The way unto life is not wide nor is it open to all forms of interpretation. There is only one way and that is through the narrow gate which sends us down the strait and narrow way which leads to life. What this means to our 21st Century minds, which are way too sophisticated (tongue in cheek) for the simplicity of the gospel way, is that we are in for a huge battle if we obey our Lord by walking the narrow path. This battle will bring sorrow and persecution because it is against the ways of the world and flies in the face of the form of Christianity that is predominate in our time.
14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would abide, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:14-19 (LSB)
I have been reading through the book of Acts over the last few weeks. It is very interesting to see the spread of Christianity as the Apostles obediently made disciples wherever they went. This spread was always accompanied by persecution. The hotter the persecution the more encouraged the brethren became. While that is not logical to the fallen mind, that is exactly how God grew His church. In the early 2nd century the bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John, was brought to the Roman authorities and ordered to confess that Caesar is lord. Polycarp was eighty-six years old at this point. All he had to do was utter that statement as he offered a pinch of incense to Caesar, but he refused. He was martyred by fire.
What we must never forget when looking at these things that the result of Polycarp’s martyrdom, for instance, was that through it Christians who witnessed his stand were inspired to remain faithful. Again, this is illogical to the fallen mind, but my brethren, we must never forget that God’s ways are not our ways.
Let it not make thee despair neither yet discourage thee O reader, that it is forbidden thee in pain of life and goods or that it is made breaking of the King’s peace or treason unto His Highness to read the word of thy soul’s health. But much rather be bold in the Lord and comfort thy soul. Forasmuch as thou art pure and has an evident token through such persecution that it is the true word of God. Which word is ever hated of the world, neither was ever without persecution (as thou seest in all the stories of the Bible both of the New Testament and also of the Old) neither can be, no more than the sun can without his light. And forasmuch as contrarywise thou art sure that the Pope’s doctrine is not of God which (as thou seest) is so agreeable unto the world, and is so received of the world or which rather so receiveth the world and the pleasures of the world, and seeketh nothing but the possessions of the world, and authority in the world, and to bear a rule in the world, and persecuteth the word of God, and with all wiliness driveth the people from it, and with false and sophistical reasons maketh them afeared of it: yea curseth them and excommunicateth them, and bringeth them in belief that they be damned, if they look on it, and that is but doctrine to deceive men, and moveth the blind powers of the world to slay with fire, water, and sword all that cleave unto it. For the world loveth that which is his, and hateth that which is chosen out of the world to serve God in the spirit. As Christ saith to his disciples (John 15) if ye were of the world, the world would love his own. But I have chosen you out of the world and therefore the world hateth you.1
Knowing this, how is it that the Christian leaders in our time pursue just the opposite? What I mean is that the Bible clearly teaches and men such as Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, Knox, Owen, Edwards, et cetera affirmed that the Gospel is narrow in focus. It is not broad. The door unto salvation is not wide nor is it easy to find. Our Lord Himself said that few find it. These few are those chosen out of the world by God Himself (see the passage I placed at the top of this post).