"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
This lesson is intended primarily for young people -- youth and young adults. You are considering the path or direction for your life. You may be feeling the call from Jesus Christ to commit your life, your way, to him. Yet, the world is attractive to you; its ways are enticing you (1 John 2:15-17). You may be feeling the world pulling you in opposition to the call of commitment to Jesus Christ. You are at a "fork in the road." Which way will you choose?
This lesson encourages you to enter through the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ and to follow Jesus on the path that leads to life.
1. Choose Jesus Christ instead of the world
Make the decision. Choose to enter the kingdom of God by the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ himself.
The broad way of the world may be attractive to you - for example, desire for "success" in the world's eyes, accumulating wealth, and prestige. Yet, Jesus says the broad way leads to destruction -- life cut off from Christ, ruin, or loss (Ref. 1). That ruin or loss can occur during this earthly life, for example, from love of money (1 Timothy 6:9, Matthew 6:24), or at the final judgment (Revelation 20:15). Even though God does love the people of the world and sent his Son to save us (John 3:16), Jesus' disciple John warns us not to love the things of the world such as pride and lust (1 John 2:15-17).
2. Search for and find the narrow gate
Jesus said, "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14, italics added). The implication from this verse is that instead of our choosing the broad way of the world, we should actively search for and find the narrow gate which is Christ. The Greek word for find in Matthew 7:14 means find, learn, discover, especially after searching (Ref. 2). Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).
3. Enter through the narrow gate by faith in Christ
Enter through the narrow gate by placing your faith and trust in God's Son, Jesus Christ. God has ordained that the path to life and the way to God the Father is through his Son. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). Jesus also said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9).
4. Follow Jesus -- the way that leads to life
Jesus himself is the way that leads to life (John 14:6, Matthew 7:14). The life that Jesus leads us to is full in both the physical and spiritual sense (Ref. 3). Jesus promises believers an abundant life (John 10:10) -- a life filled with purpose, growth, work, and service.
Note that as we follow Jesus on the path that leads to life, the path is not easy. In Matthew 7:14 Jesus said "the way is narrow that leads to life." The word narrow in narrow way in Matthew 7:14 means constricted by pressure, and implies trouble and affliction (Ref. 4). Despite the obstacles that we will encounter on the way that leads to life, Jesus promises to be with us always (Matthew 28:20); he gives us the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:16, John 16:13). Jesus promises that he will lead us as we follow him on the way to our heavenly Father and to our heavenly destination (John 14:6, John 14:2-3).
Apply. Make the decision. Choose the way of Christ instead of the way of the world. Search for and find the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ himself. Enter through the narrow gate by placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Choose to follow Jesus on the path that leads to life and to our Father in heaven.
"Jesus is the Door" - John 10:7, John 10:9
"Jesus is the Way to the Father" - John 14:6
"Do Not Love the World" - 1 John 2:15
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" (John 14:6)
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). This lesson explains the "I am the life" portion of this verse. I encourage you to read first the two predecessor lessons which explain the "I am the way" and "I am the truth" portions of this verse. Here are the links:
"Jesus is the Way to Heaven" (Ref. 1)
"Jesus is the Truth" (Ref. 2)
The About the Way page also teaches about the Way of God in the Old Testament and the Way in the New Testament.
Consider. What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ said "I am the life"?
Jesus is the Creator and Source of Life
Jesus Christ is the source or fountain of all life. Scripture tells us "For by Him all things were created" and "All things have been created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). John writes, "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3).
The Greek word for life is zóé, which means both physical (present) and spiritual (particularly future) existence (Ref. 3). Life always comes from and is sustained by God.
"Life" here has no limitation, and includes life of the body, the life of the soul, the life of the spirit, life in the present, and life in the future (Ref. 4).
Life is through Christ Rather than the Law
Jesus' Jewish listeners were familiar with the law given through Moses. Yes. God gave the law (Exodus 20:1-17, Exodus 24:12). Yes. God instructed the Israelites to obey the law (Deuteronomy 30:15-18). However, the law itself did not impart life. Only Jesus can impart life. I suggest that this point is central to what Jesus meant when he said "I am the life."
The Apostle Paul emphasizes faith in Christ versus the inability of the law to impart life. "If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21). "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law" (Galatians 3:21). "The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24, italics added).
Jesus is the Key to Blessed Life
Jesus spoke about the sheep under his care, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they [believers] may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, brackets added). The Greek word for abundantly in this verse is perissos, which means all-around and going beyond the expected limit (more than enough) (Ref. 5). As believers in Christ, Jesus cares for us and meets our needs. David, the Psalmist, captured this truth when he wrote, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake" (Psalm 23:1-3).
Jesus is the Giver of Eternal Life
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28, italics added).
The Greek word for eternal in eternal life is aiónios, which means unending, and age-long (Strong's Concordance - Ref. 6). Aiónios includes the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting (Ref. 6). "Aiónios does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the age it relates to. Thus, believers live in eternal life right now, experiencing this quality of God's life now as a present possession" (Helps Word-studies - Ref. 6, Ref. 7).
Jesus Christ is the life. Jesus imparts life that the law cannot impart. Jesus is the key to a blessed life. To those who believe in him, Jesus gives eternal life - the quality of life which begins now and continues into eternity after our physical death. Thanks be to God for Jesus who is our life!
Apply. Take time now to thank God for the life that he gives you through his Son, Jesus Christ.
(Ellicott's Commentary on John 1:4)
"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." (Psalm 27:11)
Today's lesson explores the Bible verses behind the excellent hymn, "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord."
Hymn Author and Composer
Benjamin Mansell Ramsey wrote the text for "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" based on Psalm 27:11 and several additional Scripture verses. Mr. Ramsey also composed the tune, "Camacha," which we use today when singing this hymn.
Benjamin Mansell Ramsey (1849 - 1923) was an English organist and amateur composer (Ref. 1). He also was a well-known music teacher near Bournemouth, England. Mr. Ramsey composed songs, piano pieces, and carols. He also wrote works on music theory (Ref. 2).
Wikipedia reports that Mr. Ramsey also conducted an amateur orchestra in the 1880s, and was involved in establishing the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra in 1893 (Ref. 1). He is best known for his hymn tune, "Camacha," and the text he wrote for "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" in 1919.
For those of you who are interested in geography, Bournemouth is located on the south coast of England (see map, Ref. 3).
I suggest that you refer to the attached hymn sheet music for the following discussion of the Scripture verses and the hymn text (Ref. 4).
"Teach me Thy way." Mr. Ramsey skillfully wrote this hymn around the Biblical phrase, "Teach me Thy way." He included the phrase, "Teach me Thy way," 13 times in verses one through four. In the Old Testament, the Way of the Lord referred to keeping God's commandments (Deuteronomy 5:33, Ref. 5). In Joseph Benson's Commentary, the phrase "Teach me Thy way, O Lord" means "What course I shall take to please thee, and to discharge my duty, and to save myself from ruin" (Ref. 6). David, the Psalmist, asked God to teach him God's way in Psalm 27:11 and Psalm 86:11. Psalm 25:4-5 is similar. David’s request to God, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord," is an excellent example for us to follow (Ref. 5).
"Thy guiding grace afford" (hymn, verse 1). These words call to my mind Jesus' promise in John 16:13, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." Jesus promised us as believers that the Holy Spirit will guide us. The Greek word for guide in John 16:13 is hodégeó, which literally means "to show the way" (Ref. 7, Ref. 8). Now we can see the close connection between the prayerful hymn words in verse 1, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord" and "Thy guiding grace afford." As believers in Christ, we need the Holy Spirit's guidance to teach us God's way and truth in each of our life's circumstances.
"Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight" (hymn, verse 1). This hymn phrase likely refers to Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
"Make Thou my pathway plain" (hymn, verse 3). Psalm 27:11 begins with the words, "Teach me thy way, O Lord" and ends with the words, "and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies" (KJV translation). The transliteration of the Hebrew word for plain is mishor (Ref. 9). In Psalm 27:11, mishor means literally a level place (free from obstacles) and figuratively, a place of safety, comfort, prosperity (Ref. 9). In the literal sense, a plain is a level area or plateau as compared to a mountainous area, for example, 1 Kings 20:22-25. In the figurative sense, David's prayer to make his pathway plain (Psalm 27:11) was to request that God would make his way safe (Ref. 10).
Mr. Ramsey wrote in verse 3 of the hymn, "Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil, and pain; Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!" With these words, we pray that God will make our way safe and that God will comfort us through these difficult times.
"Until the race is won" and "Until the crown is won" (hymn, verse 4). Mr. Ramsey likely drew inspiration from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 which alludes to both of these phrases. "Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away."
Let us resolve to run the race with endurance that God has given us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Listen. I suggest that you listen to one or both of the following Youtube videos to hear examples of how the hymn can be sung.
Traditional hymn in 3/4 time - The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London congregation singing "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" - Click here.
This contemporary, 4/4 time solo arrangement of "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" in 4/4 time will uplift you. Click here.
Apply. In what aspect of your life today do you need God to remove obstacles and to make your pathway plain or safe? Pray and ask God to teach you his way and to give you his guidance.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)
This article is the fifth and final article in the series on the topic, "About the Way."
Consider. The eternal Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the way to the Father and to the Father's dwelling place in heaven.
On the night before his crucifixion and departure, Jesus told his disciples, "In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. And you know the way where I am going" (John 14:2-4).
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going; how do we know the way?" (John 14:5)
Jesus replied with his famous declaration, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
Jesus is the way -- the road, the path, the journey -- to the Father
When Jesus said to his disciples that he was the way, the "way" was a concept that was familiar to his disciples (Ref. 1). In the Old Testament, God instructed the Israelites to walk in his way by keeping his commandments (Deuteronomy 5:33). During the Exodus, God went before the Israelites in a pillar of cloud to show them the way they should go (Exodus 13:21). David prayed, "Teach me your way, O Lord" (Psalm 27:11).
In the New Testament, the main Greek word for way is hodos (Ref. 2).
Hodos means a way, road, journey, or path (Ref. 2).
When Jesus said, "I am the way," he was saying that he, and he only is the way, road, journey, or path to the Father. In John 14:6, Jesus emphatically used the pronoun "I," meaning "I, and none besides Me" (Ref. 3). "He, and He only is the means through which men can approach to the Father" (Ref. 3). Recall that in Isaiah 43:11 God said: "I, only I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me."
The world may try other methods to reach the Father -- for example, trusting in works. Yet, no person can come to the Father -- obtain his favor, access his throne by prayer, and finally to enter his kingdom -- except by the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ref. 4). That is why believing and trusting in Jesus is the way, the only way, to the Father and to his dwelling place in heaven.
Apply. Believe in (trust in, put your faith in) Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus will lead you on the way -- the road, the path, the journey -- to your heavenly Father and to your ultimate destination in heaven.
"About the Way"
"What Does 'The Way' Mean in the New Testament?" - Matthew 7:13-14
"The Way of the Lord (Old Testament)" - Deuteronomy 5:33
Ellicott's Commentary on John 14:6
Barnes Notes on the Bible, John 14:6
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
This article is the fourth in a series on the topic, "About the Way."
Consider. In the Old Testament, the scriptures describe God’s way as keeping God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 5:33, Deuteronomy 5:1-21, Deuteronomy 8:6, Psalm 119:1-3).
The New Testament builds upon the description of God’s Way in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the main Greek word for "way" is hodos (Ref. 1). The following paragraphs describe the meaning of "way" (hodos) in the New Testament.
A "way" is a traveled road (Matthew 2:12, Acts 8:26, Acts 26:13). In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus taught a challenging truth. The way [road] that leads to life is narrow, and there are few who find it. The Greek word for life in this verse is zoe, which means the blessing of real life after the resurrection (John 11:25, Ref. 2).
A "way" is a journey. In Acts 8:39, the Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing after Philip led him to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:30-37).
A "way" is a manner of thinking, feeling, or deciding. Acts 18:24-25 describes the teaching and speaking ministry of Apollos, who was instructed in the way of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. Acts 18:26 tells us, "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." (italics added)
In Acts 16:16-18, Paul and Silas were near Philippi when they encountered a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. Acts 16:17 tells us the slave girl's remarkable statement. "She followed Paul and us, crying out, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.'" (italics added)
The name for Christianity in the early church. Many believers today may not know that in the Book of Acts "The Way" was the most widely known name for the early Christian church. The first use in Acts of the name, "The Way," occurs in Acts 9:1-2. "Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."
Acts 19:8-9 describes how the Apostle Paul in Ephesus moved the disciples to another location when "hardened and disobedient" people spoke evil about the Way. Acts 19:23 says "About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way." The disturbance about the Way led to the near-riot in Ephesus described in Acts 19:23-41.
Later, when Paul was brought under Roman custody to Caesarea, he testified before Felix, the governor. When Paul was given the opportunity to speak at the hearing, he said, "This I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets" (Acts 24:14).
In comparison to "The Way," which is mentioned several times in Acts, the term, "Christian," is mentioned only three times in the entire New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16).
Apply. Are you living on the narrow path that leads to real life beyond the resurrection? Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
"The Way of the Lord (Old Testament)" -- Deuteronomy 5:33
"Jesus is the Way to the Father" -- John 14:6
"You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess." (Deuteronomy 5:33)
This article is the third in a series on the topic, "About the Way."
Consider. Jesus said "I am the way" (John 14:6). The "way of the Lord" was a concept familiar to Jesus' Jewish listeners. Consider these principles from the Old Testament.
God instructed the Israelites to keep God's commandments by walking in his way. Deuteronomy 5:33
What was the way that God had commanded? Please read through the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-21).
Consider the three-fold blessing God promises for the nations and people who keep his commandments – "that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land which you shall possess" (Deuteronomy 5:33).
God went before the Israelites to show them the way. Exodus 13:21
Knowing God and God's ways are key to experiencing God's favor. Exodus 33:13
God instructed the Israelites to make God's way known among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2
God instructed parents to teach their children the way of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6
David asked God to "Teach me Thy way, O Lord." "Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies" (Psalm 27:11). "Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths" (Psalm 25:4).
David’s request to God, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord," is an excellent example for us to follow.
Listen. I suggest that you listen to Don Moen's music video, "Trust and Obey." You will be blessed.
Apply. Are you walking in the way of the Lord? Are you obeying God's commandments? Deuteronomy 5:1-21
"What Does 'the Way' Mean in the New Testament?"
To learn more about the following topics, please visit the About the Way page or the previous posts with dates noted:
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Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
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