THE NARROW GATE
A blog series on finding Salvation in Christ Alone
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
The Road to Abundant Life
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
If you asked anyone that knows me even a little bit, they would tell you that making decisions is not a strong point for me. I tend to ponder on choices for entirely too long. The reason for this is most often because I’m unsure of what the outcome of these decisions will result in. I always think if I could just know the outcome, then the decision would be much easier. Our days consist of a very large number of options to resolve ourselves to. Some are of little effect; like what we want to eat for dinner, while some are of great magnitude. Regardless, life is filled with choices.
The truth is that making decisions requires us to say yes to one thing and no to another. We walk towards what we decide and away from what we reject. Truthfully, many times my human nature just would like for both options to be available to me for my convenience and enjoyment. But ultimately, unless I want to have spaghetti and steak for dinner, I must make a choice.
In the last blog post, we covered the truth of Romans 3:23 which tells us that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We were born into a sinful world, with a serious sinful nature in every one of us. It’s not optional –it just is. What is optional is whether we choose to remain there.
“For the wages of sin is death”
Paul tells us very clearly that our sin leads to death. This isn’t in fact referring to our earthly death, it instead is referring to where we will spend eternity. The sin this verse speaks of is unrepentant sin. It’s when we say with our actions that we understand the way to God, but we are going to walk in the other direction because it brings pleasure, fulfillment, and enjoyment to our flesh. We know what is right, but we willingly choose the opposite route. And while some decisions that we make have unknown results, this is one that the Bible is very clear on. Our payment for sin is death.
When I think of a wage, I think of an earning—something that I worked for and then received payment for it. If we spend our lives working hard for the sin in our lives, not only will be exhausted from trying to satisfy an unsatiable desire, but we will find ourselves forever separated from our Creator. This is going to be direct, but I’m not willing to sugarcoat this truth for you. For those that choose to walk opposite of Christ, never accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, you will spend all of eternity separated from Him in Hell. It’s not my guess, my opinion, my thought, or my judgment. It’s the foundational truth that is made abundantly clear in God’s Word.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Allow me a moment to dig a little deeper into this. What I am not telling you is that once you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior that you will then never mess up or find yourself in sin. We don’t become a Christian and suddenly become perfect. Perfection is something that none of us will ever achieve while on this earth. But as a follower of Christ, when we mess up, His sacrifice for us on the cross covers that sin when we repent. And when we repent, we not only say that we are sorry and ask for forgiveness. In addition to this, we turn away from that sin and walked toward the path God laid out for us. Christ died for our past, present, and future sins. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Once we accept Christ as Lord over all, we are granted an escape from our wrongdoings and temptations because through His power we are freed from the slavery of sin. The unbelievers work to become slaves to their sin because they have not opened their eyes to the best option –Jesus Christ!
“but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I love the stark contrast between these two roads. We either work really hard for our flesh and are paid with an unimaginable death separated from our Maker, or we accept Jesus as the Lord over our lives. When we choose the latter, we become recipients of this free gift of God’s grace where we are promised to spend eternity in a place so magnificent that our earthly brains cannot even comprehend it. And opposite of trying to feed our flesh which is unfillable, in Christ we find freedom –period. Not a little, or some, but instead we find total freedom and rest from the bondage of the evil one. If we look at the verse above, not only does it say that God gifts us eternal life with Him, but it also says that it is free. We can never work hard enough to earn it. The truth is that we do not even deserve it. It’s His gift to all that would surrender their lives and follow Him.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
Jesus says “Follow me” not just this once but multiple times in the New Testament. This idea of following is not optional—it’s a decision. A decision that we must make to follow Him, fully, loyally, and willingly. Typically, when Jesus would say “follow me”, it meant that person would have to make a choice to walk away from something currently in his life in order to follow Jesus. Simon and Andrew were told to leave their fishing nets and follow Him (Matthew 4:19-20). You see, they were fishermen, and these nets were the tools they used to provide. But Jesus says, leave it and follow me because I have better plans for you. Jesus told Matthew, the tax collector, to leave the tax booth and follow Him (Matthew 9:9). The father of a disciple had passed away, and this man’s request was that he bury His father and then follow (Matthew 8:21). Jesus replied, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:22. The rich young man asked Jesus “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Jesus then took him through the commandments that he should abide by. I can picture this young man responding in his head with “check, check, check –I did all of those things”. But in verse 21 Jesus said, “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.” This young rich man may have been able to follow the commandments, but he simply wasn’t willing to leave his earthly treasures behind to follow Jesus. He made a choice just like we all do. You see the Bible tells us in verse 22 that “he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” There are many more instances just like these, but the point is this –Jesus said follow me first, regardless of what is going on in your life, regardless of what it will cost you, and even when it doesn’t make sense to you. Why? Just follow me—because something much better awaits you.
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38
Here lies the decision –do you take up your cross and follow Him? You can seek to build your kingdom on earth and settle for the temporary pleasures that it holds. Or you can seek God and His Kingdom. This pursuit of this heavenly Kingdom assures you eternity spent in glory with the Almighty God. He doesn’t say follow me and I will make your life easy and void of trials and difficulties on earth. He doesn’t say, pursue me and I will give you riches, money, power, possessions, and all the like. He says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33. “These things” are the promise of Heaven, God’s provision in our lives, the joy and fulfillment that comes from walking with Him, fellowship with God the Father, and more goodness than we could ever possibly imagine. We cannot walk both roads, we must choose. One leads to death, and one leads to abundant life. Are you willing to lay down your life, pick up your cross and follow Him? Are you willing to surrender everything you have for the promise of Heaven? And though our days may be filled with a crazy number of decisions—this, my friend, is the most important one you will ever make.
My prayer for you today is that you would seek Jesus, and give your life in full and total surrender to Him. It is in this place that you will find the abundant joy only available through an abiding relationship with your Father in Heaven.
If you have never trusted in God and invited Him to be the Lord over your life, I pray that you would start right here today. Recognize that following Him requires a turning away from the old life and a turning towards a new life in Christ.
If you have never found your hope and Salvation in the ONE TRUE GOD, my prayer is that you would seek him today and find your hope in Him. If you are ready to surrender your life to God here is a sample prayer that you can pray.
Dear God, Today I recognize my need for you in my life and proclaim the truth that “apart from you, I can do nothing”. I humble myself before you and confess to you that I am a sinner and in need of your grace. I believe that you are the One True God and that you sent your one and only son to die on the cross to save me from my sins. I believe that because of this I can have eternal life within you. I ask you now that you would cleanse me from these sins and create in me a clean heart. From this day forward I want to live my life solely for you as my Lord. Thank you for hearing my prayers and making me a new creation.
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Our Bible Reading plan this week will cover sin and eternal life with Christ.
If you have questions or things that you don't understand, please email them to me and I will add them to the Q&A section. I can't promise you that I will have all of the answers, but I can promise I will do my best to find them if I don't have them.
Growing in God
Would you like a tool to encourage your growth in God? Check out my newly released 12-month spiritual disciplines book/journal. This journal will give you a brief understanding of 8 tangible spiritual disciplines as well as give you a space to implement these disciplines into your daily walk with God.