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