WHAT ARE THE BROAD AND NARROW WAYS?

Wayne S. Walker

     Question:  “Isn’t the broad road just all the lost while the narrow
way is just the saved, and there’s nothing difficult about how to get on
the narrow way?”

     The question concerns what Jesus said in Matthew 7.13-14.  “Enter by
the narrow gate; for wide is the gat 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.”  Instead of “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way,” the
familiar King James Version reads, “Strait is the gate and narrow is the
way.”

     Objections have been raised to the use of the word “difficult” in
the new versions to describe the way to live.  However, all language
authorities agree that “difficult” is a perfectly acceptable translation
for the word used in the verse.  It is true that those who go in at the
wide gate and travel the broad way are those who are lost, while those
who enter the narrow gate and go the difficult or strait way are those
who are saved.  This is the obvious meaning of the statement.

     And it is also true that in one sense there is nothing difficult
about understanding how to get on the narrow way, receive salvation, and
live for the Lord.  God is not willing that any should perish but that
all should be saved (2 Peter 3.9).  Therefore, He has made it simple
enough for anyone to understand and follow.  Jesus revealed the way in
Mark 16.16 when He said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved;
but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

     Peter also told us how to get on it in Acts 2.38 when he said,
“Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit.”  Everyone who wishes can do what Jesus and Peter said, be saved
from their sins, and enter the strait and narrow way.  There is nothing
particularly difficult about this.  Paul said in Ephesians 3.3-5 that
when we read what he wrote we can understand His knowledge in the mystery
of Christ.

     But there is another sense in which entering and travelling the
strait and narrow way is difficult.  It is difficult for those who are
not willing to humble themselves before God and yield their wills
completely to His will in full obedience to His word, including baptism
for remission of sins, to start on that way.  And the life that God
requires of those who do start, while filled with blessings both now and
in eternity, can be hard to travel at times.

     Peter asked in 1 Peter 4.18, “Now if the righteous one is scarcely
saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear?”  The word translated
“scarcely” means “with great difficulty.”  So Peter plainly says that our
salvation will be accomplished with great difficulty on our part.  Paul
confirmed this in Philippians 2.12 when he told us to work out our own
salvation with fear and trembling.  Therefore, it is right to say that
the way to salvation is a difficult one.

     But the most important thing is to heed the admonition of Jesus in
Luke 13.24.  “Strive to enter in at the narrow gate, for many, I say to
you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  In order to escape eternal
destruction and have eternal life, we must make sure that we enter
through the narrow gate so that we can travel the difficult way.  And
this requires that we obey the will of Christ (Hebrews 5.8-9).  The
choice is up to us.  (From “Search for Truth,” March, 1997.)

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