I came across a little tidbit of wisdom today on the net which caused me to reflect once again on the passages in the Scripture in the book of Matthew concerning a group called many. As the Scripture says many travel the broad path and few travel the narrow path. Someone writing on the net put it this way “the fact that there’s a highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven says a lot about the anticipated traffic pattern.” Of course this was using 20th century music lyrics as a base for the words.
I believe Scripture also speaks of what to expect of those following their respective paths. It is of the utmost importance that we take notice of the word “many” in this passage of Scripture in Matthew 7:13 & 22. It is just as important that we take notice of the motive of the few for taking the stairs instead of the broad highway. As people we naturally tend to move with the larger segment for assurance that we are making the right choice. Not a good plan according to Scripture. On the flip side we consider those who because of a love of the truth pursue the narrow path. These few represent the segment of population that are listening for truth. God has and is speaking to every soul but only a few are listening.
Matthew 7:22 draws us to a sobering thought as pertaining to the many. This group of people seem to be familiar with knowledge of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, as well as His rightful claim of Lordship. There doesn’t seem to be any issue of recognizing Him as He sits in judgment. When viewing these events as they will take place it is important to recognize some important points. It would seem by the text that these lost people when they were still on the earth apparently acknowledged Christ’s claims, yet it would appear they never gave up their life and personal way of serving God according to their own thoughts or the thoughts of others who were no better informed than they. Remember that Christ says to the many, that are obviously familiar with who He is, as they stand before Him He states “you have not done the will of my Father” – “depart from me.”
Knowledge Does Not Equate to Salvation
Let’s look at the guidelines that God gives us for the most crucial examination of our life. A statement is made in 2 Thessalonians 2:10, “they received not the love of the truth.” I make a statement frequently that is true according to Scripture – knowledge does not equate to salvation. Embracing and acting upon the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation is what brings salvation. The truth is characterized in Jesus Christ’s own statement when He speaks of himself as being “the way, the truth, and the life.” These verses have very apparent meaning that is so obvious that it leaves no person in doubt of these facts. There are of course individuals who do not have a preference for truth and they prefer something other than the truth. That something else is based on the titillation of the natural senses. Clearly they prefer pleasure over God’s deliverance from their sin and ensuing penalties for sin. In this process they obtain temporary pleasure but miss out on God’s salvation provided for them.
The loving of the truth and those that love a lie are the only two conditions that exist in mankind concerning salvation and deliverance from the judgment of God upon all sin. As man walks on this planet he fits in one of two categories, those found in the faithfulness of Christ and those who are guilty before God. Being good enough or justified to have eternal life in God’s presence is not based upon how good your behavior is or was while on earth. It is based solely and completely upon whether or not you are completely and totally perfect and sinless. See Revelation 21:27 to verify.
Not Lovers of the Truth
Consider what God is saying of Himself concerning all who do not receive a love of the truth. He announces He will send a strong delusion in order that this type of person will believe a lie that will result in their damnation. This has the possibility of meaning that if someone understood the gospel before the tribulation period began, they may no longer have any further opportunity to be saved. It is very important to note that these people spoken of do not go to hell because of acts of sin or the doing of things which God hates, but rather their damnation is because they did not love or embrace the truth.
At first look God’s judgment upon these individuals sounds harsh but close examination of the passage of Scripture reveals something very important. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 some very important facts appear. The first and foremost fact to be viewed is that these individuals heard the truth. How do we know that? Because we see in verse 10 the fact that they did not love the truth which shows they heard the truth, which if responded to would have saved them had they embraced Him. It is because of this rejection of the truth which they heard that God sends them a strong delusion in which they will believe a great lie. While this passage is in a setting of the tribulation period, it none the less reveals a principle. God has established a guideline in verse 12 where we see anyone who does not believe the truth and has pleasure in unrighteousness will be damned. Those who will be damned had a choice.
God never requires what He does not provide the means to achieve or embrace. We see evidence of this in the first chapter of Romans whereby in the very creation it is evident that there is a God of creation. The group in 2 Thessalonians is not the only group in Scripture where we see the explanation of why damnation exists for unbelieving individuals. In John 8:28 we see the religious group to whom Jesus is speaking as He expounds the truth that God the Father has sent Him, and in verse 30 many believed on Him. In this passage John 8:28-44 we do well to read slowly and carefully as many times as it takes to capture what is happening in this account of professing believers.
For after Jesus speaks these truths some of those following began to argue with Christ. Note the subject matter of this argument. It was not about the claims Jesus made about who He was. It was about the claims that all men were in bondage and were in sin. It is at this point that these “believing” Jews rebelled against the truth. They did not accept the fact that they were sinners the same as Gentiles. For they made the claim to Jesus that Abraham was their father, and thereby they were not guilty and in bondage. Jesus does not argue with the fact that they were the seed of Abraham nor does He discount it. But He does tell them they are not children of faith which Abraham exhibited and was thereby accounted righteous in God’s view. As you drop to verse 44, Jesus tells them plainly they are lost. It is imperative to recognize these individuals went from a place where they were called believers in Jesus to being told by Jesus that they were children of the devil and would continue to do his bidding. We see plainly in this passage that these professing believers did not love the truth (Jesus) just as Jesus tells them in verse 40. The love of the truth is the focal point for the true believer.