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True Saving Faith (the Narrow Gate) vs Faith in God which Doesnít Save (the Wide Gate)

The basic gospel message is encapsulated in this verse written by the Apostle Paul.

Act 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the above verse Apostle Paul identifies the two parts of the salvation coin. Repentance on one side and Faith in Christ alone on the other.

Jesus himself identified the result of properly receiving the above message as a Spiritual rebirth from above. Or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a person.

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see (enter) the kingdom of God.

John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The Two Roads to Heaven

Mat 7:13 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:

Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

Luke 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

In the above four verses the Lord Jesus describes two roads both labeled Christian. The first road is the popular road (many are on this road) which I would say is entered on with an incomplete faith in God, with the absence of being born again due to a defect in repentance towards God and a defect in understanding the cross. The Lord Jesus describes the destruction that is at the end of the wide road in these verses.

Matthew 7:21 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.

Matthew 7:22 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?

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What is really horrendous about these verses is that most of Christendom is pictured here as thinking they were on the road to heaven, even doing ministry and yet when they arrive the Lord Jesus says, "I do not know you!" There is obviously major defects in their profession of faith in God. We will look at some of them later in this article but next we want to concentrate on the second road which does lead to salvation.

The second road is the narrow gate and it is said that only a "few" enter in. This road is entered in with a true Biblical repentance and a true faith and trust in the work on the cross resulting in a person being born again by the Holy Spirit. The Lord in Luke 13 v 24 above uses a key word called "striving" to enter the narrow gate. What does this mean? It is a desire in your life to above all else find the way to heaven and you are earnestly seeking it. Nothing is more important in this life to you than finding that answer! No affection on earth, no family affection, no pleasure of sin, no personal achievement with all its accolades, no financial success, no religion that doesnít answer that question, nothing under the Sun rises above the desire to find the way to heaven.

With this desire in place we can look at true Biblical repentance. First we will look at manís view of himself then Godís view of man presented in the scriptures.

Modern man looks at himself as basically a good person. Or He might say he is basically good but does fall into a few mistakes but then everyone else is the same way. Or he might say he is striving to get "better and better" as a person through some self-help material or spiritual practice. Or he might say there is no such thing as "sin" but only ignorance of the true self. Or he might say that the baser of men such as murderers, rapists, and thieves are not evolved spiritually enough. Or he might say the baser of men are beyond hope and very much below them in character and civility, distain fully looking down upon them. What we will find is that most people have a much higher view of themselves than Godís word says. Generally people are very prideful and would minimize or sweep any of their imperfections under the rug so to speak. Pride was the sin that caused Lucifer to rebel against his creator. Lucifer was Godís lead angel in worship and he because of his beauty and knowledge and abilities he was puffed up with pride. He sought to usurp Godís position even though it was God who gave him everything. See Luciferís willful declarations in Isaiah 14 v 12-15. He was the first self-willed being with about one third of the angels following. Adam and Eve were the next self-willed beings and this separation from God has been passed down to every human being to come thereafter. Letís digress back to this event and read the account of Adam and Eve.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Genesis 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

I would like to note a number of things in what is called the "fall of Adam and Eve". First Lucifer has already rebelled against God and he is seeking through the serpent to deceive Adam and Eve into following him. At this point in time Adam and Eve are in a personal relationship with God with the Holy Spirit residing within them on the throne of their will. They are clothed by the Holy Spirit in a garment of light called the "shekinah glory". Luciferís approach is to bring doubt against Godís word and call God a liar! Then appealing to Eveís pride he further slanders God by saying that God is withholding a special blessing from them, the knowledge of good and evil! Adam and Eve believe the lies and disobey God. The first thing that happens is the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit (spiritual separation from God) and the beginning of aging and eventually physical death. God then steps in and promises a Messiah who will undo this terrible event! Satan is still slandering, twisting, mis-interpreting Godís word in order to deceive people. He has created many religions and ways to God, some a counterfeit form of Christianity, some just a different set of rules or practices which supposedly lead to God such as Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism and the listing could go on and on. Now back to Godís view of man.

But if we are striving to find the way to heaven we must look at what Godís word says about us. His word lights the way to the narrow gate. His word since he is the creator accurately assesses our spiritual condition.

The fundamentally basic inner condition of man is described as follows.

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Romans 3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

Romans 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

Romans 3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

Romans 3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

Romans 3:17 And the way of peace have they not known:

Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart (actively rebellious heart) out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Spiritually obedient heart).

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

 

As you can see God has a decidedly different view of man. One of the reasons this is so is because man tends to compare himself to other men while Godís measurement is comparing man to His holiness.

The question becomes are you a "sinner by inner nature" or do you just slip up and commit an outward act of sin once in a while? I believe God says the former, man might like to see himself as the latter and able to offset this outward act of sin by a good deed, penance or a ritual.

The Bible describes outward sin as the "fruit of the inner nature". The Bible sometimes use the term the "fruit of the tree". A tree will only produce one type of fruit continually. If the root of manís heart is actively sinful that life will produce the fruit of sin continually. That is why God says in Ezekiel 36 v 36, 37 above that man needs a "heart transplant" from a stony sinful heart to a Spiritual born again heart. God doesnít ask for a person to obey the law and stop sinning. No, God wants to deal with the root of sin not outward acts of sin.

But in order to see the fruit of the inner nature it is worthwhile to cover just what that looks like.

Romans 8:7 Because the carnal (natural) mind is enmity (rebellious) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Manís fallen inner nature has a built in rebelliousness against God)

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 15:18-20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart (inner nature); and they defile the man.

15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders (internal thoughts also), adulteries (sex outside of a previous marriage unless Biblically divorced), fornications (all sexual activity outside of a married man and woman), thefts, false witness (lying), blasphemies (railing against God)

15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh (self-directed life) are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness (defilement due to moral sins such as lying), lasciviousness (sexual excess without shame),

5:20 Idolatry (honoring or venerating icons and idols for benefits gained), witchcraft (occult practices including drug use seeking benefits from the spiritual world), hatred, variance (disputes with animosity), emulations (jealous or malicious rivalries), wrath, strife (provoking to arguments), seditions (rebellion against parents and others in authority), heresies (holding false ideas about God),

5:21 Envyings, murders (internal thoughts also), drunkenness, revellings (living to party), and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do (practice as a way of life) such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill (premeditated murder)

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Matthew 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

Matthew 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matthew 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The opposite fruit of the above two commandments would be, "thou shalt ignore the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind. And thou shalt take advantage of thy neighbour if the opportunity arises."

For each one of us it is not too hard if we are truly seeking God to see the bad fruit of our inner nature manifesting in the above verses.

I have said all this to arrive at what "true Biblical repentance" looks like. Godís will for you is to repent under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to surrender the throne of your will to God, and to receive, believe, trust in only the shed blood payment by the Son done in love on your behalf. There are three parts here.

The thought process leading to true repentance goes something like this. So if my inner core or root is sinful then everything I have ever done is sinful. I canít try to be better, turn over a new leaf, curse less, fornicate less, party less, drink less, smoke less, go to church more, give more to charity, be kinder and gentler and on it could go. The root would all be from my sin nature. I need a new nature and cleansing not better outward performance.

The next thought process is that I am not in a good position spiritually. I am a practicing sinner therefore in the kingdom of darkness not in the kingdom of God!

Colossians 1 v 13 Who hath delivered us from the power (kingdom) of darkness and hath transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son!

Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our behavior in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by inner nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Therefore if I am spiritually bankrupt, spiritually destitute, under the power of the old nature which is totally corrupt. Then I am totally undone before a Holy God and have nothing to offer! Even my good deeds are tainted by the inner sin nature! I am distraught at these thoughts and my condition!

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags

The next thought calls me to cry out, well how can anybody get to heaven then? It is impossible for me! Of which that is a true statement but God has a reply. Listen also to the reaction of the disciples when they realized that they had to keep Godís law perfectly to go to heaven by works!

Matthew 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

God then offers hope of which I am going to now lay out before you. God wants you to enter the narrow gate and come to His Son but on His terms not yours. In true Biblical repentance you must arrive at two disposition points. One, you are willing to totally forsake the old life, the old you, your old ways, your favorite sins, your love of the world and any self-righteousness. Second, you need to count the cost before entering the narrow gate which would look something like this. All who enter the narrow gate must give their first and highest allegiance to the Son and His will over and above their own will, their family, friends, former church and any other cherished thing. All who enter the narrow gate will suffer persecution, friends and family may abandon you, members of your former religion may persecute you, take your goods, even kill you, they may torture you so that you will come back to your former religion, you may lose your job, you may be ridiculed and psychologically abused and the list can go on but you get the idea.

So recognizing your spiritual bankruptcy and having counted the cost you can enter in by surrender of the throne of your will and acknowledging that the Son in his love for you paid the full price on the cross for your sin. The full payment is described here in Hebrews 10 v 12 "And the Son, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand God." Another way God describes this full payment is with the word "propitiation" which means "paid in full in Godsí courtroom". 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The following is a suggested prayer: The prayer itself is not a magic set of words but is only effectual if sincere repentance and believing on the Son is present in oneís inner being. Ask God for help to repent and believe if you need.

"Heavenly Father I come to you in the precious name of your Son. I renounce (name the occult practices or spiritual practices or false religion I have practiced) and ask your Son to deliver me from these fallen deceiving spirits that I have let into my life. I know that I am a sinner by inner nature with a stony heart and that I have lived my life for myself and not for You. I renounce my life of sin and self and believe in your Sonís shed blood payment alone on the cross for my sin. I receive your Son as my Savior and Lord. Take up residence on the throne of my will and make me the person you want me to be. Amen"

When you come in this manner God will cause you to be "born from above". The Holy Spirit will come to reside on the throne of your will, the old stony heart will be deactivated, the shed blood payment on the Cross, and the "righteousness of the Son" will be placed into your spiritual bank account. The Holy Spirit will begin to change you from the inside out empowering you to follow the Son and do his will. The Holy Spirit as you abide in Him (daily yielding the throne of your will) will give you the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians chapter 5, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. The Holy Spirit will witness to your heart that you are forgiven all sin, past, present, and future. The Holy Spirit will witness to your heart that you going to heaven and you now have a real relationship with the Living God! You have passed from spiritual death to spiritual life!

The Wide Road Ė What is going on here?

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Deception and offering counterfeit ways to heaven has always been Satanís modus operandi. Unfortunately he also has an abundance of willing people who prefer to follow the counterfeit way versus seeking the true way. The counterfeit way is religion, the true way is a personal relationship with the living God. In the beginning Cain and Abel exemplified this. Cain approached God through the produce from his fields (good works) but Abel approached God through the blood sacrifice of a lamb (shed blood payment for sin). In that situation the counterfeit way person Cain murdered the true way person Abel.

There are so many errors now in the larger vale of Christianity I wonít delve into them here. But because we are in the last days I will mention two movements which call for discernment. One is Roman Catholicismís efforts to bring all the other Christian sects back to her fold even though there are serious doctrinal differences. These are the same differences that have existed since the Protestant Reformation. The second, is called "the signs and wonders movement" which the Bible notes as a last days phenomenon from false teachers. This is identified in the Bible as a counterfeit move of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that spiritual deception and apostasy from the true faith will increase as we move to the end of the church age and on into the 7 year tribulation.

So, letís return to why the "wide" road has the "many" on it. In pointing out these things I have no ill will towards anybody but I have been called to be faithful to the Son. It is hard to point out error without ruffling feathers but I hope those on the wide road will see it as a call to re-evaluate what Godís Word says and consider exiting the wide road and getting on the narrow road. If you cannot honestly say, I know I am forgiven and explain correctly why, I know I am going to heaven and explain correctly why, I know the living God, and show some fruit of understanding both in doctrine and behavior you are likely on the wide road.

On the wide road there are many "angels of light" calling out to people, come this way, it is the way to heaven! Of course from scripture above we know that this road is not going to heaven but to destruction. What is the appeal? I can see two things that come to mind right away. You can join one of these churches without real repentance. You can keep yourself on the throne of your will without surrender therefore "not born again". In other wards you can love the worldly sinful stuff (the movies, the rock bands, the partying etc) from Monday to Saturday and show up at church once in a while on Sunday. You can live the double life so to speak. Your church is offering "fire" insurance.

The other thing is adding some of your good works or self-righteousness to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is holding a higher view of yourself than Godís word does. By doing this, the payment on the cross is nullified and therefore one cannot be "born again".

I wanted to mention one of the larger organizations on the wide road, Roman Catholicism. They deny the finished work of Christ alone as sufficient for salvation but have added the ongoing sacrifice of the Eucharist or Mass, have added the memberís good works as meritorious towards salvation and promise to get you to purgatory where the fires of purgatory will burn off any remaining sin. Of course all this denies the shed blood on the cross as sufficient alone and denies the need for true Biblical repentance. In addition the Bible teaches that only the shed blood of the Son can cleanse us from sin. The fires of purgatory cannot do this. Thus it would be difficult to be "born again" with all this teaching contrary to the true gospel way.

In other veins of Christianity I see a watered down gospel or what I would call "easy believism". This usually involves a minimizing of real repentance and a distortion of the fullness of who Christ is. The broad road Christ is here to give you the desires of your heart, make you healthy, wealthy and wise. Not much about denying yourself and taking up your cross daily. Perhaps you have heard this message, Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life! Does that sound like a narrow road gospel message? Or this message, the Evangelist says, "Who wants to go to hell?" Of course nobody in the audience raises their hand. Then the Evangelist says, "Who wants to go to heaven?" Well of course everybody raises their hand. Then the Evangelist leads the audience in a very shallow prayer to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Of course then these "converts" enter the church without being born again and join the wide road. No real repentance, no real counting the cost, no real surrender of the throne of the will. This type of gospel presentation has dominated North American Christianity for many decades now.

Another even more surprising departure from anything resembling a gospel message is the number of churches you can walk into and the message you will receive is "just be a good person or just do the best you can". This is very far off the mark but a common message on the broad road.

What else is attractive on the wide road? Well everyone can have their own view on doctrinal issues. There isnít really one correct view that the Spirit of God intended. You can also deny large portions of scripture to be in harmony with evolutionary atheistic scientists. There are few churches and Bible colleges that would say that Noahís flood and the first 11 chapters of Genesis are real history. There are few churches that have not went to bed with secular psychology incorporating teachings by Jung, Freud and Maslow (atheists and occultists) into their counselling programs. There is room for almost everybody on the broad road.

If you have the "gift of discernment" and go to point out some error as kindly and gently as you can you will likely hear, "donít judge lest you be judged", "criticize not Godís anointed". So, on the wide road, discernment and judging things has only limited acceptance. We want to keep the road broad you know.