“Enter through the narrow gate”




[Matthew 7:13-14]



Are you good at “yes” when you say “yes” and “no” when you say “no”?  In Matthew 5:37, Jesus tells us: “Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”  The reason I came to think of this is because I had this realization while meditating on the words of Ezra 4:3 at the early Morning Prayer meeting on Thursday last week and reading Dr. Yoon-sun Park's commentary on Ezra 4:1-3: ‘The decisive act of refusal when someone with whom you do not have a spiritual commonality offers to join is biblical’ (Park).  Of course, in the words meditating on Ezra 4:3, “enemies of Judah and Benjamin” (v. 1) said to the leaders of Judah and Benjamin, “we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him” (v. 2).  Because the God they sought and sacrificed was not the God of Israel (the only God), the leaders of Israel flatly refused, saying, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God” (v. 3).  Because of the decisive refusal of the leaders of Israel in this way (v. 4), they face tribulation and persecution.  If you are like the Israelite leaders, would you reject them as decisively as the leaders of Israel, even though you knew you would face tribulation and persecution?  Obviously, if you say “no” to the other person, would you say “no” even though you know you will suffer?  If you simply say “yes” to the other person, there is no need for suffering and no hardship or persecution, would you still say “no” to “no” in the eyes of God?  In connection with today's text Matthew 7:13-14, the question is again: "Will you choose the narrow path of 'No' or the broad path of 'Yes'?"


In today's text, Matthew 7:13, Jesus is telling his disciples to "Enter through the narrow gate".  I would like to take this word as the title and to receive the lessons that Jesus gives us while meditating on the words of Jesus.  I hope and pray that all of us will receive eternal life as we receive and obey the instruction of the Lord.


In today's text, Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus is telling us two gates.  Those two gates are “the narrow gate” and “the wide gate”.  Jesus says that the narrow gate is small and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (v. 14).  And He says that the wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it (v. 13).  Then, what we need to think about here is what is the “narrow gate” and the “wide gate” Jesus is talking about.  First of all, the wide gate Jesus is talking about refers to ‘the broad gate’.  And Jesus is saying that many go in through that broad gate, because the gate is wide.  But Jesus is saying that few enter through the narrow gate, that is, the small gate.  Why? The reason is because the small gate is narrow.  The original Greek literal meaning of the word “narrow” here is “restricted” (Friberg).  That is, in Matthew 7:14, Jesus says that the gate is narrow and the road that leads to life is narrow, which means 'the road that leads to life is limited' (Friberg).  And when Jesus says small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (v. 14), the original Greek for the word 'narrow,' the figurative meaning of the word is to experience hardship or to be afflicted (2 Cor. 1:6) (Friberg).  In other words, why are few people going through the narrow gate, not only because those who enter through that gate are limited, but also because there are hardships (tribulation) on the narrow road that enters through that gate.  This word gives some reason as to why so many people walk the wide road to get to the broad gate.  It is because there is no affliction or tribulation on the broad road.  It is because there is no need to suffer through faith in Jesus on that broad road.  That is why many people walk on that broad road.


After all, in today’s text, Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus is talking to his disciples two gates, two ways, two destinations, and two groups of people (MacArthur).  The first group, many, are walking on the broad road to enter the wide gate, but their destination is “destruction” (v. 13).  In other words, the destination of many (great) crowds walking through the wide gate, the broad road, is eternal death in Hell.  But the second group of people, though few, will walk down the small road and enter the narrow gate, their destination being “life” (v. 14) that is, eternal life in heaven.  So, the question that can be asked here is who are the large crowds trying to get in through the wide gate Jesus is talking about, and who are the little crowds trying to get in through the narrow gate?  The great crowd refers to the Pharisees who are legalists in the context of today's text.  More realistically, it could be said that the great crowd are those who seek to be saved by works.  Look at Matthew 6:5 – “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”  Here “the street” refers to a major road with a lot of people coming and going (Internet).  The Pharisees who were the hypocrites loved to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  These Pharisees were a large crowd who were walking in the broad road to enter the wide gate that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:13-14.  Even now, like the Pharisees at the time of Jesus, there are many people who want to be saved through works, which are human efforts.  The road they walk is broad and the gate they want to enter is wide.  For example, if you look at many religions in the world, the core of their teachings is that human effort (will) can achieve their salvation.  One example is Buddhism.  The theory of soteriology taught in Buddhism says that salvation can be obtained by practicing the eight ways to reach nirvana (the Eightfold Path) that Sakyamuni said.  In other words, Buddhism insists on the idea of self-salvation.  And the salvation that Buddhists believe in is liberation (nirvana) (the eternal escape) from the cycle of suffering (Internet).  Another example is Islam.  What is the Islamic view of salvation?  In a word, Islam's view of salvation is also self-salvation.  In other words, Muslims believe that salvation comes by keeping the precepts written in the Qur'an and allowing good deeds to outnumber evil deeds.  So salvation is the responsibility of each individual (Internet). 


So what about Hinduism?  In Hinduism, the concept of salvation refers to the individual soul becoming one with the divine universal reality.  The god that Hindus believe is Brahman.  And when one realizes the wisdom that Brahman is Atman (human), the wheel of reincarnation (just as the wheel constantly rolls, sentient beings are freed from the world of life and death of the three realms and six paths through defilements and karma) experiences the experience of liberation, becoming one with the universe.  In the end, Hinduism's salvation ideology can be seen as an experience of becoming one with the universe by realizing that human beings are gods.  So, they believe that the path to which Brahman and Atman are united is possible through various methods of meditation.  For example, raga yoga offers a way of unity through meditation or mind control; Karma yoga offers a path to unity with Brahman through action; Jnana yoga attempts to unite through knowledge; And, Bhakti yoga offers a way to achieve unity with God through love and devotion.  Therefore, Hinduism's view of salvation is ultimately based on human efforts, and through various yoga practices, one realizes the unity of self and Brahman and seeks to save oneself (Internet).  Their destination is never heaven (eternal life).  Rather, the Bible teaches us that their destination is hell (destruction).  Why?  The reason is that there is no one in this world who can be saved by human effort and deeds.  In other words, salvation is not achieved through human works, but only through faith in Jesus who died on the cross.  Look at Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  The Bible Acts 4:12 clearly tells us: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  What does it mean?  It means that the only name under the world that can be saved is the name of Jesus (meaning: God is salvation).  In other words, only through Jesus can we be saved.


                Who then walks the narrow road and enters through the small gate?  Clearly, Jesus is saying that there are a small number of people who enter that gate, but who are the few?  This small group of people believe that salvation can only be achieved through faith in Jesus.  In other words, these little flock are those who believe in Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6).  These are the few restricted groups who enter through the narrow gate that leads to life.  Do you understand?  When I think of the limited few who enter the narrow gate, it reminds me of the doctrine of “Limited atonement” in our Reformed theology.  Here, “Limited atonement” is the third of the famous five doctrines of the Reformer John Calvin.  And the essence of the doctrine is that Jesus died on the cross only for those whom God had chosen before the foundation of the world.  This is “the doctrine of limited atonement’.  This is the doctrine that Jesus died on the cross only for those whom He knew.  Jesus taught this clearly.  Look at John 10:14-15: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”  The important thing here is what kind of sheep it is, since Jesus said He would die for the sheep.  Jesus said “My own” which means His sheep.  Look at verse 26. Jesus said “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”  Jesus did not die for sheep that were not His sheep.  He died for “My sheep” (Internet).  ‘If you oppose the limited atonement doctrine and accept the universal atonement doctrine, then you will not only misinterpret the above Bible verse, but also denigrate the power of the blood that Jesus shed.  If He died for all the souls in the world, each and every one of them, all those souls should be saved.  But in reality, this is not the case.  If Jesus died for the soul that was about to be destroyed, but in reality, that soul could not be saved, then He died in vain.  To make Jesus' death seem in vain is to blaspheme the blood of Jesus.  Conversely, limited atonement doctrine emphasizes that Jesus died for His sheep and for His people.  But that death had an infallible effect on behalf of those who died.  This is important.  The point of limited atonement is that God always saves who He wants to save.  Going back to John 10:28-29, it is clear that this point is emphasized: “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand” (Internet).  However, we must bear in mind that this doctrine of limited atonement in no way means that there is no limit to the value and power of Christ's accomplished atonement.  In other words, the atonement power of the cross of Jesus has the power to save all people in the world.  But God loved in His sovereignty and offered the power of salvation only to the people He chose before the foundation of the world.  However, here we who believe in limited atonement are misunderstood and need to beware.  That is, atonement occurs only to those who have been pre-chosen doesn’t mean that it should quench the passion of evangelism, such as evangelism to the public, which is evangelizing to all people in general.  In particular, we Reformed believers who thoroughly believe in predestination and limited atonement should be more wary of this (Internet).  The reason is because we do not know who God has chosen (only God knows), we must diligently preach the gospel to everyone, just as Jesus found the lost sheep.


The words implying that there are a few (limited) people who are saved by believing in Jesus Christ are also found in Luke 13:23-24, which is similar to Matthew 7:13-14: “And someone said to Him, ‘Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?’  And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’”  Jesus is telling us to strive to enter through the narrow door.  The reason is because many will seek to enter and will not be abl.  Jesus is saying that there are many those who cannot even if they try to enter through the narrow gate.  It's not the "don't do it", it's the "can't do it".  Therefore, like the question posed by someone who came to Jesus and said, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?”  Those who are being saved are not a large group, but a small number.  And the Bible says that once the Lord closes the narrow (small) gate of heaven, it will be of no use no matter how many people knock on the door while crying out, “Sir, open the door for us” (v. 25).  Rather, in Luke 13:25, Jesus is saying that the owner of the house would say: “'I do not know where you are from.”  As a result, that large crowd will be weeping and gnashing their teeth outside the kingdom of God, Jesus says (v. 28).


In Jeremiah 21:8, God says: “You shall also say to this people, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.”  God has set before us the way of life and the way of death.  The way of death is a broad road, and there are many who enter it.  The reason is because the road is easy and comfortable (Hagner).  But the way of life is narrow.  And there are tribulations and persecutions for those who walk on that road.  That's why few people find that narrow gate.  But today Jesus is telling us to enter through that narrow gate because that narrow gate leads to eternal life.  This is what Jesus says in John 10:7 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”  And Jesus said, “If anyone enters through me, he will be saved” (v. 9).  This is the purpose of Jesus coming to this world.  He came “that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (v. 10).  I bless you in the name of Jesus that you may enter through that narrow gate through faith in this Jesus and receive eternal life.