““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Let’s define life
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is the life
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus is the means of attaining the life
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
1 John 5:12
If you have the Son, you have life, specifically eternal life
““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
It seems simple enough - find the Son, believe in Him and you’ll have found life eternal. But it’s not that simple! Because coming to the Son is done only by the Father. There is a prerequisite.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
So how does the Father draw someone then?
“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”
John 6:45, 47
How does one truly believe? They first must be taught of God. This teaching is found in the Scriptures
“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Or in the words of the eunuch
“So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”
To summarize thus far,
- In order to find Jesus, the Father must draw the person through the word,
- If he believes the words of the Scriptures, the Father will draw him to the fulfillment of the Scriptures, Jesus
“They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?””
There is an issue that Paul points out with regards to the a availability of the word
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Which is what Jesus said
“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—”
There is a time when the word can be heard
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’””
Hebrews 3:7-8, 11
For there are times of famine
““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.”
How shall they hear, in order that they might believe and be saved? For Jesus recognized that it’s through hearing that faith comes which is why He opted to speak in parables so that they might not hear, for they had stiffened there necks and hardened their hearts.
“he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’”
This means faith is not the gift, but salvation is the gift Ephesians 2:8, as the Greek would also agree.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””
So therefore to be taught by the Father, requires the hearing of the Scriptures and requires someone to explain the Scriptures. And if after hearing the Scriptures someone believes, then the Father will draw them to Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the Scriptures.
How does this tie into your question?
“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”
Clearly this is a work of faith that comes by hearing. It is very difficult to have faith when you’ve never heard. Hence the gate is narrow because the requirement is faith in Scriptures. Few people even hear the good news found in the OT that point to Jesus.
And of those that do find it, they must also remain in faith until the end.
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.”
There is no guarantee of crossing the finish line, just because one entered through the gate. Salvation can be lost. Jesus won’t lose you, the Father won’t let anyone snatch you out of His hand but you can opt out.
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end”
Faith without works is dead. Sure receiving the free gift of salvation is by grace, it’s free, no one can boast to have merited receiving acceptance but remaining on the narrow way is HARD and requires effort.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
John 15:8, 10
This requires active engagement and choice. The seed of the word can be stifled
“And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
In other words, they received the word, it germinated in faith, were on their way to blossoming and then they started to concern themselves with this life instead of The Life that comes from the word. They don’t end up having fruit, or they satisfied themselves with their initial portion of oil, they didn’t get any more oil in their lamp, they didn’t collect interest on their talent/mina of gold, they buried it and did nothing other than initially believe, receive and quote the mantra, “God is Sovereign, once saved always saved”, putting the blame on God for their lack of industriousness and obedience to remaining and obeying His word.
By process of elimination,
- the number of those who find the gate by hearing the gospel are already less than 100%,
- of those, only a percentage that believe the words of the Scriptures find Jesus/life
- and of those, only a percentage who stay the full course and endure until the end, because the road is hard, will actually find life.
Sure God extends His invitation to everyone, wanting none to perish and true Nineveh all responded correctly in changing their mind and humbling themselves at the preaching of God’s word through Jonah but in time they drifted away.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Yes, God wills to work in us, but only if we humble ourselves and allow Him to work. Getting carried away with the concerns of this life alone, will stifle God’s good work in us.
““Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”