The Narrow Gate that Leads to Life

“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.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus speaks about two divergent courses that a person can choose to follow in life: a wide gate leading to a broad pathway, and the other, a strait gate leading to a narrow and difficult path.  The latter is symbolic of the Christian experience and way of life which the Lord Jesus Christ beckons us to follow.

This gate is a constricting entrance, an exclusive pathway from the very start, and a personal one. In its narrowness, certain things are to be left behind in order for one to pass on through.

The Christian is to leave behind the ways of the world, the outlook that ignores God, living a life based upon the whims and demands of this life alone.  In leaving the worldly principle, the Christian finds himself as a unique, responsible being before God, confronting the issues of his life and his eternal destiny.

The Christian is to leave the old “self” outside the gate.  He is to put off the old man and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

This gate is narrow because it is a difficult experience. The Christian life is not easy because it is too glorious and wonderful, in contrast to how effortlessly the ordinary can be attained. There are few who find and enter the exalted Christian life simply because it is a hard life.

The gate is strait because if truly lived, it involves suffering and persecution.  The world has always been inclined to persecute the person who follows God. Jesus Christ Himself was rejected and persecuted by the world, hence the Christian must be ready to be misunderstood, because he has been set apart to follow Christ.

This gate leads to a path that continues to be narrow. The Christian life keeps on being difficult; it is a continuous “fight of faith” right to the very end.

But the narrow pathway leads to life, rescuing us from the path of destruction.  It is the road trodden by Christ Himself, and it is our privilege to walk out of this world and enter into this life, following Him every step of the way.

** Reference: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, Martino Publishing, CT, 2011, pp. 217-228.

** Photograph: Gate in the Poppies by Evgeni Dinev

The Amazing Gift of Eternal Life

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3

Life in this world is temporary and limited, but there is a life different from the mere existence that most human beings can comprehend.  It is an amazing life, and it can be said that the reason the Son of God came into the world was to offer this kind of life to those who believe in Him. It is the gift of a life that lasts forever, measured not simply by its duration, but by its intense and distinctive quality.

Eternal life brings us into fellowship with God.  Into this life are given the exceeding great and precious promises of God, enabling us to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  When we are born again through faith in Christ, we do not simply become “better persons”; we share and participate in the very life and nature of God: we are in God, and God is in us, a mystical conception and a reality that is staggering to the human mind.

It is a life of purpose, sharing in God’s interests and objectives, whereby we become partners in God’s great plan of salvation for the world.  We feel God’s grief over sin and see evil as a real force that manipulates the lives of mankind in their enmity against God. Hence we live to push forward the kingdom of light against the kingdom of darkness.

God becomes very real to us. We are steadily aware and certain of His presence. It is a life of communion with God and knowing Him as our Father, recognizing that we are never alone because God is constantly with us and that our lives are in His hands.

Eternal life is knowing God. What could be more amazing than that?

* Reference: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Fellowship With God, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1993, pp. 56-85
* Photography: Sunrise by Knowles Gallery @ Flickr cc 

Worry: Its Causes and Solutions


“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34

Worry is a problem brought about by our relationship to the things of this world and of this life. It does not matter whether one has an abundance of worldly goods, or the lack of it, both conditions lead to worry; no one is immune from this vexation.

Worry can be considered as a failure to apply our faith; however, delving further into this problem reveals that worry is in itself a definite entity, a tremendous power that grips and takes control of us. It is an active force, and failure to recognize this facet can lead to defeat. It is almost similar to a personality that takes hold of us, in spite of ourselves, and keeps arguing with us. It leads to this curious perverse condition where one almost does not want to be delivered from it. Worry has an active imagination; it can conceive all sorts of strange eventualities and possibilities and by its power, transports us into the future, making us troubled by things that are purely imaginary.

How can we address worry?

First, consider what the Lord said about the folly of being anxious: worrying about the future is utterly useless because it achieves nothing; it is a pure waste of energy, and its threatened calamities are hypothetical, uncertain, and may not happen at all. Moreover, the result of worrying about the future cripples us in the present; we hamper our effectiveness today, and therefore diminish the totality of our effectiveness with regard to the future.

Second, Jesus says every day must be lived in and of itself, as a separate unit. Each day has a quota of problems; we must not add tomorrow’s quota to today’s, or it would be too much for us. We are to live each day to the maximum.

Third, just as we compartmentalize our lives into each twenty-four hour period, we are to apportion our whole relationship to God in the same manner. Oftentimes we fall into the jeopardy of believing God for the whole of our lives, but not believe Him for the particular segments in our lives. We must learn to walk with God daily, rely on Him daily, and take things to God as they arise.

Fourth, we are to apply our faith. Just as the psalmist talked to himself and reasoned with himself, we are to talk to ourselves and to our faith; we shake and remind ourselves about our faith in God. Furthermore, a large part of faith is just rejecting anxious thoughts, refusing to be burdened by worry because we have cast our burden upon the Lord.

May the Lord give us the wisdom and grace to carry out these principles to cease from worrying, enabling us to rejoice in Him every day of our lives.

*** Reference: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, Martino Publishing, CT, 2011, pp. 146-157.

*** Photograph: Storm Watchers by Jean Winters Olkonen

Chaff in the Wind

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1:3-4

In comparing the wise man with the foolish man, Jesus used the illustration of two houses: one built upon the rock, and the other upon the sand.  Contrasting the godly with the ungodly, however, King David used two profoundly disparate symbols: a tree by rivers of water, and chaff.

Why did King David compare the ungodly with chaff? Perhaps we can infer how he appraised them by considering the characteristics of chaff.

It is what remains when the grain is removed, a relic of something that was once alive. The ungodly are like husk, King David said; everything that is vital and of value is gone. They are separated from God, the source of life.

Chaff has no form, consistency, or structure.  In the same way, the ungodly have no pattern in their lives; they seem to be ever changing with the whims of the world, the fashion of the times.  They are people who are difficult to define.

Chaff has no roots.  A heap of chaff can be scattered by the wind or trodden underfoot, with no definable shape; it follows where it is moved.  Likewise, the ungodly have no foundation, living a life with no definitive principles.

Chaff cannot bear fruit. A godless life finds out in the end that all the dazzling prizes of the world are nothing but a heap of empty shells.  A life without God cannot give satisfaction and joy to the human soul.

Such is the life of a man or a woman without God.  But the good news is that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came into this world as a human being to “seek and save that which is lost”.  He came to rescue the ruins of the soul by dying on the cross and bearing the punishment for our sins. Through faith in Him, we become a new creation:  we receive new life, the sustaining grain and power within the husk.

* Reference: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “True Happiness”, Gwasg Bryntiron Press, Wales, UK, 1967, pp. 29-50

* Photograph: Lonesome Tree by Rove