The Road is Narrow

The Road is Narrow
Beth Wirey
 
The first time I read Matthew 7:14 in the Bible, I thought “What?  The road to heaven is NARROW?  It seems like everyone I know is a Christian, how can the road be narrow?” As I kept reading, I continued to see this throughout the Bible.  Jesus even said “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21).  And in Matthew 7:22, He said “many will say to me Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  His response was “and then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).  THIS IS SCARY!

The Bible gives examples where scripture looks at the difference between having morally good behavior versus having a changed heart.  One example is when Paul met the other apostles in Jerusalem to debate the idea that new believers had to be circumcised.  This was a sign of the covenant (promise) that God made with Abraham back in Genesis 17.   So the debate then becomes about whether or not circumcision is required for being a Christ Follower (Acts 15:5-29).  They had debates about a lot of things, like eating food that was considered unclean.  Even now, debates continue about various things.
 
The point of this is to say that salvation does not come by your heritage.  Salvation doesn’t happen because you go to church.  Salvation isn’t even about saying a prayer, if there has been no change in your life.  My thinking was because I had said that prayer I was okay. But there was a problem.  I said the prayer, changed for a brief period of time and then life got in the way.  I wanted to be like everyone else.  I didn’t want people to think I was weird or some holy roller.  So, I looked just like the rest of the world.  The lost world.  

We have a tendency to think of ourselves as good. Maybe not good, but better than some. But the people we compare ourselves to aren’t the standard that God has set.  Perfection is the standard and there is only one that meets that standard and that is Jesus.  The truth is, we can never meet that perfect standard.  This is sometimes where I would get caught up thinking since I can’t meet the standard, why should I even try to meet it?!?!  But that is a misunderstanding of the gospel as well.
Since we are unable to meet that holy standard, God set up a system for the Israelites to make sacrifices to him, to show them, and ultimately us, that we are in need of forgiveness.  The sacrifices were a shedding of blood from innocent animals that he created.  The problem is that they had to keep doing it over and over because there was nothing that could permanently cleanse them of their sin. (Hebrews).

Then God sent His Son.  He sent Perfection to take on our sin, literally. He did this so that, as we understand how evil we truly are, and that we need a Savior, we would have the means to be forgiven.  This is the final and only sacrifice that will save us.  Our faith can’t rest in whether we go to church or say a prayer that has no meaning. It has to rest in Jesus and his
finished work.  It is not enough to just believe there was a man named Jesus that lived and died on a cross.  In James it says even the demons believe and shudder.  The kind of belief that a true Christ follower has is more than just knowing the story of Jesus.  It’s a belief that affects our lives.  It changes the way we live.  Our priorities change.  The things that occupy our minds are different.

What I mean by this is we don’t just pray a prayer and then go back to our sinful lives being okay with our sin.  It also doesn’t mean we have sinless lives.  This means we know we are sinful and need a Savior BECAUSE we live sin-filled lives.  It’s not a license to sin either.  Sometimes I hear people say “I believe in Jesus so I can do whatever I want because I’m forgiven.”  That kind of thinking may mean your heart really hasn’t truly been changed.    

To be saved is to be a Christ follower.  It’s not about our lives being blessed with riches and good health.  It’s about a relationship with Jesus that sees us through poverty and illness. It is about getting to be with God FOREVER!  Have you ever read in Revelation what John sees when he’s taken to heaven and given a glimpse?  He sees people so in love with God, they are worshipping. When this world is over, it is going to be like nothing we can even imagine.  You might be thinking about the streets of gold, or the mansions.  But I’m talking about realizing what was actually done for us.  
 
One day we are going to be judged and we will spend eternity somewhere.  If our response to the judgment is— “I wasn’t as bad as them,” then the outcome is not going to be good.  Our only response must be, “I’m sinful and know it, but Jesus is perfect and he paid for my sins.”