A One Way Street and a Super-Highway

Matthew 7:13-14

by Robert G. Brooks
RgregoryBrooks@aol.com

Introduction:

Verse 15 of the text immediately warns about false religionists- “which come to you as friendly sheep, but who in their hearts (however sincerely committed, but self-deceived) are like wolves!” 1 John 1:1-3 sets forth clearly the witness we should receive: “Enter in at the straight gate.” Jesus is the only gate to God!

I.  The Super (“Broad”) Highway to Hell (vs. 13)
A)   Most are on this road, says Jesus. Most would say they believe in God, but their attitude is    “Let God be, but let me run my life.” They have no time for Him, as is evidenced by their ignoring the church of the Living God, which is purchased by the blood of Christ. Hence they “trample under foot the blood of the Son of God.” (Hebrews 10:29)  They simply ignore Him, their Creator and Redeemer. It’s not enough to say with one’s lips “I believe in God”—but ignore Him in life (James 3:19-  “Thou believist there is one God; thou doest well.  The devils also believe, and tremble.”) You say you believe in God. SO WHAT! The Dark One knows Jesus is Saviour – but he is not committed to Christ – like the vast majority of this world.
B) No one in Holy Writ spoke more of Hell than Jesus of Nazareth:
Matt. 5:22, Matt. 5:29, Matt. 10:28, Matt. 18:9, Matt. 23:15, Matt. 23:13, Luke 12:5
C) The word hell is a translation of the Greek word gehenna.  Gehenna  translates the Hebrew word Hinnom. This was the name of a valley southeast of Jerusalem, where in Israel’s early history children were sacrificed (!) to the false god Moloch. Later this valley was a garbage dump, where the fires never ceased.
D) THERE HAS TO BE A HELL if for no one but Adolph Hitler! The wars, the torture, the tyranny, the terrorism, slavery, murder, rape, sodomy, fornication, adultery, character assassinations, child abuse and abduction, wife abuse, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the spitting –as it were- in the face of the Lord God Creator, Giver of Life solely on the basis of grace.  What more shall I say except to consider all the martyrs who became “living torches” for their  rebellion against a corrupt church because of a will to see the common man own the Bible for his freedom to search its truths  rather than ecclesiastical lords.

II.  The Straight Gate and Narrow Way Lead to the Paradise of God
A) The thief on the cross who turned to Jesus and heard Jesus say, “TODAY  you will be in Paradise.”  He didn’t say you are going to sleep for millenniums  until you enter. Paul said, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8)  Jesus said “I am the door.” He is the “gate” to eternal life.
B) The way to Paradise, Jesus says, is a narrow way (i.e. there is no room for excessive baggage – only a personal cross, a denial of egocentrism.) It is the way that seeks to be perfect like our heavenly Father.
C) Jesus said, “few there be that find it.”  Islam is growing with all speed because it is a religion of hate ( and mankind is more negative at heart than positive).  Christianity is, conversely, Christ-centered, the essence of whose teaching is love.  Hence few find  “the way, the truth, and the life.” It is estimated that thousands on church rolls are not really born again!

Conclusion

The two ways fork early in childhood at  what is called “the age of accountability.”  When the child is old enough to grasp the seriousness of doing wrong – of sin and guilt. There is a cross in the middle of  the fork. They become aware that the road right leads to the God-man; the other leads to total separation from God.

And so to you, friend, if you have never committed yourself to the God-man — Jesus the Christ;  the call comes from Deuteronomy 30:15-20:  “See I have set before thee life and good, death and evil.”  Jeremiah puts total commitment even more clearly: Jeremiah 21:8 says  “Behold I have set before thee the way of life and the way of death.”
The only remedy is repentance! Art thou too proud to say to your Creator, I have ignored You? Then….

Salvation by Faith

Ephesians 2:8-9

by Paul George

“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

All the blessings which God has bestowed upon mankind flow from His grace or favor; His free, undeserved favor. We can not lay claim to the least of His mercies. There is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least of the gifts we receive from the hand of God. Whatever righteousness may be found in us is a gift from God. The greatest gift we can receive from God is salvation. A gift that was given to us “while we were yet sinners.” By grace we are saved through faith. Grace is the source, faith the condition, of salvation.

In order that we do not fall short of the grace of God we need to know:

I. What faith is it through which we are saved.

II. What is the salvation which is through faith.

The faith by which we are saved is not the belief God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him and that He is to be sought by glorifying Him as God, by giving Him thanks for all things, and by a careful practice of moral virtue, of justice, mercy, and truth, toward our fellowman.

Secondly, it is not the faith of demons. Satan and his demonic force believe there is not only a wise and powerful God, gracious to reward, and just to punish; but also, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of the world. We find demons confessing, “I know who You are, the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34). The great enemy of God and man believes, and trembles in believing, that God was made manifest in the flesh; that He will “tread all enemies under his feet;” and that “all Scripture was given by inspiration of God.”
Thirdly, it is not the faith the Apostles had while Christ was yet upon earth; though they believed on Him and left all to follow Him. Although they had the power to work miracles, to “heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease;” even “power and authority over all devils;” and, were sent by their Master to “preach the kingdom of God.”

What faith is it then through which we are saved? It may be answered; first, in general, it is a faith in Christ and God through Christ. It is the faith that is sufficiently, absolutely distinguished from the faith of the Apostles while Christ was on earth and from the beliefs of demons. It is the faith that is not merely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head. It is a disposition of the heart. It is written in the Scripture, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness;” and, “If thou shalt confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, You shall be saved.”

This is the difference of the faith which the Apostles themselves had while our Lord was on earth, that it acknowledges the necessity and merit of His death, and the power of His resurrection. It acknowledges His death as the only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal, and His resurrection as the restoration of us all to life and immortality; inasmuch as He “was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification.”

Christian faith is then, not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of His life, death, and resurrection; a dependence upon Him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us; and, in consequence hereof, a relation-ship with Him, and cleaving to Him, as our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” or, in one word, our salvation.

II. What salvation it is, which is through this faith, is the Second thing to be considered.

First, whatsoever else is implied it is a present salvation. It is something attainable on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith. The Apostle told the believers at Ephesus, and the believers of all ages, not, you shall be (though that also is true), but, “You are saved through faith.”

We are saved from the consequences of sin. This is the salvation which is through faith. This is that great salvation foretold by the angel, before God brought His First-begotten into the world: “You shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.” And neither here, nor in other parts of the Bible is there any limitation or restriction. All His people, or, as it is elsewhere expressed, “all that believe in Him,” He will save from all their sins; from original and actual, past and present sin, “of the flesh and of the spirit.” Through faith that is in Him, all mankind are saved both from the guilt and from the power of sin. We are delivered from the guilt of all past sin, for all the world is guilty before God, insomuch that should He “be extreme to mark what is done amiss, there is none that could escape the guilt of sin for “by the law is” only “the knowledge of sin,” but no deliverance from it, so that, “by” fulfilling “the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified in his sight.” Now, “the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, is manifested to all that believe.” Now we “are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” God has sent Him forth to be propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of the sins that are past. Now has Christ taken away “the curse of the law, being made a curse for us? He has “blotted out the judgment that was against us, taking it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. “There is therefore no condemnation now to them which” believe “in Christ Jesus.”

Being saved from guilt, we are saved from fear. Not indeed from a filial fear of offending; but from all servile fear; from that fear which has torment, from fear of punishment, from fear of the wrath of God, whom we now no longer regard as a severe Master, but as an indulgent Father. We have not received again the spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father and the Holy Spirit also bears witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God. We are also saved from the fear, though not from the possibility, of falling away from the grace of God, and coming short of the great and precious promises. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit which is given to us. And hereby we are persuaded (though perhaps not at all times, nor with the same fullness of persuasion), that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Through this faith we are saved from the power of sin, as well as from the guilt of it. So the Apostle declares,
“You know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abides in Him sinneth not” (1 John 3:5ff.). Again, “Little children, let no man deceive you. He that commits sin is of the devil. Whosoever believes is born of God. And whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” And, “We know that no one who is born of God sins, but He keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him (1 John 5:18).

Those who are by faith is born of God does not sin, by any habitual sin; for all habitual sin is sin reigning in the heart and sin cannot reign in any that believe. Nor by any willful sin: for his will, while he abides in the faith, is utterly set against all sin and abhors it as deadly poison. Nor by any sinful desire; for he continually desires the holy and perfect will of God. Nor does he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word, or thought; for his infirmities have no concurrence of his will and without this they are not properly sins. Thus, “he that is born of God does not commit sin”: and though he cannot say he has not sinned, yet now he does not sin.

This then is the salvation which is through faith, even in the present world. A salvation from sin, and the consequences of sin, both often expressed in the word justification; which, taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually applied to the soul of the sinner now believing in him, and a deliverance from the power of sin, through Christ formed in his heart. So that he who is thus justified, or saved by faith, is indeed born again. he is born again of the Spirit to a new life, which “is hid with Christ in God.” And as a new-born babe he gladly receives the sincere milk of the word, and grows in the might of the Lord his God, from faith to faith, from grace to grace, until at length, he comes to “a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Now, thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, forever and ever. Amen.

The Wide Gate or the Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:13-27

by Paul George

The Lord Jesus Christ, in this great Sermon on the Mount, has distinguished His kingdom from that of contemporary Judaism, while identifying it with that spoken of in the Old Testament. As He concludes this sermon, we come to the bottom line, the destiny-deciding hour of decision. It is not just enough to hear His words; they must be acted upon. In this concluding section, Jesus put before His audience the choice which every man must make, the choice between mere religion and Christianity. In verses, 13 and 14 we have the two gates, in verses 15-23 we are encouraged to distinguish between the two kinds of guides, and in verses 24-27, we see the two foundations upon which men build their lives.

Many people today believe that God’s kingdom is governed on the same basis as our nation, democracy, if this was true then the right way to heaven would be that of the majority. Although the nation Israel knew nothing of democracy as we have it, they, too, were inclined to follow the majority in spiritual matters.

When Jesus concluded His message, He told His listeners that if they were to enter into His kingdom, they must “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Jesus made it clear that there are only two gates, only two paths, only two destinies before every man, and each of us must choose one or the other. This may seem surprising to some. Many believe, even in the Christian community, that men are confronted with an almost infinite number of alternatives to them. It is not a choice between only two options, but of many. Among so many alternatives, how can a man choose the right one? Because of this dilemma, many have concluded “all roads lead to heaven” and that it matters little which one we would choose. However, Jesus narrows our choices to only two: religion and Christianity. Religion, in brief, can be defined as man’s efforts to reach God, while Christianity is God reaching down to man. Religion rests upon man’s work for God; Christianity on God’s work on behalf of men.

The small gate is the entrance to the narrow way, the way which leads to eternal life. That gate is our Lord Jesus Himself. In the words of the Savior: “… Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep… I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture… I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:7, 9, 11).
In another place, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). God’s only provision for man’s salvation and entrance to the kingdom is through faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah and our Savior.
However, why is the gate small and the way narrow, simply because it is restrictive. It is not that the gate is poorly marked, for Jesus publicly pointed out that He was God’s provision for the forgiveness of sins and entrance into eternal life. The gate is narrow only because it is exclusive and restrictive. Men can approach God only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:11). Furthermore, men enter into the kingdom one at a time, as through a turn-style. This is because men must be saved by a personal act of faith. We are never saved in clusters, but individually. To be saved men cannot add to or take away from God’s one way of salvation.

While God’s way of salvation is exclusive and restrictive, the gate to hell is broad and inviting. You can go to hell as an atheist or an agnostic. You can go there under any denominational label. You can go as a preacher, priest, rabbi or layman.

If you want to enter God’s kingdom, do not follow the crowds, but trust in the Son of God who died for your sins and who offers to give you His righteousness. Do not attempt to add to or take away His means of salvation, for in this God is rigid and unbending. He will not tolerate or accept any other means of salvation, for He must receive all the glory and the praise. “Salvation is of the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us (Psalm 3:8).

Now this is precisely what really irritates unbelievers, “Why do you Christians think you have the only way?” The answer, God has declared in His word that there is no other way of salvation than through faith in His Son. While Christians may wrongly convey an exclusive and superior attitude, God has declared that there is only one way to heaven. Men would gladly choose any other way than God’s way because all other ways allow men to keep their pride, their possessions, and their preferences. God will have none of that. Men are not perturbed at the fact that there is really only one answer, but over the realization that this way is not one that appeals to them in their sinful state. The way of our Lord is not that of the majority.

Your eternal destiny hangs upon your choice between two alternatives. You may go the tolerant and accommodating way which is well traveled and on which you will have a great deal of company. However, in the final analysis you will find this is the way of destruction. On the other hand, you may take the narrow and restrictive way of faith in Jesus Christ. This is the way that leads to life. You will never walk alone, but neither will you be with the majority. Your path may be narrow, but your destiny is sure. Jesus Christ confronts every man with this choice.

The decision that every man must make is not an easy one, for there are many godless guides who would lead us to the wide gate and the way that leads to destruction. These false prophets are not only blind themselves, but they lead others to destruction with them. Those who submitted to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day followed them on the path that led to destruction. Above all else, the Jewish leadership rejected Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and put Him to death. No wonder we find our Lord warning His listeners about false prophets: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

False prophets are particularly dangerous because they appear to be genuine. They seemingly have the credentials of authority. What are these credentials? Jesus calls them ‘sheep’s clothing’ (verse 15). The outward forms would incline one to believe these false prophets to be reliable guides. They may wear distinctive clothing that sets them apart as leaders. They may have the title “reverend.’ They may be men who hold positions of religious leadership. They may well have graduated from a divinity school. Indeed, they might even be seminary professors. Judging based on external indications we might wrongly assume them to be reliable guides, but we cannot evaluate on such external evidence. Judging by external forms is risky; judging, if you prefer, discerning, based on the fruits they produce is accurate. “The proof of the root is in the fruit.” Good trees produce good fruit, and rotten trees, bad fruit. A dependable assessment of those who would be guides is that of their fruits (v 20).

What are these fruits? One must be very careful here, for false prophets are not without religious activities. A false prophet is often accompanied by deceptive signs and by seeming wonders. Some of these are suggested in verse 22: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’” We should expect false prophets to engage in acts of kindness and charity. We should expect them to perform deeds that suggest miraculous power. In addition, we should expect that these deeds be performed under the pretext of being done by God’s power and to His glory.

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

We should expect false prophets to be accompanied by religious works. If these religious activities are not the fruits of which Jesus spoke, what are they? The Scriptures frequently describe the fruits of the false prophets, so that we are left with little doubt as to what we should look for, first, false prophets speak from their own delusion, not by divine command (Jeremiah 23:16,21,25; Ezekiel 13:2). They do not proclaim or defend God’s word, but deny it (Jeremiah 23:17). In particular they deny unpleasant subjects such as impending judgment (Jeremiah 6:14; 28:17; Ezekiel 13:10). They offer temporary and partial relief to pressing problems (Jeremiah 8:11). Mainly, they tell people precisely what they want to hear (1 Kings 22:8, 13; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Concerning the way of salvation they deny the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and they reject the work of Christ on the cross (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:2-3).

Second, the teachings of the false prophets invariably leads to a rejection of God’s word, a rejection of biblical authority, a division among the saints (Jeremiah 23:2,14) and a life of sensuality (2 Peter 2:2). They attempt to lead men away from the truth of the gospel (Acts 13:8), and to deceive genuine Christians (Mark 13:22).

Third, the false prophets are easily distinguished by their pride (2 Peter 2:10), their greed (Jeremiah 8:10; Titus 1:11; 2 Peter 2:3, 14) and immorality (Jeremiah 23:11, 14; 2 Peter 2:14). They are men dominated by the flesh (2 Peter 2:10, 12; 3:3). They prey upon the weak and the guilt-ridden (2 Timothy 3:6-7; 2 Peter 2:14, 13). While they profess to know God, by their deeds they deny Him (Matthew 7:22-23; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16). While they delight in authority, they refuse to submit to it (2 Peter 2:10).

The primary purpose of these teachings of Jesus in these verses is an exhortation to put into practice, to apply the teaching of Jesus Christ in a personal way.

The wise man is he who hears the teaching of Jesus and applies His teaching to the matter of his personal salvation. We must take the step of entrusting our eternal destiny to Jesus Christ based on His word and His work. Beyond this, we must continue to endeavor to apply His teaching in our everyday lives.

The reason why one house fell and the other stood is that one had a sure foundation, while the other did not. The solid foundation is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man (v 24).

Both men built a house. The only difference in the houses is the foundations. One was built upon rock, and the other on sand. The one house was built upon our Lord’s teaching, while the other was built apart from it.

The sad fact of life is that men and women are building their entire lives, they are staking their eternal destiny, not upon the Word of God, but on their own pre-conceived notions and preferences. “Well, I like to think of God as …” Here is the bottom line. Here is what distinguishes true Christianity from every other religion, its foundation, its ultimate source of authority.

Whether we enter either the narrow gate or the wide one the end of each pathway is still well out of sight. In the case of the false prophets, their ultimate identity is not certain until our Lord in the Day of Judgment judges them. So also, the foundation upon which one builds his life is not tested until the great storm comes. We will not learn the folly of choosing the wrong gate, the wrong guide, or the wrong foundation until it is too late to reverse our destiny.

May I ask you, my friend, what gate you have chosen? You must choose one and your choices are limited to the narrow gate of salvation through faith in Christ or the wide gate which leads to destruction by trusting in whatever you choose.

Just as there are two gates, there are two guides. Based on surface appearances, one cannot tell the difference. However, when their fruits are examined the false can always be identified. Their doctrine does not conform to the Word of God. The Scriptures condemn their moral lives. The impact of their ministry to others is devastating and destructive.

Our Lord did not leave us this sermon to satisfy our curiosities. What He taught demands decision. His Word points out the narrow gate as the way of salvation. It also exposes false guides who would lead us astray. Finally, it provides us with a sure foundation on which to build our lives.

Have you passed through that narrow gate? Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as the door of salvation? Do you believe in Him as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)? Is the Word of God your foundation and your guide?

Someday we must all stand before the One Who uttered these words and give account to Him as the God and Judge of the universe. May it be that He shall say, “Well done, good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21).