Two Ways

by Mike Ratliff

Go in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are those going in through it. How narrow the gate and how hard is the way that leads to life and few are the ones finding it! (a personal translation of Matthew 7:13,14 from the Greek text)

Εἰσέλθετε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν, καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι᾿ αὐτῆς. ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν, καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. (Matthew 7:13,14 GNT)

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth or hurting someone’s feelings or offending someone’s “sensibilities” were the issue with our Lord it would make any difference. He would not hesitate to preach the truth because in God’s truth is life. In man-made truth is only death. Consider the passage at the top of this post. The lie that has taken over our society is that it is a sin to be narrow-minded. We must be as broad and as accepting as possible. We must be all-inclusive in all things to the point of madness. From this our enemy has sown the lies such as “There are many roads to heaven,” and since God is a good God He must also me a “fair God” so “eventually everyone will be saved.” The problems with this are that this “god” is a creation of these people’s wishful thinking not The God, our God, the Creator of all things. Also, in His Word, our Lord Jesus taught exactly the opposite of this as the passage above clearly says. 

The word I translated from Matthew 7:13 as “way” is ὁδὸς or hodos, “a way, road, highway, or street in their many possible forms.”

Nearly half (46x) the occurrences of this word are figurative in meaning, focusing on the course one takes in life. Jesus speaks of the “road” to life: the gate that leas to it is small, and the “road” itself is small, while the “way” to destruction is through a wide gate and the “way” itself is broad. Many go to destruction; few travel to life (Mt. 7:13-14). There are thus, in life. only two possible roads to travel; there is no third option! Ultimately Jesus is “the way (Jn 14:6: Acts 18:25-26; Heb. 10”20) to life as God intends it to be lived. He is also the one who will “guide our feet into the path of peace” (Lk. 1:79; cf. Rom. 3:17). – Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, page 779.

Jesus said to him; I am the way and the truth and the life; not one come to the Father except through me. (a personal translation of John 14:6 from the Greek text)

There is the way to life. Jesus made that very clear. This is the narrow gate that leads to the hard way that leads to life. If you listen to popular preaching in our time you will never hear this. No, you will hear things like Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life and all you have to do is make some sort of decision, find that vision God has for you, exhibit audacious faith, and God will then bless you with abundant living. Well, that isn’t what Jesus says here at all. He says that the gate to salvation is narrow. This is the Greek word στενῆς the genitive singular form of στενός or stenos. Genitive is similar to the English possessive case, however, here we are seeing that Matthew, inspired by God, is using the word for “narrow” to give special meaning to the head noun, which, here, is “gate.” The word describes a gate that is constricted and precise, which  is exactly what true salvation by faith through Christ alone is. This is God’s way that leads to life eternal. The wide gate is the exact opposite. It includes all religions of works and self-righteousness, with no single way (Acts 4:12), but leads to Hell, not Heaven.

Notice also that the narrow gate leads to the hard way that leads to life eternal. What is this talking about? Jesus pulled no punches. He always emphasized the difficulty of following Him (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; John 15:18, 19, 16:1-3; cf. Acts 14:22). Genuine 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. Notice that I preceded all of that by say salvation is by grace alone. This obedience is only possible for us by this grace as well. Our Lord said in John 15:1-5, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (ESV)

Notice especially the part I put in italics. There are some who claim that those of us who teach that salvation is according to the Sovereignty of God and what is called Lordship salvation are preaching a damnable heresy and works righteousness. They are biblically ignorant. I preach and teach only what God’s Word says. We are completely incapable of any good work unless we abide in Christ by His grace and through that He enables us to obey Him. No one is saved unless they turn in repentance to Him as Lord according the faith given to them by God at their quickening. (Ephesians 2:8,9). Remember we do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. What did our Lord say about that in John 14:6 above? How about this passage:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV)

This is a description of what Lordship salvation is. We must follow Jesus as Lord or He is not our Lord for He also said:

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38-39 ESV)

So you see, the gate to life is narrow and way to life is hard and only a few find the gate and only a few take the hard way while the multitude take the broad gate and easy way that only leads to eternal damnation. There is only two ways. If you are on the narrow, hard way then praise God, glory be His name. However, if you are pridefully refusing to go any way but your own way or the way that “feels good” or the the way “that’s cool” or the way “that’s politically correct” well then, you are on the broad way and I pray for God to open your eyes to the truth before it is too late.

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “Two Ways

  1. Mike, This narrow road is why the gospel needs to be proclaimed in our churches. Not for seeker sensitive, ( that is to be done by the ambassodors in this foreign land, (christians)) but so that each christian may examine himself with the Truth. 2 Co 13: 5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?

    I would like to expand on your point about good works. Not only are we on our own, incapable of good works; God is very specific in His provision for good works. He supplies it all. Just as we plant, water.and harvest, he gives the increase, from seed to fruit. Notice the thread pf good works in the following Scriptures. 2Ti 3:16-17 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
    Eph 2:8-10 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.
    Col 1: 9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; …

    Keep up the GOOD WORK!
    Paul

  2. Mike, thanks so much for writing this article. Recently I have dealt with this very issue where some charged “Lordship” salvation as works-based, even coining the term “easy-works”.

    The ignorance of what this doctrine teaches, which is no more or less than the Gospel according to the Lord Jesus Christ, is profound. What’s worse, by declaring LS as heresy, they must also declare those who teach it, including Jesus and the Apostles, as heretics if they are to be consistent. This is not a secondary issue – it’s the very Gospel! Though many are simply biblically ignorant of this truth, others still have intentions to twist the Word of God for their own profit.

    It is frustrating the modern message has so polluted evangelical circles to the point that man is ultimately sovereign over salvation, justification does not necessitate sanctification, a distinction is made between a believer and a disciple, repentance has been redefined to simply mean intellectually changing one’s mind, and one does not have to submit to the lordship of Christ to be saved. The Gospel has been perverted and in many cases, the blind are leading the blind.

    Praise God we have men and women who continue to fight for the faith no matter the cost. In a day where easy-believism abounds, we must proclaim the unadulterated Gospel all the more, and all the more loudly!

    A must listen message by Dr. Steven Lawson can be found in this article where I expound on the issues concerning what is known as “Lordship” salvation: http://airo-cross.blogspot.com/2010/10/lordship-salvation-it-will-cost-you.html

    Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

  3. Thanks for this article. I am reading the book ‘The gospel according to Jesus’ from John Macarthur. A very good book. He also explaines a lot about the Lordship of Jesus.

    Lately on Youtube I’ve found some video’s saying that MacArthur is teaching Lordshipsalvation and that he is wrong, but your article, and the book are very clear. I didn’t understsand exactly what that the ‘Lordshipsalavation’ discussion was all about, but I somehow knew that those who called it a heresy were not right. You article and the respons from Justin Edwards helped me (just like the book from MacArthur). You are right. Jesus and the aposteles teached it: Jesus Christ is Lord.

  4. Janet, “Lordship salvation” is the Gospel and it will always be under attack from our enemy and those who hate the truth. By-the-way, I read that book in its first edition when it was first published. I re-read it a few years ago. I think it is one of J.M.’s better books.

  5. So very good, Mike.

    It is good to be reminded of this scripture in Matt 7. There is not only a gate, but a path; a way that He requires us to walk. Only by His grace can we do this. Like Jesus said, a servant is not greater than his master. If they hated Me they will hate you. No one wants to be hated,
    nor is it something Christians wear like a badge to show they are true Christians. It is the way God intends for us to live—separate, on the narrow path, sometimes alone and abandoned by people for our refusal to compromise God’s word, perhaps persecuted. All that is nothing compared to the joy of knowing Him.

    What is equally as sobering is a little further down the chapter in verses 21-23. There is a difference between you claiming to know the Lord and His actually knowing you.

    God bless, Mike.

  6. @Mike, I have the latest edition of ‘The gospel according to Jesus’ where MacArthur writes about the controversy after his first book.

    It is right that the gospel is under attack. People want the nice things of the gospel and stay in control of their own life. But they forget that Jesus was very clear about what it meant to follow Him. We have to lay down our life and let Him be Lord and King. He must increase, I must decrease.

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