LIFE'S TWO ROADS
In Matthew 7:13,14 Jesus said, “Enter in 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.” The parallel passage is found in Luke 13:23-25, Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved(that is, who are being saved)?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When one the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying Lord, Lord, open for us, and He will answer and say to you, I do not know you, where you are from.” Both passages teach the same truth and refer to the same thing. One says to enter in by the narrow gate and the other says strive to enter though the narrow gate The same gate is referred to in both passages, and they contain the famous teaching of Jesus on the two roads, the two ways, the two paths that human beings can take on their journey through life.
First, we should all accept the profound truth that Jesus has revealed that there are only two ways that human beings can live out their lives. Mankind is not as independent as some think. God is the Master of our fate, not us. It is a popular belief that although we differ in doctrine and worship, nevertheless we are all headed for the same place. It is common to hear the remark, “There are may roads to heaven.” Others are of the opinion that it is not necessary to be a member of the Lord's church or any one religion to go to heaven. There is at least as many ways to heaven as there are different religions, it is thought. Others are of the opinion that you must be in some church, but one church is as good as another. These views are in direct opposition to what Jesus said in our text. Let's examine His words more closely.
The Lord assures us that there are but two roads in life, and every human being is traveling on one road or the other. This seems like a radical explanation of life, and it seems to many there should be more variety. It seems to be a narrow-minded view of life to say there are just two ways to live which lead to two different destinations. Why can't there be many roads? Simply because God created us to live in two ways, not three, four or a hundred different ways. The narrow way and the broad ways represent to two different lifestyles, and we must take one or the other. Why?
Because there are no the lifestyles.. God has made no provision for even a third lifestyle. The Bible says, “In God we live, more and have our being.” Life is from God, motion is from Him, and that which lives and moves, even our continued existence, is dependent on Him. He keeps us alive and keeps this universe in order. Can you imagine what watchcare is necessary to feed billions of human beings every day and billions of land animals, and billions of sea creatures every day? For us, there are but two lifestyles because of the way He made us. He determines the lifestyle of all the lower creatures and He determines our lifestyle.
There can be only two lifestyles because we have only two natures. The lower animals have but one nature, but we have two. The Bible speaks of the inward man and the outward man, and we are told the outward man is perishing with the passing of time, but the inward man can renew itself with the passing of time. We have a dual nature. The inward man is the soul and the outward man is the body. The broad way that leads to destruction is a direct reference to the body, our lower nature–its wants, its pleasures, its passions, its good desires ,its sinful desires, and all things that pertain only to our physical well-being. The narrow way is a direct reference to the soul, our higher nature, to man's spiritual nature. The inward man is interested in the things of God, character, holiness, religion and heaven. The narrow way is a heavenly-minded life; the broad way is an earthly-minded life.
The most complete description of the broad way is given by the apostle in I John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.” That's the broad way. It is called broad because so many, many people travel this way and adopt this lifestyle. It is the predominate lifestyle of the entire human race. The narrow way is called narrow because so few people take this way and adopt the godly lifestyle. Jesus said few there be that find it. Why ? Because they prefer the broad way to the narrow way. Jesus didn't make one road broad and the other narrow. No, the human race made these determinations and Jesus just expressed the fact. Comparably speaking, few people in every generation choose the narrow way that leads to life. Our present generation
is no exception. Thus you see why Jesus spoke of only two roads. There are no other lifestyles available to human beings. There has always been a broad way and a narrow way in all periods of human history: the patriarchal period from Adam to Moses; the Jewish period, from Moses to Christ, and the Christian age, from Christ to the end of the world. In the earliest period of human history it is said that Enoch walked with God, and many Jews under the law of Moses walked with God.
However, the entire human race now lives in the Christian age of the world. .The Messiah predicted by the great prophets of old has come,. and He has established the kingdom of God on this earth. It is called the Messianic kingdom, the kingdom of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Church of Christ and the Church of God. Christ now rules the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For all who live in the Christian age, Christ alone can define what the broad way is and what the narrow way is. He alone determines who is walking in the narrow way and who is walking in the broad way. Let us pay careful attention to His teachings on this subject.
First, let us consider the narrow way as revealed in the Christian religion. Jesus said, “Enter in by the narrow gate for the gate is narrow and the way is narrow that leads to life. First a gate must be entered that will put you on the road that leads to the city called heaven. Of course, the gate is figurative and the way or road is figurative, but is easily understood.. A gate is an entrance way, and in olden times people lived in cities with walls and gates. The city was entered by gates and departed by gates. A certain gate would put you on the road that led to some important city. If you wanted to go to Damascus or Bethlehem or Jericho there was a certain gate that would put on that road. We are distinctly told that the narrow road mentioned by Christ leads to eternal life. So this road is the way to heaven, the city whose builder and make is God. Wherever you may live, you must find this gate, this entrance way order to begin your journey to heaven. .. Miss the gate and you will miss heaven , for we are told the gate is as narrow as the road, and there is but one entrance to this road.
Before we identify this gate , let us note an additional statement Jesus made about it in Luke 13:24,25, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you
begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord open for us, and He will answer and say to you, I do not know you where you are from.” Not only is the gate narrow, difficult to find and to enter, but also some may even strive to enter and not be able. Not only is it difficult for the some to enter by this gate, but one day Christ will close this gate and after that no one can enter. Some day there will be a sign on this gate that says, “Closed.”
What is this gate? It is the entrance to the narrow way that leads to eternal life. It is the entrance into the Messianic kingdom of Christ. No one will go to heaven who refuses to serve in His kingdom. The gate is the entrance into the church; the gate is the entrance into the Christian way of life. The gate is conversion to the Christian religion Whatever one's religion may be, he must convert to the Christian religion. That's the gate! The gate is narrow or difficult to enter because of the many hindrances which turn people away it. For Jews to enter this gate, it is the next thing to suicide. The family disowns them. I am told when a Jew becomes a Christian the family treats him the same way as if he had actually died.. So far as they are concerned he doesn't even exist. Those who did have the courage to enter the gate were severely persecuted, and the fear of persecution kept many from entering by the gate. Jesus was talking about this gate when he said, “A man's enemy's shall be they of his own household.” The Jewish leaders were false teachers and told the people not to enter this gate for Christ is not the Messiah and His religion is not the way to heaven. The next thing Jesus said after speaking of the narrow gate and narrow was, “Beware of false teachers.” They continue to keep many people away from this gate. Then Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom.” Rich people, as a rule, are worldly-minded, and worldliness and ungodly living turn many away from this gate. . The same things that turned the Jews away from this gate turn people away today: unenlightened relatives, false teachers, worldly-mindedness, pleasure-mindedness, ungodly living and a lack of knowledge of God's word.
One of the great contributions that present-day Churches of Christ have made to the world is to restore to Christendom the exact steps, and in the correct order, a person must take to pass through this gate to enter the kingdom, to enter the church and begin his journey on the narrow way that leads to heaven. The exact steps are as follows: l. A sincere belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world whom God sent from heaven to die for the sins of all mankind.. Step two is repentance by which one acknowledges the
sins of the past life, expresses sorrow to God for them, surrenders the life to Christ and makes a commitment of obedience to God for the rest of one's life. Step three is to confess before men with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God from heaven and step four is an immersion in water to wash away the sins of the past life.. Those are the exact steps in the proper order. No one is to be baptized before they believe, before they repent and before they acknowledge before men the divinity of Christ. The order in which they are done is as important as the steps themselves.
When we pass through the gate, we then begin to walk on the narrow way. The narrow way is the Christian life, the way of holiness, the good life in Christ.. The prophet Isaiah made a prediction about the narrow way in Isa. 35:8, “A highway shall be there, and road, and it shall be called the highway of holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray.” A clear way will be marked out in which all the redeemed are bound to walk. It will be a path through the dangers and difficulties of life which holiness points out and requires. It is called narrow because it is not easy to live the Christian life. It requires self-denial, self-discipline, self control, humility and purity of heart and life. Perhaps, the most complete description of the narrow way that leads to life is given us by the apostle Peter. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 the apostle said, “ Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control patience, to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love. For if theyse things are yours and abound, you will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” That's the narrow way and beautiful indeed it is.
I closing let me say that blessed are all who in any way are associated with Churches of Christ, whether members, husbands or wives of members, children of members, friends of members or even others who sometimes see fit just to visit our services. I say this because of the accuracy of knowledge Churches of Christ have on the narrow gate and the narrow way. These churches have done a valuable service to the cause of Christ and to those in the world who have not yet found the narrow way. . There is no room for misunderstanding on the narrow gate and the narrow way.