SO! Just how narrow is the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven?
We'll start with the basics. "Struggle to enter the Kingdom through the narrow door. The road to hell is wide with plenty of room and most go that way. But the door is small and the path is hard and narrow that leads to life and only a few find it." (Mt 7:13-14, Luke 13:23-24).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
So why do we have to struggle? Satan believes/has faith in Jesus, so is he saved? Of course not, so there has to be more to it than that.
“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” (Heb 3:18-19)
So faith and obedience go together. Here's where it gets tricky.
There are plenty of places that Jesus says "keep my commandments" - one if which is 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
I think it's easy to show that you are to keep MORE than the original 10 (also "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" among others), but it is obvious the 10 commandments are for sure in the list you are to keep.
Many of these 10 commandments, I think, are not hard to keep. I think the easiest to misstep on (perhaps even unwittingly) is keeping the Sabbath.
I was originally planning on another BIG QUESTION post dealing with the Sabbath, but it fits here too well, so I'm going to go with it now.
Disclaimer: I grew up a Catholic and this is not bashing the people that are. I have to stick with what I see that are things that are unbiblical, however, and if those things are not in agreement with the bible, I have to say that.
First of all, this keeping the Sabbath must be a pretty important rule to God, as the punishment for not keeping it in the Old Testament is death by stoning. So...WHEN is the Sabbath and how do you keep it holy?
Many people that love God disagree on this, so it's not exactly an open & shut case. You can argue it doesn't matter after Christ - Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
Also, once Paul heads out to the gentiles in the New Testament, the Sabbath is not mentioned. More quotes:
Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week [this would be Sunday] we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Since Paul designates this offering as "service" (2 Corinthians 9:12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.), this collection must be linked with the Sunday worship during their assembly. This would date a Sunday gathering of believers back to the 1st century.
Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
So each person decided for themselves? You can cop out and say that you should worship God every day, not just on the Sabbath. Now that is true, but it doesn't answer the Sabbath question.
The things referred to above mention gathering, worshipping, etc, but do NOT use the word "Sabbath". I would think that is important. In fact, NOWHERE in the bible does it mention anything regarding moving the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. So When did this change take place?
“Question - Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer - Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question - Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer - We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, 3rd edition, 1957.
“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. ’The day of the Lord’ was chosen, not from any direction noted in the Scriptures, but from the (Catholic) Church’s sense of its own power...People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” St. Catherine Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995.
“It was the Catholic church which...has transferred this rest to Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Therefore the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the (Catholic) church.” Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.
“I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ’Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ’No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” father T. Enright, C.S.S.R. of the Redemptoral College, Kansas City, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884, printed in History of the Sabbath, p. 802
“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.” Priest Brady, in an address reported in The News, Elizabeth, New Jersey, March 18, 1903.
“For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible.” Catholic Virginian, October 3, 1947, p. 9, article “To Tell You the Truth.”
“They [the Protestants] deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? Because the Catholic Church tells them to do so. They have no other reason...The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the divine law of Sabbath observance...The author of the Sunday law...is the Catholic Church.” Ecclesiastical Review, February 1914.
Catholics quoted above seem VERY proud of themselves that even though these other sects have broken off, they still observe what Rome says to do.
All of the above seem to make it clear that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath to Sunday. How does that sit biblically?
Daniel 7:25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Not well, it appears. I can make the case that the Catholic Church is Babylon leading people astray, but that will have to wait for another day - this post is long enough as it is!
Another big point when discussing this is, where exactly does SUNday come from?
The Romans called the sun god “Mithra” and “Apollo,” and they especially worshiped the sun on “the first day of the week,” also called “Dies Solis” (Latin), which means, “day of the sun.” The name “Sunday” was adopted “because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship. The first day of the week.” Webster’s Dictionary; 1929 edition.
So - does it sound like you're worshipping God or the Sun on Sunday?
I digress. Getting back to the original question of the post. How narrow is narrow? I think it's fair to easily argue that you MUST follow the commandments if you are to get to Heaven. From there, you can argue that most people don't keep the Sabbath properly. That would certainly limit the people to a "fewer". Not sure we are at "few" yet, but certainly we've taken a great number of people out of the mix with Sabbath worship.
One more large pasasge: Matthew 19:16-30
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
I'm not sure I have the background to hit all that is covered here, but I'll take a small shot. First of all, let's say we're keeping the commandments. Based on the above text, we are not locks to get into Heaven. Are we then to sell all we have and give it to the poor? You could argue that. How far do we go, though. I have a big screen TV, 2 in fact. Could I do without them? Yes. Will I sell them and give that money away? Probably not. Am I going to hell for that? Maybe. See where I'm going with all this?
I always thought that the reason so many things are labeled as sins in the bible are so that everyone knows that no one is good enough to enter Heaven based on themselves. Everyone needs a savior, no matter how "good" you think you are. Back to the point. How much do I need to give away? Everything?
We are all "rich" compared to what people thought about things being like in biblical days. Then you get to the latter parts of the above text and you see that although it's almost impossible for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, with God it IS possible.
So again I ask, what do we need to do? This is not an easy question in the least.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
It's not money that is evil, it's the LOVE of money because you then place it above your love of God.
Let's take this already hard question a step further. Let's say you make $x and give away 95% of it. Is that good enough (on top of already following the commandments)? What if you are spending some of that 5% on a nice bronze statue of Venus so that you can worship it? Obviously that wouldn't cut it either.
1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
Obviously you shouldn't sit there with "extra" money when you see a fellow believer (or anyone for that matter) that is truly in need of help.
In the closing of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns people that claim to know him but of whom he will someday say "I never knew you; depart from me..."
"By their fruits you shall know them" - Can people tell you follow Jesus from the outside if they didn't know you personally? How many people can really say that truthfully?
I can't, thus I may not be one of the "few".
I pray we can all make our way through the narrow gate and get to where we truly want to be - nothing else matters. I hope, though God's work, not mine, that I can get there someday; and I hope I can share a laugh or two there with others that I will meet here.