“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

         “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:13-20]

         The gate to life is narrow. The Greek word for this gate is stenos. The way (road) to life is also narrow. The Greek word for this road is thlibo. The first Greek word portrays a small gate. This small, narrow gate contrasts with the wide gate that leads toward destruction. Anyone can enter the wide gate. It takes little effort. The narrow gate, however, forces a person to get real. It is the gate of the repentant, humble, disciplined, and committed. It is the gate associated with bravery and courage. It is difficult. There is opposition.

         The narrow road is also difficult. The Greek word defines it as compressed, as with pressure on all sides, as one may press grapes. It is constricted, and associated with affliction and distress. One must be very strong and valiant to walk this road. The Lord contrasts this road to life with the vast, wide way that leads to annihilation. There’s no pressure on Broadway. It’s a walk in the park on a sunny day.

         The false prophets hang out on the broad way. They are ravenous wolves disguised as sheep. The people on the broad way have no idea. To them, the false prophets are good guys. They look like sheep. They act like sheep. The people do not know they are deceived. They think they’re on the right road. They think the false prophets are real prophets. They support them. They honor them. They even love them. All is well on Broadway. There is little pressure, no affliction or opposition, and nothing to stop freedom of movement. At the end of the broad road is a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff is the lake of fire. The road to hell is comparatively easy. One needs zero courage or discipline to get there.

         The narrow road, by inference, is manned by true prophets—the ones who tell the whole truth and pay for it. Any study of Old Testament prophets reveals that they each shared very difficult lives. They were greatly opposed. Most were killed. True prophets are as spiritual sheep with absolutely no disguise or guile. They are real. They are not above suffering. They are known by their fruits. The apostle Paul describes spiritual fruit in the following passage:

         But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. [Galatians 5:22-26] [1]

         From this we get a clear indication of the contrasts between the true and false prophets. And though all believers are on the way toward being perfected by God, the above is also a guide toward perceiving the difference between Real Christians and Unreal Christians. The real guys are busy fighting the good fight of faith. Their road involves pressure from all sides. They have subjected themselves to the discipline and work of God. They fight against sin, instead of submitting to it.

         However, because the Lord grants spiritual strength, power, ability, and gifts, the end result is the carrying of an easy yoke and light burden. It is the Lord’s intention that this be a road of joy. But the narrow way is only possible for the fully committed. Whoever looks back goes back.

          Consider the lives of the Lord Jesus, the apostles, and the early believers. Consider what they were subjected to, what they endured, and what they achieved, both in their own spiritual lives and in the world. One is known by the fruit one produces, and the Lord is the only Judge.

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church

[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on May 16, 2011, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I believe the joy and peace that comes in the discipline (from ourselves and God) required to stay on the “royal road to freedom” and thus pass through the “narrow gate,” is born of the Spirit. AS we yield to the discipline, or pruning if you will, we can be trained and mature through our life experiences (James 1:25; Hebrews 12:11). The blessings received are… you guessed it, fruit… more fruit (John 15:3).

    Did you know that vineyard growers prune their vines more severely as the plants age in order to achieve maximum yields? From the plant’s point of view there is lots of cutting going on, but from the grower’s point of view the future holds great promise… grapes, grapes, and more grapes.


  2. Thank you for your insightful comment, Don. The production of good fruit is not at all easy, but greatly rewarding.


  3. As one having tried my hand at growing grapes before, I can testify to the fact that if you don’t prune the daylights out of them, they will indeed get completely out of control. Funny how that works….but I can see why the Lord Jesus taught about the necessity to prune and train us to produce good fruit.


    • Amen and right you are, Scarlett. This reminds me of a preacher a long time who said, good naturedly of course, “I’ve rebuked the Holy Ghost so many times…” In his younger discipleship days he thought the not good things happening to him were the doings of the bad guy when in fact it was the Lord taking him through the proper training and some sometimes serious pruning (ouch). He realized this after the fact, which most of us probably do, when we look back in the good way and see what the Lord has done for us and how it sometimes involved suffering and a lack of understanding.

      Hindsight is also always 20/20 in the Spirit. Fruit production is not easy. It takes much effort and it involves some pain. Our willingness index is directly proportional to the Lord’s ease index in getting it done. Real disciples know that discipline is in their name and job description. Successful disciples could also be called fruit-bearers.

      Thanks for the illustration at grape-growing. You make the picture clearer. Be blessed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting word, “stenos.” Stenosis is part of what’s going on in my back. The pathways of the nerves are being constricted as bone deteriorates, causing a great deal of pain. So this post is clear for me to understand. It’s not a path I would choose, but it surely has helped me gain some patience and appreciation for people who have suffered such pain for many long years.

    And of course, that’s all completely aside from your application in this post, which is by far the more important one 🙂


    • Thank you for the comment. I’m so sorry you are suffering from this condition, Linda. Your attitude is commendable. Many people must live in pain every day. The solution, whether we gain healing or not, is to stay close to the Lord, as you do, of course. I learned early on, as so many Christians have, that the answer we seek for alleviating pain, etc, may arrive in a different form, in that the Spirit of the Lord is a sustainer of enduring strength and an enabler of continued progress regardless of less than ideal conditions. Maintaining a good heart for Him and a responsibility toward our reason for living is vital toward “playing with pain” as they say in sports, and even lightening the burden. The joy we feel when assisting others, for example, curtails the discomfort of the challenges we face and gives us hope for the continuing road ahead.

      Blessings to you. You are a great example of overcoming obstacles and keeping your joy and sense of purpose.

      (Whoever else may be reading I ask you to pray for Linda. Thank you.)

      Liked by 1 person

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