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Is God just being stingy by not letting law-abiding, generally nice people into heaven? Ravi Zacharias answers the persistent question: “Why is the path to heaven so narrow?”
- Truth by definition will always be restrictive. A single shape cannot be both a circle and a square at the same time; it is either a circle or a square. A person cannot be physically present in both Paris and New York City at the same time; they are either in Paris or New York City at a given time. Any time any truth claim about anything is made, some things are being asserted while other things are being excluded. This is the nature of truth.
- The way of Jesus is narrow. The reason it is narrow is not because God is looking to exclude as many people as possible from heaven. On the contrary, the Bible says that God “wants everyone to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and that he does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). The way of Jesus is narrow because truth by definition is restrictive. If Jesus says He alone is the way, the truth, and the life, it is not because He is being stingy, but because He is the way, the truth, and the life in the same way that a circle is not a square and a person cannot be in both Paris and New York at the same time! Jesus is telling us the truth, and truth is by definition restrictive.
- The way of Jesus is merciful. It is not about how faithful we are, how much money we give, what direction we pray, how often we fast, how many religious ceremonies we observe, etc. Jesus says that anyone who comes to him will be saved, and in that sense, the way of Jesus is wide.
- The Bible teaches that after Adam and Eve sinned, all people became infected by sin. This makes us “unholy.” Unholiness cannot ultimately dwell in the presence of a holy God. The reason Jesus came to die for humanity is so He could be judged in our place and we could receive the free gift of salvation through His blood – if we will believe in Him. When we believe, we are made holy because of Jesus’s sacrifice. People are not arbitrarily excluded from heaven. They are excluded because they are unholy. They are unholy because they have not been made holy. Because truth is by definition restrictive, a person cannot be both holy and unholy (just like a shape cannot be both a circle and a square); a person is either holy or unholy. And there is only one way for an unholy person to be made holy – Jesus.
- The narrowness of the way of Jesus lies in the fact that we cannot manufacture our own truth. It is because Jesus has told us how to be saved, rather than us deciding for ourselves how we think we should be saved.
- The way of Jesus is both merciful and narrow. It is merciful and wide because it is for all people. It is narrow and restrictive because it is the truth and truth by definition has limitations.