Author: Ron Graham
Dividing the World In Two
—Parables about Christ’s world view
The two parables we study in this lesson show that Jesus had a simple world view when it came to putting human beings into categories. There are only two categories, the righteous and the wicked, and only two eternal destinies, life and destruction.
To Jesus people are divided into "the sheep" and "the goats", people who walk in the "narrow way" to eternal life, and people who walk in the "broad way" to destruction.
The parables of The Two Gates and The Sheep and the Goats show how we must choose now which of the two multitudes we will be among in eternity.
These parables highlight the Great Mistakes that people make in life, when they fail to hear and obey God’s word properly so as to be ready for the judgment day (Matthew 7, Matthew 25, John 10).
1 The Two Gates
This parable begins with a command. "Enter through the narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13). There is a gate through which the soul must pass to reach everlasting life and joy. The soul who enters by another gate is headed for destruction.
These are the only two alternatives. We either obey or disobey the Lord’s command. There is no third alternative. If we refuse to enter by the narrow gate, then we must pass through the wide gate. We cannot enter both, and we cannot enter neither. We must choose which of the two gates we will enter.
Who is the narrow gate? Jesus said, "I am the gate for the sheep... I am the gate, whoever enters by me will be saved" (John 10:7-10). Likewise Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Many reject Jesus and do not enter through him but enter by the gate of the Liar. How many make this mistake!
How does one enter by the narrow gate? The answer to this is in the six steps of hearing Jesus, believing in Jesus, confessing Jesus, baptism into Jesus, and dedicated living for Jesus. The seventh step is the one you will take into heaven at the last day. The six steps are shown at the end of this lesson.
Why is the gate said to be narrow? It is "the narrow gate" in the sense that there is only one truth yet there are thousands of lies. There is only one true Saviour yet thousands of false prophets. So the gate of the lies is very wide, whilst the gate of the True one (1John 5:19-20) is narrow.
2 The Sheep and the Goats
The parable begins with the word "as" in verse 32 and ends with verse 33. It is a very short parable, describing the manner in which Christ, according to his own judgment, will divide the wicked from the righteous. The parable is embedded in the predictive narrative —a description of future events— about Christ’s second coming in judgment. This narrative has the following elements...
- Christ’s coming described v.31
- The world divided in two (the parable) v.32-33
- Representative dialogue with the righteous v.34-40
- Representative dialogue with the wicked v.41-45
- The parting of the wicked and the righteous v.41-45
The representative dialogues highlight the same problems as the two parables that we studied in the lesson Two Rich Men
The image of Christ as the Shepherd of the sheep is developed in our next lesson, The Shepherd Parables.
The main idea in the parable of the sheep and the goats is that Christ divides the people of the world into two. There are philosophies and world views that divide the world into three, four, or more classes. There are also those who see the people of the world untimately as one united multitude. Jesus however sees the world as ultimately divided into two multitudes.
Call them what you will, sheep and goats, saved and lost, wise and foolish, righteous and wicked, blessed and cursed, believers and unbelievers, obedient and disobedient... there are two multitudes, not one, not several, but two.
The important issue is which of the two divisions Christ will judge you to be in when he comes to judge the world. If you choose to take the six steps summarised in the chart below, then you will be among the "sheep" and be known by the Lord as one of his own.
Six Steps to Grace
The words of Paul in Romans (and his agreement with Jesus in the gospels) on what people should do to receive grace
1. Hearing Christ’s word
(Romans 10:8-17, Matthew 7:24).
2. Believing —having faith
(Romans 1:16-17, John 3:16)
3. Repentance from sin
(Romans 2:4-5, Romans 6:1-2, Luke 5:31-32)
4. Confessing Christ
(Romans 10:8-10, Matthew 10:32)
5. Being baptized into Christ’s death
(Romans 6:3-4, Mrk 16:15-16)
6. Ongoing commitment
(Romans 12:1-2, Romans 12:11-12, Luke 9:62)