Enter by the narrow gate

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone . . . He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24–25 

Maybe having read this, you are now wondering: Do I really need to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit? Do I really need to do all these things Jesus said and follow His example?

Jesus told us:

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). “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” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The narrow gate is the path of Jesus’ teachings, the Way.

The Way is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the worship of God in the Spirit, the Spirit of God working in us, the power that transforms us into the image of Christ.

Paul wrote to the Galatians:

if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)

And to the Thessalonians:

it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)

We prove we believe in Jesus when we follow His teachings, even as Abraham proved his faith in God “when he offered Isaac his son on the altar” (James 2:21).

There were some believers in the time of the Apostles who became confused by Paul’s writings, and began to think they only needed to believe “in their hearts” to be saved. They thought anything more than “faith alone” was salvation “by works” and not “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8,9). They believed they did not have to prepare themselves for the Lord’s return, and that grace would cover all their sins.

The Apostle Peter said of these people:

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:13-16).

God gives the Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).

Only those who are obedient to Christ receive the Spirit of God. And “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).

Or were we saved by our faith alone? Thanks be to God, no. But rather the love of Christ turned our hearts to repentance, and made us obey righteousness.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

In the next section, we will talk more about God’s wonderful gift, Jesus’ promise to all who love Him and keep His commandments.