Narrow Gate to Life
Why did the Son of God say: “Few are the ones finding it”? How can you find it?
JESUS CHRIST marked out the way to everlasting life. Declared the Son of God: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”—Matt. 7:13, 14.
It is surprising how often this declaration of the Son of God is overlooked by people professing to be Christians and how many pains have been taken to explain away its meaning. But its meaning stands as a warning today for all who would gain everlasting life in God’s new world, since it was spoken by One who could say: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”—John 14:6.
Why is it that “few are the ones finding” the narrow gate to life? Three reasons explain: (1) It takes diligent effort to find it; (2) Christendom, despite its many religions, has not entered the narrow gate, and (3) the narrow gate leads to the Way of Holiness.
EFFORT AND THOUGHT VITAL
But why should it require diligent effort to go in through the narrow gate? Because everyone is born on the spacious “road leading off into destruction.” We are naturally travelers on the broad highway leading off into destruction, as Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ explained in writing to the Ephesian Christians: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world . . . Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things the flesh and the thoughts willed, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest.”—Eph. 2:1-3.
Note that the apostle says “we all,” before entering the narrow gate, were naturally traveling the road out of harmony with the will of God. Throngs of people make progress on the broad and spacious road with little effort, even while they are spending their time in the pursuit of pleasures or in sleep. So we have to do something to get off the spacious road leading to destruction. If we wish to leave the road we are already on, it must certainly require thought and effort.
Most of the persons traveling the broad road give little thought as to which road they are on, but there are only two roads: One to life and the other to destruction. Since the broad road is fashionable, being thronged by the noble, the rich, the men wise in this world’s wisdom, the travelers on the spacious road have little or no suspicion as to where it leads; and they are often highly incensed at those who warn them of its destination.
Effort is needed if one is to leave the ‘broad road,’ because searching is required to find the narrow gate to life. The narrow gate is somewhat inconspicuous. Advertise the narrow gate? Not this world! Its magazines and newspapers play up the self-seeking, pleasure-pursuing way, advertising the enjoyment and popularity of the spacious road. The narrow gate, then, is not an illuminated gate, brilliantly lit up in multicolored neon signs as at the pleasure resorts and entertainment centers of this world. Searching requires effort, real effort. The Son of God declared: “Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be strong enough.”—Luke 13:24.
CHRISTENDOM TAKES THE BROAD ROAD
By joining one of Christendom’s popular religions a person could easily believe he had entered the narrow gate and was on the road to life. But has Christendom entered the narrow gate? Have its popular religions carefully followed the way marked out by Jesus Christ? Have its worldly religions really warned men of the broad road and guided them to the narrow gate? Or have the churches themselves become part of this world, despite Jesus’ declaration, at John 15:19, to his true followers: “You are no part of the world”?
In the book The New Shape of American Religion, Martin E. Marty points out the easy road the churches have taken: “With the erosion of particularity and the blurring of the line between the church and world, the ‘People of God’ has come to be a relatively meaningless conception. Everyone ‘belongs’ with minimal commitment at minimal expense. Success-minded congregations make it all too clear in their solicitation that admission to the church is by handshake with the smiling pastor. . . . Few are asked to take the form of a servant, but all are frequently asked to take a packet of envelopes for financial contributions. No one is religious because everyone is ‘religious.”’
Little wonder that cleric John O. Mellon, minister of the First Presbyterian Church, New York city, recently stated: “Someone has said that the church is the only organization in the world which has a lower entrance requirement than those for getting onto a bus.”—Worcester (Massachusetts) Evening Gazette, January 9, 1959.
The buslike entrance requirements of this world’s popular religions emphasize the fact that those who enter on that road are not the ones of whom Jesus said: “Few are the ones finding it.” Many of the teeming masses that are on the broad road “leading off into destruction” profess to be on the “road leading off into life,” but they fail to do the will of the Father in heaven. (Matt. 7:21-23) Christendom, instead of being an aid to finding the narrow gate, has heightened the difficulty in locating it.
WAY OF HOLINESS
The gate to life is narrow and few there be that find it, because all who enter that gate must travel the highway of holiness. No one can enter the narrow gate and stay on the cramped road to life who does not conform to the standard of holiness set by God. Telling of the “Way of Holiness,” the prophet Isaiah wrote: “There will certainly come to be a highway there, even a way; and the Way of Holiness it will be called. The unclean one will not pass over it. And it will be for the one walking on the way, and the foolish themselves will not wander about in it. No lion will prove to be there, and the rapacious sort of wild beasts will not come up on it. None will be found there.”—Isa. 35:8, 9.
No wonder it is a narrow gate! The unholy practices belonging to this world are not allowed on the road to life, practices such as “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries.” (Gal. 5:19-21) All who enter the narrow gate must obey the apostolic commandment: “As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accord with the holy one who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’”—1 Pet. 1:14-16.
Holy conduct is required on the road to life because Jehovah God is holy and he requires life seekers to imitate him in holiness. Being the Originator of the “Way of Holiness,” he does not allow unclean ones to travel this blessed highway. Persons of vicious disposition, of animalistic and beastlike traits “will not pass over it.” They must clean up before they can travel it. The immoral practices of this world cannot be carried on by those who travel the holy way to life.
The holy God Jehovah and his holy will must take first place in the life of those entering the narrow gate. Yes, the holy will of God must guide all the travelers on the highway called the “Way of Holiness,” the road leading off to everlasting life. How clear that this world does not walk in this holy way! Christendom itself has been responsible for the two most bloody wars in all history! Explaining how Christendom’s religions have not pursued the “Way of Holiness,” Stanley J. Rowland writes in his book Land in Search of God:
“God may still be worshiped, but He is no longer the God of Moses and Jeremiah and Christ. He is subtly turned into the god who is always ‘on our side,’ a justifier of the nation and ‘our way of life’ instead of its Judge. The followers of god the justifier believe their nation is always right or believe in ‘my country, right or wrong.’
“Once a people believe this, then anything is justified in the name of the nation. The logical result is Nazi Germany, Buchenwald, the slaughter of anyone who might weaken the nation because he isn’t of the right group or doesn’t think the right thoughts. The gassing of the Jews was justified in the name of national security and policy. There was no judging God, no external standard of morality that compelled a loyalty greater than loyalty to the nation. . . .
“When religion is reduced to a prop for the system or nation it may become exactly what communism calls it—the ‘opiate of the people,’ comforting them but challenging nothing. Stalin’s efficient terrorism was foreshadowed by the wobbly tyranny of the Czars. No prophetic judgment was called down, no social awakening was stimulated by the churches through centuries of Western enlightenment. . . . The rise of nazism and totalitarian communism exposed the true loyalties of the people. . . . There were protests . . . but the people still went along, even though it meant their subjection. But they had no other God, they possessed no higher morality that commanded their loyalty unto death. They had no way out. Whether we have is one question in America today.”
This world is not on the “Way of Holiness,” and none can travel the way to life unless they ‘become holy in all their conduct.’ To do that they must dedicate their lives to the holy God Jehovah, putting his will above their own and above the will of other men, when such will conflicts with the will of God. Said Peter and the other apostles: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” Said Jesus: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and follow me continually.”—Acts 5:29; Mark 8:34.
The narrow gate leading to the “Way of Holiness” thus is not a way that is inviting to independent-minded people, those who want to do their own will. Being governed by human wisdom rather than divine wisdom, such persons are foolish in God’s eyes, and “the foolish themselves will not wander” on this “Way of Holiness.” It is not inviting to those who want to practice the desires of the flesh. But some men may try to wander about the “Way of Holiness” for the very purpose of unholy conduct, as the Bible foretold: “Certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to the judgment . . . , ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct.” (Jude 4) Men who put on an appearance of holiness for ulterior reasons do not deceive the guardians of the “Way of Holiness,” for they are angels; and as Jesus said: “The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace.”—Matt. 13:41, 42.
AIDING OTHERS TO FIND THE NARROW GATE
Though the world is not illuminating the narrow gate, this gate is being advertised so that life seekers may find the “road leading off into life.” This journal, widely distributed throughout the world by the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses, is an aid to finding the narrow gate. Bible-study aids such as the Watchtower magazine and the book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained are aiding thousands of persons to find the narrow gate. To help life seekers further, Jehovah’s witnesses spend millions of hours each year in giving free home Bible instruction.
Thus there is an organization of people today that is advertising the narrow gate, helping people of all races, nationalities and religious beliefs to find the narrow gate to life. The organization travels the “Way of Holiness” and aids all who go in through the narrow gate to stay on it. The New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses requires that all those who associate with this organization of Christian witnesses must conform to the standard of holiness set by God. All who will eventually gain everlasting life on earth under God’s kingdom must go over the highway of holiness. Since “the unclean one will not pass over it,” those who make a practice of sin are disfellowshiped. Yet all who sincerely desire to serve God are given every kind of assistance, that they may conform to the holy conduct required by God and that they may stay on the “road leading off into life.”
Take advantage of the helps for locating the narrow gate to life and for pursuing the road that comparatively few of earth’s billions of inhabitants find. It will require time and effort, but the blessedness of traveling the “Way of Holiness” and of reaching its destination is worth it, yes, worth the most strenuous efforts. “Exert yourselves vigorously,” said Jesus, “to get in through the narrow door.”