Nobody likes to be told what to do. And given the choice, most of us would choose to be given a choice. We want selection. We like to leave our options open. We want to be able to decide things for ourselves. Well, this morning, I’ve got some good news for you.Series: You Have a Choice! God gives you a choice. That’s right! He allows you to decide certain things for yourself.
This season we’ve been studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 – a lesson about Discipleship that Jesus taught to his followers. We’re coming to the end of the lesson. Jesus has said his disciples are characterized by righteousness—not just an external conformity to the rules, but the heartfelt inner righteousness of pure thoughts, motives and attitudes. We need to be investing in the kingdom, laying up eternal treasures in heaven instead of temporary treasures on earth. And in our relationships with each other, we should treat each other well—just the way we’d want to be treated.
Now Jesus closes his lesson by giving us a choice. In fact, he gives us three choices: Next week: Who are your guides? and The following week: What will you change? Today we want to take a look at the first choice that Jesus lays before us: Where Are You Going? What is the purpose and direction of your life?
There are two paths you can take in life. You are free to make the choice. God gives you that freedom. But there are a few things you should know about these options. One works and the other one doesn’t. One feels right and the other one doesn’t. One is popular and the other one isn’t. These two paths lead to two very different destinations. Your choice is a matter of life and death. One is most likely to succeed. The other is doomed to fail. Matthew 7:13-14 is all about the choice between these two paths. The text tells us something important about the choice we have to make and something important about ourselves. Though the choice is ours to make, Jesus begins with some wise advice:
Even before we examine the two paths stretching in front of us, Jesus wants us to have the inside scoop: think narrow. “I’m about to give you a choice between two doors. And by the way, if you’re paying attention, pick the narrow door.” Some of you may remember the ‘70’s game show, Let’s Make a Deal with Monty Hall. Wacky people & wacky costumes and wacky deals. It often came down to a choice between a known and an unknown. (Maybe the choice between sure thing – cash – and what’s behind the curtain.)Monty Hall would try to entice contestant to choose one option, but you never knew whether he was leading you to the right choice, or enticing you away from it.Good news! Jesus is NOT Monty Hall! You can – and should – listen to his advice!
Then he gives us a contrast between these two pathways.
^ Onramp: Wide (πλατύς = "wide, broad")^ Road Conditions: Spacious (εὐρύχωρος = "broad, spacious")^ Traffic Report: Many (πολύς = "many, great, large”) travelers The words describe a spacious, roomy, expansive highway to travel on – like an interstate highwayIt’s just the kind of road you might choose. Travel along this road is easy and there’s ample room to accommodate everyone and all their baggageSelf-indulgence, sinful behavior – bring it along, there’s plenty of room^Destination:Destruction (ἀπώλεια = "destruction, ruin, waste“) both now and forever
^ Narrow (στενός (UBS) "narrow“). Even the beginning of the path is restrictive. ^ Difficult (θλίβω (UBS) "(pass.) to be narrow; to be pressed, troubled, persecuted“) Not spacious, but constricted, hard to navigate.KJV “strait and narrow”, means restricted, like the Strait of Magellan, not “straight” meaning without curves. Requires repentance, humility, discipline, self-sacrifice, self-denialLeads to spiritual resistance,conflict and persecution^ Few (ὀλίγος (UBS) "little, small, short; (pl.) few") travelers^ Destination Life both now and for ever. If you’ve entered the narrow gate, don’t expect to fit in, to be popular.Expect continued persecution, restrictions, not a life of ease.
Christianity is always going to be a minority religion.Oswald Sanders: “A West Indian who had chosen Islam in preference to Christianity, gave as his reason that ‘Islam is a noble, broad path—there is room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is a narrow way—the sins have to be left behind.’”Many people don’t have a problem with Jesus being a Savior, but a lot of people have a hard time accepting Jesus as THE only Savior. That is the claim of Christianity – and the reason so many have a problem accepting it.
You have a choice—you can either choose to find life through Christ or through any other means. But the idea that all paths lead to God and to eternal life is a fallacy. Seeking life through anything but Christ is the most popular choice, usually an easier path, with fewer requirements and less restrictive. Most people choose that path to find life. Seeking life through Christ alone is a less popular choice, sometimes difficult, with specific requirements which eliminate many from the path (by their own choice). Jesus, however, is the only way to life. All other paths lead to death. Christianity is exclusive. All are welcome, but only those who come will be saved.
Butler Peak Fire Lookout – 8,537 foot elevation – San Bernardino National Forest.15’x15’ room with a walkway on all four sides. Every side hangs completely over the edge of the peak, so you’re looking straight down the side of the mountain, no matter where you stand.Volunteer hosts staff and maintain it during fire season. Watch for telltale signs of smoke. Use Osborne Fire Finder device and radio in coordinates.Exciting during fire – REALLY exciting in an earthquake!No interstate to Butler Peak – Forest Service roads – entrance not easy to find.Roads are narrow, cross ravines & over rocks; twist around boulders and promontories; high clearance; 4X4; skirt the ridge where one mistake can send you over the edge; Not many make it to the top. But for those who do, the view is worth it.The road is not important – the destination is!
The gate of conversion is narrow. It restricts people to entering one at a time (no family plan). It is narrow because it requires that you leave your self-sufficiency and pride behind as Christ-sufficiency and humility await on the other side. And it is narrow because only a few go through.And the path of discipleship is difficult. There are external pressures of persecutions because changed people live changed lives and therefore we come into conflict with the world. There are internal pressures as daily we are called to die to our sin and live as those crucified with Christ, humbly submitting our will to him.But what is at the end of the path? Life. True life. Life as we were created to live. So we enter through the narrow gate, which is Jesus and an awareness of our sin, trod the narrow path with other followers of Jesus Christ, and at the end of the path (not the gate), is the Celestial City. It is worth the journey.
130428 sm 24 most likely to succeed matthew 7 13-14 (abridged)
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEEDMatthew 7:13-14THE DISCIPLE’S HANDBOOKStudies in the Sermon on the Mount
THE DISCIPLE’S HANDBOOKDisciple’sCharacterCodeWorship EconomyRelationshipsChoices
THE DISCIPLE’S CHOICESMost Likely to SucceedBeware of Sheep ImitationsLocation, Location, Location!
Matthew 7:14 NETBut the gate is narrow and theway is difficult that leads tolife, and there are few who find it.
Two Options – Two OutcomesThe Road to Death:Onramp: WideRoad Conditions: SpaciousTraffic report: ManyDestination: DestructionThe Road to Life:Onramp: NarrowRoad Conditions: DifficultTraffic Report: FewDestination: Life
TWO OPTIONS–ONE CHOICEThe Gospel of Jesus OR The Gospel of Oprah?
John 14:6Jesus answered, “I am the wayand the truth and the life. No onecomes to the Father exceptthrough me.”
Acts 4:12Salvation is found in no oneelse, for there is no other nameunder heaven given to men bywhich we must be saved.
1 John 5:11-12God has given us eternal life, andthis life is in his Son. He who hasthe Son has life; he who does nothave the Son of God does nothave life.
The Road Not TakenTwo roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.- Robert Frost
Matthew 7:13-14 NLT"You can enter Gods Kingdom onlythrough the narrow gate. The highwayto hell is broad, and its gate is wide forthe many who choose that way. 14 Butthe gateway to life is very narrow andthe road is difficult, and only a few everfind it.