enter in at the straight gate
Certainly one of the most startling and disturbing passages in all of the scriptures must have been Yeshua's warning which He issued forth in His Sermon on the Mount.
- MATTHEW 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The passage would seem to suggest that at the end of this earthly existence, few individuals are going to find eternal life. But if that is its true meaning, then how do we explain other passages where scripture intimates that many were going to be saved?
- MATTHEW 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
- MATTHEW 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. [and LUKE 10:2]
- JOHN 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he [John the Baptist] turn to the Lord their God.
Evidently we are not understanding something about Yeshua's warning concerning few finding life. It would appear that the solution is a simple one. Yeshua was teaching that at the time of His sermon, many of His fellow Jews were following the wrong road to salvation. Many if not most of them, were not going to find life if they continued on the path they were pursuing. That is why He was sent. To turn them from that wide road which leads to destruction unto the narrow path which leads to life. As the angel foretold when he was instructing Joseph,
- MATTHEW 1:21 And she [Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS [YESHUA]: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Or as Simeon declared in his prophecy at Yeshua's dedication,
- LUKE 2:29-31 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.
Thus, even though the road to destruction is wide and the gate into it is broad, and even though the way to destruction is an easy slippery slope, that doesn't mean that men can't change their course and find that less trodden path to life. That indeed is the whole purpose for our existence, to learn the way into that heavenly kingdom, and then to teach what we have learned. Otherwise, if only a bare minimum are going to believe, if only a few are ever going to find life, then we have a difficult job trying to explain why Yeshua sent out the Twelve to preach (MATTHEW 10), or the Seventy, or why He instructed His disciples to teach all nations (MATTHEW 29:19), or why indeed was Yeshua's driving purpose to bear witness to the truth.
- JOHN 18:37 . . . To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Evidently then, the way into life can be found and followed. Our chore, indeed our whole purpose, the reason for our existence is to find that narrow gate. But if we ever hope to enter that straight gate, that narrow way, then we must be taught, we must learn what and where it is. We must learn how to access it. Thus we must have that doctrine, reproof and correction of the word to obtain instruction in righteousness (2 TIMOTHY 3:16).
This scene about the two different ways, the two separate gates which Yeshua was portraying for His listeners, showed the present standing of many in His audience. His goal was to re-direct them away from the wide gate and the spacious way unto the narrow cramped gate.
In our search for this narrow gate, one vital clue which we can glean from the passage is that we should avoid the crowded way. We should routinely move in a direction which is not being traveled by the multitude. If the crowded way leads to death and the narrow way leads to life, then we should always choose the narrow way, the road less traveled by. Yeshua had shown that the wide gate, the broad way, is the way that leads to destruction. So we can at least have confidence that whatever path we choose, if it is the path of the Hurd, then it is evidently the wrong path.
Just a short time further on in this same sermon, Yeshua again picked up this dire warning to His listeners.
- MATTHEW 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
He plainly told His listeners how to change from the broad way to the narrow, from the wide gate to the straight gate. It was simply to do the will of His Father. If they would do that, then they could be assured of entrance into His eternal kingdom. And how difficult was it to do the will of His Father?
- JOHN 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Evidently believing on or in Yeshua as the Son of GOD, believing that He was sent by GOD, is how one does the will and work of GOD. But one might wonder what it is, what it means to believe on Him, to believe on Yeshua? Those in Yeshua's audience who had evidently been prophesying in His name, or who had been casting out devils and doing other wonderful works were to find out too late that the gates to the heavenly kingdom were to be closed upon them. And yet were they not supposing that they were themselves believing on Him?
- MARK 4:24-25 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
Take heed what you hear! Don't just accept what the crowd says about the things of GOD. Be discerning, think for yourself. Don't just breath in and consume all that you are told and taught, but test and try the words. Scrutinize them.
We learn from Yeshua's other teachings that not only is the path to life narrow and straight, but neither is it the way of the wealthy (MATTHEW 19:23-24) and powerful, nor is it the road of the wise and prudent (MATTHEW 11:25). Even the religious leaders were far off the scent (MATTHEW 5:20) as to finding that hidden way. Nor were those seeking shelter in the traditions of the Church ever going to find the straight gate to life (MATTHEW 15:1-14).
We are repeatedly told in scripture that the key to finding that hidden way, that narrow gate, was simply to believe.
Mt 13; Lk 8; Mk4
Yeshua taught of four seeds which were planted in a field. Howbeit, some of his seeds fell along the highway side where they either got trampled by the traffic or the birds ate them. Other seeds fell upon stoney places, where there was not enough soil to sustain and nourish them. Then others fell amongst thorns where when sprung up were choked but the neighboring weeds. But other seeds fell upon good soil where they produced abundantly.
His interpretation of the parable was such. The seed which was sown was the word of GOD. That which landed on the wayside did not survive because they lacked understanding when they heard the word. Those sown amongst the thorns were those who endured only until tribulation or persecution arose and then they fell away. And those sown amongst the thorns were those who received the word but got side tracked because of the cares of the age, or because of the deceitfulness of riches.
But there was a fourth seed which was sown into good soil, soil which had been no doubt prepared, soil which had been worked and cultivated. This seed brought forth plentifully.
We must first hear that word of Christ; but then we must believe that word, which means that we must obey that word. Not a mental acceptance, but a transformative realignment of our entire being.
- JOHN 3:15 That whosoever believeth in [on, eis] him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- JOHN 3:36 He that believeth on [in, eis] the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not [is stubborn as to] the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [epi] him.
- JOHN 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth [gives heed to] my word, and believeth [puts his trust in] on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [judgment]; but is [has already] passed from [out of] death unto [into] life. . . .28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [judging, to hear their doom].
- JOHN 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on [in, eis] him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. . . 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on [in, eis] me hath everlasting life. . . .51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. . . .54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
JOHN 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
- JOHN 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
- JOHN 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
- LUKE 6:46-48 Why do you keep calling Me "Lord, Lord"- and never do what I tell you? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
- LUKE 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [retain] it, and bring forth fruit with patience. [They bring a good and honest heart to the hearing of the word, and hold it fast]
- LUKE 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself [leave self behind], and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
LUKE 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
MARK 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.