Text: Matthew 7:13-14 (HCSB)
13 Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (HCSB)
Application: You Choose Which Way!
Intro: Society calls upon us to be “broadminded”. This means being tolerant and accepting. Judgmental Christianity is not too favorable to the broadminded. “A broadminded man on a narrow way has a hangover.” The Bible calls upon us to be narrow. I guess my sermon today will be a little narrow minded!
In Matthew 7 Jesus appeals to His audience as well as to the reader of the scriptures to choose: He gives the call to decide now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation. The way to life is on God’s terms alone; the way to damnation is on any terms a person wants, because every way but God’s leads to the same fate.
1. A Narrow Gate: "Enter through the narrow gate"
It is easy to see there is a contrast with this gate: It is a contrast between divine righteousness and human righteousness, all of which is unrighteousness. It is a contrast between divine revelation and human religion, between divine truth and human falsehood, between trusting in God and trusting in self. It is the contrast between God’s grace and man’s works.
Jesus’ command is not simply to enter some gate but to enter the narrow gate. Every person enters one gate or the other; that is unavoidable. Jesus pleads for men to enter the right gate, God’s gate, the only gate that leads to life and to heaven.
The path to that narrow way of kingdom living is through the narrow gate of the King Himself. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” John 14:6.
We must proclaim the narrow way because it is God’s way and God’s only way for men to find salvation and eternal life. We proclaim a narrow gospel because Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved” John 10:9. We proclaim a narrow gospel because “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved”, and because there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. We proclaim a narrow gospel because that is the only gospel God has given and therefore the only gospel there is.
We do get to choose, we can choose which gate to go through: The narrow gate demands repentance. Many people today believe that being in a church qualifies them for heaven. Some even believe that simply being a human being qualifies them, because God is too good and kind to exclude anyone. God does offer the way to all, and His greatest longing is that everyone enter, because He does not desire “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” 2 Peter 3:9
The way of repentance, of turning from our own way and our own righteousness to God’s, is the only way to enter His kingdom and therefore the only way to keep from perishing. The repentant life will be a changed life.
Those who preach a gospel of self-indulgence preach an utterly different gospel than Jesus preached. The gate of pride, of self-righteousness, and self-satisfaction is the wide gate of the world, not the narrow gate of God.
Most people spend their lives rushing around with the crowds, doing what everyone else does and believing what everyone else believes. But as far as salvation is concerned, there is no security in numbers. If every person in a group is saved it is because each of them individually comes into the kingdom by his own decision, energized by the Holy Spirit, to trust Christ.
The two gates lead to two ways. The gate that is wide leads to the way that is broad; and the narrow gate, which is small, leads to the way that is narrow. The narrow way is the way of the godly, and the broad way is the way of the ungodly-and those are the only two ways in which men can travel. The godly person delights.
Psalm 1:2-4 (HCSB) “Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.”
The way that is broad is the easy, attractive way of the world. There are few rules, few restrictions, and few requirements. All you need do is profess Jesus, or at least be religious, and you are readily accepted in that large and diverse group. Sin is tolerated, truth is moderated, and humility is ignored. God’s Word is praised but not studied, and His standards are admired but not followed. This way requires no spiritual maturity, no moral character, no commitment, and no sacrifice. It is the easy way of floating downstream.
The way that is narrow, however, is the hard way, the demanding way, the way of self-denial and the cross. The fact that “few are those who find” God’s way implies that it is to be sought diligently. Jeremiah 29:13 (HCSB) “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” No one has ever stumbled into the kingdom or wandered through the narrow gate by accident.
We can pay nothing for salvation, yet coming to Jesus Christ costs everything we have. The person who says yes to Christ must say no to the things of the world, because to be in Christ is to rely on His power rather than our own and to be willing to forsake our own way for His. It can cost persecution, ridicule, and tribulation. In His last instructions to His disciples, Jesus several times reminded them of the price they would pay for following Him: John 15:19-20 (HCSB)
19 If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.”
When we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ we declare war on the devil, and he declares war on us. The one whom we formerly served now becomes our great enemy, and the ideas and ways we once held dear now become our great temptations and pitfalls.
3. A Narrow Choice: "few find it"
The Lord focuses on the unavoidable decision that every person must make, the crossroads where he must choose on the gate he will enter and the way he will go.
Our lives are filled with decisions-what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to say, what to buy, whom to marry, what career to follow, and on and on. Many decisions are trivial and insignificant, and some are essential and life-changing. The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom. That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny. It is that decision that Jesus here calls men to make.
Jesus repeatedly points out two things: the necessity of choosing whether to follow God or not, and the fact that the choices are two and only two. There are two gates, the narrow and the wide; two ways, the narrow and the broad; two destinations, life and destruction; two groups, the few and the many; two kinds of trees, the good and the bad, which produce two kinds of fruit, the good and the bad; two kinds of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, the sincere and the false; two kinds of builders, the wise and the foolish; two foundations, the rock and the sand; and two houses, the secure and the insecure. In all preaching there must be the demand for a verdict. Jesus makes the choice crystal clear.
There have always been but two systems of religion in the world. One is God’s system of divine accomplishment, and the other is man’s system of human achievement. One is the religion of God’s grace, the other the religion of men’s works. One is the religion of faith, the other the religion of the flesh. One is the religion of the sincere heart and the internal, the other the religion of hypocrisy and the external. Within man’s system are thousands of religious forms and names, but they are all built on the achievements of man and the inspiration of Satan. Christianity, on the other hand, is the religion of divine accomplishment, and it stands alone.
Christians are not few in number because the gate is too narrow or too small to accommodate more. There is no limit to the number who could go through that gate, if they go through in God’s way, in repentance for their sins and in trust in Jesus Christ to save them. Nor is the number few because heavenly space is limited. God’s grace is boundless, and heaven’s dwellings are limitless. Nor is the number few because God desires that most people perish. He earnestly desires “for all to come to repentance”. Every person who will come to Jesus Christ can come to Jesus Christ.
God’s way, the way that is narrow, leads to eternal life, to everlasting heavenly fellowship with God, His angels, and His people. Everlasting life is a quality of life, the life of God in the soul of man. John 14:2-3 (HCSB) “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”
Two most crucial issues surface here, the way you choose determines your destiny. Today you face a fork in the road. The wide gate is popular, narrow gate is unpopular, the end is plain, the end is the consequence of the way chosen. Which will you enter? Which will you walk? Happiness and eternal destiny hinge on your decision!
In : Sermon
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