The Error of Narrow-Gate Theology: Jesus Is Bigger Than A Single Bible Verse


Whenever a fellow Christian brings up the “broad road of destruction” — that is, the single verse that implies most people are going to hell — I have to question this with, you know, the whole Bible.

Because Matthew 25 tells us a story about these ten bridesmaids preparing for the wedding, and half of them are ready.  Which implies that probably half of us are going to make it.

Or in Matthew 3, we learn about the wheat getting separated from the chaff: which actually implies that the majority of us are going to make it.

So which one are we cherry-picking for our agenda?

Do we only use the narrow gate to scare the hell out of people?  What about the bridesmaids, and the wheat, and the entire list of others issues besides sexuality, and the stuff about helping the orphans and the foreigners, and how about the criminal next to Jesus who made it in the last ten seconds of his life?  What’s the theology that makes the church hate poor people?

Like my seminary professors used to say, There’s no content without context.

Maybe we could actually balance our faith with the same nuance that the Bible offers, because no single verse is meant to support a monopoly-theology.  Probably we use these verses for power-plays and self-interest and political platforms, when really the Bible is not a polemical grenade but a story of a God who leaps every distance and breaks every obstacle to love His people.  It’s why Jesus spoke in stories and not bullet points.  It’s why Jesus didn’t draw charts, but he drew people.

There is plenty of hard straightforward truth in the Bible, but without the weaving silver thread of grace, then all our doctrine is a barrel of excuses to dominate each other — and this is exactly what Jesus came to kill and was killed for.

I don’t think Jesus wanted a narrow gate.  He just knew we’re always tempted for the easiest path of least resistance, that broad road of incremental choices to nowhere.  So he calls himself the Door.  He is also a Shepherd, a Mother Hen, a Rock, the Greater Abraham, a Friend, a Fountain, and the King.  Each of these pictures give weight and clues and glimpses to who he is: but by themselves, are incomplete.  Together, they are just a blink of his glory and beauty.  And I’m okay with breathing in the mystery of such infinite truth.

— J

14 thoughts on “The Error of Narrow-Gate Theology: Jesus Is Bigger Than A Single Bible Verse

  1. Amen. And it’s also time we brought Jesus’ character into our reading of the O.T. Might change things for some folks… If, indeed, Jesus is the FINAL word, that is.


    1. I’m reminded of a pastor saying that Jesus is like the surprise-ending plot-twist that re-interprets all that came before it. Right on. Also I missed seeing you around!


      1. Great point that pastor made, J.S.! Love it! Thanks for the welcome back. I’m in and out these days … lots of life and grief going on. But your blog always refreshes me … thanks for continuing to post life!


  2. Context indeed. I teach the way is narrow because we choose it ourselves and parents and spouse can’t “drag” us through. (Ezekiel 18 goes on and on about personal responsibility). People who choose religion, obedience to group think, miss the Door, so those who walk the group walk that is wide can’t see above the crowd to find Jesus. Remnant theology is an abusive heresy used by cultic false prophets for their own profits. WHOEVER knocks on the Door gets in! (Revelation 2:20). I could go on, but I just wanted to affirm your teaching here as being solidly faithful to the Living Word and the written words.


      1. Yes, it is sad to see the religious righteous oblivious to their need for healing, since “all have sinned” doesn’t seem to apply to them. It just struck me that the apostles saw people saved by the thousands. Perhaps if people today stopped converting people to religion/denomination/congregation and invited people to Jesus any debate about the arithmetic of evangelism would be irrelevant.


  3. i cant agree with this.

    i dont want to take liberties with Jesus’ words.

    if u want to use matthew 25 as an argument- wouldnt it be more correct to interprete the 10 brides as churches? which would make it seem even harder to get to jesus? there really are many ‘churchgoers’ who are lost.

    matthew 3 is such a weak analogy that i dont feel like expanding upon it.

    i want to follow Jesus’ words as closely as possible- and when i read matthew 7, i read it literally as very few people will find the way to jesus. its a tough teaching- but it challenges me to do better. why sugarcoat it?

    this is a dangerous blog post.


    1. You could be right. So long as your theology drives you to your knees weeping in prayer for the lost and persistently reaching out to the hurting, then by all means your fruit is legit. I believe that Jesus meant here for as many sinners as possible to get grace, and not the opposite. Far from making me sit down, it gives me hope to get up and go out.


  4. A narrow road does not limit the number of travelers that walk it. It limits how many across they can walk. It just means that there are ditches on either side – and turnoffs too – ones that are probably bigger, and look faster and easier. Just a thought.


  5. I keep coming back to Jesus’ depiction of God as the lovimg father in Luke 15. This image is of a God who is waiting expectantly for the rebel to return. Any and every rebel will be accepted if they are willing to come.


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