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copyright 2008 by Greg Nichols


The Narrow Path Part 1


A View of Christian Maturity



Christians are warriors for God’s side in the battle of the two Kingdoms, God’s and Satan’s, but often, many Christians are sidelined by sin, addictions, sickness, financial issues or even early death.  This is not God’s will for His believers.  I believe if I write from a practical viewpoint, it can help people who are sidelined or who are about to be.  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but God made me a teacher of the Word, it is just what I do.


As far as the battle goes, Jesus won it, and the church’s job is to enforce victory.  God’s Kingdom has a written constitution, His Word, and we the church are the only authorities on the scene (Earth) to enforce the constitution.  All demons and spiritual evil are subject to us in the mighty name of Jesus.  Spiritually and position-ally, we are not heading to victory, we are coming from victory.  That is our starting point.  We are God’s representatives to this generation, and as believers in Jesus’ church, the responsibility lies with us to enforce Calvary to this generation.  If you wanted to boil down our job description for Revival and the Great Commission, all you have to do is to boil down Jesus’ job description and that is our job description to our own generation.  The Apostle John gave it in the simplest of terms:  “…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  1 John:3:8b  If that was Jesus’ reason for His call, then that is the church’s call, and that is our job description.  The Spirit of Christ by the Holy Spirit is manifested in us to destroy the works of the devil in our generation. 


We need to take up our battle positions, man our post, and dig in and fortify.  If you believe you are not in a battle, and there is not danger to our kind (believers), then you may as well draw a big target on your back for Satan, because you can be taken out.   “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  2 Corinthians 2:11  If some think I am an alarmist, or dwell too much on Satan, let me just say that the Holy Spirit had Paul write this verse, and that means God would not have you and I ignorant of Satan’s plans and schemes. 


The Narrow Path & Christian Maturity!


“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14


Many ministers teach and preach about the wide gate, so this time I want to focus on the narrow one.  If my readers are Christians, we need to know how to stay on this narrow way that Jesus talks about.  I could be talking about a sinless life, but that is just part of it, as ignorance can also take one off the narrow way.  Note that it is not just a narrow entrance, or gate, but also a narrow path or way as it leads all the way through your Christian life and to Heaven.  If you are a believer, you will never want to get off the narrow path and go back and walk the broad one again, as many do, because that is a huge mistake and can be harmful, even fatal.  One more thing, the path gets even narrower the further you go down it.  I hate to tell you that, and God didn’t mean for the Christian walk to get harder, He just meant for you to grow so that you could walk more easily led by the Holy Spirit as the path gets harder.  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”  Romans 8:14  You see, some believers want to stay children of God all their Christian walk, when God expects them to grow into mature sons and daughters of God, instead of staying little children.  It appears from this scripture here that a son listens to God, a son fellowships with God and hears His voice, and a son (or daughter) traverses the narrow path more wisely in life, being taught by the Spirit how to walk circumspectly.


For example:  Gossiping is not wise, and not of God.  Neither is the judging of sinner or saint, for this is not walking the narrow path.  “I traverse (walk) the way (path) of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, (judgment) … Proverbs 8:20 


Apparently, there is a path for God’s people to walk that God sees which does not judge or gossip.  However, on either side of this path is a deep ditch in which believers can walk, tramping through stagnant, filthy and gross material, filling the ditch even more with what they are themselves spewing, and God would have us repent and get back up on His good path. This is son-ship, to get on that middle path.  However, a child in God’s Kingdom who is not yet a mature son hasn’t yet seen this vision of themselves that God has for them.  Not one of us wants to change diapers of our 7 year old, or our 15 year old, and of our 40 year old children. God doesn’t like it in the spiritual realm either, but this is precisely what church leadership has to constantly do for some.  I hope that is not you.  God still loves us no matter what, but this one area of gossip and judgment can sideline a person fast, and bring worse things too, and God does not bring the consequence, but rather the principle of sowing and reaping.  When the Word says to fear God, it simply means we must fear that what He said will come to pass, if we have sown to the flesh in an improper way.  God does not judge us, the Word does, and it is immutable, without change, and cannot be broken.


Back to that narrow path Jesus referred to:


Did you ever notice how a person gets saved and for the first few years of Christianity, they felt so dynamically powerful, they were free, they received and partook of the grace ever so heartily, they could conquer anything, they prayed for everyone, they preached, they were so in love with Jesus, and God’s grace was upon them mightily, even with miracles and many answered prayers.  They were warriors for God, they were in the battle, and then……., then,……., – (I may be writing here about many of you) the devil sidelined them.  Sometime after receiving Christ, a few years maybe, they got religious, they got indoctrinated to church-i-a-nity and to well meaning believers.  Then, sister so and so said something mean about them, and they got betrayed, and elder so and so gave them a heart to heart about what they shouldn’t do, and took them out of grace and deposited them back under the law where Jesus first found them as unsaved.  Oh the mental trips well meaning people put on new converts, and the judgments, and the 50 pounds of Pharisee-i-cal religion people strap on their backs, only to sideline them to have no effect in the battle and to live under a curse, the one Jesus died to get them out from under! 


Aside from what well meaning people do, then the human nature of the new convert does its own work, as human nature so often does.  As new babe believers, God does change diapers and gives infinite grace, feeding with the milk of the Word, because that new person does not know how to exactly walk as a believer for awhile.  So at the earliest, the narrow path is the widest, made that way by God.  But after a few years, it begins to narrow, and this new believer is going to need more faith to get the same earlier prayers answered.  This is the narrowing path, but it was not designed to narrow because of some cruel joke, it was designed to narrow that God might be God to us, and that He might increase in us, and we might decrease and grow up into the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  (John 3:30)  (Ephesians 4:13)


As the disciples witnessed the transfiguration of Christ, immediately they wanted to build altars, and God stopped them, having them depart from “form” and pay attention to “life!”   But new believers have found they could get an easy answer for prayer, or a healing, to find out later, the answer the next time needed to come to them a different way, using more prayer, or needing more faith, or having God deal with them differently.  God will not have us, by our human nature, build a little mental tabernacle for a situation, creating a form, when He wants to lead us each time we are in a trial or a fight.  But people sometimes misunderstand God’s narrowing path, and they deem it as failure when they don’t see immediate victories.  Or, when they don’t see what they were seeking from God, they deem it to not be His will, and so instead, they embrace a non-scriptural doctrine like “healing is not for all.”  A wise man once said that it is important that we ask God the right questions.  The immature believer will interpret life and situations a certain way, pray according to their own understanding and when they don’t see the answer, change their doctrine to fit it!  Mature believers – sons, will, when things are not being answered as they had supposed them to be, will ask God, “what should I be asking here, Lord?”  Or they will pray, “how should I be in this situation, how should I be believing you?”  His ways are so much higher than our ways… His thoughts so much greater… His understanding so much more clear.  (Isaiah 55:8-9)   A son is willing to not lean to his own understanding, but recognize that he needs God’s perspective and therefore God’s answers.... not the answers he thinks he needs.  ( Proverbs 3:5)


In my experience, I have seen people receive the Lord many times and come out of the starting gate of spiritual life ever so strong, but through various experiences they have in their lives, such as fights, struggles, wrong Christian training, and negative experiences, their soul seems to die on the vine, and the Spirit gets quenched in their lives.  It seems this may be a gradual process, as human nature and their mind must process negative experiences in Christianity and label them, compartmentalize them, classify them and connect them to a doctrine, while allowing the pure Word of God to be put on hold, so to speak.  This is partly what Jesus meant when He said to the Pharisees:  “making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition (religion) which you have handed down.”  Mark 7:13  If a believer walks through his/her Christian life along the narrow path seeing “no effectiveness” in the Word of God, it can make them callous, cynical, unbelieving, and worst of all, religious.  Religious thinking has caused more early death, terminal illness, chronic conditions, poverty and general low level Christian living than anything else.  Then, in some cases, they may even become false teachers who pick up religious ideology and run with it, writing books, explaining failures as God’s will, even comparing believers with Job.  (This is a future teaching, but I will just say we were not meant to compare New Covenant believers with an unborn again man from 2 covenants past.  We have been given so much more than Job, more is expected, and we have Christ living in us, Job did not.)  With some believers, losing confidence in the Word because the religion and tradition in their lives has made the Word of no effect, is it any wonder why the Bible questions whether Jesus will find faith on the Earth when He returns? 


The truth is, it is not our eloquent doctrines or traditions that impress God, but only faith pleases God.  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him… Hebrews 11:6a


We are not supposed to move backwards in Christianity when we are attacked, we are supposed to move forward in victory, believing, and walking on God’s Word in full effect, with it producing for us either 30 fold, 60 fold or even 100 fold.  That would be 100 times return on each tiny seed of faith we stand on.  Smith Wigglesworth said this once:  “My spirit man is 1000 times as big on the inside as I am on the outside.”  This should be us, growing larger and larger in our spirit as we walk down the narrow path of life, with more faith than last year, and more faith last year than the year before that.


I am all for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but many believers think that through the gifts is the only way to be healed, even though the Bible plainly teaches that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is to be received by someone who knows Christ so that they may use it to win the lost.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit flow out of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and are meant for the world, but believers tend to rely on them for their own healings more than developing their own faith for healing directly from God through prayer.  So believers run to and fro to brother so and so’s meetings to get a healing, and they feel that the stronger anointing is needed to receive their healing.  This kind of mindset is alright to an extent, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are really effective for new believers, but there does come a point that believers need to mature in the area of healing.


In the 1950’s, Oral Roberts had quite a large number of healings happening, and he started using tracking procedures so he could see patterns.  He would send out questionnaires, and find out what happened after the crusades.  Many lost their healings that they had gotten in the crusades.  Two amazing observations came forth.  Newer believers kept more healings, and traditional non-Pentecostal believers kept more healings.  This is shocking. Wouldn’t you think that it would be the opposite in both cases?  The fact is, these results actually confirm just about everything I have taught in this writing.  Oral was moving in the gifts, which are outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 and also James 5, which is calling for the elders.  It is clear why new believers would have kept their healings better, since we explained there is an extra portion of grace on new believers, but what about Pentecostal Christians losing healings?  I believe that on the narrowing path, many of them are called higher by God to use the faith walk not because He is not compassionate, but rather because He knows that Satan can have a foothold in our lives if we insist on walking by sight, or depending on outer stimulation for healing and not the Word.  Calling for the elders of James 5 is not for every situation, in fact, that seems to be evangelistic as the Apostle James recommends they repent of sins at the same time, maybe like a back-slide situation.  In any case, God is bound by His Word which says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required”!  Luke 12:48b The Word cannot be broken, as God swore by an immutable oath to keep it to man, therefore a believer who has been given much such as a Pentecostal believer is going to have some requirements to receive from God, I call them maturity requirements of faith.  Yes, of course healing is by grace and free, but nothing in our lives comes outside of our faith.  We know that it takes faith to please God.  Many of today’s problems for believers can be traced back to a lack of simple Bible faith to continue down the narrow path of life. 


Do not get me wrong, our ministry efforts need to bring forth all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that can be brought forth, as much as possible for the salvations of the lost and for the benefits to the body of Christ, I just think the believers who are mature need discernment that God also has other means of healing besides the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Ultimately, the Holy Spirit does all healings, but there is a difference in direct Divine healing and when the gifts are moving, and one difference is that less faith is necessary to receive the gifts of healing.  An example is when a believer needs a healing, and they manage to muster faith for it by faith transference from a great man of God during a meeting where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are healing.  But this man of God cannot go home with them, and muster their faith the next day, or the next.  Receiving healing from a testimony or another’s faith is closer to Thomas’s faith than Abraham’s faith.  It is not a bad thing, it is just not as long lasting as standing on the promises of the Word without unbelief.


One wise man said once, “The strength you use to get something will determine the strength you need to keep it.”  If we receive healing by Thomas faith, which is using the kind of faith based on sense knowledge, then we may not receive our senses satisfied when it comes time to keep the healing and we lose it.  In the dark days of battling our unbelief, only pure faith in the Word of God will sustain us.  Now you can see why so many believers have gone on to Heaven.  Many did not even know such a faith walk exists. If we receive a healing by pure Abrahamic type faith, who considered not his own body, or the deadness of Sarah’s womb, and staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief, then we have the greater God pleasing faith to see it all the way through when Satan challenges our healing.  (Romans 4)


Please Note:  Many believers do keep their healings from the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I do not want to have people think they are in that danger every time the gifts of the Holy Spirit move.  Proverbs 2:3 says we must cry out for more understanding, and if we do embrace some things I have shared here, I believe we can help more people.  To teach the mysteries of the Kingdom is a way to help people become less ignorant of Satan’s devices and to understand the Word more, gaining revelation, and more people can succeed down the narrow path. I am sharing about Christian maturity.  


I believe that God expects us to develop our faith for healing, thereby responding to Jesus’ words to Thomas, which said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29b   One meaning I see here with Jesus’ words is that we act on our pure faith in the Word on healing at times and need no hands laid on us, or no particular person to pray for us, and we are not sight conscious about the answer coming at any certain time, we just believe for the sake of believing, and nothing will shake us off the stand of faith, and we will die before lapsing into unbelief.  With that kind of faith, I doubt one will die.  All Heaven cheers at this kind of faith.  Jesus marvels at it.  In case you didn’t catch this, I am sharing about ways to grow as a believer along the narrowing path of the Christian life! 


One way to see this is the words of Jesus when He said healing is the children’s bread.  (Mark 7:27)   That means we possess healing as a work of Calvary, and in the redemption, and set in us in our New Birth, while on the other hand,  the gifts of the Holy Spirit when working take this wonder of God’s mercy, - healing, and makes it available to the world of unbelievers.  God is so good, He allows us to bask in the gifts of healing as His children, but He wants us to understand a higher way. Do you see the difference?  What is so great about the children’s bread revelation is that you can build a limitless amount of revelation and faith for your family and your own life for healing, and then use that as a deep well to draw on for ministry also. 


I admonish you to push ahead and seek the face of God in your situations, practicing the use of faith, and carefully maneuvering the narrow path and know that He desires the speediest deliverance of you from trials, but He will do it His way and in a way that brings about the most good for everyone concerned.  God is for you, and with you, and God is bringing you to a new place in Him and with Him, a place of sonship and dominion, where you can take up your place in the battle and fulfill your destiny.


If something struck a nerve with you, I am sure that was God’s Spirit, because as I sat down to write this, I wrote many different things than I had planned, and much is here that I believe to be hot off the wire.  I believe in teaching by principles, and I believe that as believers mature and receive the revelations God has for them, and walk in the light of them, they will not be sidelined by Satan, or their own weaknesses, and they will fulfill their Divine destinies.


This writing has several parts, and to conclude this one, let me make a few summarizing points.


1)      We seasoned believers should learn from the zeal of new converts, they are living under a special grace.  They also have much to learn from us, and they must never be given a position of authority as new believers, but they must be encouraged to do as much of the “one on one” ministry as they want to do.

2)      Many believers (not all) who have died early had trouble walking the narrowing path, with its many applications and things they needed to learn, and many who watched these said, “God took them” when that was not the case at all.  God has them, but He did not take them, as believers are meant by God to fulfill their destinies and grow old on Earth.

3)      Mature sons and daughters of God are meant to hold up the pillars of the house of God, and they are there to give of themselves, and not to take.

4)      As a believer, you must see that God not only has a path for your destiny, but He has a path also for your growth and maturity as well, which is usually supplied by Him through the body of Christ, namely your authorities in Christ, your parents possibly, your pastors, your youth leaders. Seek Him for that path and stay submitted to it.

5)      The practice of receiving healing directly from God through unswerving and unfaltering faith, not considering our own bodies, is a practice and teaching of Christ.  It is also a great example of believers growing in faith and maturity, and the more we grow, the more is required from us in the way of faith.  What we don’t want are people who are ignorant of making a stand of faith and “only” depending on the body ministry when very ill when God has called them to a purer walk of faith themselves.  We will extend love and mercy and grace to them and continue 1 Corinthians 12 and James 5 “body of Christ” ministry but also encourage them to greater faith too in their dealings with God on a direct basis, allowing the Word to flood them 24/7 with healing virtue. 



Greg Nichols