MATTHEW 7:13-14: “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.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Will everyone be saved? Is the Kingdom of God something that appears to be large but in reality is much smaller? What is Jesus referring to when He speaks about the “narrow gate?”
I will never forget that moment in my New Testament Studies class when my paradigm exploded! My New Testament professor was going over the parables of Jesus in Matthew chapter 13. He suggested that the parable of the mustard seed and leaven referred to the infiltration of evil in the church. I had always seen it as the growth of the church. I really struggled with this concept.
To summarize these parables, the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven – there will be two kingdoms. The first will be the visible kingdom, which will grow to be large and outwardly magnificent. The second will be the true kingdom which will be a remnant of those who truly belong to the Lord and their fruit will be manifest in the harvest.
The remnant is a constant theme of the Bible. It was never the nation of Israel that was the recipient of the promises of God. It was always the faithful remnant who walked in faith. This was also evident in Jesus’ day. In reality, only a remnant of the children of Israel embraced Jesus as the true Messiah. God has always dealt with the people of God on two levels – the visible and the invisible, the narrow and the broad, the multitude and the remnant.
There is a danger as we consider this truth. The danger is that we automatically try to identify what the remnant is. The tendency is to assign this identifier to a creed or outward signs of blessing and growth. Yet, the remnant, those who enter by the narrow way, are not defined by what they profess or by what they do. Jesus makes this very clear.
- “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, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
It is not the size of our ministry, the words that we speak, or the great works that we do that define us as the remnant. We are tempted to assign great works as the fruit that Jesus calls for. Yet, even working miracles and casting out demons is not the criteria that define the remnant that will enter by the narrow gate. As always, there is a paradox of thinking when it comes to the Kingdom of God.
Those who enter by the narrow gate are defined by their fruit. It is not the external manifestation of fruit as described above. It is the fruit of a surrendered and contrite heart that seeks to do the will of the Father. It is a heart that is growing in intimacy with the Father in the secret place of worship and obedience. It is the life that is surrendered to the will of God and not seeking the approval of man. Rather,
It is the life that is built upon the rock – Jesus Christ!
- “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 NKJV
It is the life that desires to do the will of the Father!
- “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.” Matthew 7:21 NKJV
It is the remnant of God who enters through the way of the cross and lays down everything to follow Jesus!
- “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 NKJV
The difference between the wide and the narrow gate is one thing and one thing only – JESUS CHRIST! When our life is focused upon the external growth and accolades of this life, we are standing at the entrance of the broad gate. The broad gate seeks the approval of others and the world’s wisdom. The narrow gate seeks Jesus and His righteousness. It is willing to count everything else but loss for the joy of knowing Him!
- “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11 NKJV
Lord, as I stand at the gateway of the New Year before me, help me to choose the narrow gate. Grant me the grace to count everything else as loss, to build my life upon You, and to seek Your righteousness. Create in me a clean heart and uphold me with thy free Spirit! Let me be counted among the few who enter in by the narrow gate!
In Jesus Name!