Tuesday, November 19, 2013

If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It

This past weekend, I had my Bible open to Matthew 7 to prepare for our Small Group. Verses 13-14 were being referenced in the video series, so I thought this was a good opportunity to build a couple questions for them.  As I was studying, a link to verse 12 jumped out. Here is the passage:
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  (Matt 7:12-14)
The text is often separated as you see I have here, with verse 12 coming at the end of the preceding paragraph or standing alone as a paragraph. Jesus uses this to summarizes his teaching from as early as 5:17, where he introduces his place in relation to the Law and interprets it correctly for his hearers.

Jesus then, having built his case concerning the Law, gives the imperative: enter by the narrow gate.  What is the that narrow gate?  I have heard preachers compare it to different things—Jesus himself, the cross, belief, etc.—and none of these is wrong.  They just give only a part.  Based on context, the narrow gate and ensuing way is the fullness of the Law and prophets, or in other words, all that is revealed in his word.  It is righteousness that can only be found in God.

Notice I did not say this was a verse about getting saved.  Certainly that is part of the matter, because you need to enter the narrow gate.  One must come by that way alone, but Jesus does not stop there.  He goes on to say that the way afterward is hard.  There is trouble, affliction, and pressure exerted on the person who enters by the narrow way to get off track.  Only by staying on the path once started can the believer hope to end well.  This is a major point of several NT epistles.

How do we remain on the path and not veer off?  Certainly not by virtue of our own strength.  We become faint of heart and can be too easily blown around by every wind of doctrine.  The only reliable alternative is to rest on the security of the soul's anchor: the promised of God in Christ Jesus (Heb 6:13-20).

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