The burden of this study is simple: To prove and illustrate the fact that the Bible often speaks in narrow terms of only two possible choices or classes. Such a biblical fact, I submit, will suggest the definitiveness, decisiveness, and also exclusiveness of the teaching of God's word. I realize such teaching is not popular. We are saturated in America with the belief that truth is relative and elastic. Many today have a similar view as Pilate when he asked of Jesus, "What is truth?" (Jn. 18: 38). Jesus has just spoken of the truth to Pilate in terms and concepts that truth is definable and concrete (vs. 36, 37). Pilate seems to be attempting to evade the inevitable responsibility of truth when he asked, "What is truth?" Alas, not a few today do not want to accept the responsibility of truth. Hence, they have adopted the myriad views that try to explain away the truth. I believe we shall see, though, that not only is truth understandable, but it is also decisive and exclusive in that it precludes a multiplicity of choices and situations that may involve varying degrees of acceptability.
Those for the Lord and those against the Lord. Jesus, the Master Teacher, did not speak of truth in vague and all inclusive terms. Hear Jesus as he mentions the two opposing possibilities of man's position relative to Jesus:
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scatterth abroad." "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 12: 30; 6: 24).
Dear reader, please appreciate the fact that not only does Jesus only present two possibilities in connection to man's spiritual status being either for or against Jesus, but the two classes are antithetical and diametrically opposed one to the other.
Servants of sin and servants of righteousness. I know this may sound simplistic to some today, but the inspired apostle Paul presents all men as either servants of sin or servants of righteousness. Hear him:
"16: Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17: But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18: Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6).
Man wants to philosophize and rationalize that there are numerous classifications relative to man being a servant of sin or righteousness. Some would have it "a servant of sin and/or a servant of righteousness." Not so, said Paul. Those are servants of sin who serve sin; and those who obey from the heart that form of doctrine taught in God's word are servants of righteousness, explained Paul. The teaching that truth and obedience are not essential to man's salvation is patently false.
Those who love the Lord and those who do not love the Lord. Again, I suggest we will not find varying shades of gray regarding those who love Jesus and those who do not. Observe the simple and cogent teaching of the Lord:
"21: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22: Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23: Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24: He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me" (Jn. 14).
"I love Jesus," one says, but does not obey Jesus. Another says, "I love the Lord, but I believe what I want to doctrinally!" Some are even heard saying, "Love of Jesus and keeping his commandments are not even related." Beloved, Jesus said "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (see I Jn. 5: 3). Jesus not only identified those who truly love him, but he also reveals those who do not love him. "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings," Jesus further added. Hence, all men fall into either one or two categories, those that love and do not love Jesus. These two classes are determined by obedience to Jesus' commandments.
Those in the narrow way and those in the broad way. One feature of Jesus' teaching that makes it so plain was the lack of confusion caused by the conflicting intermingling of terms, concepts, and pronouncements. Here is another sample regarding the narrow and broad way:
"13: 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: 14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7).
Concerned reader, please keep in mind as you read these classifications that I am not the writer or teacher of these truths. In this case, Jesus said that there is the "narrow way" and the "broad way," not I. Only two ways, one is compressed (strait) and the other is wide. "Many," Jesus said, will enter the broad way and "few" will travel the narrow way. "All roads lead to heaven," man says, but this is not what Jesus said!
The sheep and the goats. The scriptures on several occasions present to us a prelude of the Judgment Day. Consider Jesus' teaching regarding that Last Day and the two classes into which all men will be divided:
"31: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38: When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39: Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44: Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45: Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matt. 25).
Jesus presents the saved under the figure of "sheep" and the lost under the heading of "goats." The sheep are determined by what they did; the coats by what they did not do but should have done (see Jas. 4: 17).
Vessels of gold and silver and vessels of wood and earth. The two letters Paul addressed to Timothy are replete with teaching to arm and encourage Timothy in his work as an evangelist. Observe Paul's teaching to Timothy as he instructs Timothy regarding some members of the church, even apparent preachers:
"20: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21: If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2).
The vessels of gold and silver stand for the genuine child of God while the vessels of wood and earth represent the insincere.
The wise and foolish virgins. One of Jesus' parables designed to teach preparedness is found in Matthew 15: 1-13. It reads:
"1: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2: And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3: They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5: While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6: And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7: Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8: And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9: But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10: And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11: Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12: But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13: Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
Over and over, the Bible presents two opposite groups. In no uncertain language, the saved and the lost are presented. Those for the Lord, those against him; servants of righteousness, servants of sin; those who love the Lord, those who do not; the narrow way, the broad way; the sheep and the goats; vessels of gold and silver and vessels of wood and earth; and the wise and foolish virgins. There is consistently no intermingling, no half-and-half, and no graduating shades of gray. Heaven awaits the saved and hell is prepared for the devil and all that serve him and not the Lord (Matt. 25: 41-46). In which group are you?