John 3:16-18 New International Version
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
God cannot tolerate wickedness, but still wants the wicked to be saved.
This may be difficult to grasp, but it is the same principle where we must be willing to pull our bitterest enemy out of the ditch and help them when they are in need.
We can also view this from the standpoint of being a parent.
Many parents at some point in their child raising days, find the actions or words of a child unacceptable. Sometimes it reaches the point where the parent simply cannot tolerate the actions of the child.
However, the parent never stops loving them or being concerned about their well-being and is always hopeful that the child will change, or come to their senses.
Even when a child says “I don’t love you” and leaves, ceasing to communicate with the parents, they never cease loving their child and hoping for their return.
What we see in our human emotions and feelings for our children is magnified exponentially in God’s concern for his creation.
God doesn’t approve of our sin and finds our sin unacceptable, but he wants to bless us and desires our happiness and reconciliation with Him, through Jesus.
We who deserved condemnation, received instead a pardon.
Jesus says in the Gospels that he did not come to condemn, but to die on the cross at Calvary as a pardon for our sins.
For a pardon to be effective, it must be accepted.
The condemnation from Jesus would come later for those who do not accept this pardon; for those who refuse to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 14:6-7 New International Version
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Ephesians 1:13 New International Version
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
Jesus says that “I and no other, am the way”
He and He alone, is the way through which mankind can approach God the Father. Our access to God is now limited to just one way; through Jesus Christ.
No longer are we required to have a priest make intercession for us.
No longer do we go once a year and have the high priest enter the holy of holies for atonement for our sins.
No longer do we have to offer animal and blood sacrifices to God.
We can approach the throne of God at any time we choose.
We can access God and commune with Him through Jesus Christ. The sacrifice that Jesus made, his shed blood and his life, was our sacrifice if we accept and believe in His name.
Jesus says “I am the truth” which may mean He is the true source of eternal life
Another way of looking at this statement is that the life and teaching of Jesus is the word of truth as evidenced in Ephesians 1:13 where Paul says “And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation); when you believed in Christ; you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.”
Jesus says “I am the life”
For certain we know that Jesus is the author and giver of eternal life and through His death he purchased it for those who believe on His name.
Jesus says “and no one comes to the Father, except through me.”
Again, Jesus is reiterating that he is the way. There is only one way now, to access our Father in heaven.
No man can obtain the blessings or favor of God, appeal to Him in prayer or enter His kingdom, except by and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Through the blood of Jesus which cleanses our sins, we can be found righteous by God and can approach Him on His throne.
The Narrow Gate and The Door
Matthew 7:13-14 New International Version
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Jesus compares the way to life with the entrance through a gate. The way to heaven is narrow.
Enter, Jesus says through the narrow or strait gate, referring to Himself.
John 10:7-9 New International Version
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
In John 10:7-9 Jesus refers to himself as the door of the sheep and as the door, if any of the sheep enters through Him, they will be saved and will find pasture.
The other gate or entrance is wide. It is broad. But it doesn’t lead to the heavenly Father or metaphorically to green pasture.
It leads to destruction and eternal damnation. The sinful nature of human-kind does not find it hard to enter in this gate.
It is spacious and will accommodate all who pass through it.
This gate will provide all the perceived happiness that “the world” can provide. This gate is not hard to find, as Satan through his forces, stands welcoming all travelers.
As travelers choose and move through this gate, they don’t realize the dangers ahead and unfortunately this gate will be chosen by many who are unwilling or unable to see the error of their ways.
When we humbly bow and accept Christ as our Savior, we enter through the narrow gate or the door of the sheep.
We begin our journey as a babe in Christ, striving to grow in Christian faith and maturity.
On our pilgrimage we will find a multitude of God’s blessings along the way; the many lush green pastures that await us.
We will find true peace, contentment and happiness that is lasting; not temporary or artificial as that which “the world” offers through the wide gate of destruction.
This journey which begins through the narrow gate or door of the sheep will finally bring us to our heavenly home, which God has prepared for us.
Salvation Is Found Only In Jesus
Acts 4:8-12 New International Version
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’[a] 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Peter was speaking about a sick man who had been healed through the power of Jesus.
As it was by the power of Jesus that this sick man was healed, by the same power people could be saved from death and hell.
Furthermore, there can be salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
Peter raises the act of salvation from healing of the sick man who now stands before the crowd healthy, to the highest meaning of salvation; the saving of men’s soul.
Peter speaks of the salvation through Jesus Christ, where we are made righteous in God’s sight and reconciled to Him with the promise of eternal life.
This Jesus, the man that you rejected; the man that you sent before Pilate and screamed for his death; this man, on whose head you placed a crown of thorns; who you nailed to a cross; who you mocked and sneered at; whose side you pierced; whose blood you shed and whose life you took; this man who frightened you so much; who told you of your self-righteousness and exposed your sinfulness; this man who was buried; this man who you thought was eliminated and no longer a problem; This man has become the cornerstone. The foundation. The way, the truth, the life. The gate or door to God, salvation and eternal life.
The problem for the Jews to whom Peter was speaking was that this man that they rejected, did not remain in the tomb.
On the third day, he rose again and lives today at the right hand of God. This man whom they rejected, is now the foundation of God’s new covenant.
Through this man Jesus, who was both God and man, we can be saved.
Jesus built a bridge to heaven. As God and as man, he bridges the earthly and the spiritual.
We can access God, but we must enter this gate and cross this bridge.
One of my favorite songs, by Phil Cross, says it better than I can;
“Jesus built a bridge to heaven
So that I could find a way up to him
Jesus built a bridge the only way he could
With only three nails and two pieces of wood
With one rugged cross, Jesus built a bridge.”
And what a bridge it is.