Sunday, September 9, 2007

Choosing the Right Gate

"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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13-14.
We have a choice to make about where we will spend eternity!

In our lesson today Jesus is preaching that great Sermon on the Mount. He begins this message in Chapter 5 with a powerful statement:
"Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Then in chapter 5, verse 20 says:
"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Chapter 6:1:
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven."
In each of these passages Jesus is talking about heaven and how to get there. We each will make a choice. We each have to choose. There is no other way.

In today's lesson there are:
  • Two gates
  • Two houses
  • Two destinations
1. Let's look first at the two gates.

A. The narrow gate.

This is the gate that will lead to life. This gate is a difficult way. Few find it. In verse 21 the Bible tells us how to find the narrow gate:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Salvation is not for those who only profess to obey Jesus, calling Him Lord. Rather it is for those who actually do God’s will!

The way is difficult and hard to find because of "self." We don’t want to let anyone tell us what to do with our lives and that includes God. We may say we are Christian but are we living a life, doing all the will of God in our lives?
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said unto him, "Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
"Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." And they that heard it said, "Who then can be saved?" And he said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:18-27.
I could quote many rules and regulations of different churches this morning but when it comes down to the matter, it’s all about one thing and one thing only: that is the will of God for my life! This kind of life will lead to a having a solid foundation for life and will get us to heaven.
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." Matthew 7: 24-25.
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:14.
This kind of life will lead to heaven!

Matthew 5:11-16 shows the kind of life we should be living:
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
"...for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:" Matthew 7:14.
In my study of this chapter the thing that kept jumping out at me is that Jesus made statements about the broad way, towards religious people. There is a differences between religious people and spiritual people. In verse 15 He talked about false prophets. In verse 21 He talked about people who said, "Lord, Lord!" Salvation is not for those who only profess to obey Jesus, calling Him Lord. But rather it is for those who actually do the will of God!
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
In first reading these verses one would think that it is picture of the world, but then we get to verse 5 and we see who the scripture is talking about. It’s talking about professors of religion.
"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
This scripture talks about Saul and His religious duty:
And Samuel said, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king." I Samuel 15:22-23.
One group of Jewish religious leaders appear in connection with the ministry of Jesus and the early church. The Pharisees were members of a Jewish religious sect, the most prominent group among the religious leaders. They held that it was important to keep all the laws of God. These included not only the laws written in the Old Testament but also oral traditions. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because of not doing what they preached as the foundation for their religion.
Matthew 23:1-14.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
"All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
"For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
"And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
"And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'
"But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
"Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
"But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."

People today go through their religious ceremonies without having a real relationship with Christ... joining the church, being baptized, taking communion, giving to the poor... are only a few of the things people do to be religious. Now these things are good in their place but without knowing Christ they are only religion!

Look at Matthew 7:22-23.
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
This leads us to the next question. Where do these two gates lead to?

2. The two houses.

A. The narrow gate leads to a spiritual house that stands the test.
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." Matthew 7:24-25.
Two words stand out in this passage: heareth and doeth.
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
"For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;" Hebrews 2:1-3.
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
"For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:" Hebrews 3:1-8
Entering God’s kingdom is not so much a matter of being religious as it is a personal decision and a continuing commitment to follow Him. This kind of house will stand the test of time... because it is founded on Jesus Christ!

B. The wide gate and the broad way.
"...for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:" Matthew 7:13.
Then said one unto him, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" And he said unto them,
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
"When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open unto us;' and he shall answer and say unto you, 'I know you not whence ye are:'
"Then shall ye begin to say, 'We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.'
"But he shall say, 'I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.'
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Luke 13: 23-28.
"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7:26-27.
Have you ever been to a beach and built a sand house and watched the tide wash it away? That’s how a religious house built on the sand will end up.

Let's read Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
We have a choice to make! What gate we enter will determine where we build our house. Where we build our house will determine our destiny!

1 comment:

Dori said...

Daddy,
I'm SO glad Karla is posting these. I'm going to forward them to a few of my friends that feel the void of a "real" sermon at church on Sundays! Your the best preacher I know! And I'm NOT prejudiced!!
I love you!
(From your FAVORITE daughter)
Dori