The Cramped Gate and Narrow Way

by A.E. Knoch

HOW earnestly did we once exhort sinners to leave the broad way which leads to destruction, for the narrow path that leads to life! (Matt.7:13,14). But, thank God, we learned the great truth that we are in Christ and share His life. How then could we be on a road that leads to life? I learned, moreover, that the entrance into life was wide, not cramped. It was entered by grace, not by striving (Luke 13:24). The narrow way was not the evangel but the law. That leads to life, for those who keep it, but, alas, of the few who find it, none observe it. The precept given for life is for death (Rom.7:10).

The word "strait" is no longer understood, hence it is translated cramped in the CONCORDANT VERSION. In its other forms it means groan, distress. We westerners do not know what a narrow road is. I lived on a narrow street. It was just wide enough so three automobiles could drive abreast. In the East a street is not narrow if a single automobile can squeeze through. It is wide, extra wide. It is narrow if pedestrians must go in single file. The word cramped means still more. It is so narrow that it makes one groan to squeeze through. That is the normal experience of one under the law of Moses. But the freedom we have in Christ is like the flight of a bird in the air. Not cramped, but spacious. Full of life, not leading to life. Not groaning, but singing!

The figure of the two ways was used by our Lord in proclaiming the evangel of the kingdom, before His rejection by Israel, with the cross out of sight, long before Paul was given his evangel for the nations, which is in force today. Yet even in that economy the gospel was not cramped. In the tabernacle the entrance was very wide indeed. Our Lord's words were immediately preceded by the basic law of the kingdom. "All, then, whatever you may be wanting that men should be doing to you, thus you, also, be doing to them, for this is the law and the prophets." This law is the cramped gate and narrow way. Who can fulfill it?

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