The straight and narrow way
Go in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones entering in through it. For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones finding it. Matthew 7:13&14
So what is this straight and narrow way for us believers? This is what Jesus Christ told his disciples in the gospel of John 14:6; I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.
Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in this name this one stands before you whole. This One is the Stone counted worthless by you the builders, the One who has come to be into the Head of the Corner; and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:10-12
Jesus Christ came into this world to die on the cross for our sins and willingly and voluntarily paid the price for our redemption. The shedding of his precious blood became the foundation and the basis of the new covenant – the covenant of Grace, the covenant of promise! Jesus Christ died for everyone, the whole world, Jews and gentiles alike. For as the old covenant had been between God and his chosen people Israel, the new covenant is available for everyone and anyone. This is amazing Grace; salvation available for everyone, nobody has to go to hell and perish; this is the good news! But Jesus Christ also warned us to beware. People think they can force their way into heaven and because we have an enemy who sows all kinds of wrong things into the message we hear. Therefore Jesus Christ warned us beforehand; but beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inside they are plundering wolves. (Mat. 7:15) God’s Grace is the basis of our salvation; we are being saved by his grace through faith.
Since Jesus Christ’s resurrection and return to his heavenly Father, almost immediately, wolves came in to tear apart the flock of this new covenant, as the apostle Paul so aptly said in Galatians and as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles.
Then take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the Assembly of God which He purchased through His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and out of you yourselves will rise up men speaking perverted things, in order to draw away the disciples after themselves. Acts 20:28-30
All throughout history the devil deceitfully brought in all kinds of heresies and things that may have looked like the real thing but in reality they were nothing more than pretenders and deceivers. And the same is true today. You can and will hear all kinds of things, confusing things, things that sound oh so right – but beware! Ok, beware, but there is no need to fear or worry, because our salvation is still based on Grace through faith, that has not changed and will never change! The warning is for us not to be led astray by every wind of doctrine purported by men or philosophies we may hear by deceitful wiles. God knows his own and the Holy Spirit will guide his own into all the truth and change them and lead them toward his heavenly kingdom. The straight and narrow way is to remain at the New Covenant basis of God’s Grace. The devil, the world, religion, our own flesh and all the other forces will always try to get us away from depending on God’s grace and will try to lead us astray into our own efforts or ideas to feel good or to try to earn our way into heaven instead of depending on what Christ already has accomplished on the cross. Or the devil will try to get us to go to sleep, since our salvation is by God’s Grace, the devil tells us we can afford to go to sleep, relax and take it easy….
In this life and in this world there are many forces upon us – but we no matter what, remain with that our salvation is by God’s Grace through faith and we believe what God promises, no matter what the devil, the world and even our feelings may tell us. I often tell myself; if I could chain myself to the cross of Christ – that would be my best option, because I’m so apt to forget and walk away from the cross of Christ. Salvation by Grace through faith, that is our safety that is the save place for us to remain, everything else leads to a slippery slope that may cause us to go astray and loose the way.
We can see in the letter of Paul to the Galatians two excellent examples of being led astray. God through the apostle Paul preached the gospel to the Galatians and they gladly received the word of God and were converted. Shortly after Paul’s departure, others came and convinced the Galatians that yes, salvation is by Grace through faith, but now they also had to keep the law and practice the Jewish traditions. And the foolish Galatians went for it. Just like that they were led astray from the freedom of the gospel – and how many times has that been us? How many times have we also been foolish Galatians? And it is very easy to be or to become a foolish Galatian.
In Galatians chapter 2, the apostle Paul describes Peter’s visit to the city of Antioch. When Peter first got there he freely mingled with all Believers whether they were Jews or Gentiles didn’t matter. But when some other Jews arrived from Jerusalem, Peter separated himself from the Believers and only ate with his Jewish brethren. Paul reproved him for that, because Peter traded in the freedom of the gospel and out of fear he went back to the Jewish traditions of which one was that Jews don’t eat with Gentiles.
Those are two examples of how easy it is to be led astray, and in neither case what the people or the apostle Peter did seemed overly wrong or evil. But they, the Galatians were lured away from salvation by God’s Grace and their faith and back to the law and the traditions of the Jews. And Peter caring that his Jewish brethren might think that he wasn’t being Jewish, forsook the freedom of the gospel for the traditions of the Jews. So if a whole group of people were led astray so easily and also the apostle Peter, who was a pillar of the early church – how much more are we in danger of being led astray also? Very much so; for we have the same enemy, the same flesh and an even more evil world against us looking to destroy us just as the first New Covenant believers did. Plus we live in an age and time were just about anything goes or is accepted as following Christ or is passed as being a Christian.
So if anyone tells you any different, let them be accursed as the apostle Paul said; for salvation is by God’s Grace and the New Covenant is a covenant of Grace and that will never change. Let the prosperity preachers, the law preachers and the anything goes preacher preach as they may, but you remain at; I’m being saved by God’s Grace, Grace is the basis of my salvation, God’s grace is sufficient for me and I am thankful! Remain there and build upon that as your foundation and you will have a house that is built on the rock! And you will be able to pass any and all tests coming your way.
But become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, this one is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror; for he studied himself, and has gone away, and immediately he forgot of what kind he was. But the one looking into the perfect Law of liberty, and continuing in it, this one not having become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25
Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; Psalm 103:2
The wicked shall be turned to Sheol, all the nations forgetting God. Psalm 9:17
Forgetting is an easy thing to do, doesn’t take any effort, it almost comes natural to us humans. We are in great need of Grace, for us not to forget what we were like and not to forget what it means for us that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. Remember the Israelite's in the wilderness? They so quickly forgot what God saved them out of and they almost instantly forgot all the great wonders he did for them in the desert. They started complaining and murmuring and they forgot their God and even wanted to return to Egypt, where they had been slaves for 400 years. Crazy isn’t it? You probably think how could they do such a thing, yet we have the same flesh and we way too easily start to forget ourselves or others around us forget, when the journey isn’t as pleasant as we would like it to be.
Watch, brothers, lest perhaps there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief in withdrawing from the living God. But exhort yourselves each day, as long as it is being called today, that not any of you be hardened by the deceit of sin. Hebrews 3:13
Watching diligently that not any lack from the grace of God, that "no root of bitterness growing up" may crowd "in on you", and through this many be defiled; Hebrews 12:15
Let us love one another and help each other to stay in the Grace of God and help each other to grow in God’s grace to God’s glory.
Remain at thankfulness for God’s Grace, remember what you were, remember what God through Jesus Christ has done for us and let all that you do come from it and you will be walking on the straight and narrow way continually together until we reach our heavenly destination by the Grace of God.