Tonight’s Lesson is about the narrow path.
Good evening and thank you for coming to this lesson on the narrow path that leads to eternal life with God, in a place where there will be no more hardships, no more tears, no suffering, no pain, no death, and no prisons.
If you choose to enter this path, which probably everyone here has, it is stepping out of our comfort zone, it is leaving what appears to be safety, and entering a very dangerous place, where you will be bloodied and bruised, but you must enter because the wide path may not appear to be so dangerous, and in fact comfortable, but it leads to total failure, total destruction, eternity in hell the eternal prison.
The choice to take the less traveled road reminds me of a poem by Christopher Logue.
Come to the edge,
We might fall,
Come to the edge,
It’s too high,
COME TO THE EDGE
And they came.
And he pushed.
And they flew.
I will be sharing passages with you from the greatest book written about the narrow path “The Pilgrims Progress”, and where was it written? In prison, by John Bunyan
Bunyan, begins by describing the reasons he entered the narrow gate…
City of Destruction
The city stands as a symbol of the entire world as it is, with all of its sins, corruptions, and sorrows. No one living there can have any hope of salvation. Convinced that the city is about to be blasted by the wrath of God, Christian flees and sets out alone on a pilgrimage which he hopes will lead him to Mount Zion, to the Celestial City, where he can enjoy eternal life in the happy company of God and the Heavenly Host.
Let’s look at what Bunyan describes as the main Character hopes for as he leaves the City of Destruction:
Arriving almost out of breath, Christian reads the sign on the gate: “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” A “grave person” named Good-will, comes out to ask what Christian wants. After the latter has explained his mission, he is let through the gate, which opens on the Holy Way, a straight and narrow path leading toward the Celestial City. Christian asks if he can now be relieved of the heavy burden — a sack filled with his sins and woes — that he has been carrying on his back for so long. Good-will replies that he cannot help him, but that if all goes well, Christian will be freed of his burden in due course.
I think this next passage by Bunyan will fully describes this path:
Happily journeying together, exchanging stories about their adventures and misadventures, the two Pilgrims come to the town of Vanity Fair, through which they must pass. Interested only in commerce and money-making, the town holds a year-round fair at which all kinds of things are bought and sold — “houses, lands, trades, titles, . . . lusts, pleasures, . . . bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.” Christian and Faithful infuriate the merchandisers by turning up their noses at the wares offered them, saying that they would buy nothing but the Truth. Their presence and their attitude cause a hubbub in the town, which leads the authorities to jail them for disturbing the peace. The prisoners conduct themselves so well that they win the sympathy of many townspeople, producing more strife and commotion in the streets, and the prisoners are held responsible for this, too, though they have done nothing.
It is decided to indict them on the charge of disrupting trade, creating dissension, and treating with contempt the customs and laws laid down for the town by its prince, old Beelzebub himself. Brought to trial first, Faithful is convicted and sentenced to be executed in the manner prescribed by the presiding judge, Lord Hate-good. The hapless Faithful is scourged, brutally beaten, lanced with knives, stoned, and then burned to ashes at the stake. Thus, he becomes another of the Christian martyrs assured of enjoying eternal bliss up on high.
So far we know we are talking about the narrow path, why we are taking it, and what we should expect upon this narrow trail, and the fear of facing the many trials.
Many Christians, no, in truth I would say all true Christians will face persecution, for the city of destruction and Vanity fair belong to Satan, the path is the enemy of Satan, the battle field for souls, and he is a vicious fighter.
The narrow path is a fearsome place.
Jesus says that narrow gate leads to a “hard” road, one that will take us through hardships and difficult decisions.
Following Jesus requires crucifying our flesh
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Romans 6:2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Living by Faith
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith;
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him
Enduring Trials with Christlike Patience
James 1:2–3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
And Living a Lifestyle Separate From The World
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Romans 12:1–2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
John 6:52 At this, the Jews began to argue among themselves, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.…
From this time, many turned back and no longer desired to follow Him (John 6:66). Suddenly, in spite of all the miraculous signs, people were offended by what He had to say. Jesus then asked the twelve if they also wanted to leave.
The battle is not of the flesh, nor is it a battle we have with Satan, no the battle is between God and Satan, and that battle field is our minds, and what they battle over is our soul. it is in your mind that you either think about worldly things, or keep your mind on things above.
It is a violent battle that is raging in our minds twenty-four hours per day. It is The Invisible War. It is the battle for your soul, and that battle is vicious. It is intense. It is unrelenting, and it is unfair because Satan never plays fair. And the reason it is so intense is that your greatest asset is your mind, it is in your mind that you must resist the world, the wide path that leads to destruction, it is in your mind that you crucify your flesh, it is in your mind where the war rages, It is in your mind, in the midst of this war, on this battle field where you make the eternal choice for your soul.
You may ask why? Why is there such a battle going on? God is God, isn’t He? Why doesn’t He just crush Satan, take our souls to heaven to worship Him forever?
God doesn’t want puppets, He wants men, and only those who have chosen Him as their God. That means He must give you free will, that means there must be a choice and that choice is either the purity, goodness, and perfection by God, or the way of death through Satan and his charms. And, that choice must have obstacles, that weed out the chaff, for only the wheat, those with strong minds and wills travel this path successfully.
It is in your mind, on this battle field, and in the midst of this war where you make the eternal choice for your soul. It is in your mind in which free-will exists.
To have free-will, there must be a choice, and that choice is between good and evil, and when evil exists in this world, it finds a way in, and there lies the battle, you choose, you are the judge, you choose whether God wins, or Satan wins, and you must have full understanding of the choice, full understanding how to battle, and how to defend yourselves, and the consequences of your choice…
You see you are the true judge. Let me illustrate this from a passage from the movie “The Shack”.
Now ask yourself, if you must choose one of your children to go to hell, and the others to heaven, which one will you condemn? Most of us will say it is beyond us, we can’t do it, it’s too hard, it’s unfair to make us make the choice… And that is exactly what God faces… so given free will means you are your own judge by the decisions you make, God gave you the ability, and the choice. You are the judge between God and Satan.
You are the judge of your fate.
It is called a battle for a reason… it’s the hardest, most devastating battle you will ever face, it is the one and only true battle you will ever face… you are truly fighting for everything you hold dear… everything that is worth fighting for… everything that is worth living for… everything that is worth dying for….. Your very Soul.
Another great obstacle appears; Your mind, the battlefield for you soul, where you judge right from wrong, where you to choose to fight the good fight, your mind is damaged, you are fighting on a corrupt battlefield.
According to Deuteronomy 28:20 our minds are confused, Job 17: 3 -4 states it is anxious and closed, Ecclesiastes 2:21–23 claims our minds are evil, restless, and both Leviticus 5:4; Isaiah 32:4 says the mind is rash, and deluded.
And in case you think that is not very encouraging consider this The bible speaks of a troubled mind (2 Kings 6:11) a depraved mind (1 Timothy 6:5) a sinful mind (Romans 8:7 ) a dull mind (2 Corinthians 3:14 ) a blinded mind (2 Corinthians 4:4) a corrupt mind (2 Timothy 3:8)
So how in the world do we fight this fight when it is so vicious, it is in our minds, and yet our minds are so corrupt? Where can we find the answer?
Proverbs 3:5-6… 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
I want to make sure you get this…. Lean on him, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths… it is Christ Himself who will tell you what decisions to make…
And how does he do that? By you making sure you know the word, in truth…
Let’s return to Bunyan for a moment:
Village of Morality
Near the village Christian meets Mr. Worldly Wiseman, who, though not religiously inclined, is a friendly and well-disposed person. He tells Christian that it would be foolish of him to continue his pilgrimage, the end of which could only be hunger, pain, and death. Christian should be a sensible fellow and settle down in the Village of Morality. It would be a good place to raise a family, for living was cheap there and they would have honest, well-behaved people as neighbors — people who lived by the Ten Commandments.
More than a little tempted by this, Christian decides that he should at least have a look at Morality. But along the way he is stopped by his friend Evangelist, who berates him sharply for having listened to anything Mr. Worldly Wiseman might have to say. If Christian is seriously interested in saving his soul, he would be well advised to get back as quickly as possible on the path to the Wicket Gate which Evangelist had pointed out to him before.
We are to know the word, we must know the word to be able to defend ourselves, to defend the word, to protect the spirit. learn and teach to others in this battle for the mind is to never let up on learning.
For the way Satan truly deceives us is by making it sound wholesome or sensible.
Luke 4: 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon. He cried out in a loud voice, 34“Ha! What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are, the Holy One of God!”…
Did you get that? … the demon possessed man asked Christ if He was going to destroy US…. Us, more than one, and where? The last place we expected to find a demon…in the synagogue… and what do you think he was doing there?
Right.. deceiving people…
And, what is Satan’s greatest weapon when he is deceiving the world? all the riches, all that glitters,
But what is Satan’s greatest weapon when he is deceiving the Christian? By miss-using the word of God.
He even had the gall to try to deceive Christ Himself by using Scripture, but Christ knew the correct interpretation of scripture, and by that, He was able to see the misrepresentation.
One of the most common ways today, is he, Satan, uses worldly ways to deceive the Christian, by statements such as God wants you rich, wealthy, happy, because He loves you so much… and then they start teaching the prosperity doctrine, the self-help doctrine… leading Christians straight back to the wide path of destruction.
Become a lifelong learner. Love knowledge. Love wisdom. Learn to love the act of learning. The word disciple means “learner.” You cannot be a disciple of Christ without being a learner. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me” (Matthew 11:28–29). What do you do when you take on a yoke? You share a burden with another animal. You lighten a load. And Jesus wants us to learn from him. To lean on Him. He wants to share the load, He wants to help us in the battle.
We must work on thinking about the word, keeping our minds on things above.
God described himself as I am who I am
I want you to get that I AM
I am a committed disciple of Christ.
There is a path to salvation repent confess, be baptized, be added to the church, and receive the gift of the holy spirit
There will be no excuses in Heaven none whatsoever. If you love the Lord you will commit to Him. You only have one chance. It’s either Paradise or torment. God is good and a good judge must punish the criminal. Whoever wants to keep their life will lose it. Stop being part of the world, deny yourself, and take up the cross daily.
We must have full and complete faith in God
When we are successful it is God not us
We must be like the old horse with the blinders, we must see only straight ahead of us, or we will be distracted, keeping our eyes on the goal… eternal life in heaven, and the same time keeping our eyes on the path straight ahead, knowing the word, living the word, leaning on the word and having complete faith in the word.
Isn’t it sad that so many in the world do not even know there exists a narrow path, and even more sad when people know about it, yet refuse to take it, but the most sad are those who know about it yet do not have the courage to enter upon it…
And I admit, it is a scary decision to make for all of us, but a decision we must make.
I want to close by repeating the poem from above.
Come to the edge,
We might fall,
Come to the edge,
It’s too high,
COME TO THE EDGE
And they came.
And he pushed.
And they flew.