Jesus’ Narrow Gate Thinking: Part 1 Matthew 7:13-14 Tim Gilman

Jesus’ Narrow Gate Thinking: Part 1
Matthew 7:13-14
Tim Gilman

These two verses present us with Jesus’ challenge that we adopt His Narrow-Gate thinking about God and life. He says,

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
(Matthew 7:13-14)

The first question we must ask, and answer is this: What is the narrow gate? The first answer to this question is that the narrow gate is Jesus. He identified Himself as such.

…Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep… I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and go in and out and find pasture.
(John 10:7, 9 NIV)

Those who follow Jesus are the sheep. The sheepfold refers to the gathering of Jesus’ followers into the kingdom of God and the church. So, the narrow gate is first and foremost, Jesus Himself.

The next question is this: How does a person enter through the narrow gate? Jesus made it clear that not everyone who calls him Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven.

“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.
(Matthew 7:21)

The most important part of God’s will, according to Jesus is that we put our trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. This has been called the “evangelical decision.” Jesus taught this in John’s gospel, where He says that doing God’s will was the reason He came down from heaven to earth.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but will raise them up on the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
(John 6:38-40)

A good, evangelical way to explain this is to say, “We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.” Having said that, we must also say that obedience to God’s will, must follow after faith in God’s grace. Although we are saved by faith alone, in God’s grace alone, genuine faith never stands alone. It must be accompanied by obedience, good works, and love. James makes this clear in his letter.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
(James 2:14, 17)

For Jesus, saving faith is a faith that does the will of His Father. The “does” in that sentence does matter—a lot. Of course, our good works will never be perfectly good. They won’t be perfect, but the must be evident, to some degree, at least, and persistent.

So, this is one essential element of Jesus’ Narrow-Gate Theology: When we hear what Jesus says, we must act upon it. This begins with our surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit, as we ask Him to transform us into the kind of people Jesus describes in the Beatitudes. We surrender our lives to His power by asking Him to transform us into the kind of people whose righteousness is of a deeper quality than that of the scribes and Pharisees. The quality of this righteousness is deep and better because it flows from a heart that has been changed by God’s power.

So, action upon Jesus’ words is necessary. However, we must be very clear about one thing: We will not be able to perform the kind of makeover that Jesus requires simply by jacking up out willpower and trying really, really hard to be good people. A supernatural, creative act of God will be required for us to be the kind of people He describes in the Sermon on the Mount.

In John’s gospel, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, the learned Pharisee, about being born again, or born from above.

…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
(John 3:3, 5)

The apostle Paul writes about the creative activity of God that is involved in the new life of the one who puts his or her trust in Jesus. He writes that was are saved by grace, not by works. However, although we are not saved by works, we are saved for good works. God has created a new person in the believer for just this purpose.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:8-10)

God not only saves us from judgment for our sins, He also saves us for something—for the purpose of living recreated lives to do the good works that He has planned for us.


The apostle Paul writes about the creative activity of God that is involved in the new life of the one who puts his or her trust in Jesus. He writes that was are saved by grace, not by works. However, although we are not saved by works, we are saved for good works. God has created a new person in the believer for just this purpose.


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:8-10)


God not only saves us from judgment for our sins, He also saves us for something—for the purpose of living recreated lives to do the good works that He has planned for us.

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