The Strait Gate and The Narrow Way

THE STRAIT GATE & THE NARROW WAY

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
MATTHEW 7:14

Without context, the focus of most Christians becomes the gate. The message presented in many places today is one of being “born again” with little thought of entering the Kingdom of God. Religion likes things simple and easy and the English language plays into this concept very well. However, in the Greek language, there is a whole different thought to what Jesus is saying to us.

“Because strait is the gate, and narrowing (compressing) is the way,
which is leading unto the life, and few there be that are finding it.”
Literal Greek Translation

The Greek tense used here is the Participle mood, best translated here with an “ing” suffixed to the basic verb form. This communicates to us a progressive walk and an on-going sense of growth and development. The narrowing or compressing of the way is the daily experience of all who would find the resurrection Life of Jesus. The leading speaks of following Him with the discovery that death to the outward man is the path to experiencing His life within. Discipleship is the life of the narrowing way, and few there are who choose this path.

Seeing vs. Entering

We hear much of the scripture:

“Except a man be born again,
he cannot SEE the kingdom of God”
JOHN 3:4

However, Jesus goes on in his discourse to Nicodemus:

“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot ENTER INTO the kingdom of God”
JOHN 3:5

While many of God’s children are content with seeing the Kingdom, there is a cry within the heart of God that some enter into the Kingdom. There is a pursuit  and a cost involved with this entrance. The narrowing and confinement of the path must be walked in the reality of our hearts. We discover that this way is neither popular nor easy. It is the way of the Cross. It is found in the following of Him, not in the structured ways of men. It leads us into the wilderness where we discover that He came not only to forgive us but to save us from our sins and self-will. Of necessity we must be born not only of water (the cleansing aspect of His life) but also of the Spirit (the empowering aspect of His life) where we find enablement to overcome the issues that bind us. This birthing of the Spirit is also accompanied by the fire of His life to purge the dross and the impurities from our hearts. It is a purifying that no amount of washing will ever accomplish.

The strait gate is the introduction to the Narrow Way. The Gate is not an end in itself as many suppose. It is merely the beginning ever leading us farther on the Narrowing Way wherein we discover the “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of our God.

“We want to reach the kingdom of God,
but we don’t want to travel by way of death.
And yet there stands Necessity saying: ‘This way, please.’
Do not hesitate, man, to go this way,
when this is the way that God came to you.”
AUGUSTINE

It is the broad and easy road which leads to destruction. A crossless walk is the way of the broad and easy way, its end is judgment and misery.

“…for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction,
and many are the ones entering in through it”
Matthew 7:13

Ω

“If you here stop and ask yourselves why you are not as pious as the early Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor through inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.”
William Law

Brian Troxel

A Discipline of Trial

A Discipline of Trial

“All my best friends despise me,
and those I love have turned against me”
Job 19:19

There are treasures hidden within our trials. There are pressings through which the lives of His Own must pass in order for the grapes to produce the wine of the Spirit. Job found himself in circumstances in which every associate, whether friend or family, had turned against him. He walked alone. Loneliness and desolation are difficult places to tread and yet ordained of God. Human comfort cannot be found. It is here as with Job we need the discipline of focus within our hearts. In his isolation he was brought down into the valley of despair and his faith in God is tested to its very foundation. Left without support he had to cast himself on the very power of faith itself. Like gold tried in the fire, like silver purified seven times, the master smith knows the depth and strength of each one of His children. He watches carefully as with Job to ensure our standing in Him.

These places are in reality the foundation of our wealth and standing in God. Those who have reached past the limit of their own resources have discovered His infinite supply. It is a supply which can only be discovered when we are at the end of our own. When we hold on in sheer trust in His character, without any visible sense of hope or power, we discover the wonder of true faith. God’s end in us is fruit; abundant fruit of such a nature that it fully reveals the truth and character of Christ Himself.

In our testings let us hold fast to Him who cannot lie, cannot disappoint and cannot fail! Even the grave itself must give way to the resurrection Life of Jesus.

“For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.”
Psalm 66:10-12

The true wealth of a Christian is not in what they know but in the gold purchased in the fires through which they have walked (Revelation 3:18)

Brian Troxel

Eternal Life and the Resurrection – Part Two

The Resurrection

Part Two

The resurrection of the dead is simply the revelation of the seed which was sown. If the life was evil, filled with self-seeking, self-loving and self-dependence so will it be in the resurrection. If we plant the seed of a noxious plant that will be its resurrection.

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain”
1 Corinthians 15:34-37

In the Resurrection, God gives a corresponding body to the seed sown. What we become through the outworking of the cross of Christ and the power of His Grace determines the wonder of our resurrection. Paul prefaces this word on the resurrection with “Awake to righteousness and sin not”.

It is critical that we begin to correlate our walk here with our resurrection there!

“But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him,
and to every seed his own body…”
1 Corinthians 15:38

“To every seed its own body…” May God open our eyes to the power and truth of this, that we may not live in the slumber of religion but that we would in fact “Awake to Righteousness”. Let us re-examine the truths we hold and the clear teaching of Christ. Paul wrote concerning his own life:

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:8

Why could Paul state this?

“I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith”
2 Timothy 4:9

The confidence of his resurrection was based upon his life here on earth. He had fought the good fight, he had finished his course and purpose in God, and he had kept the faith of Christ alive and relevant in his heart.

We cannot slumber in our walk here and expect the rewards of righteousness there. His reward is with Him and He will reward every man according to their works. May the light shine and may we seek fellowship with others that will exhort and encourage us to live “godly in Christ Jesus”.

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God”
Romans 2:6-11

And again:

“And, behold, I come quickly;
and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be
Revelation 22:12

Our resurrection will be according to the life we live not because of some religious confession we make. May God awaken us to live righteously, truthfully and confidently in the power of His Grace.

The gift of eternal life is not by works but by grace through faith. However, the manner of our resurrection will be proportional to our faithfulness to the talents received, His commandments kept and obstacles overcome.
“To him that overcometh will I give…”

If there be no overcoming there will be no receiving
of the promises of God in that day
(Read the message of Christ to the seven churches
for insight. Revelation 2:1-3:22)

God’s Word to us, “Awake to righteousness and sin not”, is clear. Any teaching which contradicts the clear truth of this is deception and error.

Brian Troxel

Quote for Today – F.W. Robertson

Quote for Today

“What the world calls virtue is a name and a dream without Christ. The foundation of all human excellence must be laid deep in the blood of the Redeemer’s cross, and in the power of His resurrection.”
– Frederick William Robertson

Quote for Today – Brendan Jaster

Quote for Today

“That which does not die cannot be raised”
Brendan Jaster

“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened,
except it die”
1 Corinthians 15:36

Quote for Today – Thomas Kelly

Quote for Today

“The deepest need of humans is not food and clothing and shelter, important as they are. It is God. We have mistaken the nature of poverty, and thought it was economic poverty. No, it is poverty of the soul, deprivation of God’s recreating, loving peace”
Thomas Kelly

“He restoreth my soul”
Psalm 23:3

Thought for Today – Resurrection

Thought for Today

“I am the resurrection”
John 11:25

Wherever and whenever the heart of a wandering soul, a lost soul or a dying soul meets the wonder of Him, resurrection and life are the immediate result. He is not only the Resurrected One, He is the ever resurrecting one. Regardless of age, status in life or circumstances, He is our resurrection. Newness of life, joy, worship and praise are the on-going expressions of any life beholding Him. Death, sorrow, fear, discouragement and despair flee from His presence as shadows disappear from radiant light.

Linger not in the shadows of human reasoning or the stains of sin or unbelief. Come to the fountain which will never fail; whose waters are filled with the abundance of His Life, cleansing, refreshing and replenishing us with the vigor of His eternal life.

“Come ye saints, look here and wonder,
See the place where Jesus lay;
He has burst His bands asunder;
He has borne our sins away;
Joyful tidings,
Yes, the Lord has risen to-day”
Thomas Kelly

THE CALL TO LIFE

THE CALL TO LIFE

“But if by the Spirit you put to death
the deeds of the body,
you will live.”
ROMANS 8:13

Life; it is the purpose for which the SON has come.

“I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly”
JOHN 10:10

Jesus did not come to introduce to the world a new teaching, a new religion or a philosophy. He came to destroy the works of the devil and to bring LIFE to His fallen creation. Life does not consist of knowing something or knowing about a thing. LIFE, true life, consists of abiding in HIM.

We read here in Romans 8 that LIFE is known by those who “by the Spirit” are enabled to put the deeds of the body to death. Life is realized by overcoming the deeds of our body by the operation of HIS SPIRIT within our lives. The call to “discipleship” IS the call to life. The CROSS, being the very instrument of death, in our walk with God becomes the very PRINCIPLE by which HIS LIFE is discovered. While the “church” today is overloaded with teachings, sermons, “resources” and programs she is in fact worldly; compromised and powerless in the realms of victory over sin and carnality. More sermons, teachings and conferences will not avail us one iota of the wonders of HIS LIFE. Getting the latest revelation from the multitude of “prophets”* and “apostles”* will not bring this precious resource to the human heart. For the LIFE that JESUS gives is the very life of resurrection. It is a life that arises from the principle of death. It is a life that pulsates with the ability to overcome and reign in Christ Jesus our Lord. On the cross Jesus himself was reigning in a life that conquered death and the grave. It is a life that is undefeatable and eternal in the scope and power of all it holds in its sway. It speaks of something that is beyond the comprehension of men, beyond what we can imagine, consider or even has “entered into the heart of man”.

“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”
1 CORINTHIANS 2:9

This LIFE is not to be discovered by simply knowing the scriptures; being able to quote them, expound upon them and claim them as our own. That precious written word bears witness of JESUS. It is the ONE central thought of the whole New Covenant…JESUS THE CHRIST, THE ONLY BEGOTTON SON.

“Search the scriptures;
for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me,
that ye might have life”
JOHN 5:39-40

It is in the coming to HIM we have life. When the HOLY SPIRIT has such sway within our lives that we can by the very power of God put to death the deeds of our own body we HAVE LIFE. It is in the participation and partaking of the “Divine Nature” that we are made free from the horror of self and that old Adamic Nature. How long will the people of God be content with hearing about this life, sermons on what it looked like in someone else, without the very CRY for it to become the pulse of our own?

We read of that “exceeding abundant” dynamic of God’s power at work toward us BEING “according” (in proportion) to the power that is at work in us! The only limitation to HIS LIFE working in us is our cooperation in HIS WILL. The Cross is simply the Will of God walked out in my life. Teaching, as important as it is, will never be a substitute for OBEDIENCE.

“Now unto him that is able to do
exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,

according to the power that worketh in us”
EPHESIANS 3:20

The validity that we are truly HIS is revealed by those who know the deep and painful inworking and outworking of the CROSS.

“And they that are Christ’s
have crucified the flesh
with the affections and lusts”

GALATIANS 5:24

This is the stamp of the ownership of Christ within the LIFE of HIS OWN. This call to the experiential co-crucifixion with Christ is the one thing that destroys within us the propagation of self and the desire for self-realization. The same CROSS, that leaves the debris of self and the associated bondage of all that goes with it strewn along the path of the ardent disciple, is also the matrix from which His Life is manifested through our fragile earthen vessels.

While men chase after the latest “miracle worker”, and thousands of sermons and teaching go forth every day, there remains the eternal call of the Spirit of God to DISCIPLESHIP. “If any man would be my disciple, let him deny himself and pick up his cross and follow me.

To those who are weary and heavy laden with the words, and the never ending flow of information and resources, the promise of Jesus stands as an open door beckoning us to “come to Him” and we will have rest for our souls.

Can we hear the fresh call to the simplicity of discipleship? Can we see beyond the horror and pain of the death that the cross would work in us? Can we see past the agony, humiliation and suffering of all that it would bring and to see HIS LOVELY FACE SHINING IN THE GLORY OF THE UNDIMMED LIGHT OF HIS LIFE?

“Looking unto Jesus
the author and finisher of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down
at the right hand of the throne of God”
HEBREWS 12:2

 

*NOTE  This is not to diminish any true ministry in the Body of Christ however hearing without doing is but vain religion.

Brian Troxel