X. THE PATHWAY TO THE FINISH LINE

Jesus told the apostles that there was a way to go to the Father.  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:3-4). The early Christians thought of Christianity as the way.  After Paul had been a Christian for many years he said “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4).  The Ephesian Jews “spake evil of that way” (Acts 19:9).  Demetrius and the other Ephesians caused “no small stir about that way” (Acts 19:23), Apollos “was instructed in the way of the Lord,” (Acts 18:25-26) and the devils knew it as “the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17).  The way of salvation includes the five steps and the five acts of worship, but it is much more than that.  Felix had “more perfect knowledge of that way.”  What is this way?

The pathway of the race that leads to the finish line is narrow. Jesus said “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). The narrow way is the Greek word ‘thlipsis,’ which is generally translated affliction or trouble.  This pathway is the afflicted or troubled way.  It is no wonder that there are only a few who find the strait gate and narrow pathway.  Jesus is the author and finisher of this race (He 12:2).  He made this race and he ran it ahead of us.

The pathway that leads to life is described as being “through much tribulation.” Paul was “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). If God’s children are going to reign with Christ, they must be willing to suffer with him (2 Tim. 2:12).  The godly will inherit eternal life but “. . . all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12). The disciples at Thessalonica knew they were called to suffer much persecution. Paul sent Timothy to encourage them so “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know” (1 Thess. 3:3-4).  Paul warned these disciples that the persecution would come for they were preparing to walk on that narrow way with all other faithful Christians.

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