The Gate and the Path

May 21, 2012

The Lord said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate … strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). There are a number of truths taught in these two seemingly simple verses, one of which is that there is first a gate and then a way (or a path), both of which are narrow.

Nephi expounds on the gate and the path in 2 Nephi 31-32, where, after discussing the Savior’s baptism, he says, “the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water”. This is the gate through which each of us must path to obtain eternal life. It is interesting to note that this requirement of repentance and baptism is the same for all, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, well-known or unknown. Even the Lord of all obeyed this requirement to fulfill all righteousness. This single point of entry then is a common funnel through which our lives must all flow, regardless of the difference of our paths beforehand.

After baptism of water, comes the gift of the Holy Ghost, as Nephi describes, “then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost;” (2 Nephi 31:13). In the next chapter, Nephi laments that his people still wonder what they must do after entering in by the way, saying: “if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:5).

Thus, after baptism, the Holy Ghost is to our be our guide, telling us everything that we should do. It is my belief that this process of seeking and following the direction of the Holy Ghost–enduring to the end–is not some passive, “hang on and try to stay put” kind of enduring, but rather an active process of seeking the will of the Lord and following it. Because the Holy Ghost ministers to us individually, we are each given exactly what we personally, and specifically, need to do. The individual nature of this guidance makes each of our paths through life different. Certainly there are general commandments and exhortations that apply to all, yet we must seek and follow the direction of God for our lives.

That fact that the path is different for each of us does not make it less narrow or less difficult. It does not mean that we have no accountability. On the contrary, we are directly accountable to God who knows the talents and abilities with which He has endowed us. In this light, there is no room for thinking we have do enough, because it would be great by some general standard, if our own abilities should have warranted more. “For of him unto whom much is given, much is required” (Doc. & Cov. 82:3, see also the Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30).

Thus, while the gate of baptism is the same for all, the path after it is different for each of us, despite that fact that the process of following the path is the same. What a remarkable plan that requires consistency yet provides for individuality. Truly we “must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if [we] shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

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