Everyone understands the meaning of the words of our title, though many English teachers may cringe at the use of the word “ain’t”. It means, “It is not easy”. But, that leaves us with the question, “what is not easy?” We realize that many are the preachers telling us how easy it is to get to heaven. However, the Bible tells us that it may not be as easy as some seem to make it out to be. Let’s consider the difficultly involved.
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 word “strait” means difficult. Thus, Jesus says that the way that leads to life is a narrow and difficult way to follow. On the other hand, he says that the way to eternal destruction is the easy way. Now both terms, difficult and easy, are relative terms. Yet, comparatively speaking, the way to heaven is the difficult one and the way to hell is the easy one. Jesus said so!
We all have to readily admit that the actual process of becoming a child of God is not so difficult, though there is more to it than many believe. God requires that we learn His will. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:44-45). Every example of conversion found in the New Testament begins with the gospel of Christ being taught. Yes, it takes effort to learn what God’s will is. Hearing the word of God produces faith. Paul wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Repentance, confession and baptism are also required (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10), none of which seems very hard to do; though confessing Christ may be harder for some than others. The whole process may be harder than it seems at first glance. The apostle John records, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). These men realized that it was going to cost them something to embrace that which they had been convinced to be the truth. One must realize there is a cost to discipleship.
Jesus taught, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28). The thing that makes this question so potent is that which He had just said. He had said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciples. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). Jesus also said, Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:34-37). When one embraces the true teachings of the gospel, many of those who still hold to the doctrines of men will turn against him, even family members. Division of family may well be one of the costs of walking the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. One may have to turn his back upon a religion that he has grown up in after discovering that such was not the strait and narrow way, but the broad and easy one.
Note also that Jesus told His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). It will cost one the lustful pleasures of this life to walk the strait and narrow. Paul told Titus that the grace of God teaches “us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11-12). Paul said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27). He understood self-denial. In what is sometimes called “Faith’s hall of fame”, Moses is praised, saying, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25).
There are many other difficulties one might experience by walking the strait and narrow way. One might even think it not worth all the difficulty involved. However, as the words of a well known hymn say, “heaven will surely be worth it all”. As Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). No, “it ain’t easy”, but it sure is worth it!
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