Few, Not Many

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There are many renditions of the photo you see on your left. But I think this is the version that once hung on a wall in the church of my childhood. It depicts what is described in 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.

This is not a message that we want to hear. The New King James version of the Scriptures uses the word “difficult” to describe the road that leads to life. Commenting on this, John MacArthur writes: “Christ continually emphasized the difficulty of following Him (Matt. 10:38; 16:24-25; John15:18-19; 16:1-3; cf. Acts 14:22). Salvation is by grace alone, but it is not easy. It calls for knowledge of the truth, repentance, submission to Christ as Lord, and a willingness to obey His will and Word. Cf. Matt. 19:16-28.” (One Perfect Life, p. 150)

After I read this passage and the context around it, I happened to read a post on FACEBOOK about a man who had faked being a Christian for 19 years. He had been an evangelist and missionary. Then, finally, he “came out” and proclaimed himself an atheist. That story reminded me of a young man in my own youth group who “walked the walk and talked the talk” of a believer for many years. He led the youth group both at church and in our high school. One evening at prayer meeting he got up and confessed that he had never been a believer during those years. He had faked it in order to please his parents who were pillars of the church. Unlike the man in the post, he told the story of his true repentance, asked for forgiveness for having deceived the congregation, and requested the favour of being re-baptized, this time as a true believer.

These verses about how difficult it is to enter the kingdom and how few actually come through its gate lead into a warning about “false prophets” (Matthew 7:15-23). These are leaders who, for whatever reason, have “faked it.” Jesus tells his audience that eventually they will be found out. It is only a question of time before they are unable to keep up the pretense.

But the passage also says that there are others who will actually get to the end of their lives and appear before the Lord and discover that they had missed an absolutely crucial step in the process described in the quote from MacArthur. They’d built on the wrong foundation.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:22, 23). Doing good doesn't make one righteous. Then follows the parable of the wise and foolish builders which illustrates the danger of building ours lives on the wrong foundation. These people, described as “many,” are good people serving the Lord, but they had never repented of their sins and asked Christ to forgive them and indwell their lives.

There are fakes who know what they are and fakes who don’t know that they are faking it. Eventually all will be revealed. The scary truth stands out: MANY don’t enter and FEW do. There is only one entrance and no back door. The way is narrow. The entrance is shaped like a cross and that path behind it bears the shadow of that cross. There is no avoiding it.

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