Q & A – The Strait Gate

Thank you for that thoughtful question. There are two texts in the Bible that I believe you are referring to. “Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24.

Heaven is such a wonderful place that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9. Isaiah 65:21 describes our home as real. We will build houses and live in them and plant vineyards and eat the fruit.

In the capital city, the New Jerusalem, the gates are made of one pearl, the streets are paved with gold, the walls of the city are made of jasper, and the River of Life runs right through the middle with the Tree of Life on either side of the River. How beautiful it must be. Not only is there physical beauty, but also peace and tranquility. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:9. It is worth striving for.

But what if this beautiful place was ruined with pain, sickness, sorrow, death and hatred? What would be gained by Jesus dying on the cross to save us? What would our salvation be worth, just to change locations for the gold and riches of heaven?

Heaven has suffered from the very inception of sin. God and Christ have suffered beyond description, as have the angels in their sympathy for their Lord and for the human race. God hates sin and cannot afford to allow it to enter heaven again.

God is faced with a problem then—how to save the sinner without retaining the sin. Before God can take us home, we must eradicate sin from our lives. He wants to help us do this, for without Him, it would be a hopeless endeavor.

It is not an easy road, but it will be worth it. We have the assurance of Jesus’ presence to help us along the path to the narrow gate. No matter the cost, we will agree that “heaven is cheap enough.” Our calling is to strive to become like Christ and trust Him to work in our lives. Indeed, few are willing to give their whole hearts to Christ, yet there is no cost so great that heaven is not greater still.

Pen of Inspiration – An Impressive Dream

While at Battle Creek in August, 1868, I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall, like the hard finish upon plastered rooms.

“As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. In some places it seemed so very narrow that we concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We then loosed them from the horses, took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback.

“As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. We were obliged to press close to the wall, to save ourselves from falling off the narrow road down the steep precipice. As we did this, the luggage on the horses pressed against the wall and caused us to sway toward the precipice. We feared that we should fall and be dashed in pieces on the rocks. We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback, greatly fearing, as we came to the narrower places in the road, that we should lose our balance and fall. At such times a hand seemed to take the bridle and guide us over the perilous way.

“As the path grew more narrow, we decided that we could no longer go with safety on horseback, and we left the horses and went on foot, in single file, one following in the footsteps of another. At this point small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped, to aid us in keeping our balance upon the path. As we traveled, the cord moved along with us. The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet and went on some distance without them. Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.

“We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end.

“Our danger of falling from the pathway increased. We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path, for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: ‘We have hold from above! We have hold from above!’ The same words were uttered by all the company in the narrow pathway. As we heard the sounds of mirth and revelry that seemed to come from the abyss below, we shuddered. We heard the profane oath, the vulgar jest, and low, vile songs. We heard the war song and the dance song. We heard instrumental music and loud laughter, mingled with cursing and cries of anguish and bitter wailing, and were more anxious than ever to keep upon the narrow, difficult pathway. Much of the time we were compelled to suspend our whole weight upon the cords, which increased in size as we progressed.

“I noticed that the beautiful white wall was stained with blood. It caused a feeling of regret to see the wall thus stained. This feeling, however, lasted but for a moment, as I soon thought that it was all as it should be. Those who are following after will know that others have passed the narrow, difficult way before them, and will conclude that if others were able to pursue their onward course, they can do the same. And as the blood shall be pressed from their aching feet, they will not faint with discouragement; but, seeing the blood upon the wall, they will know that others have endured the same pain.

“At length we came to a large chasm, at which our path ended. There was nothing now to guide the feet, nothing upon which to rest them. Our whole reliance must be upon the cords, which had increased in size until they were as large as our bodies. Here we were for a time thrown into perplexity and distress. We inquired in fearful whispers: ‘To what is the cord attached?’ My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. Should we fail here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for nought.

“Before us, on the other side of the chasm, was a beautiful field of green grass, about six inches high. I could not see the sun; but bright, soft beams of light, resembling fine gold and silver, were resting upon this field. Nothing I had seen upon earth could compare in beauty and glory with this field. But could we succeed in reaching it? was the anxious inquiry. Should the cord break, we must perish. Again, in whispered anguish, the words were breathed: ‘What holds the cord?’ For a moment we hesitated to venture. Then we exclaimed: ‘Our only hope is to trust wholly to the cord. It has been our dependence all the difficult way. It will not fail us now.’ Still we were hesitating and distressed. The words were then spoken: ‘God holds the cord. We need not fear.’ These words were then repeated by those behind us, accompanied with: ‘He will not fail us now. He has brought us thus far in safety.’

“My husband then swung himself over the fearful abyss into the beautiful field beyond. I immediately followed. And, oh, what a sense of relief and gratitude to God we felt! I heard voices raised in triumphant praise to God. I was happy, perfectly happy.

“I awoke, and found that from the anxiety I had experienced in passing over the difficult route, every nerve in my body seemed to be in a tremor. This dream needs no comment. It made such an impression upon my mind that probably every item in it will be vivid before me while my memory shall continue.”

Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 594–597.

Keys to the Storehouse – Ponder Thy Path

Do you realize how much you are loved? God loves you so much that He “gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

There is a statement in Selected Messages, Book 1, 311 that is well worth thinking upon. It begins, “The Creator loves His creatures, but …” (Emphasis added.)

That little word but alters our whole thought process.

We are told to “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:26, 27.

Have you pondered the path of your feet lately? We are told, “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” Deuteronomy 5:32.

“Joshua, the commander of Israel, searched the books diligently in which Moses had faithfully chronicled the directions given by God—His requirements, reproofs, and restrictions—lest he should move unadvisedly. Joshua was afraid to trust his own impulses, or his own wisdom. He regarded everything that came from Christ, … as of sufficient importance to be sacredly cherished. “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 993, 994.

Have you pondered the path of your feet lately? I ask this because we are told:

“The Creator loves His creatures, but he who loves sin more than righteousness, error more than truth, perpetuates the transgression that brought woe into our world, and cannot be regarded with favor by the God of truth. The way of truth and righteousness involves a cross.” (Emphasis added.) Selected Messages, Book 1, 311.

If you love sin more than righteousness or error more than truth, you perpetuate that sin—you preserve it from extinction, and you will never be allowed into the kingdom of heaven. Are you choosing to follow the heavenly path, pondering the path of your feet so that sin is not preserved?

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:7, 8.

“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.” Proverbs 16:17.

When you sin, or violate the law,

  • you have chosen sin over righteousness;
  • you love error more than truth;
  • you perpetuate the transgression and preserve it from extinction.

When you want to “preserve” sin from extinction by your actions,

  • you cannot be regarded with favor by the God of truth.

“The Creator loves His creatures, but … .” If you were to place your name in the place of His creatures, would the word but appear after your name? Send up the prayer found in Psalm 139:23, 24 which says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Lord, I pray that I will always be regarded with favor by You. As I ponder the path of my feet, please give me spiritual discernment that I may see where the devil is deceiving me into preserving sin. I do not ever want to choose sin over righteousness or error over truth. Please hold up my goings in Thy paths that my footsteps slip not. Amen.

Bible Study Guides – Identifying God’s People

September 9, 2012 – September 15, 2012

Key Text

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” I Peter 2:9.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 1, 283–287; Ibid., vol. 4, 180.


“What compassion, what matchless love, has God shown to us, lost sinners, in connecting us with Himself, to be to Him a peculiar treasure!” Patriarchs and Prophets, 289.


  • From all the world’s inhabitants, who are recognized as God’s true people? I Peter 2:9; Malachi 3:17, 18.
  • What makes God’s people peculiar, and how is this privilege blessed? Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:16–19. How do we know that this distinction encompasses our dietary choices? Exodus 15:26.

Note: “Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works. … In the case of Daniel and his three companions there are sermons upon health reform. God has spoken in the history of the children of Israel, from whom for their good He sought to withhold a flesh diet. He fed them with bread from heaven.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 372.

“We shall soon reach a time when we must understand the meaning of a simple diet. The time is not far hence when we shall be obliged to adopt a diet very different from our present diet.” Medical Ministry, 281.


  • What relationship should exist between the leaders and the flock entrusted to their care? I Timothy 4:12; I Peter 5:2–4.

Note: “Let not any of our ministers set an evil example in the eating of flesh meat. Let them and their families live up to the light of health reform.” Medical Ministry, 281.

  • How does the knowledge of the truth, including health reform, affect our salvation and that of those who are watching us? I Timothy 4:16.

Note: “As we near the close of time we must rise higher and still higher upon the question of health reform and Christian temperance, presenting it in a more positive and decided manner. We must strive continually to educate the people, not only by our words, but by our practice.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 112.

  • Where does obedience to God’s laws—including His natural laws—lead? Isaiah 1:19; I Peter 1:14–16.

Note: “[I Corinthians 6:19, 20 quoted.] Yes, we are God’s property, and the path of obedience to nature’s laws is the direct path to heaven. He who is converted from errors in eating, drinking, and dressing is being prepared to hear and receive the truth into a good and willing heart.” Counsels on Health, 222.

  • How does God purify His people? Isaiah 48:10; I Peter 1:22; John 16:13.
  • What calls did Joshua and Elijah make to ensure Israel’s faithfulness? Joshua 24:15; I Kings 18:21. How is it possible to make the same type of call for a temperance pledge?

Note: “The importance of caring for the health should be taught as a Bible requirement. Perfect obedience to God’s commands calls for conformity to the laws of the being. … No one can properly understand his obligations to God unless he understands clearly his obligations to himself as God’s property. He who remains in sinful ignorance of the laws of life and health, or who willfully violates these laws, sins against God.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 295.


  • What will happen to all who persist in evil habits? Hosea 4:17.

Note: “Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God’s people to walk no more with them.” Counsels on Diet and Foods (1902), 382.

  • What ultimately happens to the “candlestick” of a church that continues in wrongdoing? Revelation 2:5; 3:16.

Note: “God calls upon His ministers to carry forward a work of decided reform. He is seeking to lead His people to a higher plane of action. Let the church arise and shine. Let every family practice self-denial, doing all they can to improve their own condition. Those who are truly on the Lord’s side will be self-denying and self-sacrificing. They will eat and drink to the glory of God, refusing to corrupt soul and body by intemperance. Then the condition of the church will testify that her light has not been removed. But if church members do not act the part God has assigned them, the movement of health reform will go on without them, and it will be seen that God has removed their candlestick out of its place. Those who refuse to receive and practice the light will be left in the background.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 339.

  • What kinds of people will be ready to see Christ? Ephesians 5:25–27.

Note: “If meat is discarded, if the taste is not educated in that direction, if a liking for fruits and grains is encouraged, it will soon be as God in the beginning designed it should be. No meat will be used by His people.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 82.

“The Lord would bring His people into a position where they will not touch or taste the flesh of dead animals. … There is no safety in the eating of the flesh of dead animals, and in a short time the milk of the cows will also be excluded from the diet of God’s commandment-keeping people. In a short time it will not be safe to use anything that comes from the animal creation. Those who take God at His word, and obey His commandments with the whole heart, will be blessed. He will be their shield of protection. But the Lord will not be trifled with.” Ibid., 411.


  • Of the many Bible promises, which ones have brought special hope and courage during the difficult times of God’s church in all ages? II Peter 1:4; Matthew 5:5; II Peter 3:13.
  • What work is Jesus doing in the heavenly sanctuary in order for His people to spend eternity with Him? John 14:1–3; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25.
  • What is included in our preparation to meet Christ? I John 3:3; II Corinthians 7:1.

Note: “In our work more attention should be given to the temperance reform. Every duty that calls for reform involves repentance, faith, and obedience. It means the uplifting of the soul to a new and nobler life. Thus every true reform has its place in the work of the third angel’s message. Especially does the temperance reform demand our attention and support. At our camp meetings we should call attention to this work and make it a living issue. We should present to the people the principles of true temperance and call for signers to the temperance pledge. Careful attention should be given to those who are enslaved by evil habits. We must lead them to the cross of Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 110.

“Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God. Some will go out from among us who will bear the ark no longer. But these cannot make walls to obstruct the truth; for it will go onward and upward to the end. In the past God has raised up men, and He still has men of opportunity waiting, prepared to do His bidding. … When God puts His Spirit upon men, they will work. They will proclaim the word of the Lord; they will lift up their voice like a trumpet. The truth will not be diminished or lose its power in their hands. They will show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 411.


  • Why has the return of Christ been delayed for so many years? II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4.

Note: “It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; He desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But ‘they could not enter in because of unbelief.’ Hebrews 3:19. Because of their backsliding and apostasy they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the Promised Land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed and His people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which He had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays His coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning and find in Him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out.” The Great Controversy, 458.

“Why has the Lord so long delayed His coming? The whole host of heaven is waiting to fulfil the last work for this lost world, and yet the work waits. It is because the few who profess to have the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, have not become burning and shining lights in the world. It is because missionaries are few.” Maranatha, 55.


1 In what specific areas will God’s remnant be a peculiar people?

2 How should church officers take a leading role in health reform?

3 What will the presentation of the correct principles of health reform produce among the people?

4 When we understand the health message principles, what should we be ready to sign?

5 How does our diet relate to our preparation for the second coming of Jesus?

© 2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

A Cross to Carry

A Cross to Carry

There are many people today who do not want to be called an enemy of God, but they do not want to serve Him either. Unlike Switzerland that claimed neutrality during World War II, it is impossible to be neutral to the Christian religion.

In some places in the world today it is popular to call yourself a Christian. In New Testament times during the first century, the Christian religion was not popular at all; in fact, it was very unpopular to be called a Christian. One would wonder why the Christian religion was so unpopular and shunned by the masses when Jesus did so much good, healing all manner of sickness and diseases and this often in public places.

Jesus explained it this way in the Sermon on the Mount: “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.

Notice, He said that most people would take the easy way and go down the broad road. There would be only a few who would tackle the narrow way, which seems more difficult and restricted. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’ ” Matthew 16:24, 25. He went on to ask, “What do you really gain and what are you profited if you should gain the whole world, and lose your own soul” (verse 26)?

The statement Jesus made was unpopular and still today is not desired by the masses. Self-denial is not popular. But Jesus said that not only are you to deny yourself, but also you are to take up your cross and follow Him. The cross was an instrument of torture and cruelty and ignominy. Paul explained what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus: “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24.

Paul further explains what it means in Galatians 5:19–21. He said, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness [licentiousness], idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Those who practice the works of the flesh, as they are outlined here, he says will not inherit the kingdom of God, but those that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh. They have crucified those evil passions and desires of the flesh—their sinful nature. To take up your cross means to crucify the sinful nature, or the flesh.

There is something else that is involved in taking up your cross, and Jesus talked about it in Matthew 10:34–39. He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies [foes] will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Notice what Jesus was saying here. He is talking about the conflict that will occur in people’s families because of the Christian religion “a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” I Corinthians 3:16, 17 KJV. If a drug that is destroying his body enslaves a person, then he must crucify that craving and stop using the harmful substance if he would be a Christian. It would also be a cross to bear for a man or woman whose spouse is angry and threatening divorce because he or she has chosen to follow the Lord and to be obedient to all His commandments.

There are many promises for those who choose to deny themselves, lift up their cross and follow Jesus. Listed are a few things the Christian receives in return. Notice, first, John 15:11. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

He promises peace. He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. “The hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:32, 33.

Love and joy and peace are promised to all of Jesus’ followers right now in the present life. However, in addition to the promises relating to this present life, He has also made promises for the future life. Concerning those who have taken up their cross and followed Him, He said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal [everlasting] life.” Matthew 19:29. Jesus Christ has made wonderful promises to those who follow Him, and His word is truth on which we can depend.

Now there is something, however, that is very important to understand, since we have been talking about the cross and about the need for the Christian to take up his cross and follow Jesus if he would receive salvation. It is important to understand that God does not make the crosses. God has never made the cross, and it was never something that He intended that any human being should ever have to bear. The Bible is very clear that God does not tempt anyone. Notice what James said, in James 1:13 and 17: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. … Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

The crosses that we bear in this world are the result of sin, inherited and cultivated sin. Consider the drunken person, for example, or the addict; it is not God’s desire for him to be this way, but because of the subtle influence of the world and the devil and his own sinful nature, he has fallen into an evil habit, which has become an addiction. Neither is there anything burdensome or grievous about God’s commandments. John tells us, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” I John 5:3.

The cross in the family occurs when a Christian has a desire to keep all of God’s commandments and because the other members of the family do not have the same conviction, they are inspired by Satan to oppose him or her because they love the world and not God. There is no cross in the commandments themselves; we read that they are not burdensome.

The world has chosen to make God’s rest day a common workday. This is something that has happened because the world at present is being ruled mainly by the devil. When a person chooses to follow God and obey Him and follow Him in obedience to all of His commandments, that person will be opposed by the world and by the devil.

The question might be asked, Is it possible to be saved without opposition? The Bible very clearly answers this—No! It is not possible to be saved without opposition. Notice what Paul said: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” II Timothy 3:12. So, although God doesn’t create any of our crosses and it is not His will for us to have any, the devil will always oppose anyone who chooses to follow the Lord making it impossible to follow Him without opposition. If you are not willing to endure opposition, then you cannot be saved. “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” Matthew 18:7.

In God’s mercy He prepares us for the offenses that have to come and gives many promises to those who suffer persecution or trouble or trial because they have chosen to follow Him. Notice what the apostle Paul said about this: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13.

Because the cross involves following Jesus up the narrow way, do not ever get the idea that there are no hardships for those who choose the wide easy road of the world. In fact, there is no easy way. There is pain and suffering for the worldly person too, and he will be forced to endure it but without the promise of Jesus when He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age [world].” Matthew 28:20. Those who choose not to follow Jesus will not avoid pain and suffering. The Bible says, in Proverbs 13:15, that “the way of the unfaithful is hard.” And in Isaiah 57:21, the Lord says, “There is no peace … for the wicked.”

Remember that Jesus said, in Matthew 7:13 and 14, there are two ways: “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.” There is a narrow way and a broad way. Only a few people will choose the narrow way for it is restricted. Most people will go down the broad road because that way seems easier and does not require any self-denial. On that road everyone does what is right in his own eyes disregarding the Lord’s instruction, but there are consequences! In Psalm 37:37 and 38, David said, “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.”

There are two paths. One is a narrow path where you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. There you will have joy and peace and the comfort of His presence on your journey and experience, at the end of the path, everlasting life. The other path, the one that Jesus said most people would choose, is the broad path. It begins with ease and pleasure with no self-denial. But Satan is a cruel, hard, taskmaster and just around the corner, out of sight, the path gets harder and harder as you go along, and the farther you travel on that road makes it more difficult to make a U-turn. It involves sickness, heartache, despair and, in the end eternal death.

Concerning the future for those who choose to go up the narrow way, this is what the apostle Paul said: “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” I Corinthians 2:9, 10.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet outlines the future reward of the righteous. In chapters 11, 35 and again in chapter 65, he outlines the wonderful future for God’s children, a place where there is no sickness, or death, or trouble of any kind. John also describes the future. He said, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ ” Revelation 21:1–4.

That is the wonderful, exciting and glorious future that is in store for those who choose to go up the narrow way, take up their cross and follow Jesus. Unfortunately, most of the people in the world today are comfortable traveling on the broad road. The Bible clearly predicts over and over that the majority of people in the world will be on Satan’s side of the question at the end. Revelation 13:3 says, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”

In the next verse it says that they worshiped it. That, of course, is contrary to the law of God, the second commandment, but that is what most of the world will be doing. It says, all the world was astonished and they followed the beast—that is, the antichrist—and worshiped it. Then, in verse 14, concerning the beast that comes from the land, it says, “He deceives those who dwell on the earth, by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who is wounded by the sword and lived.”

Again, in Revelation 16, and this is so important that the prophet emphasizes it over and over again, in the last half of the book of Revelation, that most of the world will be deceived and will go down the broad road at the end. Notice what it says: “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Verses 13, 14.

The whole world will be deceived. This is incredible and is repeated in Revelation 12, 13, 16, 17, 18 and again in chapter 19. Over and over again, in the last half of the book of Revelation, it says that in the last days the whole world will choose to go down the broad road, except for very few people that the Bible calls “the remnant.” It is hard to imagine that the whole world will be deceived, and they will persecute and oppose God’s people. The remnant will be denied the ability to buy and sell because of an effort to force them to receive the mark of antichrist, the mark that will mark them for destruction, for eternal destruction.

The sign that distinguishes God’s children in the last days, those who chose to be on God’s side of the question, is found in Revelation 14:12. After describing the mark of the beast, the image to the beast, those worshiping it, and the warning not to do that, it identifies who God’s children are during this time. The Bible says, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.

The sign that you are God’s child has always been the same since the beginning of time. It is the sign of obedience, a determination to obey God and follow Him doing His will. Hebrews 8:10 tells what God promises His followers, His children, through the new covenant. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Revelation is a symbolic book. It talks about everybody in the world in the last days receiving a symbolic mark or seal in their forehead. You can read about it in Revelation 14. Satan opposes this because he wants people to receive the mark of antichrist, which is the mark of rebellion that will cause those who receive it to meet with eternal destruction. It is Satan’s plan, first, to deceive the great majority and then to coerce, or force, the rest into submission, thus sweeping the whole world into his net. The Bible predicts that the majority will be deceived and almost the whole world will array itself against God and His people in the last days (Revelation 13:13–17). God gives a warning to those who are about to do this (Revelation 14:9–12). It is a message of warning to help anybody that is willing to listen to be prepared and to not receive the mark of destruction. In the last days, everyone in the world will receive a symbolic mark. Some will receive what is called the seal of God (Revelation 7), and others will receive what is called the mark of the beast (Revelation 13) or the mark of antichrist or the mark of destruction.

The world today is in the process of rejecting God’s last warning message, and people are preparing to receive the mark of rebellion. The second coming of Christ will be completely different than the first coming of Christ. At His first advent, Jesus came as a sin bearer, to bear the sins of the world. But at His second coming, this is not His mission; He is coming as king of kings and Lord of Lords. He is coming to judge the world. When He comes, the whole world will be divided into two camps, those who have the seal of loyalty—the seal of God spoken of in Revelation 7, and those who have the mark of rebellion, the mark of the beast—the mark of antichrist, spoken of in Revelation 13 and 14. Those who have the seal of God will be those who keep His commandments and have the faith of Jesus.

The whole world will be divided into just two groups, two camps. One camp will all be saved and the other will all be lost. In which camp will you be?

(Unless otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Two Gates

Reader, step back a few paces, and study these gates.

One of them stands upon a rugged hilltop. It is a “strait gate.” Above its arch gleam the momentous words, “UNTO LIFE.” They are words of intense import to mankind; words of meaning unfathomable to human readers. They open a vista without bounds, into the eternal future.

The road leading to the gateway is “narrow,” rough, steep in some places. It winds through dense thickets of test and trial; through close tangles of struggle and effort; through gloomy clusters of pain and sorrow; through thick patches of attempts at well-doing and sad failures; through dark clumps of sudden, thoughtless yielding to evil.

And yet, it is a way of such influence, such uplift that at every mile the traveler may make headway in moral power, in mental might, in spiritual force. But at every step, effort of a high type is in demand. Before the gate is reached, there is call for the traveler’s supreme endeavor, for his utmost steadfastness, for character true, unfeigned, uncounterfeited.

But the gateway gained, success unimaginable awaits him; for it opens into LIFE — life real, life nobler, more potent, more blessed, than we can now conceive. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9.

Moreover, notwithstanding the disheartening thickets, tangles, and patches, this ascending roadway contains remarkable attractions. Here and there may be plucked the exquisite flowers of patience, gentleness, kindliness, and that royal bloom faith, opening out daily more regal, more radiant, as the struggler approaches the gateway.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.

“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

“And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Hebrews 11:1–40.

Then, too, this narrow, arduous avenue to the hilltop is bountifully lighted by day and by night. From those two short words glowing over the gateway, streams a glory, a splendor, which illuminates even the starting point, at the busy valley in the distance. Less brilliant at the starting point, the light deepens, intensifies, as the climber urges his feet toward the realm of peace, of glory, of beatitude, inside the gate.

The Wide Gate

At the other gate one’s interest does not wane, but changes, differs immensely. The circumstances vary vastly. The conditions are the reverse. Instead of a cheering, animating ascent from the beginning of the roadway thereto, there is a slope, a descent, an incline, steep at some points, with never an upward trend. The way is broad and alluring, but halts, ceases at a large, open, inviting gateway, closed neither night nor day. “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way,” are the words that fell from the lips of the divine Master during that matchless sermon delivered on a mountainside.

Two words, as in the other case, but fearfully suggestive in their import, are inscribed above this gate, “To Destruction.” Sufficient light illumines them to publish to the crowding, urging multitude which throngs that way, its certain danger.

Strive to Enter In

Many in that doomed company never heed these startling words. Scores do not even glance at them. Hundreds fail to realize that, when a thing reaches “destruction,” that ends its existence. Thousands of uninstructed believers in intrinsic immortality assured that the term means simply death — the ending only of the present phase of being, and the stepping out upon another and higher plane of existence — rush on to the absolute total extinguishment of life.

When Christ, the mightiest of human word painters, touched the first gate, 1900 years ago, with His brush of fadeless dyes, He left gleaming above it the stimulating, encouraging sentence, “STRIVE to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24), thus publishing to all the race with which He had allied Himself, the inspiring possibility of entering thereat.

Nor was this needless urgency, nor prodigal use of counsel. While Christ knew that eternal LIFE is the gift of God through faith in the Saviour’s great sacrifice of Himself, yet He well understood that winning the imperial prize would cost man’s utmost efforts at upright living, at that most remunerative of all work—character building: Therefore He added His reason for the advice—“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). [Emphasis added.]

Every day there may be seen many illustrations of the fact that before the vast assembly of mankind, are set forth numerous attractive prizes, true recompenses, worthy compensations, for noble striving, for arduous endeavor in the race of life; and yet, how few, compared with the vast multitude of men and women, make the effort absolutely necessary to attain the regal climax, to reach the acme of the struggle!

This lamentable fact also Christ well understood; and hence with gracious forethought, mercy, and love He gave to every person before whose eyes or into whose ears the momentous words should fall, the ringing advice and warning: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” (Matthew 7:13).

In this great trial day, when millions of our rushing race seems to take no thought for the final consequence of conduct, these salutary words might well be set up before the doorway of every home, and in all byways and highways for human feet.

But how shall one hold himself in the narrow way, that he may enter the strait gate and find LIFE? The word of God contains countless directions for securing this supreme result. Notice a few of them.

Proverbs 3:1, 3, 23: “My son, … let thine heart keep My commandments: … bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. … Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.” Proverbs 7:1-3: “My son, … keep My commandments, and LIVE. … Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.”

Moses, the “friend of God,” in his masterful review, before Israel’s great host, of the laws, statutes, and commandments which God delivered to him on Sinai, urged them with intense fervor, to obey these laws that they might LIVE. “Thou shalt … talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way. … Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:7, 8).

No safer policy of life insurance can man carry, in these stressful days, than the unswerving resolution to live out daily the straight principles of the Word of God. “That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy LIFE, and the length of thy days” (Deuteronomy 30:20).

The Signs of the Times, March 6, 1911.

Sermon on the Mount Series – The Way of Holiness

Most people who have read the first two books of the Bible know of a famous mountain called Mount Sinai where the law of God, the Ten Commandments were spoken by God and written with His finger on tables of stone. But have you heard of what is called the Sinai of the New Testament?

In the Old Testament it is predicted concerning the Messiah that “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:21 KJV. To magnify means to look at it under a magnifying glass. Jesus did that very thing when He spoke the Sermon on the Mount. He expounded on the law, making it honorable. This sermon has been called the Decalogue of the New Testament, or the Mount Sinai of the New Testament, because in it we take a look at the law of God under the magnifying glass of the Lawgiver to understand in detail what really is the spirit and nature of God’s law.

In His sermon, Jesus restated and explained the law for everyday living in practical terms that children can understand. So, the thunders of Mount Sinai reecho in the beatitudes of Him who is living the law. Not only did Jesus give to His disciples a model prayer, He preached before them a model sermon, which was the greatest sermon that had ever been listened to by mortal man. It was the master sermon by the master Preacher.

In Matthew 5, 6, and 7, eternal truths were spoken by Him Who is the truth and therefore the author of all truth. It is a proclamation of the eternal realities of the kingdom of heaven. This sermon has been studied because of its matchless beauty. More important than this, however, are the basic fundamental principles that it contains. The Sermon on the Mount is an unabridged edition of the law—a summary of all truth—and has been called a miniature Bible because it is made up of quotations from the Old Testament or restatements of its truths. It seems that Jesus selected the most priceless gems out of the writings of all the prophets and set them down in a way that even children can understand.

This sermon has also been appropriately called Christ’s inaugural address because in it He enunciated the principles which are to control the administration of His eternal kingdom, the kingdom of grace, and spells out the qualifications for heavenly citizenship. The conditions by which we can expect to enter the kingdom of heaven are clearly pointed out, as well as who will be there and who will not be there. All the citizens of the heavenly kingdom will live in harmony with the eternal principles that have been set out within God’s law.

Because of the significance of this occasion, let us examine the setting of Jesus’ sermon. Jesus had spent the entire night before in prayer, and in the morning He had selected and ordained the twelve apostles, who were to constitute a cabinet to help Him administer the affairs of this spiritual kingdom. They were to be His special ministers or ambassadors. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 19:27, 28 that the twelve apostles would later be crowned as kings. Their office was the most important to which human beings have ever been called, second only to Christ Himself.

In fact, the twelve apostles are so important that the Bible records in Revelation 21:14, that throughout eternal ages, their names will be written, emblazoned, inscribed, on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem, the capital city of the universe.

This Sermon on the Mount was not only the greatest of all sermons, but it was preached to a very large and interesting audience that was composed of people from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond Jordan. See Matthew 4:25.

The congregation that listened to Christ was made up of all classes of men, women, and children, representing every condition of life. There were proud Pharisees, poor fishermen, and rich rulers from the palace. There were poor peasants along with the wise and those who were uneducated and ignorant. There were those who were believers and those who were doubters. Many races of men and various religious creeds were represented in the audience. It was a cross section of humanity who had gathered to listen to Jesus’ words because they had feelings of great expectancy. What were they expecting? This gathering had a political aspect because Jesus’s fame had filled the people with new hopes and aspirations.

They hoped that He was the Messiah and they expected Him on this occasion to proclaim His mission as such and to make an announcement regarding the setting up of His kingdom. They were looking for the least excuse to proclaim and crown Him king. The disciples of Jesus also shared these feelings of expectancy. Their thoughts were filled with visions of future glory, and power, and wealth, when they believed that the nation of Israel would become the central power of the world and that they would be the center of a worldwide kingdom.

These were the ambitions, the expectations that had brought together this great company of people. The expectation of His audience gave Jesus the subject or the theme for His sermon, which was the kingdom of heaven. It was His purpose to correct the popular misconception concerning the nature of His kingdom that He had come to establish, for their expectations had completely unfitted them to receive Him and His teachings. The only kingdom that the Jews seemed to know anything about was an earthly temporal kingdom. The disciples were no different. They never lost this conception during the whole time Jesus was on earth until after Pentecost when they finally got their thinking partially straightened out.

There is danger today that modern Israel, the Christians of today, will make the same mistake. By becoming so thrilled over the prospects of the coming kingdom of glory that is clearly predicted in the Bible and to be established at the Second Advent of Christ, there is danger that in anticipating this, we will lose sight of the spiritual phase of His kingdom, which must be first established in the individual’s heart.

None of us will ever enter the kingdom of glory until the kingdom of grace has entered our heart. Until the first phase of the kingdom of heaven has been accomplished in our lives, we can never enter into the second phase. The first phase of God’s kingdom is the kingdom of grace that Jesus established by dying on the cross. The second phase of God’s kingdom will be the kingdom of glory that will be established when He comes again.

Jesus’ sermon is a summary of the Bible, and like the Ten Commandments or the Lord’s Prayer, it is of universal application. It appeals and applies to all races and to all ages.

One time in India, there was a large crowd which had gathered at a railway station to hear Mahatma Ghandi speak. After greeting the people, he opened a New Testament and read to them the beatitudes and then he said, “This is my message to you. Act upon it.” That was all the speech he made on that occasion, but that was enough.

The eight beatitudes constitute a ladder, an advancing road of Christian experience. They contain natural and logical steps in spiritual growth and development that take us into the kingdom of God. The word beatitude comes from a Latin word which means blessed or happy. So the beatitude ladder is a blessed ladder or happy experience. It is similar or synonymous with the words consecrated, hallowed, happy, sacred, or holy. Only a consecrated, holy people can enter the kingdom of heaven. And the journey must be made by way of the beatitude ladder. You start on the first rung, and you advance up the road. Each beatitude takes you to an advanced step. It is called the way of holiness in the Bible and it leads eventually to Zion (Isaiah 35:8). The result is that those who travel this ladder will obtain joy and gladness, they will return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35:10).

This way, however, as Jesus pointed out, is a narrow way. In fact, Jesus said that there will be few people in this world who find it. The great majority of the world will go down a broad way which leads to destruction. Jesus said that the way that leads to life is a narrow way, and only a few compared to the world population will find it (Matthew 7:14).

It is a narrow way that leads to eternal life and Jesus points out exactly what that way is. He said that it is so narrow that it excludes all evil and all evildoers. It is a path, a narrow way for the righteous or the just and it has ever increasing illumination until those who walk in it reach the perfect day of spiritual light and experience.

Blessed is a word that was used by Jesus, not to refer alone to joy and happiness, but to that higher joy which is the result of divine favor. What Jesus came to give to us is infinitely greater and better than that which we had been seeking for ourselves.

One of the first things that we notice when we read the beatitudes in Matthew 5, is that true happiness is the result of a holy character rather than that of outward conditions or circumstances. Remember the word translated “blessed” could be translated “happy.” It says in Matthew 5:2, “Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ ” God has always had a special regard for the poor in this world. Notice what the mother of Jesus, the virgin Mary said in Luke 1:46–48: “ ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.’ ”

The mother of Jesus and also his earthly father were poor people. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Why is that? Until we recognize our need, we will never come to the Lord for help. In the same song of Mary, in Luke 1:52 and 53, she said, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.”

Why has He “sent away” the rich “empty”? Because they didn’t feel a need of anything. One of the first requirements to be saved is that you need to feel your need of salvation. As long as you are proud and self-sufficient, there is not very much that God can do for you. But when you feel your need and ask for His help, the Holy Spirit will come into your life and start to recreate within you a new heart and a new spirit.

In the second beatitude Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). How can you be happy if you are mourning?

Notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:8, 9: “… even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance.” Repentance occurs when you are sorry enough for your sin to turn away from it. This is misunderstood today. If you are not sorry enough for your sins to quit them, you have not really repented of them.

Paul says, “… I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.” He continues in verse 10: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

What is the difference? The people in this world are sorry when they get caught in their sins, but godly sorrow occurs when you are sorry because you have committed the sin, because you realize that you have done something against your heavenly Father and you have done something that caused Jesus Christ to go to the cross. The Bible says that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. When you understand the consequence of sin and the price that Jesus Christ paid for them, you will never be able to enjoy sin again. You will then have godly sorrow for sin. You will not want to have anything to do with it. You will not just be sorry that you got caught.

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourself to be clear in this matter (verse 11).” There are many people today who have never been sorry for their sins. They have never really mourned for their sins or repented for their sins, and yet, they somehow think they are going to the kingdom of heaven.

However, this is a second step in the plan of salvation. If you are going to walk up the narrow road, not only must you feel your need, but you must also come to the place where you mourn for and repent of your sins. But that is not enough; there’s something that comes after that. In the third beatitude Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

Now the meek do not inherit the earth as it is today. We live in a world that is controlled by force. The strongest become the richest and the most powerful. But the time is coming when the proud will not be living in the world anymore. Notice what it says in Malachi 4:1: “ ‘Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

The day is coming when there will not be any proud people living in the world. The Bible says that the meek people will inherit the earth. A meek person is one who is gentle and humble. The time is coming when the only people on the face of the earth will be the meek—the gentle and humble.

Jesus does not ask of us anything that He has not demonstrated in His own life. Concerning Himself, He said in Matthew 11:28–30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus wants to deliver you from all your pride, from all your self-importance. He wants to help you become a meek person. Through His Holy Spirit He wants to recreate within you a new heart and a new spirit so that you will be gentle, meek, humble. Then you will be in a spiritual condition, where, when the world is made again, when the kingdom of glory is set up, you will be one who can inhabit the earth.

Then He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? The apostle John talks about how righteousness defines and demonstrates which people are really children of God and which people are children of the devil. It is not your profession that makes the determination; it’s the life you live. Notice what he says in I John 3:4–10: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

“Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

“In this [or by this] the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”

However wicked you may have been, if you would like to be righteous, and if you say, “Lord, I am hungering and thirsting for righteousness,” the Lord says, “Your desire is going to be filled. You are going to be satisfied.”

If you are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, if you realize that you are a wicked person but you do not want to be that way, you need to be recreated and born again. The Lord Jesus promises that, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, your hunger and thirst will be satisfied.

Jesus then said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7), James says in James 2:13 that there will be no mercy for the person that does not show mercy. Are you a merciful person? That is the next step in the road that leads to heaven. These beatitudes take you up a narrow road that leads to the kingdom of heaven. Are you willing to walk that road? If you are willing to walk that narrow road, when Jesus comes back, you will wind up in the kingdom of heaven. If that is what you want, if that is what you choose, if you act accordingly, that will be your destiny.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Inspiration – Entering the Strait Gate

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Matthew 7:7

Why is it that we do not take God at His word? Asking and receiving are closely linked together. If you ask in faith for the things that God has promised, you will receive. Look to Jesus for the things that you need. Ask Him for forgiveness of sins, and as you ask in faith your heart will be softened, and you will forgive those who have injured you, and your petitions will go up to God fragrant with love. With praying comes watching unto prayer, and every thought and word and act will be in harmony with your earnest petition for reformation in life. The prayer of faith will bring corresponding returns. But a mere form of words, without earnest sincerity and fervent desire for help, with no expectation of receiving, will avail nothing. Let not such a petitioner think he shall receive anything of the Lord. Those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

After asking the Lord for a knowledge of His will, for heavenly wisdom, for the light of the Holy Spirit, the petitioner will search the Scriptures, and find that passages that were dark to his mind have suddenly grown clear, and he understands his duty as never before. Jesus said: “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:16, 17). The knowledge of divine truth is promised to those who will render obedience to the light and truth that have been given to them. An entrance into the strait gate is not dependent upon the possession of learning or riches, but it is dependent upon the possession of a teachable spirit. He who appreciates the first ray of heavenly light, and appropriates it, and walks in it, bringing his actions into harmony with that ray, and becoming sanctified through it, will receive yet more light. He will understand that the gospel is the plan of salvation.

Striving to enter in at the strait gate means that we give the subject of the future life our first attention. We are to cut away from every hindrance that would prevent our entering into the strait gate. Inclination to evil must be denied, habits and practises [sic] not in harmony with the word of God must be overcome. We must examine the Scriptures, determined to know what is the truth; and whoever comes to the Bible with a humble, teachable spirit, whether he be rich or poor, honored or despised, shall know of the doctrine as he renders obedience to the rays of light that fall upon his pathway. He will not be left to be deceived by the delusions of the enemy, to be swayed hither and thither by the doctrines of devils.

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). This means nothing else than to be one with Christ, to make Him the sole object of attraction. He who thus strives to enter in at the strait gate will hear the voice of Jesus saying: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

He who would enter in at the strait gate can not expect the aid of the world in his necessities; for it is the world that has proved a snare to his soul, and has brought him into a position of hopelessness from which he needs to be rescued. But as he detaches his affections from the world, and accepts the life of self-denial and self-sacrifice that Jesus lived, giving him an example both by precept and performance, he enters in at the strait gate, to travel the narrow path which leads to the celestial city.

He who has an obedient heart, that is ready to do the will of God, will not only gladly receive truth, but will earnestly seek for truth as for hidden treasure. He will come to the Scriptures with a humble and teachable spirit, seeking to understand how he may walk in the light, and saying, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6)? He is ready to sacrifice anything and everything, if required, in order that he may be in harmony with the will of God. It is not always an easy matter to render obedience to the will of God. It demands firmness of purpose to enter in at the strait gate and to travel in the narrow path that leads to eternal life, for on every hand are voices inviting the soul into bye and forbidden paths. Those who love wealth and honor and high position, will not enter in at the strait gate unless they part with their idols. There is not room to enter in at the strait gate and carry the things of this world along. He who would enter in at the strait gate must make an entire consecration of his all to God. Jesus says, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

He who will follow Jesus through evil as well as good report, knows something of what is truth. He who will walk in the light as it comes, not waiting to have every mystery solved and every chance of doubt removed, will know of the doctrine, and will understand what are the advantages of entering in at the strait gate, and of walking in the narrow way. But he who would carry the world with him, will never enter in at the strait gate. There is no room for one to walk the narrow way and yet carry along evil surmisings, doubts, criticisms, jealousies, and unkindness. Such a one will refuse to enter in at the strait gate because he can not see the whole path to the paradise of God. He has many obstacles to present, many difficulties to bring to view, and Satan is ready to supply the soul with excuses for not entering in at the strait gate. Refusing to walk in the first rays of light, he fails to see the light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). If he would walk while he has the light, the path would be illuminated as he advanced, and all would be made plain.

The Review and Herald, March 28, 1912.