(Article for publication week of December 10, AD 2015)
"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 which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
Dear reader, are you in the narrow way that leads to life, or are you in the broad way that leads to destruction? And if you claim to be in the narrow way, I ask you, "how did you get in?" Did you enter in by the strait (difficult) gate of conversion? I ask you not if you have accepted Jesus, but I ask you, " are you in the narrow way, and did you get in by the strait gate?"
Now, our text makes it plain that not everyone is saved. Regardless of men's vain imaginings, there are but few (comparatively speaking) that are saved. There are few that have been converted and that are in the way of holiness and perseverance that leads to heaven and immortal glory, but there are many that are in the broad way that leads to hell. Now let's bring it home. There are few here in Simpson County that are saved. The vast majority of you are unsaved. Now, those of you who are living immoral lives, we know are unsaved (I Corinthians 6: 9&10). And those of you who are in unbelief, we know you are unsaved (Mark 16:16). Those of you who will not publicly profess the Lord Jesus Christ, we know that you also are unsaved (Matthew 10: 32&33). But there are multitudes of you who have a profession who do not possess Christ and you are also unsaved. Some of you are going to live and die in religion, and still end up in hell. You will find yourself among those of whom our Lord speaks in Matthew 7:21-23. I fear that many of you preachers are in this group. You see the way that leads to hell is broad enough to include the openly profane, the spiritually indifferent, and the lost church member. And the devil doesn't care how he brings you down to hell with him as long as he keeps you away from Christ. Sin is keeping some of you from Christ, and self righteousness is keeping others from Christ, but either way if you are not in Christ, you will be lost forever. Dear reader, I ask you to quit living in a make believe world and wake up to the reality that you are either in the narrow way of salvation, or you are in the broad way of eternal damnation.
Now there are many of you who imagine yourself to be in the narrow way, so now I want to probe the recesses of your soul and ask you plainly, "did you enter in by the strait gate?" Be sure my friend if you have not entered in the strait gate you are not in the narrow way. So what is this "strait" gate. Why, it is the gate of conversion. There must be an entering in to salvation by the one door that only the Triune God can open. That door is Christ Himself as the Great Shepherd sweetly says in John 10:9. True conversion is repenting of your sins and receiving Christ as your Lord and Saviour. It is a turning from your idols to serve the true and living God (I Thessalonians 1:9). It is a surrender of yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to be converted you have to throw down your shotgun that you have pointed at God. Every unconverted sinner, spiritually has his shotgun pointed at God and refuses to be ruled by Him choosing rather to be a law unto himself and have his own way. Every unconverted sinner is singing the theme of song of hell in his mind, "I did it my way"! That is the reason I know most of you are in reality unsaved because you do not care what God has said in His word, you are determined to do what you want to do instead of what God commands you to do.
I can hear some of you protesting, "I thought salvation was simple"! You are right. Salvation is simply repenting of your sins and believing in Christ and that is so simple a little child can be saved. Salvation is so simple an illiterate person can be saved. Salvation is so simple a retarded person can be saved. But listen friends and neighbours and kindred, simplicity and ease are not the same. Repentance and faith are simple but they are against your fallen nature. You are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1) and you cannot come to Christ unless God draws you (John 6:44), and you will not come to Christ and be saved because you are natural born rebel (John 5:40). So Christ says the gate that opens to salvation is entered with difficulty, and such difficulty that you will never enter in until the Holy Spirit regenerates you and draws you in.
Dear reader, have you entered in by the strait gate? Some of you have "settled down", but that is not conversion. Some of you have become quite respectable. Some of you have been religious all your life, but you have never entered in at the strait gate. Some of you have embraced Calvinism, but you have not entered in at the strait gate and so when you get to hell you will be as sound as a silver dollar. II Corinthians 13:5 commands us to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. I beseech you and urge you today to examine yourself if you are really in the narrow way, and if you entered the narrow way by the difficult gate of conversion.