It is written in the scriptures that: strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt 7:14)
There is therefore a gate, and a way. A gate is a crisis point, requiring one to pass through. You are either on this side of the gate, or the other side. Passing through a gate is not a gradual process, it occurs at once. A way on the other hand, is traversed gradually. Walking on a way does not occur at once. Rather, we make progress over time. We have gate experiences and way experiences. And both are essentially different, though connected.
For instance: when we are faced with the vicissitudes of life, or when someone comes with problems of theirs; we may feel they have a long way to go concerning that particular aspect of life, but it is not always so- sometimes all that is required is an encounter, or an experience and voila- they are on the next level. In that instance, it is a gate before us, not a way. And the kind of counsel needed has to do with us understanding certain ‘key’ things. It does happen the other way too- mistaking a way for a gate, and banging on it instead of walking on.
Now to the point: in walking with God- there is a gate, and there is a way. And which one comes first is debatable, but from the scripture above- the gate first, then the way. And there is the hymn that says Jesus yielded His life an atonement for sin and opened the life-gate that all may go in. At the gate is Christ, at the gate is the Cross, at the gate the Lamb was slain, and our sins forgiven, and guilt rolled away. At the gate Christ met us- He loved us, He took us unto Himself. He died for us and rose again. When He died, we died with Him, and when He rose, were raised together.
If anyman is in Christ therefore- He is a new creature. The gate is not about what we have done or what we should do, but about what God has done in Christ. Changes here are instantaneous. God has done everything in Christ, and then put us in Him. The moment we believe it, we receive it, and we become it- not in a hidden way, but manifestly. It is credited to our account as righteousness.
Therefore at the gate we are free, at the gate there is therefore now no condemnation, at the gate old things are passed away, at the gate all things are become new, at the gate we have passed from death to life, at the gate we are a new creation, at the gate we have been healed by His stripes, at the gate we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. It does not occur gradually- but if anyman is in Christ, He is- not that he will be, but he is. Not that old things are passing away, but they have. Not that all things are becoming new- but they have.
That is the strait gate.
When people ‘give their lives to Christ’ over and over again thinking they did not do it well the previous time, or because the meeting is intense, or because of the things they have done since the last time they received Christ. When we rededicate our lives to God several times, and confess sins and ask for forgiveness regularly, especially before bed- jolted and even scared by messages of the appearing or coming of Christ and messages of hell. When we feel guilt about past sins and even go ahead to say things like ‘we are all sinners, except for the blood of Jesus.’ When we are always stumbling over the same sins and repenting of them.
-We are trying to walk upon the way without acknowledging that there is a gate to pass through. It will never work. We would need to know that what happened to us at the gate. Without the gate, we will try to make heaven- an impossibility in itself. Until we see the gate, progress upon the way will be difficult to impossible, and we will keep going back to start point- repenting again, starting again instead of moving on to perfection.
And what is more? Sometimes we focus on the gate, and forget the way. We claim everything has been already done.
Faith is both he who comes to God and he who diligently seeks Him. A W Tozer says to have found God and to pursue him is the sweet paradox of Christianity.
Sometimes we don’t know the difference between where we are seated, where we are walking, and where we are standing. We forget that while we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, we are pressing towards the mark for the prize of the upward call of God in Him. And that while our seating position is fixed on high, it does not change the fact that progress has to be made here in this realm. Those who pass through the gate must be prepared to walk the way.
At the gate God found us, on the way we find Him. At the gate- God loved us, on the way we love Him. At the gate- we are planted in Christ, on the way Christ is expressed through us. At the gate victory is delivered, but on the way battles will be fought. At the gate inheritance has been entrusted, but on the way the heirs will be tested. At the gate- we are forgiven, on the way- we must forgive others. At the gate- we are perfected, on the way- we learn perfection. At the gate- we are born again, on the way- we live again. At the gate- we repent out of guilt, on the way- we repent out of relationship. At the gate, faith is received…on the way we add to our faith. At the gate- the Cross carries us…On the way we carry our cross. At the gate- Christ is the Author of our faith, and on the way- He is the Finisher
That is the narrow way.
P.S. this thought pattern of the Christian walk was borne of one of Watchman Nee’s sermons: a gate and a way.