Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:14e “. . .and few there be. . .”
“This is probably the most solemn statement the world had heard since its creation” (Glover). The very Savior of the world Himself had to admit, in spite of all He did for people at Calvary, the majority will choose the path to destruction. Though Christians now number in the hundreds of millions, we are still a minority.
Our numbers may be relatively few, but enough folks travel the narrow way to make fellowship sweet on the excursion. Choice and beloved pilgrims journey the narrow road, and best of all, Jesus leads our merry band, saying, “Follow Me.”
America needs to desire again to trail the footsteps of Jesus. Our country needs to restore Him as her role model. Not all believe in Jesus’ deity, but all can admire His pure, loving, simple life. If He were our cultural idol, our love for children would end child abuse, our appreciation for women would lift their status and end rape, our respect for the family would soar and dads would not leave home, our teens would find meaning in life and no longer kill themselves or other class mates.
I humbly, yet forcefully, submit that every social ill in our country could be solved overnight if Jesus became our Hero once more. And yet, in our land, His blessed name is suspect, despised and avoided. His is the one name we cannot mention in many places. America is muzzling the only name which can help her.
Matt. 7:14f “. . .that find it.”
Our eternal destiny is no accident, or a result of blind fate, or left to the whim of a capricious deity. Entering or not entering the strait gate is a conscious choice. Few diligently seek it. The problem is not that the gate is hidden; it is not sought. Not many are willing to adore Another over self, to pay the price of yielded pride.
This strictness is disdained and scorned by the majority, but even if the whole world remains outside, God is not going to make the entry gate wider. The ground rules are clear and fixed. His conditions are unambiguous and will not be changed.
Most want to come to God on their terms, but it is not our job to construct the gate. Our duty is to find it. The Father sent His Son into the world to die for sinners, and sends the Holy Spirit into the world to convince sinners to receive the Son. Friend, as the Spirit leads, find the narrow way. To miss it is too dangerous.
Matt. 7:15a “Beware. . .”
For those who decide to seek to enter the strait gate, Jesus offers a much needed warning. Danger lies ahead. We must be not only willing to seek the gate, but also extremely careful about whom we accept to guide us toward it.
Matt. 7:15b “. . .of false prophets,. . .”
Beware false guides. They love to stand just outside the strait gate and minimize its importance. One thing that makes the strait gate harder to find is the number of false guides pointing away from it. Do not be misled. Many false prophets propose a wider gate and broader way than Jesus proclaimed. They thus point people toward the very destruction they had hoped to escape.
False guides rarely discuss the strait gate. Regeneration, repentance, being born again, the new birth–these topics are avoided. False prophets say little about the narrow way. They deal with pleasant themes. Sin and sinners are taboo topics. This silence is intolerable. Paul said any who disagree “with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 TM 6:3b-4a NAS).
False doctrine is no minor matter. We are to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ” (RM 16:17b-18a). The objective standard by which we test a person’s teachings is “the doctrine which ye have learned.” Regarding doctrine, we are to be neither innovative nor clever, but receptive. Truth is already established. Our job is to accept it as given in Scripture.
Paul, having fled Thessalonica after a riot, found people more rational in Berea. “These were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (AC 17:11 NAS). Many twist the Bible to suit their own desires, but being a Christian entails the resolve to twist our desires to suit the Bible.
Regarding the strait gate and narrow way, what John Marshall thinks does not matter. You already knew this, so let me quickly add, what you think does not matter either. Even the mighty Apostle Paul set himself under the authority of the revealed word, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (GL 1:8).
Despite this warning, pipsqueaks and charlatans are ever rising up to refute the strait gate and dispute the narrow way. This is why John the Beloved warned, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 J 4:1 NAS).
All who teach or preach in behalf of the Christian faith must be willing to let their beliefs about Scriptural matters be tested. Anyone should be able to walk up to any teacher or preacher at any time in any place to ask any question about any doctrine, and receive a straightforward answer. Teachers and preachers are under Biblical obligation to reveal their true colors. Hedging and hiding are disallowed.
Sadly, it is often hard to pin down a false prophet. They tend to be spiritual square dancers, able to do-si-do and promenade around the issues. They are the phantom menace, stealth bombers unable to be detected on spiritual radar screens.
It is often less aggravating to deal with an atheist who swaggers than with a liberal Christian who waffles. At least the former has all his cards on the table. He is a known quantity.
Friend, be clear about the strait gate and narrow way. You must be born again, and live a godly life. Never compromise here. “Beware of false prophets.”