Q. About Matt. 7:13-17: “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road which leads to life, and only a few find it”. Many people seem to interpret this to mean we have to add our own effort to the salvation equation by “walking the straight and narrow” as they say.
A. I’m convinced that the narrow way to salvation is by faith alone. Every other way requires the maintenance of some kind of behavioral standard in addition to belief. In other words faith plus human effort.
It’s true that the Holy Spirit will manifest changes in the life of all believers, but our salvation is not held hostage to this happening. Paul said we were included in Christ when we heard the gospel of our salvation and believed it (Ephesians 1:13-14). At that time God Himself set His seal of ownership on us and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
Those who believe they have to maintain some arbitrary performance levels in order to earn or keep something that Lord gave His life to make free have denied the sufficiency of God’s grace and joined the throngs on the broad road who are trying to earn their way to salvation through human effort.
To me walking the straight and narrow means recognizing that we have nothing God needs and can can do nothing to make ourselves worthy to stand before Him. We can only believe and receive what God has done for us, and dedicate our lives to finding a way of expressing our gratitude for it.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).