Title: The Gospel: A Tale of Two Gates
Text: Matthew 7:13-14
FCF: We often struggle with false assurances of salvation.
Prop: Because there is only one difficult to find path to life, we must be sure we enter by the narrow gate.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 7. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t misunderstand me, I have loved every moment of it. And there are a lot of things we had to barely look at or even jump over entirely. No. I am not excited to be at the end because I want it to be done. I am excited because in the next 15 verses Jesus us going to give the gospel over, and over, and over and over again. It will be an unrelenting barrage of truths conveying different aspects of the gospel. And I am excited to explore this with you. Why? Because if we can catch this. If we can actually KNOW the gospel from the lips of our Savior – the author and finisher of our faith – then we can finally bury in a shallow grave all the perversions of it. We would no longer be tossed by winds of ear itching doctrines but would remain steadfast in the truth. And perhaps – if the Spirit allows – there may be some here yet who will discover that the faith they think will save them is insufficient to do so. What we have in the next 15 verses is Jesus’ final plea with the people on the plain. Today we will only see the first of 4 illustrations. I’ll be reading in chapter 7 starting in verse 13 and I’ll be reading from the NET but follow along in your preferred version.
[Slide 2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjQSwYV5Qzs&t
[Slide 3] I show this video this morning not to endorse any candidate or appointee, nor to defame or damage the reputation of any particular representative or lawmaker. I show you this video simply to prove a point. The man standing in judgment in this video is the product of a philosophy that has existed since the dawn of time. It has gone by many names. Today we call it postmodernism, but it has taken many forms over the years. It is a philosophy that says in essence, it does not matter what you believe so long as you are devoted to what you believe. It does not matter what God you serve, so long as you serve it unwaveringly. It does not matter what path you are on so long as you stick to it. Because all paths, all Gods, all beliefs ultimately spring from the one true God.
The conclusion of the man casting a vote is that since all this is true… there is no place for people in this country who would have the audacity to say that their religion holds exclusive access to God, forgiveness, acceptance and heaven. To demand that people convert to find heaven is inconsistent with what it means to be an American.
We live in a time unprecedented. We live in a sad and woeful state. Because today more than ever the truth is hidden and distorted.
But the distortion is not a product of the godless. The originator of the uncertainty of true truth is not propagated by false religions or teachers. It comes as the work of demons. And sadly… these teachings have infected the church. Did you know that 62% of protestant churches in America believe that many religions can lead to eternal life? In mainline American Protestant Christianity the numbers shoot up to 80% who believe such a thing. But most shocking of all… 52% of Evangelical Protestant churches would agree.
Is it any wonder that week after week here at CBC we preach the gospel? Why do you think we do that? Because we’d be quite foolish to think that every one in this room knows it.
Last week we dealt with a specific brand of gospel perversion known as easy believism. Today we will continue our attack against that false doctrine but will expand to include any other form of false gospel that exists in the church. Because how can we affect the culture around us, when half of us don’t think we have anything different to offer them?
Today we will see Jesus clearly present to us two paths. Two options. There are only two. Not many that all lead to the same place. But two gates that take us down two roads, that lead to two destinations. In verse 7 Jesus commands that we…
I.) The path to death is comfortable and pleasant, so we must be sure we enter by the narrow gate.
a. [Slide 4] Enter through the narrow gate
i. This is a command.
ii. Jesus by implication reveals that there are two gates. Two paths. To roads.
iii. Gate and road are typical Jewish expressions for morality.
iv. To walk the road of peace, or choose the path of righteousness are consistent Jewish Idioms.
v. Therefore it is obvious that Jesus is branching off the door reference.
vi. Keep on asking, seeking and knocking, but make sure you are knocking at the right door.
vii. Why would he say such a thing?
viii. Jesus introduces us to the first of two options that lay before every man, woman, boy and girl.
b. because the gate is wide and the way is spacious
i. There is a way which seems right for men
ii. There is a way that is easy to get into
iii. There is a way that is easy to walk.
iv. It has pain and trials, but people get by. They do their best.
v. Because it is spacious, you can take whatever path you desire.
vi. All roads lead to the destination. So whatever path seems best to you, whatever path is most pleasing, take that path.
vii. All paths have the same destination. And in this the postmodernists are right. They are absolutely correct that all paths lead to the same destination… But it is not God.
c. that leads to destruction
i. What a horrifying thought.
ii. A path so comfortable, a path so accommodating. A path filled with hope and pleasure, fun and happiness.
iii. A path with so much freedom and tolerance. A path with so much liberty and room for individualistic expression.
iv. A path seems so desirable
v. Is a path that destroys everyone who walks on it.
vi. And yet…
d. and there are many who enter through it
&nbsnbsp; i. The vast majority of humanity take this path.
ii. Multitudes walk this spacious and comfortable road
iii. They live as they wish.
iv. Some of them follow a narrow route, hoping that their own discipline will provide a different outcome when the path ends.
v. Some of them have no knowledge of the destination at all, because for them it is all about getting as much enjoyment out of the journey as possible.
vi. But in the end, no matter how morally rigid, or how morally unrestricted someone lives, in the end the destination is the same.
e. Jesus’ words are words of warning. They tell us to avoid such a path, Don’t look at it with Lot’s eyes as he gazed on the fruited plains. But look beyond the green and well watered land to the wicked cities beyond it. Do not be enticed by the broad and option filled path that will lull you to a pleasant slumber as you are led like a sheep to slaughter. But enter through the narrow gate.
[Slide 5] But what is so grand about the narrow gate? Is it better? Is the broad and spacious path not as broad and spacious as the narrow gate’s? If we go through the narrow gate is there wealth and prosperity? Does the narrow gate offer blessings beyond our imaginations? Does the narrow gate offer a path that will lead to my fulfillment and pleasure?
II.) The path to life is difficult and full of pain, so we must be sure we enter by the narrow gate.
a. [Slide 6] But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult
i. The gate only admits a certain size.
ii. There is a cost to enter. You must lay aside all that you would carry with you on the journey to fit through the gap.
iii. The way is difficult. It is full of trouble, trial, battle, and heartache.
iv. It will claim everything from you
v. It will demand all that you are or ever hope to be.
vi. It will be a life of discipline
vii. It will be a life where you will have to depend on help you cannot see and trust in a helper grows more distant when you rely on yourself.
viii. It will be a path with principalities and powers, flesh and blood, world and culture all nipping at you.
ix. Why would anyone ever wish to walk such a path?
b. that leads to life
i. The way to life, everlasting life, is marked with suffering.
ii. But the destination erases the path that led you there.
iii. The destination is life eternal and when the prize is God, the destination is His eternal companionship and worship, sonship and adoption - well then the path to get there doesn't seem such a steep price to pay.
iv. But sadly...
c. and there are few who find it
i. The word find, at the end evokes the same image that we learned about last week. Asking, seeking, and knocking diligently.
ii. What is being said here is that few ever walk through the gate because no one has ever stumbled upon it. No one has ever happened by or fell through.
iii. It is something that must be diligently sought.
iv. And Jesus promised before that those who diligently seek it will find it. So if few find it, what does that mean? That few seek it.
v. It means, it is a gospel that no one wants. Why?
vi. It is not a microwave gospel
vii. It is not a magic prayer that sets a man free
viii. It is not a moment of clarity or a decision in turmoil.
ix. It is a counting of the cost. A shedding of dead weight. An entering and persevering in a toilsome path
x. It is a path that the Spirit pushes us and holds us through but a path we must walk nonetheless.
xi. And because of that... it is a path that few wish to find.
d. Jesus offers a second reason for why we should choose the narrow gate. And it isn't like a lot of gospel presentations that you hear today. He doesn't tell them that Jesus will fill the God-sized hole in their heart. He doesn't tell them that God has so many blessings waiting for them if they would just believe. He doesn't tell them that if they put their faith in Him that they will have their best life now. He doesn't tell them that if they trust in Him they will go to heaven. He doesn’t tell them that He has a remarkable plan for them if they would just surrender to Him. He says choose the narrow gate because even though it is difficult and will strip away everything from you leaving you broken and empty... when you finally reach the end of that path, battered and torn... you will have life.
What is Jesus giving to us today? He is giving us the gospel. The REAL gospel.
[Slide 7] Jesus offers two gates that take you down two roads that lead to two destinations. And as was predicted in Genesis 3, He identifies two races of people that will walk such roads. One race, representing the vast majority will elect to have their best life now. They will focus on getting whatever they can out of this life. They will pursue honor, pleasure, wealth, fame and power. They will be consumed by money, toys, food and things. They will pine for relationships that are give and take, and religion that meets their needs. They will pile up for themselves preachers that stroke their self-image and tell them that God loves them and that they are special. They will pile up for themselves good works to assure themselves that they are as holy as God would ever want and that they have done a wonderful job fulfilling all that He would ask of them and whatever they couldn't do, Jesus would make up for.
But little do they know, that on this path of ease and predictability. On this path of comfort and security. There is no indication to the doom that awaits. There is no hint that they could be wrong. And as legalists and pagans alike move headlong toward their own destruction, they neither feel its heat, nor smell its fire. They bumble on, truly lost.
[Slide 8 (end)] But there is another race. One that represents a great deal fewer, who choose the narrow path. They by the power of the Spirit of God through His Word, come to the realization that the path that they are on leads to damnation and judgment. That they are unable to, in any capacity, meet the requirements of God for their lives. That they are utterly hopeless to abate His Just Wrath. They are shown a narrow gate off to the side of the wide path they are on. It is so narrow that their cars, houses, 401ks and tvs will not fit through it. It is so narrow that their career plans and family plans won't fit through it. It is so narrow that their fathers, mothers, sisters and wives can't come with them. It is so narrow that all the good works they piled up can't fit through. It is so narrow that their porn addictions, their covetousness, and their anger can’t fit through either. And with one final glance at the smoking pit that approaches, they cast down their luggage that was so easily accommodated on this wide path, and they with only their lives step to the narrow gate. As they gaze into the distance they see a vision of the perilous paths that awaits them. They see the heartache of friends turning against them. They feel the icy tentacles of culture wrapping themselves around their ankles trying to drag them off the cliff. They hear the flutter of demons wings and feel the sharp claws of their temptations. They feel the white heat in their chest as an entity they have never known does battle against their old desires and ways of thinking. They see themselves crawling, biting, gnawing and striving to just make it to the end. Their eyes open. They are still at the narrow gate's entrance. They look over to the burning end of the path they are on. They see the cause of the fire and flame, A righteous King full of wrath, sitting on a throne with an iron rod in His hand. Then they turn back to the narrow gate. They peer as far as they can down the path. They see, at the end of this perilous road, that same King, now with glory and grace, standing with arms wide open. He says come. They have counted the cost. They have abandoned all they held dear. They have surrendered to endure that perilous path ahead. And they enter through the narrow gate.
THAT... is the gospel.
It IS a free gift... in that you didn't make the gate, or the path. He did. You didn't realize the path you were on had a destination of destruction, He opened your eyes to that. He also drew your eyes to the narrow gate.
But it is a free gift that will demand everything from you. Make no mistake. This path is a path of great difficulty. It is a high cost to enter and an even higher cost to complete.
And that is why few find it. That is why few want to find it.
We need this message because of how lost we are here.
The leading thinkers of our time conclude that tolerance and love are the same. That all roads lead to God. That all of us are God’s children and that love will win. That God will save us all no matter what. “God loves Buddhists, Mormons, Baptists, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions”
But churches also need this message today because the last sentence that I just said was not written by a muslim, mormon, republican or Buddhist. It was written in a very famous Christian fiction novelist.
We need this message because of the statistics I shared earlier. We need this message because the vast majority of organized Christianity does not know the gospel either.
Listen to me. The way is narrow. Few find it, because few are looking for it. You can’t take anything with you, neither possessions nor philosophy. That gate strips you down to bare bones. It takes all of you. And then the journey. The journey to follow will be full of heart ache and pain. The only consolation is that in some countries the journey will be much shorter for choosing the path.
So I have some questions for you to ask yourself.
Do you consider yourself to be a good person?
Do you think that you rarely have to engage in wrestling with your own flesh to do what God wants?
Would you say that you rarely need to pray and ask God for help to accomplish His will?
Did you think that coming to Jesus would grant you great happiness in this life?
Do you think that you aren't that bad of a person because you follow as many of God’s laws as you can? After all you aren’t as bad as your friends at school.
When you give the gospel to someone, does your gospel presentation include some indication that it is an easy 1 time decision?
Are you having trouble understanding why no one would want the gospel?
When you hear of Christians losing their lives in distant lands for their faith, are you perplexed as to why any would find such a set of beliefs threatening?
Do you now depend on God’s forgiveness while you walk purposefully into sin? After all, God has forgiven you, right?
Do you think that there is hope for someone to have eternal life outside of believing in Jesus Christ plus nothing else?
If you answered yes to any of these questions… then your gospel may not be a gospel at all. It may just be a clever fake. Stripped of all that is offensive. It may just be a gospel that has been stripped of the expectation of a difficult life to cleverly mask your tolerant, love wins, living my best life now gospel to appear as normal Christian life… when it is anything but.
Listen if your life is not a day in, day out, battle with sin, the culture and the devil… If you are not constantly hating your sin more and more. If you do not desire greatly to do God’s will. If you do not succeed progressively in doing God’s will. If you can’t spot the differences between Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism , and what our church believes… then you went through the wrong gate. You are on the wrong road. You are heading to the wrong destination. You are the seed of the serpent.
So what are we to do?
Well that depends. If I have been describing you up to this point, then I would encourage you to examine your faith, to be sure you do not have a cheap imitation. If you, looking at these two verses with me this morning, come to find that your faith has been rooted in falsehood, then repent of your false doctrine. Reject everything that you are to become everything He would have you be. Depend on Christ’s sacrifice as your payment for sin. Submit to His will and His way, knowing that the rest of this life will claim everything from you. And if the Spirit does sustain you, then your faith is proven to be genuine and you will have life eternal.
If I have not been describing you. If you are on this perilous road. If you engage in this war every day. If you have grown weary of waging it.
This message is the opposite of damning. This message is a message of GREAT ENCOURAGMENT.
Do Not Quit. Don’t trust in your own strength because that will fail. But do not quit. Lean heavily on the crutch of Christ, the crutch of the Holy Spirit, and keep going. One day… it will all be over.
One day, either through death, or being caught up with Him, it will all be over. And the perilous path, that seems eternal now, will be long forgotten. Keep going. Your God is strong enough to help you get there.
And can you imagine if all true believers, all true Christ followers, all of the true church of God would do this? If we would tenaciously defend the gospel and cling so tightly to it that it is all that sustains us as we walk this perilous road?
Can you imagine what we would be?
Nothing could stop us. SERIOUSLY! NOTHING. No government, no persecution, no church, no religion… Hell itself could not stop us.
If we would only be the church that God has called us to be.
But we have been infiltrated by fake gospels that cheapen what we are. From tolerant do-gooders to racist bigots and everything in-between the name of Christ has been so tarnished and polluted that if we would rise up and continue down this path in which we have been set… Our culture would have no choice but to take note of us. And perhaps that is why we fear to do this so much… because we see the rise of intolerance toward the teachings of the Word of God and we know that if we press on and stand our ground that we might be defamed or worse.
Listen. The seed of revival has already begun. Things are happening here. They are happening in small pockets all around this nation. People within organized churches are awakening to the truth of the gospel. Understanding for the first time, that it is not a pray it and forget it kind of faith. It is not a prosperity faith. It isn’t even a me-centric faith. This faith makes much of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. My personal opinion, although I am no prophet, is that God is getting His true church ready for something big. I mentioned my thoughts recently in a prayer time with pastors from around this area. They not only confirmed that they are noticing it too, but also, an older and wiser pastor stated, that what God is probably preparing us for is revival through persecution.
And IF you believed on Jesus KNOWING that life was going to be difficult from the moment you said yes… then that doesn’t scare you in the slightest. Because God will prune His church one way or another and in its pruning, it will catch fire once again. It will stop being this apathetic blob that stands for nothing and it will once again be the most powerful force on the earth because it will be the body of Christ on earth.
To all those who are true followers of Christ, I leave you with Jude’s encouraging benediction…
Jude 24 Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence, 25 to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, and now, and for all eternity. Amen.