There are these two ways to leave this world, life or death. They show two different types of religion in this world: One comes from the heart of man, and the other comes from the heart of God.
The first is only an imagination; the second is a revelation. In the Bible, we see two gates, two ways, two companies and two ends.
A gate suggests the idea of a city — a place of safety. Life here is in Christ and offers safety from sin and wrath. There will be a passing from death to life.
It is an open way — it may be straight, but thank God, it is not shut. Revelation 3:8 says, “Behold, I have be before thee an open door.” This door was closed by sin and fenced up by the law. Christ opened this door by bearing our sins.
This is a new and living way that sets us apart. Remember, there are no back doors into the kingdom of Heaven. John 14:6 reads, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father but by me.”
“Straight is the gate, and narrow the way,” says the Bible. Camels were sometimes dragged through a gate after stripping them of everything they carried. Man needs to be stripped also to enter here.
This way might be narrow, but it leads to a larger place. It is the way of a few — few find it, because few seek it. It will not be busy, because many will shun it, preferring the darkness to the light, because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).
There is no stumbling in by chance or working your way in. It is the way of destruction — the word destruction here means “loss.” What has been lost is that which alone can save and satisfy. It would be like a watch losing its mainspring, like a plant losing the earth from its roots, a man losing all his privileges and hope.
There is a broad way and it suits the carnal mind. It has room for all sinners’ likes and pleasures. The world, the flesh and the devil have full scope here. It is broad enough for the staggering drunkard, for the dishonest and unclean, for the scoffer and the proud. Luke 13:24 reads, “Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
Man’s first choice is the broad way. The heart is deceitful and wicked, preferring the pleasures of sin than to fellowship with God. The end of this way is destruction. As sure as a stone sinks in the sea, a man will perish who loves and follows sin. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Ezekiel 31:11 reads, “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die.”
Finally, Jeremiah 21:8 reads, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.”
My question to you is which do you choose — life or death?
Joseph Merriman is pastor of First Baptist Church of Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.