
“For Jews request a sign and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. 1:22-24
Christians too seek after this intellectual stimulus, looking for the next profound teaching from a man to feed this need, but the truth that we really need is simple and is found in the Scriptures; we don’t need to look to man’s wisdom and teachings to get what we need for our spiritual growth.
Christians also look for physical manifestations of the spirit, or “signs and wonders” to either confirm the truth, or to feed their carnal desire for emotional excitement. This too is dangerous and can lead to exposure to false teaching or even demonic spirits, as these spiritual manifestations can come from evil sources, and therefore must be tested as coming from the Holy Spirit.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Anti-christ, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3
Let me sum things up:
We as Christians are not going to convince others to get onto the pathway that leads to life by using “miraculous signs” or by “profound wisdom”, but rather, we should be speaking the truth of the gospel as we are lead by the Holy Spirit. We should pray for our loved ones and others that we would like to see changed, requesting and petitioning God the Father to have mercy on them and to open their eyes to the truth. Only He can accomplish this. We should not be discouraged by the fact that not many will join us on our journey to the promised land of heaven, but we should realize that this is part of God’s plan. We also should not question His sovereign will and destiny for His creation – it’s totally His business and not ours. We should also recognize that, for some reason, it even pleases God to use the foolish and lowly things of this world to shame those who think they are mighty and wise.
I leave you with this amazing portion of Scripture from Paul’s writing to the Corinthians, completing the portion that was quoted above from 1st Corinthians chapters 1 and 2.
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence, but of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ And I brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Cor. 1:25 – 2:5