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June 2011

Multitudes and a Narrow Gate

Sometimes we change God's Word. And sometimes we do it with "good" intentions. We let ourselves start to think that God wants a "good" world, a christian world, and that we, as christians, should be working to achieve that. If we are not careful, large groups (or multitudes) responding to what God is doing will move us to change God's teachings.

Matthew 4:23-25 (NKJV)
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. [24] Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. [25] Great multitudes followed Him-from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

Matthew describes Jesus doing amazing things. God was moving among his people, healing and delivering the sick and afflicted. Great multitudes responded to what God was doing. Then Jesus did something unusual.

Matthew 5:1-2 (NKJV)
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. [2] Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

Jesus took his disciples aside from the multitudes and started teaching them. He taught them fundamental truths that they needed to know. And near the end he taught them this:

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. [14] Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Jesus wanted to make sure his disciples saw past the multitudes. We have areas around the world today where God is doing amazing things and great multitudes are responding. But the truth remains that the way to life is a narrow way and there are few who find it. This truth is consistent, whether you are in a place of "great revivals" or a place where God seems to be doing very little. In either situation the way to life is narrow.

But this is not a truth that is popular. We prefer the multitudes. We prefer believing that there is really a wide road to life, that we can change the world, that we can have a christian nation or planet. And we quit teaching the narrow path and start to slowly change God's teachings to accommodate our new vision.

The results can be terrible.

Luke 13:22-30 (NKJV)
And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. [23] Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, [24] "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. [25] When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' [26] then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' [27] But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' [28] There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. [29] They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. [30] And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."

There are those in the multitudes who believe they are saved because they are part of the multitude, because they eat and drink in the presence of what God is doing and see all the miracles. But if the narrow road is not preached and lived by God's ministers then some who are looking for the narrow way may miss it. The church may forget how to help the few who are looking for the narrow path to life because we are more excited by the multitudes.

Don't be distracted by multitudes. The gateway to life is narrow and few find it. Help everyone you can to understand this narrow way and encourage them to follow it. We all need encouragement to walk this path.