About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Strait Gate

(Article for publication week of 5-15- AD 2013)

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth unto 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).

As our Lord comes to the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, He urges us to enter through the strait gate into the narrow way that leads to life. The word strait is somewhat archaic, and not used that much today. It means “difficult”. By the “strait gate” our Lord illustrates the Biblical doctrine of conversion. I pray the Lord may grace you dear reader (if you have not already), to enter into the way that leads to salvation by the strait gate that is by true conversion.

If you have ever read “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan, you will remember that Bunyan’s simile was the “wicket gate”, which opened to the way that led to the Celestial City. It is the strait gate of our text that Bunyan has in mind as copies of his book with marginal notes and scripture references show. If you have never read “Pilgrim’s Progress”, I highly recommend it, and would even lend you a copy if you are serious about salvation and the state of your soul, and your growth in grace.

Our Lord teaches us here in Matthew 7:13-14 that the only entrance into the way that leads to heaven, is through the strait gate, the gate of conversion. Unless you are converted, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (see Matthew 18:3; John 3:1-8; and Colossians 1:13). Conversion is the turning of an elect sinner from a state of nature to a state of grace. Paul said of the Christians at Thessalonica that he knew they were elect of God because they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1: 4,9). God turns a sinner, and that sinner, being turned, turns (Jeremiah 31:18). Theologically, conversion is the certain result of regeneration. In regeneration, God draws a sinner; in conversion that sinner comes freely to Christ. In regeneration, God grants repentance; in conversion the sinner repents. In regeneration, God gives the gift of faith; in conversion, the sinner believes to the saving of his soul. In regeneration, God gives spiritual life; in conversion, the sinner lives spiritually. God must draw a sinner, but when God draws, that sinner will surely come to Christ in faith repenting of his sins (John 6:37, 44). Such is the Biblical connection between regeneration and conversion. So, to enter in at the gate of conversion is to turn from your sins, and turn to Christ, as a result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Conversion is a conscious entering into salvation by the Door of Christ Himself (John 10:1-7).

There are many of you who have made some profession of religion, but you have never been converted by entering into the narrow way via the strait gate. Some of you grew up and matured and settled down and put off some of your youthful foolishness, but you have never been converted. Some of you perhaps came to understand certain biblical truths better, and changed denominations, but you are not converted. You can make all kinds of outward changes, and some of them may be for the better per se, but reformation of life, nor change of principles is necessarily true conversion. This is an area where we have to be so careful, because a converted person certainly will repent and follow after holiness, but please understand, moral reformation is not necessarily conversion or true salvation. True conversion is the result of God’s saving work, which brings a poor sinner to the end of his way, to seek and to find salvation in Christ Alone.

I have tried to point you to the gate that opens to Christ and salvation through Him. May the Holy Spirit draw you to Christ, Who is the only door of salvation.

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