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Sermon on the Mount Series: The Narrow and Wide Gates


An open gate during sunrise

Every Christian reading this would agree that the teachings of Jesus are difficult to understand. His wisdom, being the God of Creation, is far beyond our own understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). In this blog series, we will unpack some of the most difficult teachings from Jesus, which come from Matthew 5-7 in the illustrious Sermon on the Mount. Each blog will touch on a different teaching from Jesus within His most famous sermon in an effort to help you apply His teachings to your life as a Christian working in the sport industry.


In our twelfth blog of the Sermon on the Mount series, we’ll help you better understand and apply Jesus’ teachings on the narrow and wide gates in Matthew 7:13-14.


The Only Way

The commonly held belief in today’s culture is that every religion is true and leads to life. According to a recent study done by Barna, 62% of adults agree with the statement, “Many religions lead to eternal life; there is no ‘one true religion.’” While this belief may seem tolerant and accepting, it is a belief that directly opposes the teachings of Jesus and a belief that is illogical.


In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus makes a very challenging and controversial statement in front of a large crowd. “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.”


Jesus’ words lead us as Christians to understand and affirm two things as true. The first is that there are opposing paths that people can choose to walk. The second is that there is a path that leads to destruction and a path that leads to life. It is impossible to ignore the fact that Jesus teaches that there is only one way to life and that all other paths lead to destruction.


This is not the only time that Jesus taught that there is only one path to life. In John 14:6, Jesus said to His disciples after they asked to know where He was going, “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Christianity is both an exclusive and inclusive religion. It is exclusive because Jesus is the one and only way to God and everlasting life, but it is incredibly inclusive because it is a gospel for all people (Revelation 7:9).


While a large number of people in our world would hold to the belief that all religions lead to life, it is evident in the teachings of Jesus that only one path leads to salvation, and that path is through Him. So, the gate is narrow because there is only one path through it. Jesus commands us and pleads with us to enter that gate because, through it, we can have life.


Logic and Life

As mentioned above, there is a large number of people who hold to the belief that all religions lead to life. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, a whopping 65% of Americans believe that Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists all believe in the same God. Furthermore, 62% of Americans believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.


These statistics are highly concerning because it is illogical to believe that all of the world religions are the same and that there is no absolute truth. While it is possible that none of the world religions is true, it is impossible to state that they are all true, or even all the same.


Each of the major world religions has a radically different worldview, so radically different that they cannot be seen as remotely similar. The major world religions include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Through a quick overview of these religions, it will be easy to see that they cannot all be true.


First, we can identify three of these religions as monotheistic. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism believe in one God. However, Hindus and Buddhists have differing views, even between each other. Hindus are polytheists, which means that they believe in many different gods. In fact, Hindus have more than 33 million gods and goddesses that they worship. Buddhists do not believe in any god at all. So, it is easy to conclude that Hinduism and Buddhism cannot be one in the same with one another, and certainly not one in the same with the three monotheistic religions.


Is it possible that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are all worshiping the same God? Absolutely not. Christians believe in one God that is triune in nature. Furthermore, Christians hold to the conviction that Jesus Christ was the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, and was fully God and fully man. These convictions of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ are core and essential tenets of the Christian faith. Judaism is the most similar to Christianity. Christians and Jews believe in Yahweh as the one true God. However, Jews do not believe that Yahweh is a triune God, nor do they believe that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah.


Islam has some similarities with both Christianity and Judaism, as well, but without a doubt they have more differences. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was God, but rather see him as a prophet of Allah. Furthermore, Muslims believe that worshiping Jesus as God is blasphemous. Muslims also strongly deny the Trinity and believe that Allah is one.


It is clear in this surface level breakdown of the major world religions that they cannot all be true at the same time, nor can they all be worshiping the same god. There cannot be one god and 33 million gods. There cannot be no god, and also a god. Jesus cannot be both the divine son of God and just a prophet. God cannot be both triune in nature, but also not triune in nature. Through logic and reasoning, we can easily conclude that not all religions can be true or worship the same god. This brings us back to the words of Jesus that the road that leads to destruction is wide, because there are many ways to walk down it.


Destruction and Determination

Getting back to the passage in Matthew 7:13-14, it is clear that Jesus teaches that many people will enter through the wide gate that leads to destruction. We discussed why the gate is wide and broad, because there are many ways that people can walk through the wide gate. Jesus is the only way that we can evade the coming destruction and receive life. But, how should we respond to this as Christians?


In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus is ministering to many towns and villages through proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing diseases. He saw the crowds and had great compassion for them. After seeing this, he said to His disciples in verses 37-38, “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.””


The proper response from the Christian to Jesus’ difficult teaching on the wide gate that leads to destruction is compassion for those that are on that path. The heart of God is that all people come to repentance and walk through the narrow gate (2 Peter 3:9) and God has called His people to minister the gospel message to the lost (Matthew 28:16-20). So, our response should be to go out into the harvest field and share the way that people can walk through the narrow gate, which is through Jesus Christ and through Him alone.


Our determination to fulfill this task and great responsibility should reflect that of Paul the Apostle during his farewell address to the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:13-38. In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” This task is the most important matter in the life of the Christian, because many people are on a path that leads to destruction, and it is the gospel message that we hold dear to that can point them down the narrow path that leads to life.


Conclusion

In the era of postmodernism, the majority of people believe that all religions lead to life. It is clear, however, that Jesus teaches that there is one absolute truth that leads to life and that path is through Him (John 14:6). As Christians living in the postmodern world, we must continue to live out and speak the absolute truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

 

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