(Article for publication week of5-22- AD 2013)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
In our text the Lord Jesus Christ illustrates true conversion by the simile of a gate that must be entered. It is a "strait" gate, that is one that is difficult to enter. Our Lord taught that true conversion is a difficult thing. Contrary to what many suppose, salvation is not an easy thing. It is simple, but not easy.
The first difficulty a poor sinner faces in getting saved is his own rebellious nature. Our Lord said in John 5:40, "ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Eternal life is found nowhere but in the Lord Jesus Christ, and stubborn, proud, rebellious man will not come to the dear Saviour to be saved. Here is man's boasted free will- he will not come to Christ to be saved. Poor sinner, the only way you will ever be saved is if Divine Omnipotence conquers your stubborn will and humbles your pride. Except you cease from your rebellion, you will never be saved. Unless you come to Christ in faith, you will be lost, world without end.
The second difficulty of true conversion is in the sinner's inability. Our Lord says again, in John 6:44, "no man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him." You will not come to Christ, and you cannot come to Christ, except you are drawn by efficacious grace. Poor sinner, you better cry out to God to make an exception for you and draw you to the Saviour, or you will perish in your sins.
But then, there is a third difficulty to true conversion, and it is found in the very next verse (Matthew 7:15)- there are many false prophets who distort the way to be saved. And here is a good place to point out that the Sermon on the Mount, from which we have been taking our text for a few weeks, is not a collection of sayings, but a reasoned argument. So, you see as soon as the Lord urges us to enter into the strait gate, He warns us there are many false teachers deceiving men. Note well, the false preachers are right by the gate of conversion telling men they can get to heaven some other way. Now here is the mark of a false prophet- he is one who tells you there is another way to heaven except Christ. A false prophet is not necessarily a preacher who differs with us on the ordinances, or matters of church government, or fine points of eschatology, or other matters secondary to the gospel. A false prophet is one who tells men they can bypass true conversion; they don't have to enter in the strait gate by repentance and faith in Christ.
With all these difficulties, it is indeed a miracle if any sinner is ever saved. But, praise God! That is what salvation is- a miracle of God's grace! I tell you it takes the same power that spoke the world into existence to convert a sinner. When a sinner dead in trespasses and sins hears the voice of the Son of God through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, he will be saved (John 5:25). May the Holy Spirit work in you now so that you may enter the strait gate and be converted.