The Two Roads: Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13‑14  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
“What does this mean?” It is a diagram on the two roads―the narrow and the broad―on one of which each one of us is most surely traveling; and let me at once ask you to turn to Matt. 7:1313Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (Matthew 7:13) and 14, and read it carefully, as in the presence of God. We all know what it is to walk along a road to some place we wish to reach, and how important it is to take the right turn. Imagine a man wishing to reach some town, and yet not caring to know whether he has taken the proper road to it. We meet him, and in answer to some inquiry: “Whither away, friend?” he will perhaps name the town he wishes to gain. “But I am not quite sure that you are on the right road for it.” “Ah, well,” he replies, “I hope for the best; I daresay I shall reach it at last.” What should we think of a man speaking in this way? Yet many seem to be quite as careless as to whether they have Scriptural evidence that they are on the right road for Heaven. Surely it is time to look into these matters.
Kindly feel the sheet of paper on which this is printed. You will find that it has two sides, and obviously only two. In like manner there are exactly two classes of people in this world―those on the broad road, and those on the narrow road. “But is there no third road for those who are not openly wicked, and who really seem rather better than their neighbors?” I assure you that in the Bible, which is the travelers’ authentic guide-book, I can find no trace of any such third distinct road. Yes, a man must be serving either Christ or the devil. How important then clearly to find out, Bible in hand, on which road you are traveling. I charge you to look this matter in the face now, before it is too late.
Suppose a tradesman thinks his affairs are not quite straight. If he is an honest, straightforward man, his ledgers will be brought down, and he will spend a long evening in looking well into the matter, feeling that it is best to know the worst at once. I call this only common sense. But how are you acting as to Eternity―Eternity, that four-syllabled word, meaning so much? When I was a boy I used to be set profit and loss sums to work out. Have you ever seriously thought of that great profit and loss question: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (See Mark 8:3434And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mark 8:34) to end.) May the Lord God, then, by His Holy Spirit, search your heart, and show you plainly on which road you are traveling.
Take another look at the diagram. I remember taking a chart of the two roads to the house of a man in whom I was much interested. He seemed, up to that time, not to have been awakened to a sense of danger for his immortal soul, but was living in comparative carelessness. On the evening in question he was to be alone for more than an hour, in the absence of his wife. Spreading the chart out on the table, I begged him to study it carefully, and then left him to himself and to God. The Holy Spirit brought the subject home to him; and he afterward confessed that for several days he could hardly think of anything but the two roads, even at his daily work. The more he thought of it, the more settled he was that he was himself still on the broad road. I am glad to be able to add that within a week or ten days he was rejoicing in Christ as his Savior, and has since brought forth fruits meet for repentance.
The gate at the entrance to the narrow road is a strait one, but, thanks be to God, it stands open, and admittance is free. One fact, however, must be allowed: it is humbling to our natural hearts to go in at this strait gate, or even to acknowledge our need of entering in by it. Hence the scandal of the Cross (Gal. 5:1111And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. (Galatians 5:11)). We would rather choose a gateway and road of our own, one which would not compromise our pride. The great captain, Naaman, considered the prescribed remedy far too simple and humbling; and the hearts of many are like his. If men were bidden to do some great thing in order to obtain Salvation, most would set about their task at once. But in His great love God offers Eternal Life as a free gift through Christ Jesus; for Christ is Himself the door by which we may freely enter the narrow road. He invites us to enter, and, with our sins forgiven us for His Name’s sake (1 John 2:1212I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (1 John 2:12)), to walk on in fellowship with Him, enjoying that peace which the world cannot give.
This peace shall be enjoyed by true-hearted pilgrims, even though
“Reproach, contempt, or loss,
They suffer for His Name.”
Their course is very briefly sketched out in Rom. 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1) and 2. At the very entrance they get peace about the past; all along their journey grace for the present; and by faith they see at the end of their journey, perhaps not far off, glory for the future. True happiness can only be found in this narrow road. How sad, then, the thought that there is a notice in our authentic guidebook, “Few there be that find it.” Are you one of these happy few?
A word or two as to the broad road, though it is a sorrowful theme. The road seems an attractive one. I say “seems,” for the world’s pleasures are very fleeting and disappointing, as many find out. Besides, some who travel on it know the misery of being bound by some secret begetting sin, which makes their very life wretched. Possibly you who read this paper are inwardly convicted of this. At any rate, if you nave not yet entered by the strait gate, I feel sure you are not at rest unless enjoying some false peace. How many are secretly restless when the church bell is tolling, or a sudden death has occurred in the street in which they live. Why is this? Answer: Because their conscience is uneasy.
There are many travelers on the broad road. In fact, it is the popular one, if we are to believe our guide-book. The number, however, is no proof of safety. If a railway train is hurled over an embankment, the more passengers it contains the worse the accident; but during the journey the engine-driver is clearly no safer because many others are in the same position as himself.
Be sure, then, not to trust to the popularity that the broad road has always acquired, but remember that some of the most eminent of travelers on the narrow road have been everywhere spoken against, as those that have turned the world upside down. They were often treated as vain babblers, and deemed beside themselves.
Now, what can I mean by “the clean footpath” on the left? Follow me in thought out on to the road leading to some large town. Owing to heavy rains yesterday the road is very muddy. The people are splashed and dirty that are walking along it. But I see some at the side there who seem to walk on very comfortably. They do not seem splashed and dirty. How can this be? Because they are on a clean footpath: but still I notice they are traveling in the same direction as those toiling along in the mud. Forgive the homeliness of my illustration. I verily believe many are walking along what Bunyan calls the clean footpath to hell. At a distance this footpath might be mistaken for the narrow road. But no, it is only a part of the broad road, and leads in the same direction. Who travel along it? Those who have only their own righteousness to trust to, and who rely upon their own morality for Salvation, instead of on Christ alone. The guide-book speaks of some who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, and again of others who have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. In all affectionate earnestness be it said: “Beware of mere morality without Christ.” Though we all value morality, yet it cannot of itself save a man, but is the sign of the clean footpath. Salvation is not of works, lest any man should boast; but when we have entered the narrow road, then indeed we are called upon to “do all such good works as God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Confer Titus 3:88This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:8).) See, then, that you are not found walking along this clean footpath, for after all it is but part of the broad road.
If you are not already happy “in Christ,” I would once more entreat you to “enter in at the strait gate,” lest a terrible day come to you “when once the Master of the house hath risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to say, Lord, Lord, open unto us.” But it will then be too late. Today it is not too late. Today, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Ask yourself solemnly again, before putting down this paper, “Which road am I on?” always remembering that there is NO MIDDLE PATH.
P. R.