“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15 NIV).
The narrow gate bears rejection by ordinary people. Acceptance gives comfort, with the assumption that one is safe, as long as accepted by the majority. The above Scripture denotes rejection, as opposed to the popularity displayed as a form of acceptance. Truth is not found in commonly accepted standards of this world.
Before exploring deeper understanding, we have to know the significance of building God’s Church. From that angle, one can be guided to the truth, without other people’s opinions. This describes the reasons for building the Church, whose foundation is indestructible.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah(Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
As revealing the issuance of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the above Scripture cannot be taken lightly. It reveals the real purpose of Jesus in this world. In it lies the secret that the majority, reading through it, cannot understand anything from it.
The fundamental principle is that flesh and blood cannot reveal the truth that was revealed to Peter. Human beings cannot contribute to God’s revelations. Of course, God can use humans, at His will, but it is God, who provides the revelation. How God reveals the revelation, does not involve humanity, including Jesus. Therefore, the composition of God’s Church is mysterious.
Jesus insinuated that He had not contributed anything to Peter’s understanding. Jesus had been Peter’s focal point, for understanding, but Peter’s understanding came directly from the Father. Peter’s understanding was revealed by God, the Father of those for whom the Church would be built. That Church is spiritually composed, and not sustained by physical material.
The context implies that God’s Church cannot be visible to ordinary humans. That Church can only be visible to those included to be of that Church, but not visible to ordinarily excluded humanity. Hence, Jesus strictly instructed His disciples not to tell anyone about the unveiled mystery (Matthew 16:20).
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”(John 14:15-20 NIV).
In the above Scripture, Jesus denotes the quality of the composition of the Church that He had promised to build. Those called would be helped by an advocate, understood only in the spiritual realm. This would be the Spirit of truth who would be with them forever. Jesus’ assurance that they would not be left as orphans, implies Spiritual protection, not physical protection.
The description of those people cannot be associated with those who the world readily recognizes. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17). These are the people who would be very uncommon to Orthodox Christianity.
Heresy in Christianity denotes the formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith as defined by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, heresy most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by any of the ecumenical councils recognized by the Catholic Church.Heresy in Christianity – WikipediaHeresy in Christianity – Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy_in_Christianity
The important key lies in the phrase: as defined by one or more of the Christian churches. The term “heresy” was, therefore, not prescribed by Jesus, but recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. In reality, heresy suggests believing what has not been broadly adopted in Orthodox Christianity. The core doctrines include the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection; Christ’s atoning work on the cross, and salvation by grace through faith.
These doctrines comprise the essence of Christianity, as a religion, being what fascinates ordinary humanity. But, certainly, not carrying any significance to those, of the Church whose foundation was established by Jesus. But, by whose authority were the described core doctrines established? When going through the entire Books of the gospel, there is no mention of these doctrines being described as more important than others. Nothing is fascinating about the deity of Jesus, whose appearance was not for religious purposes.
Nothing is fascinating about the bodily resurrection, which projects the forthcoming phenomenon for the entire humanity. There is something in the atoning work and salvation by grace. But this was only facilitated by understanding, rather than by assuming to know what one doesn’t know.
If salvation is by grace, where does one get the temerity to label those not subscribing to one’s understanding as “heretics”? How does grace apply to those considering themselves to be greater and wiser than those labeled “heretics”? Did Jesus not clearly state that those who exalt themselves would be humbled?
The purpose of this submission is to examine these realities, reject falsehoods, and authenticate realities, based on Biblical principles. As far as the Jews were concerned, Jesus was a heretic. The primary reason for crucifying Jesus was that they regarded Him as heretical.
Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds(John 8:55-59 NIV).
Jesus claimed to know God, who was unknown by His accusers. Jesus promised His disciples that they would know God, who would be unknown to the rest of the world. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17).
This is profound but very true. Those who accused Jesus of claiming to know God would do the same to those who were assured by Jesus that they would know God. Those who regarded Jesus as a heretic would apply the same accusation to His disciples, after having received the Holy Spirit. God’s Child is stronger when humbled, rather than when exulted.
“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason”(John 15:20-25 NIV).
The wide gate that attracts the majority is popular because it makes sense to the human mind, but leads to destruction. This describes those who would be attracted to the wide gate, leading to deception. These would be those accusing true believers, choosing to go through the smaller gate. However, in their condition, as a minority, it cannot be possible for true believers to label the majority as heretics.
Doing so can be adjudged as dangerous, but true. The above Scripture suggests persecution for the true followers of Jesus, similarly to how Jesus was persecuted. Orthodox Christianity cannot be at peace, as long as true followers of Jesus would be in their proximity. This is what incites them to persecute God’s children and label them “heretics.”
They use this term to alienate God’s children from ordinary people. Commonly regarded as authentic, Orthodox Christianity would be more readily accepted by ordinary people, rather than the truly authentic believers. Therefore, the term “heretics” fits well with true believers than with false ones. This is what makes the gate that leads to destruction wide, while the gate leading to life is small.
Jesus said the gate that leads to life is small. There is no need to even wish that the gate, leading to life should ever be wide. God designed it that way, for it to serve its purpose. The primary purpose of keeping that gate small is to ensure that God’s children are kept in humility.
This is just like the messenger of Satan who tormented Paul as if to prevent him from achieving greater results. This kept Paul focused. Jesus said the gate of hell shall not prevail against His church. The only possibility to access hell is through pride, which Jesus blocks by keeping His people in humility.
“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”(2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NIV).
In the above Scripture, the apostle Paul is confirming that being a Christian has got nothing to do with popularity. It has got something to do with what those of this world would assume to be dehumanization. The standards set by Orthodox Christianity are used to enhance being honored in this world. However, Christianity calls for humility, more than respectability.
Jesus is the center of Christianity. Although the term “Christianity” is loosely applied, as a matter of convenience, it is not based on the teachings of Jesus. He never suggested that His followers should be addressed as Christians. Humanly speaking, nothing appears amiss with calling Jesus’ followers, “Christians.”
However, when avoiding calling oneself, “Christian” one risks being labeled a heretic. One would not have identified himself with mainstream Christianity. But, what is popular in Orthodox Christianity is anathema to God, yet what is anathema to Orthodox Christianity, is acceptable to God.
Jesus advised His followers to go through the narrow gate, rather than go through the wide gate, attractive to the majority. Those desiring to protect their physical nature would rather avoid the narrow gate. True believers are those who celebrate when being labeled heretics, by orthodox Christianity.
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