Jesus said that only those who find the narrow way will make it into eternity. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13). Many people who call themselves Christians may think they are on that narrow path, but are they really? Are you really?
If the path to salvation was simply believing, and nothing else, that’s not very narrow. It’s not hard to say you believe in something. James 2:19 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Even the demons believe in God, but they are not headed to heaven.
Sadly, it’s likely that many who have been convinced by churches that they are on the narrow path, are really on the wide path to hell. What about you? What path are you on?
It is the very teachings today of grace alone and the teaching that mere belief, and no actions, are the path to salvation, that are sending many proclaimed Christians to hell. Many Christians today vehemently condemn anyone who even suggests that the way we live and behave has any relevance to our eternal salvation and whether we end up in heaven or in hell.
It is these same people who self-righteously believe that they are correct, condemning anyone who ever tried to do good works, and categorizes anyone who suggests that good works are necessary for salvation as a false teacher, citing that “you cannot work toward salvation”. Yet, this claim is not biblical.
Sadly, these anti-works teachers who are the majority of Christian teachers today would have also classified Jesus Himself as a heretic, for it was Jesus who commanded us to obey God and do good. It was Jesus who said that if we do not forgive others, then we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14–15).
If you love Me
It was Jesus who said, “if you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The inverse is that if you do not keep Jesus’ commandments, then you do not love Jesus. Jesus also said that “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).
If you do not follow the ways of God then you make yourselves an enemy of God. James 4:4 says, “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” If you think that simply saying that you believe in God, but your life does not reflect that, that it means you are on the narrow path, then you are deceiving yourself.
Jesus said in 1 John 2:4, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Therefore if you do not live a life that reflects God, by doing what the Bible commands, then you do not know God, and you are actually headed down the wide path to destruction, not the narrow path to salvation.
The gate is narrow
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14). Today, it is claimed that there are 2.2 billion Christians, which is one third of the entire world’s population. Does this sound like “only a few”? The truth is that most of these “Christians” are likely leaded to hell, and they are deceived. They follow false teachers of grace, who fail to tell them about the other side of God, the side of God that hates sin and evil.
These false teachers say things taken completely out of context, like “Jesus’ sacrifice was enough” and that “there is nothing you can do to earn salvation”. If that was true, then what about the other 6 billion people on Earth? If there was nothing you had to do, why aren’t they already saved? The reason is because the teaching is false and unscriptural. The teaching that we are totally covered by Jesus’ blood even if we turn against God by refusing to follow Him by doing what He commands, is a lie and a deception. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6).
These teachers may truly believe they are teaching the truth, but in reality they are manipulated by demons and teaching the doctrine of Satan. God does not accept all people. In fact, most people are rejected by God, and will go to hell. This is sad, tragic, and unfortunate, so that’s why it’s so important for us to learn the truth ourselves, that we cannot live life however we want and still expect to enter into eternity with God.
We are not of this world
Rather, the Bible has a completely different teaching. The Bible says that we are not of this world. Jesus said in John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Are you hated by the world? Do you suffer because you go against the popular culture? If not, there is a problem, because our culture is opposed to God. If you are not hated by the world, then you are not of God.
Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
James 1:19-21 says, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
James 1:22-25 continues, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
What the Bible teaches is not that you can live however you like and enter into heaven. Rather, the Bible teaches that we must do good and follow God’s laws and commandments, or else we will not make it into heaven, but rather hell.
Many will say “Lord, Lord”
Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23 regarding the great day of judgment after the end of this world, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Today, a common type of false teacher which goes unnoticed by the Christian community is one who condemns those who seeks to do good. To condemn a person under the idea of “trying to earn salvation” is to say the opposite of what the Bible teaches. The narrow path is not simply saying a prayer once and then continuing life as normal just like the rest of the world. A person cannot enter eternity with God in Heaven unless they reject the world and live for God. This is the narrow path.
You cannot earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift. Jesus is the only way to salvation. Salvation however comes with a high cost. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Whoever does not take his cross
But if you live however you want, then Jesus will not save you. Saying a prayer once or even saying that you believe, is not enough for salvation. If you want your soul to be saved, then you must deny yourself. Jesus said, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
Is “taking up your cross” just believing in Jesus? No. Taking up your cross is dying to yourself and giving up everything you want for the sake of Christ, and living for God every moment of every day. Jesus continues, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). If you are not dying to yourself daily by sacrificing what you want to do for what God wants you to do, then you are headed to hell.
A fellow seminarian asked me, “then how much is enough?” with regards to how much good works until you get salvation. That’s the wrong question. Jesus commanded full obedience. Will Jesus be merciful with us if we do not achieve full perfection (not sinning from now until the day of our death)? I believe so — but under the contingency that we are also fully forgiving of all others (Matthew 6:14–15). However, if you are not continually growing and eliminating sin and continuing “to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), then you’re on the wrong path, the one that leads to death.
Do you think salvation is easy? It’s not. Do you think being a Christian improves your life on Earth? It makes it harder. Much harder. If it’s easy to you to be a Christian, then you probably are not a Christian. If it’s hard, even grueling to be a Christian, because you reject the world and live for God every day, fighting against every temptation constantly, and spending time with God many times daily, then and only then may you possibly be on the narrow path to eternal life.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).