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Chicago Bible Students

A Ransom For All

 
11. The Broad Way and the Narrow Way Now; The Highway in the Kingdom | Print |

The Scriptures teach three Ways! One is Broad that leads to destruction, contrasted with a Narrow Way that leads to life now. In the future during the Millennial Age, a Highway of Holiness will open, on which it will be easier to walk.

“Enter by the Narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the Way is Broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the Way is Narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13,14 nas

“And a Highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there” (Isaiah 35:8,9).

The Broad Way Leads to Destruction
The Broad Road that leads to destruction came into existence as a result of Adam’s sin. Adam and all his race began down this road when he disobeyed God and was removed from the life sustaining trees of Eden (Genesis 3:23, 24). Most of mankind are on this road. A baby is born on it with inherited sin (Psalm 51:5). After thousands of years of human history, this downward Broad Way has grown increasingly slippery with sin, and mankind has steadily lost its power of resistance. In spite of recent medical advances, few survive to their hundredth year.

The problem is that we belong to a dying race which is “blinded” by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Many have tried to live their lives for the benefit of mankind. Their efforts have been commendable, but the lasting fruit of their efforts has been limited and temporary. Sometimes the best efforts of men in science and technology have even been harmful. The pesticide DDT helped control malaria and typhus, but added contaminating poisons to the environment. Automobile transportation is a blessing to so many, but it is also the most common cause of accidental death in America, averaging more than 43,000 fatalities a year. Atomic energy has been useful in medicine and power production, but the same science produced atomic bombs. The 20th Century brought remarkable advances, but also produced nearly 200 million deaths through war and genocide.

Few on the Narrow Way to Life Immortal
The Gospel Age brought to light a way of escape from the Broad Way that leads to destruction. Our Savior Jesus, through his death, opened up a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20) and brought “life and immortality to light through the gospel”(2 Timothy 1:10).

As a result of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, all those on the present “Broad Way” will be raised to human “life” again in God’s Kingdom. “Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men” (Psalm 90:3).

The “living way” to immortal spiritual life however, is a Narrow Way and few follow it. The narrowness of this “Way” causes many to prefer to remain on the Broad Way. "Straight [difficult] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

The life to which the present Narrow Way leads is the highest form of life—immortal spiritual life of the Divine nature. Immortality is life unlimited and not dependent upon any external sustenance for its existence. It signifies that death is an impossibility throughout all Eternity.

Thus, more than repenting of sins and living righteously is required to attain this life. Walking on the Narrow Way requires more than believing Jesus died for our sins and being justified by his blood (Romans 5:9). Once we have accepted “salvation” from condemnation in Adam, we are invited to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). Jesus asks us to “deny” self, “take up our cross” and follow him (Matthew 16:24).

We are invited to surrender earthly possessions and hopes and follow our Lord in self-sacrifice. All our worldly goods then become the Lord’s who makes of them a test of “stewardship” to demonstrate our “faithfulness” (Luke 16:1-13). All those who seek to travel the Narrow Way successfully must “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15)

This Narrow Way that leads to life, furthermore, is difficult because we have enemies along the way: the world (1 John 2:15; James 1:27), the flesh (Galatians 2:20; Romans 7:18) and the devil (1 Peter 5:8). By the difficulties of this way, however, God is separating and refining a “peculiar people” to be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (1 Peter 2:9; Romans 8:17). Therefore Jesus, knowing our frailties, left the encouragement, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The Path to Glory
What a hope! Dare we aspire to such a height of glory? Surely, we could not hope for divine nature without a definite, clear invitation.

Originally only God had immortality. Then, at Jesus’ resurrection, the Father exalted His Son to immortality, the divine nature, the “express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:2-4) “For as the Father hath life in himself: so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself”(John 5:26). The little flock of overcomers are the only others promised to become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Although we do not know what a divine being is like, we know that “we shall be like him [Jesus]; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Jesus, in his prayer to his Father, expressed his desire that the “glory” he would receive (John 17:22-24) would also be shared by his faithful followers. This “hope of glory” is a “mystery” to the people of the world (Col. 1:27, but believers are called to share “his eternal glory”(1 Peter 5:10), that is, the “glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”(2 Thessalonians 2:14). All present affliction will seem light compared to the “eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17) to be experienced by the faithful.

This “hope of glory” is actually the only offer of life during this Gospel Age, but this Narrow Way to life might be called a way of death, since its prize is only gained through the sacrifice of the human nature. Since this present life is under condemnation in Adam, it cannot be sacrificed. What is sacrificed is the perfect human life they would have received with mankind in the Kingdom. Although Jesus’ sacrifice is all-sufficient for mankind, these are invited to become joint-sacrificers with him that they might also be “joint-heirs with Christ”(Romans 8:17).

So although the world dies with Adam, the “little flock” dies with Christ and inherits divine nature. “For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11-12). “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Then the whole purpose of the death and suffering of the “little flock” with Jesus will be accomplished. Clothed with glory and power, the Church will be prepared to assist in restoring and blessing the rest of the world during the Millennial Age.

On the Throne—or “Before the Throne” 
Will all Christians make it to this throne of glory? The path to glory begins only in the transformed mind as the germ of the new creature. It is a struggle. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13, 14). Indulging in human pursuits and pleasures at the expense of the new spiritual nature is like taking back our sacrifice which is reckoned as dead.

Some try to walk a middle road. They try to keep the favor of God while allowing themselves to be partially overcome by “friendship with the world” (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15) and by the allurements of their own flesh and the Devil. Our Father turns these over to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” 1 Corinthians 5:5). If they respond properly to these fiery trials and decide positively to follow Christ, they will be “saved” to a spirit life like the angels. However, instead of sitting on the throne with Jesus, they will have palms of victory “before the throne” (Revelation 3:21; 7:9-17).

Yes, the Narrow Way is rugged and steep, but we are promised: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So let us come “boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) to gain help and strength. The trials of this Way, if rightly used, will sanctify, refine and prepare us to receive divine nature with the “crown of glory”(1 Peter 5:4).

THE HIGHWAY of HOLINESS 
While the Narrow Way of this age is difficult but offers a glorious reward to overcomers, the Way opened in the Kingdom will be relatively easy. “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The Way of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8). The Narrow Way requires sacrificing lawful and proper human hopes, but mankind on this Highway will be required to obey and put away sin. The goal of the Highway of Holiness will be the restoration of mankind to human perfection—to the image of God as originally enjoyed by Adam.

This Highway back from sin and imperfection will be for all who are willing to progress to holiness. This is nicely described in the Hebrew TANACH (Stone Edition) of Isaiah 35:8.

“There will be a path and a road there; it will be called ‘the Road of Holiness’  and no impure person will traverse it. It will be for them; the wayfarer, even  ignorant ones, will not go astray there.”

By the end of the road, the impure will have become pure. Both the people and the earth will be healed. “Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah [desert]” (Isaiah 35:6 nas), “All shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest”(Jeremiah 31:34) because “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”(Isaiah 11:9).

The full benefits of a “ransom for all” will be open to everyone on this Highway. There will also be a nurturing, sympathetic “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) to guide the world. Some Christians confuse this Highway of the Kingdom with the Narrow Way of the Gospel Age, but they are separate and distinct. Those faithful on the Narrow Way will later assist all nations on the Highway of righteousness opened during the Kingdom.

In symbolic language, Isaiah describes the Highway. "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there” (Isaiah. 35:9). Now the Devil, as a “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) seeks to entrap and devour the faithful. In the Kingdom he will no longer be influencing public opinion, the media, entertainment, business arrangements, etc. Satan will be bound (Revelation 20:1-3).

UNICEF acts on behalf of children around the world. Habitat for Humanity makes houses for families in need. Greenpeace works for our environment. The World Health Organization responds to health crises in the world. These are noble efforts, but they have limited success now. During the Millennium, all the world’s ills will be resolved. Noble people who now try to help their fellowmen by supporting worthy causes will finally see their hopes fulfilled and every wrong righted. Such will themselves make fast progress up the Highway of Holiness in the Kingdom and will be delighted with the results.

"Nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon” (Isaiah 35: 9). Neither beastly governments nor giant corporations organized to advance selfish, individual interests at the expense of the general good, will be tolerated. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom]”(Isaiah. 11:9). Though evil habits and bad characters will have to be reversed, on the Highway of Holiness stumbling blocks will be removed and every step of progress will be rewarded. “Prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people” (Isaiah 62:10).

To the Glory of God 
As the Narrow Way draws to a close, we pray all the more fervently for the opening of the Highway of Holiness and God’s “will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

“The ransomed of the Lord shall return [from destruction]... 
with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they  
shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and  
sighing shall flee away”(Isaiah 35:10).

How wonderful that Jesus’ sacrifice has provided the “ransom for all.”Though the present Narrow Way can be difficult, it tests and prepares the “little flock” for restoring the whole world to perfection. Those of us who have this hope—not only hope for ourselves, but also hope for the entire world—may count all other hopes but loss and dross by comparison (Philippians 3:8-15).