Who Are These People
by Timothy Binion
The cheap grace evangelism so widespread in our day, with its high pressure techniques, makes merchandise of the souls of men. Matthew chapter seven verses twenty-one thru twenty-three awaken our minds by attention demanding and thought provoking words. Surely anyone who has a real concern and vital interest in his soul will reflect upon the passage, asking himself, “Am I really saved? Do I, in truth, belong to the Lord? Have I a genuine hope?” Listen to the passage. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?. . . And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23). This passage clearly teaches us that many religious people who expect to go to Heaven when they die will instead be cast into hell. Oh what a sobering thought, that many religious people will one day receive from Christ the terrible declaration, “depart from Me”.
There is a day coming when millions of religious people who thought beyond any shadow of doubt that they were saved and ready for Heaven will be consigned to everlasting punishment. In answer to the question who are these people, I would answer that they are good, moral people: church members, church workers, church leaders, preachers, popes, priests, prophets, bishops, elders, deacons, and such who will be condemned to everlasting torment. We live in a time of great deception. It’s not easy to find one who truly knows the Lord as we interact with other people on a Christian level. John Wesley said, “Many people have been inoculated with a mild dose of Christianity that makes them immune to the real thing.” Wesley’s statement best describes our present religious day.
The most important question is, Are you one of these people? Just where do you stand at this present moment? Are you saved or deceived? Are you religiously lost? What should interest you the most is not what you think or what anyone else thinks about the matter, but how the Lord sees you right now!
Most evangelical preachers today offer people a foolish presumption, or gate system, that in my estimation, aggravates the gospel. I know we don’t like to think about it, but Matthew 7:21-23 plainly teaches that many religious people are lost. Why? In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus gives us the reason why: “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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
These passages clearly identify the problem. The religiously lost use the wrong gate system and need to “enter the strait gate”. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably entered one of these two religious gates and never examined the gate system you entered. Jesus repeatedly warned us that there are two religious gates, two roads, two destinations, and two crowds. The gate Jesus invites us to enter is narrow and the other gate is wide. One religious gate is difficult to enter and the other is very easy to enter. The entrance of the straight gate requires an effort. Today, most religious folks just kind of drift though the wide gate without any kind striving. Jesus is contrasting human religion and the religion of God. This is not a contrast between the ungodly and godly, or religious and non-religious. The people that went through the wide gate went through a gate marked as “this is the way to heaven.”
This dual marquee of Christian religion has been around now for a long time. One paved by human achievement and the other by Divine accomplishment. How do people read this sermon of Jesus Christ and miss the main point? Over and over again, through the end of the chapter, this contrast continues with: two roads, two destinations, two kinds of travelers, two kinds of trees (the good and the corrupt), two kinds of fruits, two builders (one wise and one foolish), two foundations (one of rock and the other sand), two houses, and two storms. Jesus repeatedly stresses two very different ways. Both point to God, both point to heaven, both point to blessing, BUT both roads don’t go there. One is comprised of self-righteousness and the other of divine righteousness.
If you want to be saved, you must enter the narrow gate. The Greek aorist imperative verb used here demands an immediate determination. Jesus said “enter at once through the right gate”. This is not a new condition for salvation. All through the Bible, God has explained the terms for entering this gate. Even in the beginning of the sermon on the mount (Matthew Chapter 5), Jesus stressed the need of having a beggar spirit, mourning over sin, having a meekness before God, and a spiritual hungering and thirsting for righteousness. You must enter the kingdom by these clearly expressed terms or you will not enter. You must enter this narrow gate for the blessings of Christ’s Kingdom or these blessings will not be yours. You must enter through the right gate, the narrow one, and not the broad one.
What are the properties of this gate? What does this gate look like? First, you must strive to go through this gate because going through it is not easy. Secondly, it is narrow, meaning you must enter alone. Perhaps the best expression of this word narrow is a turnstile. If you ever go through the narrow gate, you’ll go through alone. In other words, we go through the right gate one at a time. You can’t go through as a group. Any kind of wholesale mass evangelism will not get people though this narrow gate. The Jews thought they could go through as a group. They said “We’re the seed of Abraham.” A group of people cannot go through a turnstile and a group of people do not go through the narrow gate together.
Salvation is exclusive and intensely personal. Your gate experience must be personally based on an individual act of faith. You cannot go through this gate as a family, nation, church, or with the use of a counselor. Personal means no third party involved. Jesus also said you must enter with great difficulty in contrast to the easy. What kind of gate would you assign walking the aisle and signing a card? God has said you’ll find me when you search for me with all your heart. Scripturally, by the name of our Lord Jesus, I warn you beware of cheap grace!!
If you believe the words of Jesus, clearly the wrong gospel is the one with no striving in it! “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 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 13:23-24).
The word “strive” in the Greek language is “ag-o-nid́-zom-ahee”, which means to struggle, to compete for a prize, to contend with an adversary, to endeavor to accomplish something, or to fight. Notice how the word is used or translated in other places of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 9:25 translates the word “fight”, in Colossians 4:12 it is translated “warfare”, whereas in 1Timothy 6:12 the word is used for “labor”. Jesus said entering the gate requires warfare like striving or a fervently laboring of spirit. The “many” (who are lost) opposed to the few (that are saved) hinges on one primary different practice…a striving or agonizing to enter in. Jesus said many won’t be able. Why? Because many refuse the scriptural process or present different terms for entrance.
The Scriptures even, at times, speaks of entering the Kingdom of God in a harsh and violent manner. Notice in Matthew 11:12, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” In Luke 16:16 conditions of entrance also include pressing: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
One of Satan’s biggest lies today is that entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven does not require striving, pressing, or agonizing and mourning over sin. Through the wide gate a crowd can come. You can keep your sins. You can come through as you are and you’re told not to expect a change. This broad way has no requirements, no commands, no theology, no rules, no striving, no labor, no warring, and no agonizing. Masses of people who have been high-pressured into making a decision or commitment have therefore been persuaded into believing that they are saved.
When the Holy Spirit lays hold of a sinner’s heart in conviction in an attempt to save him, we may be sure that He’s the One Who puts the real pressure on. The Holy Spirit will bring a person down in humiliation and break his or her love for sin and love of self and bring them up in Christ’s salvation. The cheap grace evangelism so widespread in our day, with its high pressure techniques, makes merchandise of the souls of men. It leads and causes people to think and confidently imagine that they are in the narrow way which leads to life when they are in the broad way which leads to destruction.
True religion strives, agonizes, and mourns over sin, and causes one to plead with God to change a heart and life. You must endeavor to enter Christ’s Kingdom or you won’t enter. You must be broken and unloaded to go though the gate. The narrow gate is one of self-denial and of Lordship. In Matthew chapter 19, the rich young ruler searched for God, but he would not unload. You must remove your self-righteous robe and receive a robe of righteousness. Jesus spoke often of this process like in Matthew 18:3: “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Charles Spurgeon wrote “you and your sins must separate or you and your God will never come together.” You must enter alone, with difficulty, and completely surrendered to Christ. You can’t simply add Christ to your life or take him into your heart. Salvation is not by addition, but by transformation. Salvation is marked by a changed life. Are you one of these people whom the Lord spoke of? The fact that many people are traveling the broad road with you should not comfort you. It should alarm you. Enter in at the straight gate! Get off the broad road that leads to destruction or you will be one of these people to whom the Lords says “depart from Me!”