Deep in the heart of every person is the intuitive feeling that there must be "a way", a way which is of God and leads to God. This feeling is very strong in children and remains strong until the individual either becomes hardened in gross sin or by the wisdom of this world. But every honest person will admit that at one time in his life he felt an earnest desire to know God and to walk in His way. But as the lusts of the mind or flesh are given in to, there is a dark mist that settles down on the heart which quenches any true breathings after Him. Sometimes, after this darkness has settled on the heart and if the individual is religiously inclined, he may become active in one or other of the ways around us, but his religion is never the religion of Jesus and has its roots in the region of the damned. For the religion of Jesus was to do the will of the Father, but this man's religion is to do his own will in the name of the Father. And these two ways are as opposite as light and darkness.
So we see the foundation of the many ways in the world, each claiming to be of God and in the divine order. They all originate in the fallen and corrupt nature of man which is alienated from God. It is for this reason that they are filled up with hypocrisy and deceit. For it is impossible for fallen man to meddle with the things of God without creating an institution which is only superficially similar to the church of Jesus Christ, but within is filled with wickedness and every evil way. This is the spiritual Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth, which is spoken of in Rev 17:5.
Now the false ways are multitudinous. As there are no bounds to the wicked imaginations of man, so there are no bounds to the number of ways he may invent. For just as a man may be inspired by the Holy Spirit, he may also be inspired by the evil spirit, the arch-enemy of man's soul. And Satan knows that God's holy way is hateful to the sinful mind. So if he can invent many false ways which appeal to the lusts of the flesh, he knows that the deceitfulness of man's heart will do the rest.
Much mankind will flock to these invented ways because they are cleverly designed by the enemy to appeal to the individual's own idea of what religion should be. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12. Thus, if a man thinks that a religion should be filled with elegant rites and ceremonies, then he will be drawn to the Catholics, Episcopalians, or the Lutherans. If he feels that religion should round out his social self, then he will be drawn to the Congregationalists, Methodists, Unitarians, etc. Or if he feels that the Bible should play a major role in his religion, he may turn to the Baptists, Presbyterians, Nazarenes, Mennonites, etc. If he thinks that religion should be highly charged with emotionalism and outward manifestations, then he will go to one of the many Pentecostal (tongues) churches. And finally, in these last days, the New Age religion is being offered to the high-minded individual. But whatever one's personal taste may be, Satan has provided a way that is suitable to it and into which one can fit with ease.
A second part of mankind is comprised of those people who either attend no church at all or attend the one of their birth with no regularity. They are too lazy spiritually and too much taken up with the pleasures of this life to be concerned about their latter end. They have some strange and vague notion that they are Christians and hope to enter into heaven, even though their lives are wholly dedicated to the acquisition of worldly possessions and the pursuit of earthly pleasures. Their God is their belly and their end is destruction.
The remainder of mankind who is not given to religion by inclination but rather to godlessness will lean toward humanism, deism, agnosticism, or atheism. This does not mean that they are taken up with gross wickedness. On the contrary, many of them are proud moralists. But they are, one and all, antichrists. They utterly deny the need of a Redeemer and they look upon the blood of Christ as a thing of no value. And since they are by nature opposed to religion and God, they use the fact that there are so many ways, each claiming to be right, to bolster their opinion that there is no true way. But how foolish! To label something false is to confess that there must be a true.
But all of these, religionist and non-religionist alike, have a common denominator, sin in their lives. For though the religionist thinks himself to be holier than the non-religionist and the non-religionist thinks himself to be intellectually superior to the religionist, they are really alike in the sight of God and are both children of hell. One thinks that he will be saved by church membership, another by good works, another by faith, another by accepting Christ as his Savior, another because he has done nothing very wicked, and another may deny that he needs salvation at all, but they are all alike in that they have never departed from sin.
The Serpent has had nearly six thousand years of experience in deceiving mankind. He knows that God's controversy is with sin and that no matter how good we may appear or how kind we may be to others or how many good works we may do or how moral we may be in the eyes of the world we are, nonetheless, children of hell and shall be eternally damned unless we have felt the sin-killing power of God in our hearts to deliver us from the vain spirit and conversation of the world. For it is eternally decreed that we must not love the world, neither the things that are in the world, because the world is at enmity with God. And whosoever shall love the world is an enemy of God.
Now it may happen that one of the above-mentioned deceived may say that he doesn't love the world but that he loves the Lord. But that is nonsense. Who it is that we serve, that is who we love. Jesus plainly tells us that we don't love Him unless we obey His commandments. And He tells us that we are to have no fellowship with the world and to come out from among them and be separate. But these deceived church members do always fellowship with the world and never feel a necessity to separate themselves from it. And the Spirit expressly commands that we be not conformed to the world, but they are completely conformed to it in its fashions, fads, pleasures, politics, etc. Stand a moral agnostic side by side with one of these church members and there is not one speck of difference between them. So we see that they pay a lip service to God but by their lives they deny Him.
The Lord tells us that there are only two ways, although to the untrained eye there may appear to be many. He tells us of a broad way, one that allows much liberty and freedom of movement to its travelers. The gate that leads to this way is very wide, so that anybody can get through it without giving up a thing and start down that way toward its ultimate goal, eternal destruction. Now our Lord assures us that practically everyone chooses that way, that it is thronged with multitudes of people who are happily deceived. It is such an easy and comfortable way and filled with all manner of pleasures and earthly enjoyments. But, alas! How sad the end.
The other way sharply contrasts with the first. There is no outward beauty in it that it should be desired by the fallen nature of man. It is lowly and despised and starkly plain. This way is fraught with all manner of perils and hardships. Each day its weary travelers must pick up their crosses and follow in the bloodstained footsteps of their crucified Lord. It is rugged and, oh, so narrow. Unlike the broad way which is downhill and easy, this path is all uphill with dangerous precipices and chasms all about.
It is a lonely path. The pilgrims in this way are few, indeed. For though every person born into the world comes to its gates, few there be that enter in. Day by day, as these weary pilgrims toil upward toward their goal, they must endure the taunts and insults, and even thrown stones, from those that are strolling down the broad way, because sinners rage when they observe their sobriety and gravity and the way that they shun the world and its pleasures.
The gate that leads to this narrow way is very, very strait. One can carry nothing of this old life through it. If a man desires to walk in the way that leads to eternal life, he must first lay aside everything and then squeeze through the gate into the narrow way. It is here that the multitudes stumble. They are not willing to let loose of their sinful pleasures. They would willingly have their sin and their heaven, too.
This gate is the gate of repentance and this way is the highway of holiness. No unclean thing can pass over it. And there is no other road to heaven, as all will discover in the end. Though millions profess the name of Christ, it is all in vain. In life they are no different from anyone else. They enjoy the same sports, the same games, the same movies, the same TV, they dress in the same vulgar way as any unbeliever. The inescapable fact is that they are in the same broad way. Let them profess what they will, they are known by their fruits. They are lost and undone, without God and without hope.
Repentance is one of the most pungent words in the Bible. Few understand it, and fewer still have experienced it. It is not reformation, because a man may reform without any desires after God. Many drunks and dissolute persons have reformed without being one whit more spiritual for having done so. But reformation is similar to repentance, and by understanding reformation we may understand repentance.
Reformation is the complete change of one's life style and habits so as to conform to society's code of conduct and ethics. Repentance is the complete change of one's life style and habits so as to conform to God's code of conduct and ethics. They are similar, and yet they are as different as night and day. For, in reality, the repentant person is no more acceptable to society than the dissolute one. And the reason is clear. The world is at enmity with God and all of His followers.
To be more specific, to repent is to turn your back on every evil way and every worldly pleasure and to turn your face toward God, to walk in His holy way and to be obedient to His heavenly commands. It is no less than the losing of your own life. For when one repents, he renounces his own desires, plans, wants, ideas, religion, philosophies, politics, and lusts. In short, he loses his own life and picks up his cross and follows after Jesus. Man, in the fall, can never be acceptable in God's sight because his heart and will are rebellious and stubborn. Thus, his works are equally unacceptable because they rise out of a rebellious nature. For this reason, the repentance must go just as deep as the fall. But there is no more difficult undertaking in all the world. For true repentance is so deep and so radical and so thorough that man alone can never accomplish it. Repentance is a gift of God to the hungering, panting soul. It is never granted to the half-hearted. So, man's work is to yield himself to the Lord, body, soul, and spirit, to be His forever, and God will work the true repentance in the heart to the converting of the soul and the making of a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Now the new creature is not just a reformed old creature. It is what it says. A new creature in Christ Jesus. Old things pass away, indeed. All things really do become new. Otherwise, we could never stay in the narrow way. This new creature finds a hatred in his heart for every sinful thing and a love for true righteousness and holiness. He delights to do the will of the Father and abhors the vain spirit and conversation of the world. He shuns the wicked fashions of dress, the fads of this evil world, and all of its deluding pleasures, knowing that they come from the lusts. His conversation is in heaven and his spirit soars above the pollutions of this wicked generation.
Let me give thee a living call to repentance, a call to a heavenly and spiritual way of life, while there is yet time to flee from the wrath to come. There is no other way of escape. So don't be deceived by the great enemy of mankind or any of his many ministers. Whatsoever we sow, so shall we reap. If we sow to the flesh, we shall reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit, we shall reap eternal life. This day, dear precious soul, there are two ways set before thee, the way of death and the way of life. The choice is thine.
This is the basis of the People of God called the Friends of Jesus Christ. It is our joy to do the will of God. Everything that we do in this life is for the glory of Jesus Christ our Savior. We testify to the power in the Blood of Christ to cleanse us from all sin. It is by faith in that precious atoning Blood of Jesus Christ that our hearts have been made pure. Not only have our sins been forgiven, but He has delivered us from the power of sin so that we can live in obedience to His commands all the days of our lives to His praise and our utter happiness.