13 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:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Mat. 7:13-14
What was Jesus saying here? Was He talking both to believers and unbelievers? We know that unbelievers will go to hell, but was that what He was referring to here?
The answer is no. In both these verses Jesus was referring to believers. He was saying that, in the final account, many believers will chose the broad way that leads to destruction and that few will choose the narrow way that leads to eternal life.
In reality, Jesus was warning those who would believe on Him – the church – about the most dangerous obstacle to their attaining eternal life. That obstacle is the flesh that is the carnal nature in each one of us.
Jesus was saying that, in the final analysis, many believers will choose to follow the flesh rather than the Spirit. Many will choose to follow the lusts of their flesh rather than choose the difficult road of self-denial. Indeed, few believers, even today, are willing to lose this aspect of their lives for the sake of the gospel. They will preach, sing, pray and visit the sick. But dealing with the things of their carnality is another issue altogether.
In our town, I heard of a bishop who beat up his wife so badly that the neighbors protested in indignation. I believe the police were also involved. Can you imagine that? A bishop! In our country a bishop is like the pope – he is a big man, with many local churches under him. You can imagine the damage done to the Kingdom of God by this one man who claims to be a Christian but who has no inkling of what the cross is supposed to do in his life.
That is why the devil has brought in so many substitutionary gospels because he knows that there are more than enough customers willing to subscribe to them. Not many professing Christians are willing to suffer for Christ. Not many are willing to lose the deep inner things of their carnal nature. And these will flock to churches that do not tell them to take up their cross and follow Christ.
But find me a man or woman who understands and who has embraced the gospel of the cross – the gospel of self-denial that Jesus taught – and I will show you someone who has eternal life in them.
The message of the cross is an incredibly powerful message. It is the only message of self-denial that is guaranteed to transform you into the image of Christ and hence into a citizen of heaven.
Any other message panders to the flesh, and the end result, the Bible guarantees, is “destruction”.
Jesus said: “Enter ye in at the strait gate…”
Dare we choose any other way? Or is Jesus required to downgrade that requirement and say, “Ok, guys… it’s all right even if you do not hit that 100% mark”?
By no means. As a matter of fact, Jesus never has had to apologize when asking us to take up our cross and follow Him. Instead, He promises to help us on the way of the cross. That is why the church needs to understand and open their hearts to the message of the cross. There we will find, not only a reason to take up our cross and follow Christ, but also the power to do so.
Do you remember Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane? The prospect in front of him was so difficult He asked His Father to take away the cup from Him if it were possible. But it was the Father’s will that He partake of that cup. And the Bible says that God sent an angel from heaven to strengthen Jesus.
And so the next day, Jesus spent six hours suffering indescribable agony on the cross. And that was in addition to many other traumas that He had had to undergo.
We ought not to be in league with the flesh. The Bible says we are indebted to the Spirit, and not to the flesh. The road of the cross is hard and difficult, but it is the only way to eternal life.
We defend so many seemingly important things, but they are the things of our carnal nature. But when we by God’s grace receive the revelation of the cross in our hearts, we turn and confront these very things.
[Below: The ‘MV Magogoni’ connects the coastal region of Kigamboni to Dar es Salaam City]