Narrow Gate Of Salvation (Red Letters Series #16)

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Matthew 7:12-20 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13 Enter ye in at the strait1 gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait1 is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

After much prayer and meditation I believe the Lord is telling me that the key to understanding this text is what the King James translates as “strait”:

Enter ye in at the strait1 gate

The word translated as “strait” is the Greek στενός stenós, (pronounced sten-os’) which means a place that is narrow because of obstacles or distractions that are close by”. Jesus is telling tells His followers to enter in at the narrow gate.

The way to DESTRUCTION and DEATH is wide and unobstructed. The way to PRESERVATION and LIFE is narrow – not because God limits it, but because there are obstacles in its way that God had nothing to do with.

God Is Not The Obstacle To The Narrow Way

Some have said that God Himself is the obstacle to the narrow way. Some believers (and they are believers in Christ) feel that Christ only came for a select group called “The Elect”. Those who feel this reach that conclusion, I believe, honestly, though I cannot agree with them. I believe that Jesus Christ came and gave His life for ALL, not just a select group. The familiar Bible school Scripture I think we have all learned (I meet few who cannot say it) is:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God so loved – not just the nice, the moral, the white, the black, the sincere, the whatever. He so LOVED the WORLD. What did God do? He sent his Beloved Son Jesus Christ to die for the world. The scripture says WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have life. The Apostle recorded these words of our Lord, and later wrote:

1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus Christ came and took the penalty of sin on Himself so that ANY MAN – any person regardless of race or gender – can have an ADVOCATE with the Father. When Christ is received by faith He stands between us and the Father, covering our sins by His own dear self. He does this for any who believe in Him. Christ is the “propitiation” (ἱλασμός hilasmós, hil-as-mos’; atonement or covering, appeasement to God) not just for MY sins, but for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD. When Jesus told His Church to go out and tell others of His wonderful Gospel Jesus did not limit us. He said:

Matthew 28:19 … Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

and before He ascended to the right hand of God our Savior commanded:

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

God has never hindered the Gospel message to any. The narrow way is wide open for whosoever will hear it. The Apostle said:

Romans 5:18-19 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

The free gift of salvation is to all – ALL – who will receive it. He did not come and die just for some, but again we read:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Jesus Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), of whom I am chief. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for US (Romans 5:8). Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). Did Christ die for you? Are you a sinner? Then yes, He died for you. God is no obstacle to the narrow way of salvation. None whatsoever!

Humans Are The Obstacle To The Narrow Way

Driving through our beloved city of Columbia, going down Trotwood Drive, the road changes to West 7th Street which is now a terrible mess. What used to be an area easy to traverse, a lovely area across from Harris’ Grocery and our Columbia Post Office, is now a terrible mess with metal plates, orange cones, potholes, and confused looking men standing around looking at earth moving equipment. Piles of rubble have obstructed traffic. I am amazed there are not more accidents in that area, especially since it is the road directly in front of Oakes and Nicoles Funeral Home. Why is it such a mess? Because the city fathers decided we needed to do something with the pipes and infrastructure of that section of road. I’m sure they had a good reason to do it. I just wish the people doing the work would finish it soon. It is a mess.

It is a man made mess. God didn’t make that mess. Humans did.

The barriers around the narrow way of salvation are not there because God put them there. These “orange cones” and “piles of debris” are not in place because our Heavenly Father wants to limit those in His Kingdom. These barriers are in place because of US.

What was the very first message Jesus ever preached? It was:

Matthew 4:17 … REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The word translated “repent” is the Greek μετανοέω metanoéō, {pronounced met-an-o-eh’-o}, which means “change your mind for the the better, think differently, reconsider and begin to think correctly”. The beginning of salvation is not for GOD to change HIS MIND, but for US to change OUR MINDS. God is our Father in Heaven. He sent His Son to reach out to us in love. We must change our minds, and stop being god. Someone once said:

If you are your own master, then you are a poor one
for you have a FOOL for a servant!

God made us in His image and in His likeness (Genesis 1:26). We were made to follow God. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, summed it up this way:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 … Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

When Jesus came to this earth He preached a Gospel that required we ALL REPENT and FOLLOW HIM.

Mark 1:14-15 … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and BELIEVE the gospel.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the only Potentate Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:16) left His Throne in Heaven to offer citizenship to all who would come to Him. And yet many today still decided to make war with the Lamb, Who shall overcome them: for He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Revelation 17:14). Jesus came to this earth and opened the borders of Heaven. He hung out a sign not saying “Help Wanted”, but “Sinners Wanted”. Any who come to Him are promised the blessings of salvation not just in this life, but in the life to come.

And yet we put up road blocks, pot holes, and debris in front of the narrow way. What are some of these obstructions?

  • There is the “Politically Correct” obstruction. In our day it is fashionable to say “There are many roads to God”. For this reason many who are false prophets have stood in pulpits saying, “Whatever your God is, just believe in Him and you’ll be all right”. Jesus spoke about these false prophets in our text today.

Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

These men and women look like sheep, like the saved of Christ. They sound good. It sounds loving to say “God loves everyone. Just as long as you believe in the God of your choice, and you love, then all will be well”. This type of nonsense has been in the Church from the very beginning. The Apostle Paul addressed it at Galatia:

Galatians 1:6-12 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The devil has perverted the Word of God from the beginning. He did it as a serpent in the Garden of Eden, telling Eve “Hath God really said you shall not eat of every tree in the Garden? If so, God is just trying to deprive you! (See Genesis 3:1-5)”. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, and brought death into the world. Snakelike preachers slither into pulpits and preach a gospel that never was in order to appease the world. The point of the Gospel is not to appease the world, but to appease the wrath of God. We are all sinners in need of Jesus.

Beloved, there are not many ways to salvation. This is a lie which comes from satan. Jesus was very clear when He said:

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

You will find no place in Scripture where Christ ever preached another as a means of salvation. Jesus Christ alone is the only way unto God.

Jesus told this to a Chief Pharisee named Nicodemus:

John 3:15, 18 … That whosoever believeth in {Jesus} should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus Christ is the sole Messiah. He is the Only Way that a person may find peace with God. Jesus is the Door of the Sheep:

John 10:7, 9 … Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. … 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

There is no salvation, no rightness with God the Father and King of Heaven, unless you have received the Prince of Heaven, Jesus Christ our Lord. He came to give life, and promises eternal life to all who will receive Him.

  • There is the “I’ll Come To Jesus Another Day” obstacle. Despite the fact that the Scripture says “behold, NOW is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2” people harden their hearts and put off what they should do this very day. If nothing else, the CORONAVIRUS should have taught us that we are NOT GUARANTEED TOMORROW. “NOW is come salvation (Revelation 12:10)”.

Someone asked Jesus once:

Luke 13:23 … Lord, are there few that be saved?

Jesus told that person:

Luke 13:24-29 … Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 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: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

Humans love to procrastinate. We put things off until tomorrow. But Beloved, if you are not right with God, following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then COME TODAY. Do not wait.

  • There is the “Self Righteous” pothole. Throughout Jesus’ ministry on this earth, His greatest enemies were the Pharisees. The Pharisees were good at keeping the Law of Moses. In fact, they added to the Law of Moses to make it even tougher. They were so focused on their works, and so certain that their works made them righteous with God, that they ended up being the major players in the crucifixion of Christ. Self righteousness is so dangerous because it blinds a person to their own need of salvation. What does the Scripture say?

Romans 3:10-12 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

The Bible is not saying that there are no moral or “good” people. It is saying that when we are measured for righteousness according to God’s standard – which is Himself – we all fall short. It is commendable that a person be law abiding. I would rather be around law abiding, morally responsible people, much more than be around the lawless and inconsiderate. Yet no work that you do can bring you to the narrow way unto salvation. Jesus told the Pharisees:

Matthew 23:25-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

The Pharisees were just like each and every one of us are. God can see our hearts. He knows what is on the inside. The Pharisees were not following the Law out of love for God. They were following the Law to look good to one another, and to those around them. They loved the acclamation of the fellow man. They loved being seen as spiritual “Supermen”. Yet the inside was still rotten.

They needed Jesus. You and I need Jesus. Our works are not enough to earn us Heaven. Good works become an obstacle that keeps a person from entering that narrow way unto life and blessed peace.

The Narrow Way Brings An Inner Change

Matthew 7:18-20 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

When a person repents – changes their mind – and comes to Jesus Christ surrendered, something happens to that person. Before salvation we are all “corrupt trees”. What did Jesus say about the “corrupt tree”? He said:

a corrupt tree CANNOT bring forth good fruit

IEvery person is born into this life a “corrupt tree”. We cannot of ourselves do good in such a way that it pleases God. Why? Because sin taints us. It’s like going to a fine, top dollar restaurant, and ordering a $50 steak. When it comes out it’s cooked perfect. It’s seasoned wonderfully. There are beautiful, perfectly cooked mushrooms on the side, and a wonderfully loaded baked potato. Then you notice something. The chef didn’t put your meal on a nice, clean plate. He took the lid off of the garbage can and put all that beautiful food on that filthy lid.

That’s how our good works look like to God if we are without Christ. Everything we touch or do is tainted with the garbage of sin. But when when we come to Christ believing, receiving Him as both Lord and Savior, what happens? We are told in Scripture:

Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

When you come to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, God Himself changes the heart of the tree. What was a corrupt tree is now a good tree. And what did Jesus say about the good tree? The good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit. Once you are saved by faith in Christ, God changes you. You cease being a child of Adam and become a child of God. And as a child of God your behavior changes. You do as Jesus says. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

You do not just do good to those who did good to you. You treat all people – even your enemies – in the same way you want to be treated. You obey God’s Law not to be saved, but because you are saved. Oh Beloved, are you saved? If not, this very day is the day to make your life right with God. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Receive Him without delay. Do not follow the crowd, but the Christ.

May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts and minds through this message. For the glory of God. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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