Submission and Obedience


God's word is filled with examples of how we as believers need to find and walk the narrow way to heaven. The road to hell and destruction is broad and most people have no difficulty finding and walking on it. But recall Jesus said that "few there be that find it," the narrow way. He referred to the rigorous path that takes us to heaven.

No matter if a person is Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Catholic, Protestant--Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus is THE only way. Following Him completely is going to be fraught with troubles, persecution and hardships. He told us that in His word. But through Him you must come if you expect to enter heaven.

Beware of 'Eternal Security'!

An adage says that it's not the person who begins the race, but the one who finishes it that wins! Many people across the years have begun to walk with Jesus. They were born again and entered the new birth--until they faced forks in the road. They had to decide to take either the easy, familiar way or the difficult route. Many, perhaps most, chose the broad, easy way.

Even today most believers are, perhaps, conned by false teachings that have crept into the evangelical church: eternal security, 'once in grace always in grace' or hypergrace that says that when we're saved, ALL our sins whether past, present or in the future are already forgiven: therefore, we are free to sin and they are covered even without repentance. Each of those doctrines allows professing believers to continue sinning, believing that it's perfectly acceptable with God. But it's NOT!

On the other hand, what of the person who longs in his or her heart to know God more and more deeply? Who wants to live in holiness before God and in complete obedience to His precepts? What are the implications and guidelines for finding that 'narrow way?' Jesus gave us an indication when He said in the Sermon on the Mount:

Ask, Seek, Find

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8.

Surprisingly, these verses do not refer primarily to our physical needs. Jesus pointed out in the Sermon that God provides beautiful clothing for the lilies of the field that didn't have to work at all to obtain it. Physical needs we have are secondary to the development of our spiritual life and becoming more and more like Jesus. It is that area of our life in which we must ask, seek and knock.

When one is first saved or born again, it is natural to 'ask.' Much of our asking then may involve telling God about our daily needs and requesting His provision. When He answers, those provisions thrill our hearts and encourage us to continue to pray and come to Him as our Heavenly Father. God hears and answers our prayers.

As the growing and going moves forward, God expects more maturity from His children and says we are to 'seek' what we desire. We must apply more earnestness to our prayers. We must look for what it is we want and need from God in His word and through prayer, communicating with Him and learning His ways. He also promises that when we do seek, we shall find what we're looking for.

However, going even farther into knowing God more deeply, knocking remains to be our action and goal. Here is where the narrow way becomes important. How long are you willing to knock on the storehouse door of heaven before it opens? Do you continue to rap on the door and call to the One who is within until He comes to the door and brings you in?

How Many Times Will You Strike the Arrows?

Persistence is key to finding the narrow way to heaven. God gives us examples in the Old Testament that are patterns for us to follow or from which we can gain instruction. In the book of II KIngs, the prophet Elisha was on his death bed. Joash, king of Israel, on hearing about Elisha's frailty, hurried to his bedside and wept over him. He knew the future of Israel was wrapped in the ministry of Elisha and he cried, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen." It appears he relied on Elisha's power with God and his prophetic words to help Israel more than he was willing to stand before God himself and find that power for himself.

Elisha told Joash to take a bow and arrows into his hands. Next, Elisha told the king to put his hand on the bow. Elisha then put his hands on Joash's hands.

"He said, 'Open the window toward the east,' and he opened it. Then Elisha said, 'Shoot!' And he shot. And he said, 'The LORD'S arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.'" That was Elisha's prophecy to Joash about future victory.

"Then he said, 'Take the arrows,' and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, 'Strike the ground,' and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, 'You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.'" II Kings 13:17-19.

What a picture of the part our steadfast determination plays in our victories, even those prophecied over us! Elisha did not tell Joash how many times to hit the ground with the sheaf of arrows. He left that up to Joash. As concerned as Joash was about his enemies and as assured of victory as he was by Elisha's prophecy, he struck the arrows only three times! So weak was his determination and, therefore, so incomplete was his future victory over his enemy! He took what Elisha said for granted.

Joash would not gain complete victory over Aram, as a result. Elisha chided him for quitting so easily. The lesson wrapped in this story is this: God wants to know just how sincere and desperate you are to walk with Him. He doesn't tell you a total of times to knock on the door. He tells you the door will open when you knock, but He lets you set that pace. How long are you willing to knock before He opens the door?

Some folks knock regularly for a period of time, then give up. Others continue to beat on the door until they get what they want. They are the ones who find the narrow way and continue walking in it.

How Hungry and Thirsty Are You?

Again, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus earmarked those who will find the narrow way: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Matthew 5:6.

Rarely in America can anyone say he or she is starving. They may have become quite hungry or very thirsty, but never to the point of death. Yet, that is what Jesus implied in this verse. Those who are famished and starving for more of God will be satisfied. Those who are so dry in their spirits that they crawl to the Fountain of Living Water will find their thirst quenched.

How much of God do you want? How hungry and thirsty are you for more of Him? Not for His provisions. Not for His blessings. How much do you want Him for Himself alone?

Do You Want God for Himself Alone?

Do you hear the throb of Paul's heart when he wrote this to the Philippians:

"...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Even Paul, who spread the Gospel to the then Gentile world of the Near East and who suffered many trials and persecutions because of His faith and declaration of it, did not assume he would inherit heaven because of his works. Hear what he said: "in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." Paul says that the way to heaven, that narrow way, is by knowing God intimately and becoming one with Him in His sufferings and death, no matter what form that takes. The cry and yearning of his heart was to know God Himself!

It all depends on you. How long are you willing to knock, to hunger and thirst, before you are given more of God, your heart's desire? How much of His inner secrets can He safely share with you" Are you willing to forsake everything else in your life and this world in order to purchase the Pearl of Great Price? Just how desperate are you? God wants to know. Then He will satisfy you abundantly.

Jesus is Knocking!

Now, let's turn the tables. In case you are one who is NOT hungering and thirsting for more of God, one who is NOT knocking and knocking, another verse remains for you:

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."

If you have stopped short in your knocking or are not desperate for more of God, He still is desperate for more of you and your heart. He longs to bring you into the intimate fellowship with Him that is fitting for a groom and His bride. How long does He need to knock before you open the door to your heart? Will you open it? or, like King Joash, are you stopping short? Will you let Jesus continue to knock, but never open the door?

Friend, be careful. The way to heaven is narrow and few there are who find it! Do not allow yourself to be one surprised at the gate of eternity when you find the door to heaven shut in your face. Five of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 missed the wedding supper of the Lamb, because they were not ready. Do not let that happen to you. Eternity is too long and unredeemable. Begin knocking TODAY. Remember, the way to heaven is narrow and few there are who find it. How desperate are you, really?

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
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