Monday, October 21, 2019
Fire on your right and deep water on your left!
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matt 7:14
Sometimes we read over that familiar verse and really miss the intensity of it. Jesus is telling us that not many people will be saved, but He's also telling us that those that are will be saved will have to travel down a very difficult path.
Recently, I started reading Esdras. It's an extra-biblical book and we certainly can't look at it as we do the Bible, but the author is Ezra, the same prophet who has a book in the Bible, and thus far, I haven't seen anything in it that doesn't agree with the Bible. Below, Ezra is talking with an angel and the angel is describing to him the narrow path.
There is a city built and set on a plain, and it is full of all good things; but the entrance to it is narrow and set in a precipitous place, so that there is fire on the right hand and deep water on the left; and there is only one path lying between them, that is, between the fire and the water, so that only one man can walk upon that path. If now that city is given to a man for an inheritance, how will the heir receive his inheritance unless he passes through the danger set before him?” 2 Esdras 7:6-9
He goes on to explain
And so the entrances of this world were made narrow and sorrowful and toilsome; they are few and evil, full of dangers and involved in great hardships. But the entrances of the greater world are broad and safe, and really yield the fruit of immortality. Therefore unless the living pass through the difficult and vain experiences, they can never receive those things that have been reserved for them. 2 Esdras 7:12-14
This really gives us a much better picture of the narrow way. The path is only large enough for one person at a time. That means that no one else can drag you to heaven. Each person has to make that decision for themselves. But notice that on this path there is deep water on the left and fire on the right! One wrong move from the path, one deviation puts the traveler in deep trouble!
The world we are going to is glorious and full of delights, peace, joy and love, but
Ezra says that not only is the path to get there dangerous, but it is sorrowful, toilsome, full of dangers and great hardships. But he says unless you pass through the difficult experiences, you can never enter heaven. That really struck me because it flies in the face of what you may hear in most churches these days. It's definitely not a seeker-friendly message! You won't fill the pews with that sermon. I'm laughing, but in truth, it's really sad.
The TRUE Christian path is not an easy one. You will lose friends, be mocked, perhaps lose a job or position or business. In other countries, you could be thrown into prison or murdered. You could be rejected by family and friends. You cannot compromise with the world and do the things your unsaved friends are doing. You must be disciplined to read the Bible, pray, and fast! You must share the Gospel with others, tell people your testimony even when it's hard. You must sacrifice your time, energy, and money for the Gospel.
Why are you such a Doom and Gloom person, MaryLu? (You might ask)
I'm actually not trying to be. My purpose is twofold.
1. If you are experiencing rejection, difficulties, sorrow, and danger for your faith, then you are on the Narrow path! If you deny yourself and follow Jesus even when it hurts, then you are on the Narrow path! And that is GREAT news! That is exactly what you should be experiencing! Keep your eyes on eternity and that heavenly city, because soon your toil will come to an end.
2. If everything in your life is good and you're cruising along, enjoying all this world has to offer, and the only problems you have are caused by your own mistakes, then I'm going to guess you might be on the wrong path! If very few people know you're a Christian and you hang out with unbelievers and do the things they do, then I'm going to guess you're on the wrong path.
Take inventory of your life! Do not be lukewarm. Do not be vomited out of your Savior's mouth!
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
We are to be special, called out, NOT like the world. And we are to live soberly, righteously, and godly as we look for Jesus to return! Don't play around with your faith and your eternity! You never know when you will breathe your last or when Jesus will return.
Our wonderful Father in Heaven loves you with a love so deep, so strong, so eternal, that NOTHING will ever make Him turn His face from you. He just wants you to reach out to Him, Repent, and commit to get back on the narrow path! It takes but a second, and He is there, wrapping His strong, daddy arms around you!
For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13