The Sermon on the Mount
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

26 – Two Ways

Matthew 7:13-14:

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

We are going to look at Matthew 7:13-14.  But, first of all, let me give you an overview of the whole Sermon on the Mount.  Because we are coming now to a special section of the sermon.  Most sermons, and this is typical, are divided into three parts:  there is an introduction, a development or body, and there is the conclusion, which is the application.

The introduction to this Sermon on the Mount is the beatitudes, where Jesus describes to the disciples the characteristics of a true Christian.  Then comes the body, which begins in Chapter 5 after the beatitudes and runs right up to verse 12 of Chapter 7.  In the body, Christ expounds to the disciples what Christian living is all about.  And now, beginning with verse 13 up to the end of Chapter 7, is the application, the conclusion.  This is what we will cover from now until we finish [through Part 30].

If you look at the conclusion which begins in Matthew 7:13, you will discover that what Christ is doing in His application and appeal is that every individual who hears the gospel must make a choice.  He is showing the contrast between the two choices.  Ultimately this world will be divided in only two camps:  believers and unbelievers (or, as some translations put it, the goats and the sheep).  He divides these two camps into four different groups.  In this study, we will deal with the two ways — the broad or wide way and the narrow way.  Next time we will deal with two teachers — the false teacher and the true teacher.  Later, we will deal with words versus deeds.  (The true Christian not only believes the truth but he does it.)  Finally, the two foundations — the house built on sand and the house built on rock.  But let us now read Matthew 7:13-14:

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The first thing that I would like to emphasize here is that Jesus is not talking about salvation itself.  Because, if you look at these two verses in the context of salvation itself, it sounds as if it is easy to be lost and hard to be saved.  What Christ is dealing with here is the Christian life, which is the Sermon on the Mount.

Salvation is a gift.  Is that clear?  But let us also be very clear:  Christian living is hard.  Why?  Because the moment you accept the gift, you are changing your citizenship from the world to the kingdom of God.  But you will not experience the fullness of the kingdom of God until Christ comes.  Until then, we are citizens of heaven living in enemy territory, in Satan’s world.  And I can guarantee you that Satan will make life hell for you.  And that is exactly what Christ is dealing with in this application.  Someone may ask, “Then why should I become a Christian if the life is hard?”  I’ll tell you why:  because of the destiny.  The destiny of the easy life is destruction but the destiny of the Christian life is life eternal.

The first thing that strikes us as we read these two verses is that there is a tremendous contrast between these two camps.  There is nothing in common; there can be no middle ground.  There are many who would like to sit on the fence and ask, “Which way shall I go?”  But when Jesus says in Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations...

then every human being has to take a position either for Christ or against Christ.  This is the first thing that this verses shows:  there are only two ways, not three.  There is no middle ground in this message.

Let’s look at this passage in detail.  We can divide verses 13 and 14 — the contrast of the two ways — into four main parts.  First of all is the two gates.  When you enter, you have to go through a gate, so we will look at them.  The second thing is the two ways.  The third thing we’ll look at is the two destinations.  And the fourth thing is the two crowds — large or small crowds.

We’ll start with the two gates.  What does Christ say about these?  Look at verse 13 where He begins the application:

Enter through the narrow gate....

Some translations use the word “strait” instead of “gate.”  Notice how the word is spelled.  It is an old English word meaning “narrow.”  It does not mean “straight line.”  There were gates in the villages that were very narrow.  I suppose if Christ were living today He would say “enter in through the turnstile” because only one person can go at a time.  That narrow gate was so narrow that you could not take any baggage with you.  It is so narrow that you must leave everything behind.  You can’t take your possessions and treasures with you.

Once I attended a Walla Walla Ministerial Fellowship at Park Plaza [a retirement center].  They had a new administrator and he was giving us a little description of the Park Plaza and he said that one of the problems that people face when they move from their homes to this retirement center is that they want to bring 30 or 40 years of things they have collected.  But at the Park Plaza there is no garage where you can dump your stuff and so they had great difficulty in giving up their years of treasures.  (I tell my wife that I call it junk, but she doesn’t believe that.)  When we were deported from Uganda, we could not take anything with us and it taught us a lesson.  It gave us an idea that when we enter the narrow gate, we cannot take our possessions.

Christ was not referring to physical possessions here.  He was referring to our self-righteousness, our pride.  Do you remember what we have studied so often?  The way of Christianity is “Not I, but Christ.”  Salvation is a gift; you cannot take your righteousness with you to heaven.  You have to give it up.  You cannot take the worldly life.  I have to accept the life of Christ, the righteousness of Christ for my life.  Now, please don’t call that a sacrifice.  Tell me, if you give up $10 in exchange for $100 would that be a sacrifice?  You are gaining $90!  So when we accept the life of Christ in exchange for our life, it is not a sacrifice.  When we exchange our righteousness for the righteousness of Christ, it is not a sacrifice because our righteousness will appear naked in the judgment.  The man without the wedding garment was a fool for not accepting the offered wedding garment in exchange for his “beautiful suit.”  That is why we must remember that when you enter the narrow the gate — when you enter into Christ’s kingdom — it is all of Him and none of works.  That covers the narrow gate.

The other gate is wide.  You can bring everything you have with you.  There is no limit on your luggage.  There is no self-denial.  You can take your pride, you can take your self-righteousness, you can take your sins — there are no restrictions.  But Jesus said that, when you enter the narrow gate — let me give you a verse.  Turn to Matthew 10:38:

...And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

There are passages that you will read on this in Matthew, in Luke, in John, and in Mark.  One is in Matthew 19:27.  What do we have to give up when we enter the narrow gate?

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you!  What then will there be for us?”

And Jesus gave them a wonderful promise in verse 29:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

So there is a narrow gate and we do have to take up our cross and follow Him.  Now let’s go to point number two — the two ways.  There are some people who think that when you become a Christian you enter a broad way and it gets narrower and narrower.  But from beginning to end it is narrow.  The gate is narrow and the road is narrow.  Not only is the gate narrow, but the way is narrow.  Now I am assuming that Jesus had in mind Psalm 1.  Notice the very opening statement of the book of Psalms (verses 1 and 2):

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

In other words, blessed is the man who doesn’t take the wide road, in spite of peer pressure.  Blessed is the person who chooses God’s way instead of man’s way.  And, of course, the road is wide in man’s way but God’s way is narrow.  Now I gave you Matthew 10:8 regarding the cross, but if you look at Luke 9:23, not only do you have to pick up the cross when you enter the narrow gate but you must deny yourself and take up the cross daily — all of the journey:

Then he said to them all:  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Not only must you enter the turnstile (in the libraries here you enter through the turnstile and then come into a big room) but, in the Christian way, you enter the narrow gate and then the way is narrow, too.

I would like to give you some texts which bring out that, while salvation is a gift (clearly), the Christian life is not an easy life.  Anyone who has told you that when you become a Christian everything will go well, you know better.  Turn to 1 Corinthians 15.  I want to give you the context.  There were some Christians in Corinth (I wonder if we should call them Christians because they missed one of the major points of the New Testament teaching) and they were teaching that there was no resurrection for the Christian.  You will find this in verse 12:

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

No resurrection of the dead means no hope at the end of the road.  Now look at verse 19:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

The hope of the Christian is not in this life.  It is in our destiny.  We would be the most miserable people if our only hope was in this life because the Christian life is not always easy.  Of course, Paul was living in a time when persecution was very strong.  In 1 John 2:15-16, we have admonition from John where he tells us:

Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.

The wide gate allows you to carry with you all of these things, but the Christian must not love the things of the world.  Galatians 5:24 says that the one who accepts Christ and follows Him has crucified the flesh with all its desires:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

You have entered the narrow way.  Now one more text — 2 Timothy 3:12.  This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would call “the cost of discipleship.”  When you follow the way of Christ, when you follow the Sermon on the Mount, this is what will happen:

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,....

Will be persecuted, not may be persecuted.

Let me go now to the third position — the destinies.  What are the two destinies?  Those who have entered the wide gate and are walking the wide road end up in destruction.  Proverbs 14:12:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

I go back now to Psalm 1.  I believe Jesus had this in mind because the disciples were familiar with the Old Testament.  What is the end of those who go the way of the ungodly, the way of the sinner?  Verses 5 and 6:

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

The destiny of the wide road is destruction.  Another good passage is Deuteronomy 30 because, when Moses came to the end of his ministry, he did the same thing that Christ is doing in the Sermon on the Mount.  Christ says, “Enter the narrow gate.”  Listen to what Moses told the Jews.  Moses had given them a tremendous sermon and is completing it.  We’ll read first Deuteronomy 30:15:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

Now go to verse 19, where he makes his appeal:

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live....

This is one of the texts that tells me that it is the choice of the parents that decides the destiny of their baby until he or she reaches the age of accountability.  Paul said the same to the jailer when he said that if he accepted Christ that he and his household (and the word household means those who are still under you or haven’t reached the age of accountability) would be saved.  But that is a controversial subject that I will not discuss now.

What I want to point out to you is that, just like Christ says “Enter the narrow way,” Moses said in the exodus:  “Choose life that you may live.”  Now verse 20:

...And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In other words, if you enter through the narrow gate, life may be difficult now but, remember, the end result is eternal life.  If you take the broad way, you may eat, drink, and be merry — that may be true — but, in the end, you shall die.  Please don’t say, “I will walk the wide way now and when I come to the end of my life I will change into the narrow way.”  Don’t be deceived; now is the time in which we must choose.

Now I come to the final point:  the two crowds.  Going back to Matthew, what did Jesus say about the two crowds? Matthew 7:14:

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

In contrast, we see in verse 13 that many go in at the wide gate.  Now please don’t get the idea from these two verses that there will be only a few in heaven.  Jesus is not discussing numbers, He is discussing proportions.  In Revelation 7 and in other passages, we are told that the number of people in heaven is so large they are like the sand of the sea and that is the promise also that God gave to Abraham:  “like the stars of the heavens.”  What Christ is pointing out here is that it is easy to walk the non-Christian life.  There are no restrictions, you can do what you please, you are your own boss; basically, you can do what you like.  The Christian way may seem hard to the flesh — not to the converted mind — but, to the flesh, it is a life of discipline and it involves suffering.

Jesus is the best example.  He had no home to live in, He was a vagabond, He was rejected, was mistreated, and, finally, crucified.  Why did He go through all of that?  He already had eternal life, so why did Christ go through it?  Please turn to Hebrews 12 and you will see that He went through all that for a reason.  Hebrews 12:2, and notice that it is in the context of suffering.  The writer of Hebrews says:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith [our salvation], who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What was the joy that was set before Him?  Was it eternal life?  No, He already had that as the Son of God.  In fact, He said, “In Me is life.”  What caused Jesus to endure the cross?  Our salvation — that was the joy.  He was willing to suffer for us.  When Jesus says, “Walk in the narrow way,” He is saying, “for your own benefit because the end is eternal life.”  He knows He is talking to human beings who are born selfish.  Ellen G. White says in the book Evangelism that, when we preach, we are to tell the people there is a heaven to gain and a hell to lose.  Christ comes down to where we are and tells us to enter the narrow gate.  Life may be hell for a season but, at the end, is everlasting life.  But here is the problem:  we want to enjoy everything now.  That is the reason why people take the wide gate, because they can’t wait for the end, it is too long.  One of the qualities that a Christian has to develop because of suffering is patience.  In Revelation 14:12, we see “here is the patience of the saints”:

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

In James 1, “count it all joy when you face trials because it develops patience.”  James 1:2-3:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

All through the Bible, the advice to the believers is to develop patience because God knows that we do not have patience naturally.  We want everything now.  The greatest evidence of this is in this own country.  This is the only country where you can have things now and pay later, which is a terrible system because of human nature.  I get all these ads in my mail to enjoy things now and pay later.  If you have a good credit rating, they say to enjoy a good vacation now:  “Don’t worry!”  They don’t tell you that they charge interest until later on.

We need to keep before us the destiny.  Jesus knew that it is very difficult.  So what did He do before He left this earth?  He instituted the Lord’s Supper.  As often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you show the Lord’s death until He comes.  Keep that hope ahead of you.  Unfortunately, many cannot endure it.  But Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 that he who endures to the end would be saved:

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

It is my prayer that, when you enter that narrow gate and the narrow way and life seems difficult and everything seems against you, remember the destiny.  Don’t look at the crowd, because you may only see a few compared to the others.  But you are with the wiser ones because the end result is what counts.  Jesus said [Mark 8:36]:

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul, his eternal life?”  So are you willing with Christ, with Paul, and with other Christians to suffer awhile, for “a season”?  Paul tells us that, when we reach our destiny, we’ll look back and say that this suffering was nothing compared to the eternal glory that we have received.  But now it seems hard.  But hold on until that day.  Jesus is not asking you to go through anything that He Himself did not go through for our salvation.  If He was willing to endure the cross for our salvation, I think we must be willing to even suffer for His sake, besides the destiny.  May God bless us that when we apply the Sermon on the Mount to our lives that we will be willing to suffer with Christ for a season.

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