Scriptures: Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 16:23-24, Hebrews 12:1, Genesis 17:1, Genesis 17:2, Deuteronomy 28:2
At this point in the Sermon on the Mount our Lord Jesus began his closing. I like that it is a lengthy closing because sometimes I do lengthy closings. Here, the Lord says something like, "Okay. That's it. Now, what are you going to do with what I have told you?"
Matthew 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Matthew 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The Lord said we must choose. Moses drew a line in the sand and said, who is on the Lord's side (Exo 32:26)? Moses set before the people blessings and cursing, life and death (Deu 30:19). Joshua said to choose this day whom they would serve (Jos 24:15). Gideon said that all who were fearful and afraid to go home (Jud 7:3). Elijah asked how long would the people halt between two opinions (Jud 18:21). Great leaders constantly bring us to a place of decision. Will we choose destruction or life? Will we choose the Lord's kingdom or the devil's darkness? There are only two gates. There have always only been two gates. There is not a middle gate.
WE CHOOSE TO ENTER THROUGH: God has a blessed path for your life and for my life. It's up to us to enter through that gate leading to that path. God will never make us enter. He will draw us toward the gate, but ultimately it is always our personal decision through which gate we enter and how ow far down the road we travel. Father has a destination for each of us. Amazingly, so does the evil one. One gate is the entrance to the kingdom life and God's best. The other gate is the entrance to destruction.
WIDE GATE: Jesus spoke of a wide gate. Through that gate we can drive a truck filled with all the baggage that we have collected all our lives. A person can take anything along that they please through the wide gate. Nothing is forbidden. It opens into a wide boulevard with no boundaries or limits. To go this way, a person simply follows his or her desires. Any attitude is fine. We can mistreat people and are expected to do so. We can lie and be deceptive and we are expected to do so. We can be greedy and selfish and never give to people. God forbid we give to the kingdom. We can pray to any god we like, or not pray at all. We never need to be concerned about forgiveness. Never need to seek the true God. Any morality is fine - men with men, women with women, polygama, whatever. Any sensuality is fine. Slander, gossip, and being a busy body is perfectly admissible through the wide gate. Judging and taking about people is expected. We are expected to worry and be anxious about everything. We are to seek anything we want. It's all about "you" through the wide gate.
MANY ENTER THROUGH:Though it is the wrong gate and always has been the wrong gate, Jesus said, many enter through it. It's a popular gate. People are enamored with its wide lanes and high speeds of its broad way. People are captured by its beauty and large crowds. The trip is full of promised fulfillment, but it never delivers. At least, it never delivers anything long term. So its travelers take off again seeking the next hope of fulfillment with each only leading to another disappointment.
One day the road ends on the edge of a cliff at a place called hell. Though the road stops, the travelers do not. Jesus said, the road leads to destruction.
There were three men who died and went to hell. They were waiting in the waiting room to receive their punishment. A door opened and standing in the door was the ugliest woman you ever saw. A voice spoke to the first man and said, "you have sinned and your torture will be to spend eternity with this ugly woman," and off he was taken. This disturbed the other two men. The door opened again and in it stood another ugly woman, even worse than the first. A voice spoke to the second man and said, "You have sinned and your torture will be to spend eternity with this ugly woman," and off they were taken. Of course, the third man was extremely depressed after seeing what had happened to the first two men. He was dreading greatly his judgment when suddenly the door opened. He was afraid to look, but look he did. In it stood beautiful Cindy Crawford. A voice said, "Cindy, you have sinned and your punishment . . ."
Of course, that's a joke, or is it? Hell will be full of people with whom I don't want to spend eternity. That alone makes me want to find the narrow gate. Hell is not funny and everyone knows that. Yet, Jesus said that many enter the gate leading to it.
Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man had gone through the wide gate while Lazarus had gone through the narrow gate. Both the rich man and Lazarus died. The rich man awoke in hell. Lazarus awoke in Abraham's bosom. Here is what the rich man said.
Luke 16:23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
Luke 16:24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
The point that Jesus made is that the wide gate and broad road that appears so inviting will only lead us to destruction. It leads to hell no matter how rich one may be. However, a person can have nothing, but if he or she entered the correct gate, eternal life awaits.
WE DON'T HAVE TO GO THE WRONG WAY. We don't have to go to hell and we don't have to spend eternity with horrible people. Jesus said that if you will come and follow me and do the things that I have taught you in this sermon, you can enter a gate where there is abundant life and unspeakable joy. Here is what Jesus said.
Matthew 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
SMALL GATE: Jesus gave us a picture of a tiny gate, a doorway. No truckloads of baggage can be taken through this gate.
ONLY A FEW FIND IT. A person will never enter the narrow gate or travel the road by mistake. The gate and the road must be sought after if found. We seek first the kingdom of God.
It is interesting to me that Jesus placed a singular emphasis here by saying, "few find IT." He is talking about two things - gate and road, but he said a singular "IT." Let's look at the verse again so that I can show you what I mean.
Matthew 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find IT.
Does the "it" speak of both the gate and the road, or only the road? Of course, one must enter the gate to find the road, so they can't be separated. But I am seeing something.
I want to end by talking about finding the small gate and walking the narrow road.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us
(NIV) Hebrews 12:1 . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
(TLB) Hebrews 12:1 . . . let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us
What I want us to see is though the door is the same - Jesus, the road that leads to life is different. What I mean is that I have a narrow road and you have a narrow road. See, it's not only entering the gate. It's also traveling the road - the particular road - marked out for us. At the gate, I must leave the weights that hold me back and the sin that easily beset me. Then I must find the road which is marked out for me.
The Almighty God, the One that spoke the worlds into existence, is concerned about each and every one of us. He has personally mapped out a specific course for each of your lives. The Bible says our days are written in his book and that he has a perfect will for our lives. If we will travel that road and not et off course, we will have an abundant life.
WE ARE NUDGED OFF COURSE. We get nudged away from the blessings and best God has for us. Anything can nudge us off course from finances to friends, from a job to a spouse.
Remember Abraham? God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15. The Thompson Chain Reference Bible says that was around 1913 B.C. For years, the Lord and Abraham had been talking continuously. Then something happened. There is no recorded conversation between Abraham and God until the 17th chapter of Genesis which Thompson Chain says was 1898 B.C. That would have been fifteen years that Abraham did not hear God's voice. (Thompson Chain would be accurate according to Genesis 16:16 and 17:1.) Not only was there no recorded conversation with the Lord for that length of time, there were no blessings that came upon Abraham during those years. In fact, only turmoil and heartache happened to Abraham and his household during that time. What happened? Abraham was nudged off course. Sarah, Abraham's wife, could not have children. Sarah convinced Abraham to have a child with her servant named Hagar. He did and the child was named Ishmael. See, that was not God's set road for Abraham. His wife Sarah, in an attempt to help, actually was used to nudge Abraham off course where he did not hear the Lord's voice or experience the blessings of God for 15 years.
Did Abraham still love the Lord? Yes. Was he still out there trying to do something for God? Yes. But he was off course. However, Abraham didn't stay off course. That is the part I want to tell you about. After that long length of silence from heaven and Abraham had seen things go badly, God spoke to Abraham. See, the Lord will allow us to do our own thing if that is what we want. We can't hear his voice like we once did and we are not blessed like we once were, but we can do our own thing if we want.
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless."
Obviously Abraham had not been walking before the Lord as designed. The Lord told Abraham to get back on the course laid out for him. The Lord referenced the last time he had spoken to Abraham which was when he had made his covenant in chapter 15.
Genesis 17:2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.
Friends, when we go for a time and don't see the blessings of God upon our lives and can't hear the voice of God, and don't feel his presence, we have gotten nudged off course. We must get back to the last time that we know we heard his voice, felt his presence, and experienced his blessings. That may have been six months ago. It may have been a year ago. Or, it could have bee 15 years ago. It doesn't matter. He still has a course for us.
When was the last time that you know you heard from God, experienced his presence, and received his blessings? If it's been awhile then go back. If you will, he will circumcise all that other stuff away and bless your life beyond imagination. He will do things for you that you have never dreamed. That is exactly what he did for Abraham. Abraham was 99 when he got back on course. A few weeks later, God showed up at Abraham's house with a couple of angels. See, the presence of the Lord was back in Abraham's life. And nine months later, Isaac was born. That which Abraham wanted the most in life was given him.
What do you want most in life? You will only find it through the little gate and by traveling down the narrow road. In fact, you will not even have to look for what you want. It will find you and overtake you.
Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
(NIV) Deuteronomy 28:2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
The blessings not only overtake us. They accompany us through life. God will do anything for us when we are traveling the correct road.
There was a man who had been very faithful to the Lord during his life. One day he was walking down the beach and the Lord spoke to him and said, "Son, you have done well walking down your road to life. Ask me for anything and I will do it." The man said, "I would like a bridge from California to Hawaii? I am terrified to fly and I become deathly ill on ships, but I want to go to Hawaii." God said, "You know that can't be done. Think of all the logistics that would be involved. Ask me for something else." The man said, "Okay, I am married and my wife says that I am not sensitive and have no understanding about her needs. Will you tell me how to understand a woman and to truly make her happy?" There was silence for several minutes. Then the Lord said, "Did you want two lanes or four lanes on that bridge?"
I know that was a joke, but Father really will do the impossible for us if we will find the right gate and stay on narrow road. He opened the womb of a 90-year-old woman. He gave virility to a 99-year-old man. He created a woman for Adam. He opened a sea for Moses. He stopped the sun for Joshua. He shut the mouths of lions for Daniel. He raised Lazarus from the dead. You can't tell me that the little things that we need are too difficult for our God. All we have to do is get back to the road that is laid out for us!
So, if you do not feel that the blessings of God are overtaking you and you don't feel that your life is abundant, perhaps you have gotten nudged off the course that God has laid out for you. If you are not hearing God's voice and experiencing his joy and presence in your life, then perhaps you have gotten nudged off course. All you need to do to fix it is to go back to your covenant that the Lord made with you. He will circumcise all that extra stuff and get you back on course. Your dream could be only a few months away!