Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 23, 1964
NUMBER 37, PAGE 8-9b

"Seek, And Ye Shall Find"

L. A. Mott, Jr.

The following is transcribed from Jesus' sermon on the mountain: "Enter 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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt. 7:13, 14)

We hear talk of many ways to heaven. There are at least two ways to go from Gainesville to Atlanta. Different people may travel different roads, but they all finally reach Atlanta. So, we are told, we may teach and practice different doctrines, but we will all reach heaven. This is proved, not by the Bible, but by a Georgia road map.

Jesus spoke of two ways, but one of these ways reaches destruction, not life. There is one way which leads to life. It is strait and narrow; few find it.

Notice the word "strait." Yes, it is not "straight," but "strait." This is the translation of thlibo, a word which means to press (as grapes), press hard upon. It is used in Mark 3:9 of the press of a multitude of people upon one. It has a figurative use in the New Testament in such passages as 2 Cor. 1:6; 4:8; 7:5; 2 Thess. 1:6; 1 Tim. 5:10; and Heb. 11:37. In these, its meaning is to trouble, afflict, distress. In our text, Matt. 7:14, the word refers to a compressed way, i.e., narrow, straitened, contracted (Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, page 291).

Let us emphasize that few will find this way. Members of the church of Christ are accused of being narrow. But remember that Jesus was narrow; he taught that few will be saved. We need to be just as narrow and as broad as he was.

"Few there be that find it." "Few" is, of course, a relative term. How many is "a few"? I do not know. I do know this: "Few" is less than "many." I conclude that more people will be lost than saved. Peter spoke of the time "when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was ai preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." (1 Peter 3:20) Does this help us to understand what "few" means?

Emphasize another word. "Few there be that find it." Nobody is going to just accidentally stumble into the narrow way. The narrow way must be sought. Those who enter it are seekers who find it. This is not so with the wide gate and the broad way. No such seeking is necessary. This is the obvious way; no effort is required to enter it. This is the path of least resistance — the path most people follow. They are not willing to put themselves out; to expend the effort necessary to find the narrow way. Hence, they simply enter the broad way.

Why do few find the narrow way? Look at verses 7 and 8 of this chapter: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened." Put these two statements together: "He that seeketh findeth" — "Few there be that find it." Now ask again, Why do few find the narrow way? Simple: Because few seek it. Hardly anybody is willing to expend the necessary effort to seek and thus find the way to life. Most people are too comfortable as they are; they do not want to be disturbed; they do not want to be put to any trouble. Hence, relatively speaking, hardly anybody will be saved. This is what the Bible teaches. I believe it.

Jesus goes on to speak of the difficulties of finding the narrow way: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matt. 7:15) A person's search for the narrow way is complicated by the fact that there will actually be some who will try to hinder him from finding and entering this way. They will try to convince him that the broad way is just as good.

Who are these false prophets? Some people seem to think that any preacher who quotes a scripture or two is a messenger of God. Even the devil quotes scripture. (Matt. 4:6) Certainly we must be able to prove our doctrine and practice by the Bible. This is not what I am disparaging. I am attacking the perversions and distortions of Bible teaching such as characterizes the devil and his servants.

Some people would not recognize an agent of the devil unless he appeared in a red suit, with horns, and a forked tail. But this he will never do. He is too smart. These false prophets are really wolves. But they conceal their true identity by wearing sheep's clothing. Paul wrote: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers; transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Cor. 11:13-15) The devil would not have any hope of success if he openly revealed himself as he is. His only chance is to represent himself as a servant of God.

What is this "sheep's clothing" of which Jesus speaks? He explains it in verse 22: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" The "sheep's clothing" consists in claiming a connection with Christ. The false prophets profess to work in the name of Christ. In this manner they deceive all those who do not love the truth enough to search for it. Compare 2 Thess. 2:8-12.

But Jesus lays down a principle by which we are able to detect these wolves even though they wear sheep's clothing: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matt. 7:16) This is an appeal to the law of God laid down in Gen: 1, that everything produces after its kind. Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Jesus concludes, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." We are able to identify these false prophets by their fruits. Their fruits will be bad; hence, they themselves are bad.

What are these fruits? Jesus went on to say: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21) Instead of teaching and doing the will of God, these false prophets do and teach iniquity (lawlessness) (verse 23). Their fruit is their doctrine. John said, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

(1 John 4:1) At verse 6 he laid down the test: "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." The man who does not hear the apostles and hearken to their words is a false teacher. Another statement from John is helpful at this point: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that ahideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9)

It goes without saying that in order to make this test we must know the will of God — not what some preacher has said, but what God has said in the Bible. By this means alone can we safeguard ourselves against being carried away with some error. This takes effort. Seeking is required to find the narrow way. Using a slightly different illustration in Luke 13:24, Jesus said, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." The Greek word translated "strive" is agonizomai. Jesus is telling us to agonize to enter in at the strait gate. Few are willing to make this effort. Hence, few will find the way. But you can be one of the few. "Seek, and ye shall find."

More of us should be like the Bereans. When they heard preaching they searched the scriptures to see "whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11) The few who are willing to do this will find the way and he saved. All others will be cast by the teeming millions into an eternal hell. Some say: "I will not be there by myself." They are welcome to whatever consolation they can find in this. May God have mercy on you as you seek to learn his will.

— 1254 Enota Dr., N.E., Gainesville, Georgia