Have you ever wondered why churches today seem to impotent when compared with the churches in New Testament times? It seems like the working of God to change lives is absent. It seems like the working of the Holy Spirit is not change peoples lives.
As I look back over the years of my ministry I see people who would make a profession of faith in Christ. There would be a temporary joy. As long as things went smooth they were happy to walk with the Lord. As soon as trials and hardship came they would fall away. The Bible doesn’t promise a life without problems, it promises that there will be trials.
This makes you wonder if their conversion was true. Did they really convert to Christ, or was it just and attempt to escape their problems?
The first book that I ever wrote, I have never published it, was “The Wide Gate Convert.” I want to share some thoughts on this subject.
In Matthew Chapter 7, the Bible speaks of two gates. In this passage we have a number of contrasts. We have a wide gate and narrow gate. We have two destinations, destruction and life. We have wolves and sheep. We have grapes and thorns, figs and thistles, good fruit and evil fruit. a wise man and a foolish man, a house build upon a rock and a house built upon sand.
The Lord is coming to the conclusion of His message we call the Sermon on the Mount. He is saying that it is time to make a decision. Let’s pick up the story in verse 13:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14
Notice how the strait gate is spelled. This is a nautical term which means a narrow passage. It is something like the Straits of Gibraltar. There is a narrow gate and a broad gate. Look at the destinations for each gate. The narrow gate leads to life and the wide gate leads to destruction.
We also see a difference in quantity of those who pass through each gate. We find that only a few people pass through the narrow gate. In contrast, many enter in at the wide gate.
Do you believe there is a sign over the gates? Do you think that the wide gates has a sign that says “This way to destruction?” Do you think that the narrow gate has a sign that says “This is the way to Heaven?” Who do you think operates these gates? The narrow gate is manned by the Lord. He is calling people to life, to Heaven, and to reward.
The wide gate that leads to destruction is manned by the Devil. Do you think he is telling the truth by telling people that this is the way to destruction? Of course not. He tells them that this is the way to life and to Heaven. The Bible tells us that he is a deceiver. It tells us that he is a liar and the father of lies. No wonder he tries to deceive.
Those who go through the wide gate believe that they are going to salvation, but unfortunately it doesn’t get them there. I call this the false convert. This can be enlarged to include false religions. Muslims have gone through that gate. They have followed the instruction of Muhammad, believed the deception of Islam, and entered in at the wide gate. It will not lead them to Heaven and blessing, it will lead them to God’s destruction and wrath. They don’t go there because they are Muslims, they go there because they have rejected Jesus Christ. The same is true for all who reject Jesus Christ.
The wide gate is the gate of religion. It even includes many religions that call themselves Christian. All “Christian” religions that add to the simple plan that is laid out in the Scriptures lead through the wide gate. It doesn’t matter what they add, be it works or religious practices, these religions are false.
The Bible makes it clear that some who believe they are following Christianity won’t make it to Heaven.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23
Sadly many who have spent their lives thinking they were following Christ while trying to earn their salvation, will find themselves in Hell. They have followed the teachings of men, and not searched the Scriptures to find the true path to salvation.
Let me tell you a story of something that happened to me a few years ago. I was flying from Memphis to Seattle and there was an ice storm that closed the airport in Memphis. They put me an a hotel for the night. They called me the next morning and said they could get me out. They put me on a flight to Denver to connect with a flight to Seattle. I was supposed to have a 4-5 hour layover. I didn’t mind the layover because airports are very interesting places. You see some of the strangest things in airports.
I was enjoying watching everything but I decided to check the monitor to make sure I had everything right. I found my flight number and the gate. everything seemed OK until I looked at the departure time. It was in 10 minutes. As you can probably guess, the gate was one of the farthest way from where I was. I had to catch a train to another concourse. They were calling my name with the last warning. As I said, airports are interesting places. Have you ever seen a fat boy run?
As I approached the gate they were closing the door. I gave the lady my boarding pass and got on the plane. Everyone is looking at me. They were a bit upset because I was delaying the take-off. I was so thankful that I made the flight. I found my seat, thinking, how stupid it is to be at the airport goofing off and nearly miss your flight.
Another thought occurred to me. The only thing that would be dumber than missing my flight would be getting on the wrong flight. I was in such a hurry that I didn’t notice the sign saying where this plane was going. A dreadful fear set in, I could have gotten on the wrong flight.
I asked myself, how do I ask where this plane is going without feeling even more dumb? I did find out that the plane was going to Seattle.
For the rest of the flight I was overwhelmed with the thought of those on their spiritual journey. Suppose they had entered into the gate they thought would get them to Heaven, but it didn’t get them there?
If I had gotten on the wrong plane it would have been inconvenient, and maybe cost me some money, but I could always correct it by getting another ticket to Seattle. If someone goes through the wrong spiritual gate, when they get to their destination it is too late to correct the situation.
The good news for those who have entered the wide gate is that while you are still on this earth you can correct the situation. You can still turn to Christ on His terms and be eternally saved.
His way is much easier than the way of the wide gate, because the wide gate requires works. Here is the simple way of the narrow gate.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
We cannot earn our way to Heaven by our good works because we have all come short of the glory of God.
You must realize that you are a sinner and stand guilty before a holy God. You must turn from your own efforts and call out to God for mercy. He will point you to the shed blood of Christ, which paid the price of your sin. Trust Christ, and Him alone, for saving grace.
… for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5
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