Blog & Pastor Letters

Striving to Enter by the Narrow Gate

08-25-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

After spending years doing missionary work in South America, Africa and in Eastern Europe, Paul Washer published the book Narrow Gate Narrow Way (Reformation Heritage Books, 2018) detailing his experiences in these locations. Using Matthew 7: 13- 27 as a leading text, Washer reminds Christians to lay a solid foundation based on the teachings of Jesus as the Master. Without following the examples of the Master, some Christians live a vain Christian life because it is not based on the teachings of Jesus as found in scriptures. Also, Washer argues that the way of Jesus is the narrow gate and only a few strive to go by that road.

The book of Washer deals with other topics on how to walk in the narrow way, pursue real holiness and gain a fruitful profession of faith. The gospel of today from Luke 13: 22- 30 discusses these topics with the question of how many will be saved. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, someone confronted him with a question about how many will be saved. He replied , "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.' " This reply by Jesus is scary and fearful about how some people will be treated at the end of time for their non-adherence to the principles he taught.

The scariest part is the exclusion of evildoers. Jesus clearly says the master will say to them, "Depart from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out." Those excluded from the kingdom did not have any regard for the patriarchs, the prophets and the son of man. By refusing to adhere to the teachings of the messengers of God and the anointed servants of the Lord, the people of Israel chose to exclude themselves from the plan of God and thus will suffer the consequences on Judgement Day.

Reflecting on the gospel makes Paul Washer's book relevant to Christians of today. As a missionary with great experience preaching in foreign lands, Washer exposes the godlessness in our societies when people pretend to love God but hate their neighbors, they pretend to know the ways of God but practice evil in their lives. These actions that are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus demand a change of heart from Christians by striving to enter by the narrow gate. The narrow gate is symbolic of sacrificing selfish living to professing faith in Jesus as the savior.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews gives us an understanding of how the profession of faith can save us. He says, "At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it." These are the men and women who strive to do the will of the Father in all ways and above all things. This desire can be tested through temptation, but those who are determined to enter by the narrow gate choose to follow the path of God and refuse the ways of the world.

Discipline is a part of the Christian life which evokes following a morality that is based on the standard of Jesus Christ. Pain and suffering do not mean that the Christian is forgotten by God or is tormented by the devil, but the process should be viewed as a cleansing that strengthens the faith of the individual. When pain and suffering befall a Christian, faith is tested beyond any measure and it is only resilience that keeps him from swaying away from the path of Jesus.

Throughout the centuries, the prophets of God interpreted the covenant related to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the people of Israel. The terms of the covenant state that God was to be the God of Israel and the people were to obey his command forever. However, the people deviated from keeping their part of the covenant and God refused to give up by sending prophet after prophet to remind them. The final messenger was Jesus the son of God sent to redeem the lost sheep of the house of Israel and bring them back to the house of God.

The Prophet Isaiah interpreted the words of God according to the terms of the covenant and yet the people still chose a different path. He says to these rebellious people, "I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather the nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations." God remained faithful in going after the rebellious souls because his faithfulness remains forever.

Today's practice of the Christian faith reminds us of the unbiblical actions infiltrating the fold of believers. Every Christian must define what path can lead to salvation in Christ Jesus. The duty of the Church is to assist Christians to collectively understand what God demands of us and what should be done. The duty is difficult, but the Church must strive to remind every individual that adherence to the words of Jesus can lead us to that eternal goal.

Paul Washer's book therefore reminds Christians to return home and be at peace with the teachings of Jesus in a world that is filled with temptation, suffering and pain. The tendency for most Christians is to undercut the power of Holy Spirit and live as if God's spirit is inactive in the world. We know that God calls us like he did during the time of the prophets so that we can return to the covenant we signed at baptism. It is time we return home and seek Jesus in the scriptures "for behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." It is better to suffer now than suffer later. How do you strive to enter by the narrow gate? Keep smiling!