The Narrow Way
Jesus said, in Mathew 7:13-14, “Enter by 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 there be who find it.”
The apostle John wrote in 2 John, verses 9-11, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God! The one who abides in the teaching, has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not bid him god-speed. (do not wish him well) For the one who bids him god-speed, participates in his evil deeds.”
How narrow minded can you get? “Anyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does NOT have God!” We as Christians, must be so narrow-minded that ONLY the teachings of Christ can be received. No other teaching is acceptable, and evidently no other teaching will be tolerated by God. How completely, we must give ourselves to God’s word and to it’s teachings.
In today’s world, “tolerance” is the word of the day. But I’m afraid that the idea of tolerance, has become the belief and practice, of “anything goes”. Even though people may want to believe that anything goes, we’re still going to be held accountable, to God.
We’re told in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for the deeds done in the body (during our lifetime), according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
And when we do stand before that judgment seat of Christ, do you know what we’ll be judged by? Jesus Himself said, in John 12:48, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him. The words that I spoke, will judge him at the last day.” How narrow minded is that!
I suppose it’s no wonder then, that John wrote, “Anyone who goes too far, and does not abide in the teachings of Christ, does not have God.” If it’s the very words of Christ, that we’ll be judged by, then we had better be pretty narrow minded!
There’s a principle given in the old testament, that is just as applicable today, as it was then. Deuteronomy 11:18-20 says, “You shall therefore put these words of Mine on your heart, and on your soul. And you shall bind them on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall teach them to your sons, talking about them when you sit in your house, and when you walk along the road, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” In other words, the word of God should fill our lives to such a degree, that there’s no room for anyone else’s words.
A man once asked me; What’s the best time to study the bible? So I answered, and said; I like to study the bible at two different times. I like to study it first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night. That way, you can ponder those words all day long, and all night long too.
There’s a house here in town where I live, that has these words over the front door, “God Loves You”. I live in a great community, and I’m sure that you do too. But can you imagine how great every community would be, if everyone had a verse of scripture written above their front door, and if they had the whole law of God in their heart?
Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
“And now I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
You know, when I have a conversation with someone about the bible, and about what God wants from us, and what God REQUIRES from us, I go to the scriptures, and I cite specific verses, that tell of some very specific things that God requires. Like John 8:24, that tells us specifically, that one MUST believe that Jesus is the only Savior. “That I am He”, as Jesus put it. And like Mathew 10:32 which tells us that we MUST confess Jesus, before men. And like Luke 13:3, which tells us that we MUST repent of our sins. And of course like 1 Peter 3:21 which says so plainly that “baptism now saves you”.
But when I get so very specific like that, people often criticize me, and tell me that I’m “putting God in a box”. In other words, I’m restricting what a God can do. That is a very, very popular criticism, when pointing out God’s plan of salvation. You see, they want God to save us in all sorts of different ways. Actually, they want God to save THEM, in any way that THEY choose!
But by believing the very specific and “narrow minded” commands of God, we’re not restricting God; We’re simply believing God! If anyone has put God “in a box” and restricted God, it’s God Himself that’s done it, through His own choosing. It’s God who’s determined exactly HOW He will save us.
It’s not a matter of what God CAN do; But rather, it’s a matter of what God WILL do! And God will do exactly what He says He will do. But He won’t do what He hasn’t ordained to be done. It’s that simple. But if God’s ways are too restrictive, and if God’s ways are too “narrow minded”, then I’m really at a loss for what to say, because there simply are no other ways. And it’s truly sad when you get to that point with someone, because you KNOW, that there’s really nothing more that can be said. You either believe and obey God’s word, or you don’t. You either believe and obey God’s word, or you remain lost is sin.
“Enter by 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 there be who find it.” Few people are “narrow minded” enough, to actually accept God’s plan of salvation.
“I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself; That it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)
As you know, I’ve been doing a few lessons lately, on miracles. And in line with that, let me share this with you. And this has to do with people wanting God to save them in any way they choose. You’re familiar with these words from John 10, verse 27; “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Well, I was talking with a guy recently, who was claiming that God spoke directly to him, and how God would reveal His will to him personally. As opposed to God simply revealing His will to us through the written word, this man thinks that God speaks to him directly. And of course that’s not uncommon. A lot of people think that God speaks to them directly.
And so this man cited those words of Jesus, from John 10:27, and he said; You see, right there Jesus says that “My sheep hear My voice.” Well, I hear the voice of Jesus, and He reveals His will directly to me.
But of course, that verse isn’t talking about literally “hearing” voices from God. It’s talking about “accepting” and “believing” the words of God. That’s why Jesus said so many times; “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Mathew 11:15) And “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”. (Mark 4:9) And “He who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the congregations.” (Revelation 2:7)
Jesus isn’t talking about hearing voices! He’s talking about believing the word of God! “..How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Mathew 23:37) They were unwilling to believe. They didn’t have “ears to hear”.
If someone doesn’t “have ears to hear”, then there’s nothing more to say. Except what God said in Luke 16, verse 31; “.. neither will they be persuaded, even if someone rises from the dead.”
Without “ears to hear”, you’re stuck on the wrong side of that great gulf, that separates the saved, from the lost.
But as Jesus said; “My sheep HEAR My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” They believe the words of Jesus, because they’re WILLING to hear. And they obey the words of Jesus! And consequently, Jesus “knows them”.
Remember the words of Jesus from Mathew 7, verses 21 thru 23.. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven. (in other words, the one who “hears” and obeys) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never KNEW you; Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Depart from Me, you who have no ears to hear.
But for those who have been willing to “hear”, Jesus says; “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Mathew 25, verse 23)
But there’s nothing miraculous about it. It’s simply faith and obedience at work, producing the result that God has ordained. James phrased it this way, as he used Abraham as an example. He wrote in James 2:22; “You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.”
Do you know what kind of person “hears” and obeys, the word of God? Do you know what kind of person has the faith that works, along with their works; Whose faith is “perfected”? It’s the person who’s “narrow minded” enough, to focus, so very intently, and so very narrowly, on the word of God, spoken though Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit.
May God bless you in the study of His word, and in the abiding in that word.
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