update: 1/31/14: today this watchman no longer asks, who can enter or who cannot enter. He admits that there are many matters about heaven and God that he just knows nothing about and it is not for him to ask such questions. Is the question still relevant? Yes, for each individual. I cannot ask for you. You cannot ask for me. I must know God through Jesus myself and you must know God through Jesus yourself. Like one senior pastor recently exclaimed: “It’s everyone for himself!” How true!
But I still keep this old post as it shows how one can progress in the Spirit. I pray that each viewer of this post will seek and find God just as Jesus has promised.
Update March 2013: This has become one of the most read posts in this blog. Why do many want to know about the narrow gate to heaven? Many believe in heaven and hell. Many know what the Bible has warned about end times and the need to become more and more spiritually discerning about the signs, doing the will of God, and live the holy and godly lives as Jesus has commanded. Yet when the watchman asked the question, “are you the spiritual man who can discern and judge all things as in 1 Corinthians 2:15, with the mind of Christ?” Many shook their heads and exclaimed, “NO!”
____________________Here is the original post (June 2, 2009)
This is a life and death issue. Who can enter heaven? Reading what Jesus has said stirred Jack’s heart. He felt uneasy when thinking who can enter heaven. Obviously not everyone. Because Jesus mentioned that only through the narrow gate and difficult path can one enter.
He wanted to make sure he was one of them. What are the broad gate and easy way? What are the narrow gate and difficult way? The Gospel itself is easy to listen to and in fact too easy for one to believe. He found that those who did not believe often used the excuse that the Gospel of Jesus was too simple and easy. How then the difficulties come in? The Holy Spirit revealed that it was the simplicity that was difficult for people to accept. Unless one is like a trusting child, one cannot believe and thus sees the kingdom of God, Jesus said.
In short, you need to enter as a spiritual being. You live by the Spirit of the Holy God, not by your flesh (body, emotion, mind, sinful nature)! You enter by the grace of God through faith (the measure of faith given to you by God).
For those who do not believe in the supernatural, spiritual reality of God (the Father, the Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit), alas, no entry.
Original watchman’s Journal Day 22-24 Enter by the narrow gate
Jesus spoke these famous sayings in Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate 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.”
When I first read theses many years ago, I decided not to ponder too much upon them as I could not reconcile my understanding of a kind and loving God Who does not want any one to perish with these rather exclusive words. Do they mean only some exclusive few could enter the kingdom of heaven? The idea does not make sense. As Jesus clearly stated that God loves the world (all people) so much that He gave His only Son (Jesus) to die for them so that those who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
During these last three days I had been stuck with these verses. I cannot skip them as they are clearly an essential guide for my Biblically living. What does Jesus mean? Enter by the narrow gate? Who can enter? Who will be left out? Why the narrow gate?
I note the glaring contrasts: Few vs. many; Narrow vs. wide; Difficult vs. broad; and Life vs. destruction.
Based on these verses, the seemingly broad and easy way and wide and welcoming gate are destructive to lives. People have a tendency to choose the easy way. Many are therefore doomed. How frightening. Take note that these verses are recorded in the New Testament so we cannot say they may not be relevant today. Surly Jesus had meant exactly what He said.
My best strategy is not to ponder on the word “narrow” or the word “difficult”, but to focus on who can enter and how, and who cannot enter and why.
According to Jesus, in His teaching on the Mount of Olive, the kingdom of heaven and the status of children of God belong to those with these qualities: a humble heart, a heart that acknowledges own miserable conditions (and need God), a gentle heart, a heart that yearns for God’s righteousness, a forgiving heart, a pure heart (that focuses on the matters of God), a heart that draws others to God, and a brave heart (not afraid of the world’s ridicule and opposition).
In short, someone with a heart like the above is ready to believe and accept God’s salvation through Jesus. He will accept and truly enjoys the joy and gladness of salvation that king David spoke so much of. By confessing with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in his heart that God has raised him from the dead, he will be saved. Jesus also promised giving the Holy Spirit to the believers. He declared to the crowds on the last day of the tabernacle feast, in John 7:37-38, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
Only those who truly need God and believe in Jesus can thirst and thus receive the Holy Spirit! The apostle Paul also stated that the Holy Spirit is given to those who are saved as a seal/guarantee of their new status as children of God.
We need the Holy Spirit to enter heaven!
Who cannot enter and why? Jesus warned the crowds as follows:
“You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come”. (John 7:34) It is clear that people cannot simply enter the kingdom of heaven no matter how diligently they seek and how sincere they are in their seeking, unless they fulfill certain conditions. The condition is, they need to be known by Jesus.
“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” “And then I will declare to them, I never know you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21,23)
He said this despite the fact that those people had prophesied, cast out demons, and done many wonders in His name. (Matthew 7:22) There are people who claim that they know Jesus because they take part in church services, activities, meetings, and so on. (Luke 13:26) but Jesus said, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity,” (Luke 13:27)
No matter how often and diligent those gifted people are practicing religion, in the eyes of God they have missed the mark. They are lawless and workers of iniquity. Proverbs described the characteristics of these people. They hated knowledge (of God), did not choose to honor and fear God reverently, would have none of the Lord’s counsel, and despised God’s every rebuke. (Prov. 1:29-30) “Then they will call on Me, but I will not answer; they will seek Me diligently, but they will not find Me.” (Proverbs 1:28)
The prophet Hosea also stated that the people (with their flocks and herds) shall go and seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them. Why? They had dealt treacherously with the Lord. They had begotten pagan children, indulging in pagan worship and idolatry. (Hosea 5:6-7) No one can practice pagan idolatry and seek God and at the same time.
Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved”. (John 10:9) Only Jesus has the key to life.
“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own”. (John 10:14) Be His sheep is a sure way to be saved.
Jesus further strengthened this point about Him knowing His sheep and His sheep knowing Him by saying that they hear His voice and He calls them by name. They follow Him because they know His voice. They will by no means follow a stranger. (John 10:3-5) There is no excuse for anyone who says he cannot heard and thus stray.
Appilication: continue to read the Bible, meditate and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to be my teacher. Focus my goal to know God. In Psalm 40, David said that he waited patiently for the Lord, and God inclined to him and heard his cry. He also said that God has opened his ears. He indeed heard and prophesied the arrival of Jesus the Messiah and proclaimed the good news! So far I have learned to wait with a bit more patience.
I have also learned to listen to the still small voice in my heart. There is no short cut in this journey in the Holy Spirit. The key is to persist and keep our focus on Jesus Himself and His word. Be Spirit-led and obey.
(A personal testimony on trying to practice faith: I once drove around the street and tried to find one homeless person whom I had helped find a job but he soon disappeared. I never found him and now I believe he could have needed medical or psychiatric care and I was occupied with giving him food, a new pair of glasses (as his old pair broke), lodging and a job instead. The lesson learned is I need to be more discerning in helping others. God is a discerning God. His Spirit will help me to discern wisely. I need the gift of the Holy Spirit to discern in spirit.)March 18, 2009
_________________________Further personal observation on the above note written four years ago:
It showed how far the watchman had travelled since four years ago in the Holy Spirit. In 2009 he did not know anything about spiritual warfare, bind and cast out demons, divine healing and deliverance using the word of the Bible and the authority given by Jesus (the Son of God), and the truth that the Son of God Himself (Jesus) had manifested to destroy the works of the devil (including sickness -whether physical or mental). But he knew he did not know. So he sought God, read His words, prayed and learned from the Holy Spirit. March 18, 2013.