Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Understanding the Meaning
How do we interpret the true meaning of the above Scripture? Does it mean that salvation is difficult to obtain? Well actually, there’s both a “yes” and a “no” answer to this question. First of all, salvation is not based on our works but on faith in Jesus Christ. So one answer is “No” because of what Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us. I especially like the way it’s written in the New Living Translation. It says:
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
So you see, there’s nothing we have to do or are able to do for that matter, to earn our salvation (like with all other religions). It’s a free gift from God. Matthew 7:7-8 says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” But God knows your heart and if you are truly seeking Him. And also, “Yes,” because salvation requires us to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior. There’s a serious commitment involved that requires repentance. Turning away from the sinful lifestyle that we may be living and permanently turning toward a life of holy living. And not just on Sunday mornings. The majority of the population will refuse to give up the sinful lifestyle they enjoy, therefore choosing the “wide gate” that seems much easier (broader) at the time, yet leads to destruction.
Too many of us are too attached to our secular life, our secular friends, and our old ways to give it all up and start all over down a difficult and narrow path. Squeezing through the narrow gate and traveling down the difficult path requires us to be able to differentiate between the world’s ways (the broad road) and God’s way (the narrow road). Because according to God Himself, there will be few who find it. You see, the narrow gate isn’t just hard to find, it’s hard to enter even if you do find it (Luke 13:24). Millions of people discover Christianity and find Jesus (even though they were the ones that were lost), but when they realize the requirements and what they’ll have to give up, most turn and walk away. To see a perfect example of this exact thing happening in the Bible, read these 9 verses in Matthew 19:16-24 about a rich man who came to Jesus to ask Him what it takes to inherit eternal life.
If you are a person who is at a point in life where you’re feeling the need for a change, a need for church, and a need for God – and so you reach out to someone you know is a true Christian walking closely with the Lord, then the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart. But at the same time, Satan (the enemy) won’t give up without a fight. So it’s all a matter of who you’re going to listen to. The enemy wants you to forget about your need for a change, a church, or God. He definitely does not want you to read the Bible and so he will encourage you to forget about your Christian friend and go about your life doing the things you want to do and making your own choices. The devil has paved the road to hell with fleshly temptations, carnal attractions, and ethical compromises. He wants you to follow the masses and go down the broad road with little to no restrictions. The road that leads to the same place he and all his dominions go.
We also see in Matthew 9:37,
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
And Matthew 22:14,
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Our loving God is calling all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), but only the few who “in and of themselves” (God gave us “free will”) choose to follow Jesus faithfully will be chosen.
So… we still have the question of “How Narrow Is the Road to Heaven?”
The Popular Worldview Answer
Jesus said, “there are few who find it.”
According to Wikipedia, the World Christian Database’s statistics as of 2010 claimed there to be an estimated 2.2 billion people who profess to be Christians. That’s nearly 1/3 of the world’s entire population. Does this sound like only a few? The truth is that most of these “Christians” are likely deceived and are in for a big surprise. They are likely headed down the road to destruction. Some of these so-called “Christians” are the same ones spewing out garbage like Jesus having a physical relationship with Mary Magdalene and their descendant’s still walking among us today. This, or any other false propaganda that does not coincide with the rest of the true Orthodox word of God is blasphemous teaching and denies His sinless holy life, and therefore would disqualify Him as our sacrificial Lamb.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy4:3-4).
A great number of these 2.2 billion people professing to be Christians are gathering by the thousands to listen to and follow their favorite prosperity preachers who give them false hope and empty promises. These preachers will preach nothing but happiness, joy, and prosperity to their congregation of thousands of foolish people being led astray. They purposely leave out any parts of the Bible that speak of God’s people being persecuted, going through trials and tribulations, and many other kinds of suffering throughout their walk, like the Bible also talks about (1 Peter 5:10, Acts 9:16). Speaking of these things would be bad for business.
I’ve added a couple of short video clips (7:06 & 4:26 min.) of one of the largest and most popular prosperity preachers denying that Jesus Christ is the only way. For those who care to watch them, the links are here (Link #1 – Link#2). And believe it or not, one of my favorite and most popular evangelists of the 20th century who I believe in and respect tremendously also gave me a good shock. Here is a video clip of Billy Graham in his early days preaching to thousands that Jesus Christ is the only way (Link). And then, here is another video clip of the same Billy Graham 24 years later denying that Jesus Christ is the only way and stating his belief that people of “all religions” will be with us in heaven (Link). As you can see, the popular worldview answer is that there are many ways to heaven.
What Did Jesus Say?
The beginning of verse 13 was not a suggestion! Jesus commands us to “enter by the narrow gate” (or door, or road, or path). It’s important to realize that whenever Jesus mentions “gate,” “door,” “road,” or “path,” He’s referring to each of them being Himself. In John 10:9 Jesus refers to Himself as “the door.” He said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Now back to Matthew chapter 7. In verse 14 it says “the way which leads to life.” The word “life” refers to “eternal life” in heaven. So you see, only when we enter through Jesus will we see heaven. Jesus is the only door to heaven. Throughout the Gospels, many times, and in many ways, Jesus clearly answers the question of “How Narrow Is the Road to Heaven.”
First, we’ll start with one of the most direct and obvious statements from Jesus.
“Except through Me” means that you can’t make it to the Father (in heaven) by any other means, or through any other so-called “god.” You can’t make it to heaven through the Islamic god “Allah,” the Hindu god “Brahman,” nor through “Buddha,” “Confucius” or even the Virgin Mary. Acts 4:12 says; “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” But wait, we’re only getting started. Here are a few other statements made by Jesus concerning this.
“Not everyone who says to Me,’ Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so, must the Son of Man be lifted up (crucified), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
Then He said to them all, “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words, and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23-24).
What Does the Rest of the Bible Say?
Throughout the Bible, in both the old and new Testaments, the narrow and difficult path to heaven is evident. There has always been only two choices. The choice between life or death, good or evil, worshiping a false god, or the true living God, making your own choices, or following the commandments of God.
From the Old Testament we read;
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
“Furthermore, tell the people, This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death” (Jeremiah 21:8).
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “how long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”But the people answered him not a word (1 Kings 18:21).
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
In the New Testament, the followers of Jesus continued with His teachings. In their support, they wrote numerous Scriptures about Jesus being the only way to heaven. Below I’ve listed just a few.
“For God so long the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69).
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Does This Mean There Will Not Be Many People in Heaven?
The final book of the Bible makes it perfectly clear that there will be many people from all parts of the world in heaven. Revelation 7:9-10 tells us;
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
However, when you think of every single person who ever walked the face of the earth from the beginning of time, until the end of time – that “great multitude which no one could number,” is still considered to be only a few.
As we can see, the most important decision that anyone will ever make in their life is the one regarding their eternal destiny. The word of God tells us that our soul lives on forever, it’s eternal!
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).
“For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets” (Ecclesiastes 12:5).
“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
But, we only have two options. Eternal punishment in hell, or eternal joy in heaven. There’s no third option, and there’s no “purgatory.” If you were to ask many of these 2.2 billion professing Christians “why do you think you’re going to heaven?” Many would say it’s because they believe in Jesus Christ. But it’s not enough to just believe. As it says in James chapter 2:
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19- 20).
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
You see, it’s not hard to say you believe in something. And it’s not enough to study about the narrow gate and admire what Jesus said. You must go beyond being fascinated with the work of Christ and admiring Him. Because hell is going to be filled with the souls of people who admired Jesus and His teaching but did not follow Him. Complete “faith” in Jesus is the only way to eternal life with Him in heaven. So what exactly is “faith”? The Bible says:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Waiting on God’s timing, without knowing when.
Trusting God’s purpose, without knowing why.
Expecting a miracle, without knowing how.
Continuing to persist, without knowing how long.
We have to dig down deep in our hearts and keep passing the test. Keep proclaiming His promises even when we don’t see a sign of them. Keep thanking Him that His promises are on the way. Keep believing and holding onto “faith” in Jesus Christ.
If you deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Jesus, even when it hurts, then you are on the Narrow Road to Heaven. And that’s great news! Just keep your eyes on Jesus and His eternal reward. Because:
“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Soon, your toil will come to an end.
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
Do not play around with your eternal destiny! You never know when you will take your last breath, or when Jesus will return and you get left behind.
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this post!
I would like to end with a very short (only 2 minutes) but powerful video clip from Dr. Steven J. Lawson who served as a pastor for 34 years and was the author of over 20 books. This short video clip sums it all up. Remember, it’s only 2 minutes.