Session #057 Choose Life
Scripture Matthew 7:13-14
Summary Matt 7:13-14 begins the final section of Jesus’ concluding remarks to His kingdom message and manifesto. It is only one part of the entire conclusion. A familiar passage, but it cannot be understood if we have not first understood the Sermon on the Mount. A choice is clearly presented. The gate by which we enter will determine the way we travel, which in turn will determine where we end up and what we receive. How would you choose?
Enter 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. Matthew 7:13–14
A Choice is clearly presented. The gate by which we enter will determine the way we travel, which in turn will determine where we end up and what we receive. How would you choose?
Choice: A or B?
In the two verses, there are clear contrasts presented, Broad vs Narrow, Easy vs Difficult, Destruction vs Life; and Many vs Few. It is very clear and precise that it is either this or that. But what do these terms and images refer to? It is critical to understand what the Gates refer to. With the correct understanding, then the Way will be right.
The Issue of the Narrow Gate
Does the Gate refer to Salvation? The answer is both Yes and No. Jesus was addressing people of the kingdom (Jews), and His disciples (believers). They are already saved by grace; but each day, each moment, they must choose how they are to live for the king. In this instance, it is a No.
In Luke 13:23–30, Jesus said to Strive to enter by the narrow gate. Salvation is by faith. It is free, a gift, not by work. There is no need to strive at all. And yet, this answer was in reply to their question: “Lord, are there few who are saved?” (Luke 13:23) How do we understand this?
Jesus clearly shows that salvation is not a one-time transaction but a process. There is a process of salvation, a way towards final salvation, Saved, Being saved; and Will be saved. Those who endure to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:13). Our CHOICE after our initial point of salvation matters.
The Narrow Gate to Kingdom Life (the New Life in Christ)
The entire Sermon on the Mount has been about the ways of the kingdom, how to live for the King as kingdom subjects. Christians are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, but we must still choose to walk and live the Kingdom life. We can believe in Jesus and still carry excess baggage. The narrow gate acts as a “Filter” whilst the broad gate is much more attractive and more comfortable.
Consider this quote by T.A. Sparks which reflects Galatians 2:20, “The new way of life is so narrow that we cannot take ourselves into it, we have to leave ourselves behind.” We need to put off the Old Man, and put on the New Man in Christ.
The Narrow Gate to the Spiritual Life
Broad Gate or Flesh Gate
Narrow Gate or Spirit Gate
Walk according to the flesh
Sow to his flesh
Walk according to the Spirit
Sow to the Spirit
Life & Peace
The Broad Gate And Way of the Flesh’s entry point is the Wide gate, or the Flesh gate. It leads to the Broad Way, a seemingly easy attractive way as it is anything that appeals and panders to the flesh (1 John 2:16).
The Gate and Way of the Spirit’s entry point is the Narrow Gate, or the Spirit gate. It leads to the Narrow Way that is difficult, what our flesh tends to oppose or avoid, the Sermon on the Mount teachings which can only be lived through the help of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:7-12).
Only a few will find this Gate which is narrow. Is it difficult to find or few who desire to find it? Some think it is only for a select few who are super-spiritual or gifted for spiritual things. However, the key is Faith. By faith, we receive the Holy Spirit. By faith, we continue in the Spirit. Sadly, many begin by faith in Jesus Christ, and they stop there. The Holy Spirit was sent to lead us into the right way. Those willing to be led by the Spirit will find the “Spirit” gate.
The Narrow WAY: The Way of the Spirit, The Way of Love, Not Legalism
In Romans 7:6, we learn that it is NOT about religion, rituals, rules and regulations. The Oldness of the Letter KILLS, bringing death. The old man thrives on working for righteousness, and on religion, and failing will bring a curse and death.
It is about Relationship, the Newness of the Spirit brings Life (Romans 7:1-6). In a relationship, we have liberty; but we limit ourselves to please those we love. In the same way, we seek to please Jesus because we love Him.
The Way of Liberty
In 2 Corinthians 3:6, we are reminded that we are in a new covenant and that the Spirit gives life. In 2 Corinthians 3:17, it states that with the Spirit of the Lord, there is liberty. Within the parameters of the Law of the Spirit of Life, there is freedom. It is the ability to “cruise” freely and safely because of the presence of law. The Law of the Spirit keeps us on track towards the destination of Jesus and Life.
Our walk is narrowed By Choice because we Choose to submit, obey and stay close to the leading of the Spirit. Christ has set us free from the curse of the law which is sin and death, but now we serve the law of the Spirit of Life.
It is so easy and tempting to run through the broad gate and onto the broad way which leads to death and destruction. Paul warns us not to use that liberty to gratify the Flesh (Galatians 5:13). To go the way of the Spirit, I must be led by the Spirit and crucify the desires of the flesh and deny my selfish agendas. That is what the entire Sermon on the Mount is all about, the ways of the King and His kingdom.
We need to give up our rights and agenda. Put others first, consider their needs above our own. Dealing with issues like bitterness, anger, unforgiveness hold us down. Seek first the kingdom as we need the Holy Spirit.
Keeping to the Narrow Way: A Mindset on the Things of the Spirit.
A mindset on things of the Spirit, on things above. This is the Disciplines of the Spirit vs the Desires of the Flesh (1 Corinthians 10:24-27). Richard Foster likens the positioning of self through the Disciplines as travelling along the Path of Disciplined Grace (Liberty). Grace, because it is free; and Discipline, because there is something for us to do.
This path is like a “narrow way” sandwiched between The Heresy of Moralism (Legalism) which is moral bankruptcy through human strivings for righteousness; and The Heresy of Antinomianism (Licence) which is moral bankruptcy through the absence of human strivings.
This path does not produce change but places us where change can occur. It leads to inner transformation and healing, which leads to LIFE. Fraught with severe difficulties but also incredible joys.
The Way of Suffering
Enter by the narrow [stenos] gate … because narrow [stenos] is the gate and difficult [thlibo] is the way which leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).
stenos is straight, narrow; the root of stenochoria (anguish, distress)
thlibo is to press together, to compress, to afflict, to crush; thlipsis: tribulations
The Purpose Difficult Times, Situations & People
This helps to keep us on the straight and narrow. When it is too easy and we get complacent, comfortable, we stray. It will also test the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Will we stay on track or go off course? Will we grow up or give up? “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2).
Walking with Jesus on the Via Dolorosa (a narrow winding path)
Jesus literally walked the narrow way towards His kingdom assignment (Luke 24:26). He had set the example as the Author and Finisher of our faith (1 Peter 2:21). Our eyes are to fix on Him that we may likewise ensure the narrow way as we fulfil our kingdom assignments.
Suffering towards Perfection & Glory
Paul shares this as well in Romans 5:3-4, 8:18, and 2 Corinthians 4:17. The suffering we undergo will refine and perfect us.
The Way into the Kingdom
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10–11, and in Acts 14:22b) “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
If we do not walk the ways of the kingdom, why should we be allowed to enter the kingdom (Luke 13:25)?
Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount, and this is the Final section where there is Choice, Caution, Consequence, and A Conclusion.
Moses delivers the Law from Mount Sinai. Before entering the land, Moses delivers the Law again. Deuteronomy literally means the Second Law (deuteros + nomos). In the Final section, Moses summarises and concludes in the same manner (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).
You have a choice to make. Which would you choose? No one wants to choose death. That said, that does not mean one would consciously and deliberately choose life, either.
Every day, each moment, you have to decide which gate would you choose? The flesh or the spirit gate? That will determine which WAY you will take, which determines where you are headed and will finally end up.
Jesus says “Choose the narrow gate.” It goes against your every fleshly instinct but it is the right gate. You will wrestle and struggle within yourself. This is called the Crisis of faith, but strive, battle, fight the good fight of faith, to enter through that gate because it is the right gate.
Jesus says “Walk and keep to the narrow way.” It is difficult, but be thankful that Jesus did not sugar coat it at all. His Spirit will empower you. His grace will be sufficient for you. He walked the narrow way Himself, and showed us how it can be done by the Spirit.
Jesus says “There are a few.” Will you be part of the Few? Choose Life.