WHICH ROAD ARE YOU TRAVELING ON?
Erroneous teaching and widespread belief of our day is that everybody will eventually arrive safely on eternity’s shore. Go to almost any funeral service and the preacher puts everyone into heaven. Read the “In Memorials” as printed in daily newspapers and everyone is spoken of as being “Safe in the arms of God.” Many people are very casual about salvation and assume they will be going to heaven when they die. But that is not what Scripture teaches us. According to Scripture, we have to recognize the simple truth that there are two different roads, and they lead to two different destinations. If you think, as multitudes of others do, that many roads lead to heaven, and we all are going to end up in the same place, you are tragically mistaken. Unless you give due consideration to what the Bible teaches you will continue to trust in a false hope and will never strive to get on the right road. There are not many roads. Scripture clearly teaches us that there are only two: a narrow road and a wide road – a RIGHT ROAD and a WRONG ROAD.
On the road of life there is the wide worldly road and God’s narrow (eternal) road. Jesus plainly pointed out these two distinct and different roads. One is broad, lacking faith, convictions, morals, and obedience to God. It’s the easy popular, careless, and worldly way. The other road is narrow and unpopular with the masses, and one has to strive to get on this road. This is why Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to (eternal) life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14).”
The Bible is clear. There is no middle road. We either love the world and are walking on the broad worldly road or we love God and are following Him on the narrow road. Every person in the world is on one or the other of the two roads that are mentioned in the above verses. The broad, well-travelled way leads to destruction (eternal separation from God) and the sparsely travelled, narrow way that leads to eternal life in heaven. These verses also have an application to the Gospel by depicting the two roads and destinies of the human race. So, let us now humbly examine our lives to see the road we are on.
THE WIDE ROAD – PATH BY DEFAULT
The wide road is man’s path by default. It is a path upon which every member of fallen humanity is born. The Psalmist declared: “The wicked are estranged from the womb and go astray from birth (Psalm 58:3).” Isaiah the prophet cried out, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way… (Isaiah 53:6).” Nothing is required and nothing must be done to find a gate or enter upon the wide road. No sooner are we born then we find the path by our fallen instincts, and once found, we discover that it suits our nature. It is a place where everyone seeks to do what is right in their own eyes. Where we seek pleasure in the things we consume with our senses.
How many go to churches professing to be Christians and yet live their lives on the broad road? They profess Christ but do not possess Christ. They were never born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. They were never really saved in the first place yet make every claim to belong to the kingdom, but their continued journey on the broad road disproves their claim.
The wide road is the path of self-gratification. It is a walkway for all who would put “self” before God, this world above the next, the immediate over the eternal. The Scriptures tell us that men are by nature lovers of self, lovers of money, lovers of this world, and the lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3:2-5). All of these things are found on this road, and those who walk in it are driven by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16). For this reason, it may be described as a sort of continuous “Vanity Fair.” This is the path of least resistance. Its motto is “Go with the flow.” There is no opposition from the flesh on this worldly road, we do not have to strive to enter in, but as I have already stated, we find ourselves there by default. We were born in sin, we were estranged from the womb, and go astray from birth. The flashing signs along this worldly road read something like this: “Welcome everyone and tell your friends, the more the merrier. Travel as you wish and as fast as you want. There are no restrictions; do your own thing and have a great time.” Those who walk here are on the “World’s Wide Boulevard.” It is humanity’s route, the road of brotherhood, inclusivity, and tolerance. The Scriptures teach that the world loves its own and listens to its own (1 John 4:5).
Furthermore, there is no opposition from the devil on this worldly road. In fact, it was his design and is directed by his will. According to the apostle Paul, to walk in the broad way is to walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2).” This road was built by the devil and his followers travel on it. In contrast, the believer who walks the narrow-constricted road will constantly be tempted, tried, and blocked in their spiritual journey. The devil will oppose them at every turn and attempt to hinder their spiritual progress. But to those on the worldly road, the devil is a friend, at least for a short time until both are thrown into the lake of fire. Those who follow Satan on the worldly road are as an ox that is going to the slaughterhouse. They do not know that their choice will cost them their (eternal) life.
It is the road of permissiveness with no restrictions. This road has no curbs, no boundaries of either thought or conduct nor what is right or wrong. Travelers on this worldly road follow their own inclinations that is, the desires of the human heart in its fallen state. How do I know this? I was on that road for a good portion of my life. In fact, every one of us was on that broad road by default when we were born into Satan’s world. I remember in 1965, a British rock group called the “Animals” came out with their big hit song called “It’s My Life.” Working in Trail, BC at the time, I do remember that this was my rebellious anthem song I used to sing to along with many others in those days. The lyrics went something like this: “It’s my life, let me do what I want. It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want. You can’t tell me.” I think some of you might remember the song. This is exactly what happens to people who choose the broad way. Yes, I was one of those individuals on that express way where I just wanted to have fun and to be completely free to do whatever I wanted.
However, Jesus teaches that the easy way, the broad worldly road that I was on lead to destruction. The life on this road promised everything but can leave us with anxiety, stress, despair, addiction, loneliness, longing, and regret. It is the road that leads to destruction and many people are walking on it. Jesus saw multitudes on this road, laughing and carefree with apparently no thought for the dreadful end to which they were heading.
JESUS: THE NARROW GATE
The way of salvation, the way to eternal life is not the way of our natural inclinations. It is not our “default” setting when we were born into this world. Only a few find the narrow gate that leads to the narrow road. There is an effort “strive to enter” involved in coming through the narrow gate.
What is the gate? How can I find this gate? Jesus Christ Himself is the gate. He says, “I am the door, if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved (John 10:9).” What is that entrance? It is the body of Jesus Christ; it is the blood shed for us on the cross. Jesus died on the cross to give us that gate, that way of entry. Enter by turning away from sin. The total desire to renounce sin, and to be saved from sin’s penalty. This “narrow gate” refers to a confined space and we need careful directions to find the “one-way” to get through the gate. The hard narrow road ahead refers to the road of discipleship often filled with persecution and opposition. Nevertheless, Jesus told His disciples in no certain terms that, “He was the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).” Thus, we must constantly be reminded that on the narrow way we follow a Person and not a code of conduct.
The narrow way comes with an invitation. Take up your cross and follow me and lay down your earthly desires and seek mine. Build my kingdom, not your own and glorify me and humble yourself. The life on this eternal road demands that we give up self and stand strong for Christ. Following Christ is not always easy, but it is right and in doing so, we discover a true life marked by hope, joy, peace, contentment, love, and having an intimate relationship with our Creator and Savior.
THE NARROW ROAD
In contrast to the broad road is the narrow one. This road is hard and requires more effort to follow. While cruise control works on the broad road, it is useless here. To come unto the narrow road, you have to check-in your luggage of self-righteousness and pride at the gate. Then you have to stay awake and alert, watching out for danger and Satan’s unexpected potholes on the road ahead. But at the end of this road is life – eternal life with God.
The narrow road is close and intimate, yet strict and rigorous, even difficult at times. This road is a challenging one, marked with problems, struggle, and affliction otherwise there would be a lot more on it than just a few there that find it. This road is a very curvy and winding one because we cannot see very far ahead and it takes faith to keep going, holding on to the promises of God. In our endeavor to stay on the road which leads to life there is a continuous struggle between the Spirit and the flesh. Galatians 5:17 declares, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
The picture I’ve painted may seem bleak to some, but God has provided us with a pair of guides to help us to navigate the road. The first guide is the Bible. It warns us of the dangers and how we can successively meet them. The Bible is an indispensable guide for travelling this road. Next, even more importantly, we have the Holy Spirit that has been given to us to guarantee our safety on the road, and to bring us to the end. When we stumble, He is there to pick us up and when we have doubt, He will assure us. When our strength gives out, He will pick us up and carry us to our destination. When the way ahead is unclear, we can count on the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us in the right direction.
The narrow road gets difficult at times. For many it is difficult to choose the narrow way because our sinful nature always drags us towards the world, the broad road that leads to destruction. Following Jesus on the narrow road requires complete surrender, commitment, running the race, and obeying the word of God. Many people know this but are not willing to choose it and go through it, instead they choose the pleasures of this world and refuse to let go of it. This is certainly true for much of Jesus’ original audience. Jesus’ warnings in both Matthew and Luke came in a context where most (or at least much) of Jesus’ contemporary audience believed that they were assured of Heaven because they were Jews who tried to keep the law. They saw heaven as the default destination. Not unlike many today who believe they will go to heaven because they think they are basically a good person. To the careless self-assured, Jesus issues the urgent warning, “Strive to enter the narrow door.” The doorway is narrow because eternal life is found only in Christ. We must trust in Him, alone, for salvation and righteousness. This goes against our sinful, natural inclination to rely upon ourselves and take pride in our own goodness. To enter the way of life requires faith and repentance, that we recognize and confess our unrighteousness, and utter need for the righteousness and salvation found only in Christ. We are saved by Jesus Christ on the bases of His perfect work of redemption.
In closing, I would just like to say that the choices we make each day determines which road we are on. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, people from all walks of life were confronted by the hard truth He spoke boldly and directly into their lives. Some people heard, repented, and followed Him. Others turned away sad or angry, suppressing the truth because they loved the world and all its pleasures. There are not many roads, only two – a right road and a wrong road. If you are presently traveling on the wide carefree road and you come to a fork in the road with a narrow entry gate that leads to a narrow road, then it is time for you to examine your life, in light of these biblical truths. Jesus has called us to follow Him on the narrow road that leads to eternal life – that leads to heaven.
+ ON THE ROAD OF LIFE THAT LEADS TO HEAVEN, THERE IS ROOM FOR JUST TWO – JUST JESUS AND YOU.
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