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Revelation 22:17 makes it look easy:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. [ESV]

But Matthew 7:13-14 makes it look hard:

13 “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. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. [ESV]

Is salvation easy or hard?

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    There is an old homiletic aphorism, "Salvation is free but it cost you everything".
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 0:35
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    @Dottard . . . . but beggars have nothing to pay. And it is the poor in spirit whose is the kingdom of heaven.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 16:01
  • The path to salvation is easier to understand than to walk, maybe, Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 0:01

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If you speak of salvation from our sins, which only God can grant, then it's not just hard, it's impossible - humanly speaking.

However, before going into that, it's necessary to suggest that you may have chosen inappropriate texts for your question, as a pair, that is.

Revelation 22:17 forms part of the short Epilogue to the Book of the Revelation (22:6 to 21). These are words spoken in heaven by "the Spirit and the bride" who say, "Come". All who are included in this verse are already in heaven, after Christ has trampled the vine of the earth, and after all the dead have been resurrected and judged. The last day, and the last trump are history, so that all that is in heaven is freely available to all who find themselves there. And all who hear that heavenly invitation to freely partake of the spiritual glories of heaven have already been judged and approved as those whose names were found written in the Lamb's book of life. The first earth has passed away (Rev.21:1).

This means that the Rev.21:17 verse has no bearing on the Matthew 7:13-14 one, spoken to sinful people on earth - the first earth. Therefore, only the Mat.7 text really applies to the question.

Despite that, I will give as my answer what I said at the start: Salvation is impossible, humanly speaking. Only God can grant it, and he does so freely, though it cost him the greatest and the dearest sacrifice to enable this free pardon from our sins. As with any gift, it must be received, and nobody would offer to pay for a gift, as that would insult the giver. Accepting this free gift is not easy, however, as it strikes at the root of our pride and our desire for self-sufficiency. Finding that 'narrow gate' Jesus spoke of in Mat.7:13-14 is impossible until we turn to Jesus, who spoke of himself as "the Gate" in John 10:7-9. Only through faith in him does anyone find entrance into this great, free, salvation.

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    "And all who hear that heavenly invitation to freely partake of the spiritual glories of heaven have already been judged and approved as those whose names were found written in the Lamb's book of life." Exactly, thank you! +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 15:54
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This answer is also comment. I have offered this view previously when discussing the related passage Matthew 7:21-22

MAT 7:21 ”Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Traditional theology does not see in the way I present - resulting in downvotes - but despite this, this view should be presented for consideration.

Matthew 7 is not a commentary on the salvation that we have available. It is a commentary on ‘living right’. Part of what many colloquially refer to as the sermon on the mount. And outlined living in the Kingdom - specifically the Kingdom of Heaven.

MAT 4:23 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.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is not our Gospel . Jesus came and offered the Jews the Kingdom - which they ended up rejecting. In this [earthly] Kingdom, ‘righteousness’ is the foundation - in particular righteous living. ‘Works’ matter! And unrighteousness is judged.

The issue is the ‘flesh’ - which doesn’t naturally want to ‘do’ the right ‘thing’ - hence ‘narrow is the way’ - because this ‘flesh’ seeks to dominate.

At the time of this ‘kingdom’ being ‘in effect’, you either live in ‘the kingdom’, subject to its ‘rule’, or out of it. And that rule is via a ‘rod’. Those ‘within’ this kingdom are hugely advantaged - as expressed via the beatitudes. The kingdom of Heaven is an earth based kingdom, ……”Do ‘good’, get good, - do ‘bad’ get ‘bit’.”.

The point being that these passages in Matthew 6/7 should not (IMHO) be used as a template for (or as a comparison to) the salvation we have a chance to partake in.

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  • What about verse 24: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.? Are you suggesting that everyone is not everyone in the world but only everyone among the Jews?
    – user38524
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 3:07
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator This is absolutely critical advice for all! But just because Jesus’s speaks ‘words’ to one group does not necessarily mean they’re applicable to ‘everybody’.
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 4:36
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Salvation is hard, but does not cost money.

Jesus didn't hold back in rebuking those whose hearts were set upon riches (e.g. Matthew 6:19-21); there was no way for them to buy their way to heaven.

Free

We should be careful about decontextualizing what is meant by “free”. Economists are fond of pointing out “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” because somebody paid for it. In the case of salvation, in an absolute sense it is neither free nor cheap—it cost the blood of Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 9:12).

The gift is freely given, but it certainly was not free (see Romans 8:32).

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Teaching by analogy

Teaching by analogy was one of Jesus' most common tools. He highlights the very real challenges, trials, and temptations along the way. For example:

The parable of the 10 virgins (see Matthew 25:1-13)

This parable describes a rather terrible day for half of the group hoping to attend the wedding--they failed to prepare.

Note that end of the parable:

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

And the rebuke it has in common with the statement following the passage from Matthew in the OP:

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)

Clearly, we are expected to watch, and good intentions alone may not be sufficient.

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The Parable of the Sower (see Jesus' interpretation in Luke 8)

Especially:

12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Looks like the easy route doesn't go anywhere good.

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This sounds hard

Perhaps even more poignant are:

2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver (Malachi 3:2-3)

Being refined in this way sounds decidedly uncomfortable.

And the classic catch-all lest we get too full of ourselves:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

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The Good News

Though the journey is hard, we have the greatest power in the universe on our side:

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. (Isaiah 54:10)

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

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