Hard to believe that I was once in high school long ago and far away, and pretty much looked at life the way you do under the influence of parents, kind of under control, and yet kind of wanting to spring loose and be my own guy. Very important time in your life, a time when you make a lot of critical decisions, a time when for many of you because you’re in a good church, you have all the right influences coming into your life. Very possible that as you get past high school, you’re going to step into a world of wrong influences. That’s going to make life tougher. This is the most ripe time for you to make critical, crucial decisions about the future of your life.
I didn’t necessarily think all that through, when I was in high school, very well. I was just kind of committed to athletics, and I don’t know that I had my priorities right. I believed in Christ; I believed the gospel; I always believed it. I loved to listen to the Scripture, but my priorities were all over the place. And it was after my senior year in high school – after that, went to college for a year.
And as some of you know, I had a car accident coming back after my first year of college, and I got thrown out of a car going about 80 miles an hour and slid about 125 yards on my back down the highway. That was a pretty serious occasion. By the kindness of God, I survived, obviously. I didn’t even have any broken bones. But I lost a huge chunk of my back from friction burns in my hands and my knees. That was a wakeup call of massive proportions, and that was when I realized that I wasn’t in charge of my life, that my life was a vapor that appears for a little time and “poof” gone.
I’m crawling out of a ditch on a highway in Alabama. On the front, I had a shirt and pants and a belt, and on the back, nada, it had just stripped me bare. And I’m wandering around the highway, and there’s a car flipped over with five kids in it. Luggage is splattered all over the Alabama highway. And all of a sudden, I’m looking at life in a completely different way.
I had three months lying on my stomach, while my back healed, to take another look at the priorities of life. And what just rose up above everything was, “Life is short; death is sure; heaven is real; so is hell. I want to be ready: three months of real heart searching to make sure I was a true Christian, three months of reading of the Scripture kind of propped up on my stomach on a pillow, three months of thinking seriously about what my life was going to be and how I could use it to glorify God.”
I wouldn’t want to think that everybody would need that kind of wakeup call. It’s a pretty high-risk approach. All the medical people told me I never should have survived, never. But God had a plan.
The other five kids in the car, by the way, were all fine. Nobody was even scratched, and it flipped and rolled down the highway. So it was really – it was just an accident for me to get my attention.
And I remember saying to the Lord something like, “Okay, I give. What do You want me to do? Whatever it is, I’m willing. If it’s a small thing, give me the grace to do it and be satisfied. If it’s a big thing, give me the ability to do it and be humble,” and I just spent those months in that summer putting the priorities in place. That was a life-transforming experience.
But, again, that’s not necessary. That’s a very rare kind of experience. That happens in the purposes of God to, I think, a stubborn heart like mine was. I would hope that maybe this weekend at camp would be the crucial time of transformation in your life, and it wouldn’t take getting thrown out of a car going 75 miles an hour, and facing the reality of life and death, and time and eternity, and heaven and hell in a stark way in that kind of high-risk event.
Saving faith comes, the Bible says, by hearing the message. Saving faith comes by hearing the message: the word concerning Christ, concerning salvation. And you’ve had the opportunity to hear the message this week and to do some heart examination. And I’m grateful that many of you know the Lord, and you know you know the Lord, and there’s evidence you know the Lord because you see the fruit of it in your life. You love the Lord, you love the Word, you love the body of Christ – fellow believers. You desire to honor the Lord. You hate the sin that you see in your own life and you want to grow in grace.
But at the same time, it’s just obvious in a group like this that there are some of you who really don’t know where you are spiritually, and you probably need a pretty clear definition of what has to happen for your salvation to be real. And I’m not talking about believing in Jesus because you know about Him, you’re taught about Him, the pastor preaches about that – your youth pastor does. You know about Christ. You know that He came into the world – God in human flesh – lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, and rose a literal resurrection and paid the penalty for the sins of all who will ever believe in Him through all of human history. You know the story: you know His death, His resurrection, His ascension. You know about His second coming. You know about Christ.
A lot of people know about Christ. A lot of people talk about Christ. And a lot of people talk about heaven. But as the old spiritual said, “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.” And everybody talking about Jesus doesn’t know Him savingly.
I just want to kind of maybe start where Austin left off last night and make sure that you understand what it means to agonize, to strive, to enter the narrow gate. You need to really understand that; it really shouldn’t be fuzzy in your mind. You shouldn’t be confused about it; that’s not helpful. You shouldn’t be like so many kids and just every once in awhile doing kind of a little, “I think I’d better pray and ask to be saved again prayer.” Have you done that? “Yeah, I’m not sure I’m really saved; I’ll try again. Lord, if I’m not saved, save me.”
I think there’s enough truth in a key passage of Scripture that can show you what that striving looks like, what that repentance looks like. And this is very important because Proverbs 30, for example, and verse 12 says, “There is a generation who is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” “There is a kind of person who is pure in his own eyes, who is not washed from his own filthiness.”
But the world is literally full of people who think they’re good, that they think they’re okay. They can’t believe for a moment that they’re going to go to hell. “I’m a good person; I’m a spiritual person. I believe in God; I believe in Jesus.” Those are the kind of people Paul talked about in the 10th chapter of Romans, and he said they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. It’s just a zeal for God. It’s superficial, and it’s even emotional. They feel sentimental about God, they feel good about God, they like to sing about God. A lot of people feel religious. They have absolutely no hope of entering heaven.
We talked about heaven this morning, now we need to talk about how to make sure you arrive. Believing in Jesus – critical, essential: “Whosoever believeth will have eternal life.” That’s essential. You have to believe that the Lord is who He says He is, and did what the Bible says He did. In other words, you have to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But turn to Matthew, chapter 7. There are a lot of people – a lot, many, many people. Verse 22 of Matthew 7: Many will say to Me on that day.” What is that day? Well, that’s the day when the decision about your eternity is made finally by God. “Many people on that day are going to say, ‘Lord, Lord.’ ‘Lord, Lord, we believed in You. We even prophesied in Your name. In Your name, we cast out demons, and in Your name performed many miracles.’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
That’s exactly what we saw in Luke 13 last night, isn’t it, the same exact thing. And if you back up to verse 21, it says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. But he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” It’s not about saying, it’s about doing.
Now, here’s something for sure. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will perish. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will perish in hell forever. You got that? It’s really important to understand that. That’s foundational, that’s basic.
Nobody is going to be saved from hell and given eternal life in heaven unless they believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And then what did He say? “No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” No gospel, no belief in Christ, no heaven: that is repeated in the gospel of John, and in the other gospels it is declared repeatedly. And in some of the epistles of Paul, and even the epistle of 1 John, in order to go to heaven, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, here are some people who say, “Lord, Lord.” “Lord, Lord, we not only believe in You, we have preached in Your name, we have engaged in conflict with demons in Your name, we have even performed miracles in Your name.” That’s some pretty strong claims, pretty strong claims. Were they real miracles? Probably not. Did they really have power over demons? Probably not. But they thought they did, which means they were very active in religion, very active in the right religion, you could say – Christianity.
So how is it that somebody can say that really with passion: “Lord, Lord,” twice for emphasis, “Lord, Lord,” and hear, “Depart from Me,” which means you’re going to hell, “I never knew you. You’re not in My family”? As you heard last night, “I don’t have a personal knowledge with you.”
That word “know” very, very important word when you see it in Scripture. It means “an intimate, personal relationship.” It doesn’t always mean that, but it does many times.
For example, in the Old Testament, it says that “a man knew his wife.” A man knew his wife and she had a child. That doesn’t mean he knew her name, it doesn’t mean he knew where she was, it means an intimate relationship. It’s a euphemism for that most intimate of all relationships in the sense that Jesus said, “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me.” He’s talking about that intimate relationship.
In the Old Testament, God says to the prophet Amos, “Israel only have I known.” That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know anything about anybody but the Jews. It simply means we have that intimate relationship. Mary showed up pregnant and she had never known a man. It’s that kind of relationship that that word defines, that intimate relationship. “You know My name, ‘Lord, Lord,’ you’ve been involved in religion, but I have no relationship with you.” You’ll be sent to hell because you practice lawlessness.
The evidence that you don’t really know God is in your life. The evidence that you have been transformed. The evidence that you’re saved is not because you can remember, not because you remember when you raised your hand or signed a card or walked an aisle, not even that you can remember your baptism. The evidence that you’re saved is the fruit of your life: worship, praise, thanksgiving, obedience, love of God, love if Christ, love of Scripture, love of the church, spiritual fruit – fruit of righteousness.
But there are a lot of people who are looking at activities rather than obedience. So how can we be certain that we enter the kingdom, that we struggle, strive, agonize in the right way? Well, our Lord opens that up to us. Back up to verse 13 – and we’re going to pick up the same language that we heard last night – chapter 7 and verse 13, and I’m going to read down to verse 27 just so you get the picture.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing. They inwardly however are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bear bad fruit.” That’s how you know you’re a good tree. That’s how you know you’ve been saved, the fruit is the evidence.
“So not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” That’s the fruit. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise men who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rains fell, and the floods came, and winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.” This is how the Lord ends what’s called The Sermon on the Mount, and it’s “make up your mind time” on the mount.
The whole sermon – chapters 5, 6, 7 – is a series of sharply defined contrasts. It’s a contrast. The dominant contrast is between false religion and true religion. That is the dominant contrast in the entire Sermon on the Mount – chapters 5, 6, and 7. It lays out that there are two kinds of religion, two kinds of righteousness, two pathways to follow.
Pathway Number 1: “I’m good enough, I’m good enough.” “I’m good enough to do enough to please God so that I can earn heaven.” That’s one possibility. The other is: “I’m so bad, I can’t do anything to earn heaven. I must ask for mercy.” There are only two religions – the religion of human achievement: “You contribute to your own place in heaven by being a good person or religious person, a moral person,” or, “You can’t do anything and you have to cry out for mercy, and God has to save you out of grace.”
Now, we know which one of those is true: salvation is by grace alone. They don’t mix. What you do doesn’t earn you heaven; what Christ did earns you heaven. It’s not your works, your righteousness, your religion, your morality; it’s all of grace that the Lord would give you the heaven that we talked about this morning.
But, still, go back to verse 13: “Enter through the narrow gate.” That is a command. It’s an echo of what we heard last night: “Strive to enter the narrow gate.” What is this talking about? What do you mean, “Strive to enter the narrow gate”?
I want to see if I can help you to understand that because that’s key – assuming you believe in Christ. You believe He is who He is. You believe He died, rose again, provides salvation on the cross, paid in full the penalty for the sins of all who believe. You believe that. The only thing left then is for you to enter the gate. How do you know that you’ve done that?
Now, as we come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, it’s just a series of contrasts. Let me just rehearse them for you. Two gates: wide and narrow. Two ways: broad and narrow. Two destinies: life and destruction. Two crowds: many and few. Two trees: one good, one corrupt. Two fruits: one good, one bad. Two behaviors: saying and doing. Two builders: wise and foolish. Two foundations: rock and sand. Two houses: one stands, one falls.
There’s only two religions in the world. There aren’t many, there are only two. There is a religion that says you can earn your way into heaven by being religious or moral, and there is the religion that says you absolutely cannot and you have to cry out for mercy. We assume that you understand that the religion of human achievement is the Devil’s religion, and whatever the name of it is, it’s a lie. It has a thousand names. All the religions of the world apart from the true gospel are false. So here we find the contrast between the only two religions that exist.
Let’s start with two gates – go back to verse 13 – two gates. You want to enter heaven. Two gates: there’s a narrow gate and there’s a wide gate. The narrow gate is mentioned in verse 13, and the narrow gate is mentioned again in verse 14. It’s not only narrow, it is small.
Now, let me tell you something about the two gates. The narrow gate and the broad gate say the same thing. They both say, “This is the way to heaven,” okay. Both gates say, “This is the way to heaven.” One is, and one is a lie.
Satan invented false religion; he’s disguised as an angel of light. False religion doesn’t say, “Join our religion so you can go to hell,” right? All religion says, “This is the way to paradise. This is the way to utopia. This is the way to nirvana. This is the way.” In Islam, they end up with 72 virgins on green pillows if you die as a martyr. “This is our religion; it takes you to heaven.”
It’s the happy hunting ground of the Indians who were, very often in America, buried with the ponies so they could ride through the happy hunting ground. Or it’s crossing the mystic river of the Greeks who were buried in ancient times with a silver coin in their mouth so that they could pay their fair across the mystic river into the bliss of eternity. All religions say heaven, but they go to hell. There is the true way to heaven.
There is the broad way. That means all kinds of religions – everybody can come in. You can come in without any restrictions. You can bring anything you want. You can come in with a group. You can join the group and you can go on the broad way that says heaven, but goes to hell. Doesn’t take anything personal, doesn’t ask anything personal. You join the group, you buy into whatever the teaching is. You go through whatever the ceremonies are, and you’re a part of the group on the broad road that think they’re going to heaven. They’re not.
On the other hand, there is this narrow gate and it’s a turnstile, and you come one at a time. I often say this: “The kingdom of God advances one soul at a time.” One soul at a time comes through the gate. And the command is, “Enter the narrow gate.” That is the way of Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. Let me spell it out.
Number 1 – I’m going to give you several things to think about and just kind of build a little sequence: “You must enter, you must enter.” Here’s a command, a call to immediate response. This is a command without an alternative. It doesn’t say, “Ah, you know, look around and try to make a good judgment about what you ought to do. Look around and consider your options.” It doesn’t say that. It’s a command.
The gospel is always a command: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – ” Paul said to the Philippian jailer “ – and your house if they believe as well.” “This is beloved Son, listen to Him,” the Father said.
God, the Father, commands us to believe in Christ. He commands us to enter. Not enough to look, not enough to listen, not enough to study, not enough to admire. Hell is full of people who admired Jesus. Hell is full of people who admired the Bible. Hell is full of people who admired even the Sermon on the Mount. Hell is full of people who admire Christians. You must enter, you must enter. You’ve got to come in.
Secondly: “You must enter this gate, this gate.” In John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” He is the gate. Jesus said in John 10: “I am the door.” John 14: “I am the way.” Romans 10: “Faith comes by hearing the message concerning Christ and believing that message.” The only way is Christ. The only way is Christ.
Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Well, what about all the people all through human history and all over the map who’ve never heard about Jesus? What about them?” They will perish in their sins if they do not believe in Jesus. Jesus said to the leaders of Israel, “You’ll die in your sins because you believed not on Me.” That’s why our Lord said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. You must enter. You must enter this gate.
Third: “You must enter this gate alone, alone.” As I said, it’s a turnstile. It admits one at a time. It is exclusive. It is intensely personal.
We’re glad you’re here at camp. We’re glad you go to the church you go to. We’re glad you joined the youth group. We’re glad that you do that. We’re glad you listen to the youth leaders and make friends out of other believers. This is not, however, a group experience and a group work of God. It is a singular individual work of God. You enter alone. You break all ties that hold you back.
How alone are you? Well, Jesus said this – it might come to this: “You have to hate your mother, hate your father, hate your brother, hate your sister.” What? Yeah, because you may be ready to go through and they don’t want you to. In fact, in some cases, they might forbid you to. They’re going to try to hold you back. They’re going to try to have you hold onto the traditional religion that you grew up in.
Or, they think Christians are fanatics. They don’t want to see you go this way. They feel like they’re losing their child. Or, even worse, they feel that because you now believe in Christ and you want to go through that narrow, narrow gate, that you’re, in a sense, showing disrespect and distain for them. You’re breaking the family up. Well, Jesus said this: “I didn’t come to bring peace but – ” what? “ – a sword, to divide a man’s household, so that the people in his own house become his greatest enemies.”
You must enter; you must enter this gate; you must enter this gate alone. Your friends may pull you back, your family may pull you back, the world may try to pull you back; but you must enter, and you have to enter alone. It might mean saying goodbye to everybody who’s been a part of your life in the past in an intimate sense. You’re stepping away from all of them, even the people you love the most.
Jesus went so far as to say this: “You have to hate your own life.” Oh, what a statement: “You have to hate your own life.” In other words, you hate the person you are. You hate the person you are. What does that mean? You’re sick of your sin, you’re weary of losing the struggle, you’re frightened about the consequence eternally.
You know, most of your life, young people, is madly rushing with the crowd. That’s what high school kids do; they just go places in crowds, group-think. And you’re stimulated by the common cultural exposure you have to the same trash, the same garbage, the same entertainment, the same sitcoms, the same movies, the same music; and you can just be led to hell like a herd, like the pigs that ran off the cliff. At some point, you step out alone, no matter what the cost.
Number 4: “You must enter this gate alone with difficulty, with difficulty.” The difficulty is indicated here: “Enter the narrow gate.” And in verse 14, the gate is small. That’s why it’s difficult, it’s small. What does that indicate? Hard to find.
Imagine that you’re a non-Christian, and let’s say you turn on the Christian television to try find a way to heaven. What would you come up with? Man, it’s a ship of fools, isn’t it? You’d listen to one guy, after another, after another person. You may never come to understand the gospel.
Or, you might say, “Well, you know, I want to go to heaven, I want to go to heaven. I’d better go to church.” How long would it take you to find a church that would tell you the truth about heaven? How long would it take you to filter out all the churches that are sending people to hell? It’s chaotic, and few find it.
The broad way, the broad way: easy to find, huge opening, and furthermore, there are lots of false prophets selling tickets. That’s what false prophets do. They dress with sheep’s clothing.
What is sheep’s clothing? What comes off sheep? Wool. Why is that stated that way? Because, traditionally, prophets wore a wool garment, prophets wore a wool garment. It’s not saying they come looking like sheep. They come looking like prophets. They say they represent God, but they’re ravenous wolves and they want to tear you to shreds.
So the broad road, easy to go on, very easy to go on. You can go on with a group, throw a little religion into your life, talk about Jesus a little bit, feel a little bit moral, clean up your act. And there are plenty of hawkers selling tickets to the broad road.
On the other hand, as we heard last night in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many – ” He says, “ - I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” So you enter: you enter this gate, you enter alone, and you enter with difficulty. It is hard to find the truth.
The Old Testament even says, “You will find Me if you search for Me - ” with what? “ - all your heart, all your heart.” I can’t tell you how many times we have heard baptismal testimonies at Grace Church where somebody says, “I tried this religion, that religion, this religion, the other religion. Finally, I met somebody who brought me here and I heard the truth.”
There’s an amazing statement in Matthew 11:12. When you find it, Matthew 11:12 says, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” What an amazing statement. When you’re looking for that gate – and that very small gate is hard to find – when you find it, you storm it with violence. You seize that opportunity. Luke 16:16 puts it this way: “Every man presses into it.” What an amazing picture.
Now you believe in Christ, you believe in Jesus, you believe in the cross, you believe in the resurrection – all absolutely critical components. But this we’re talking about is the real, full definition of what repentance means – turning from sin, turning from the world, turning from everybody who holds you back, and finding that door. You seize it with violence, and you crash through.
Let me tell you something. One of my granddaughters was counseling at a camp this summer – somewhere – all summer. She’s a couple years older than you. She texts me all the time. We had quite a conversation today because she’s the only one there who understands what we’re talking about. She’s become the resident gospel theologian for kids who can’t figure out what’s going on.
You’re very privileged. We have put before you the small door, the narrow way; but it’s hard to go through. Why is it so hard? Well, as I said, first, it’s hard to find because it’s small. Second, it’s hard to go through. You have to strive, you have to agonize, you have to be violent about it, you have to press into it.
“Well, what are you talking about? Why is it so hard?” Listen to Isaiah 55:6-7, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous his thoughts.” That’s why it’s hard because you have to turn your back on your sin, turn your back on your wickedness, turn your back on the past. That’s part of hating yourself.
Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.” “I’m tired of my sin. I’m tired of fear. I’m tired of guilt. I’m tired of doubt. I’m tired of unrighteousness. I’m tired of displeasing God. I’m tired of a guilty conscious. I’m tired of hopelessness. I’m tired of the fear of death. I’m tired of being dominated by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life.”
That’s Jeremiah 29:13 you’re saying: “I am seeking the Lord with my whole heart.” In Luke 18, there’s this tax collector who’s in the temple and Jesus says “he won’t even look up to heaven. He won’t lift his eye as if to look up to God because he’s so unworthy. He bows his head and he pounds his chest and he cries, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’”
That’s taking a violent approach to the small door. It’s hard. It’s because we’re proud and because we love our sin. The love of sin is what dominates us.
Number 5 in just understanding the full statement: “You must enter. You must enter this gate. You must enter this gate alone. You must enter this gate with difficulty, abandoning everything that has been dear to you, all the sin that you have loved, and all the people who go with it, and you must enter naked.” What do I mean by that? No luggage - no baggage, no baggage. That’s John 12:25, you hate your life. You bring nothing with you.
You remember the two little parables in Matthew 13:44-46,a man who found a treasure in a field and sold everything to buy it, and then a man who found a pearl of great price and sold everything to buy it? The treasure in the field is salvation, the pearl is salvation, and the whole point of those two very, very short parables is that when you find salvation, when you find the door, when you find the way, you seize it and you go through and you sell everything, you sell everything. That is such a vivid illustration.
But that is how you seize the door, that is how you strive. You hold nothing, no baggage; you bring nothing. You don’t bring your works. You don’t bring your personal morality, your personal achievements. You don’t bring your favorite pet sins – all sin, all self, self-righteousness.
You really come with a beatitude attitude, you know, Matthew 5. You come poor in spirit – that means spiritually bankrupt. You come meek and humble and lowly. You come hungering and thirsting after righteousness, which you know you don’t have.
In the language of Philippians 3, you look at everything in your life, all the good stuff. Paul said, “All these things were counted gain to me. But when I saw Christ, when I saw the door, when I saw what was waiting, I reevaluated everything and it was all manure. It was manure, rubbish, garbage.” This is the stuff of real repentance.
Isaiah 53 says you not only are sorry for what you have done, but you’re sad about who you are. You know, when Isaiah 53 is talking about, “He’s wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastening for our peace with God falls on Him, and by His stripes we are healed,” He talking about our sins, and our transgressions, and our iniquities.
But the next verse says, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” What is that? That’s a recognition that not only are my sins a problem, I’m a problem. Sheep go astray because it’s their nature. That’s a confession that says, “I am a sinner because that’s who I am.” It isn’t just that I want to get rid of the deeds I’ve done, it isn’t that I want to leave all the transgression behind – I want to leave me behind. I want to leave me behind. I want to deny myself. I want to count the cost. I want to sell everything.
So you must enter this gate, enter it alone, enter it with difficulty, enter naked, and enter obediently, obediently. What now marks you as you come through? Obedience, obedience. It’s about, verse 21, “the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” That’s the one who enters, and that is why – do you remember the Great Commission? Do you remember at the end of Matthew where our Lord tells the disciples and all the rest of us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth?
Listen to what He says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – ” listen to this, “ – teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
Do we do that in evangelism? Do we go to somebody and say, “Listen, here’s the story. There’s this narrow gate. I’m going to show you the narrow gate. I’m going to end the search for you. It’s hard to find. You could go through a lot of religion, you could go to a lot of places, and you wouldn’t be able to find it. I’ll tell you where it is. Here it is – this is what it looks like, this is what it requires. You need to seize it with violence. And, oh, by the way, as soon as you come in, you must be totally committed to obey everything that God commands.” Whoa. That’s the stuff of real repentance.
Matthew 19, there was a rich young ruler who wanted to know how to get to heaven, and when Jesus told him it would cost him everything, he walked away, he walked away. Jesus gave him a command: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor.” That doesn’t save anybody.
We say, “Why did Jesus say that? Why did He tell him to sell everything he had – he was very rich – and give it away to the poor?” It’s a test. He gave him a command to see if he’d obey.
Salvation wasn’t important enough to him to obey. It isn’t that Jesus makes everybody sell all they have and give money to the poor. It is simply that He wants us to be willing to obey His command. You enter confessing Jesus as Lord, and you commit yourself to do the will of the Father, which is the path of blessing, the path of joy, the path of reward, the path of peace. Now, in contrast to that, there is the wide gate. Huge crowd. “Bring all your baggage. Come in a group.” Says heaven: “Where does it go? Hell.”
There are two ways then - we saw two gates. Look at two ways: “Broad is the way,” plenty of room for diverse doctrine, tolerance of sin – no curbs, no boundaries. All the desires of the fallen heart are there. You can live any way you want. You can be a homosexual, you can be a transgender person, you can be a gay bishop. You can believe anything you want to believe. “This is the broad way. This is the way – ” however, Psalm 1 says, “ - of the ungodly that shall perish.” It’s a very broad way.
On the other hand, once you come through the gate, we’re a narrow way, very narrow way, pressed – that means “confined,” pressed. And what is confining it? The commands of God, the commands of God. That’s why Jesus said – and this is a very important passage - really [???] have time to work on it tonight.
But the 14th chapter of Luke, Jesus said, “A man doesn’t go to war unless he counts the cost and knows he’s got the troops to win. A man doesn’t build something unless he’s got the money to finish the building. You don’t want to be following Me unless you count the cost. If you’re going to seize the door to escape hell, and escape your own sin and your own wretchedness, and receive eternal life and the promise of heaven, and bliss and joy and peace in submitting to the Lord Jesus Christ, come this way, come this way. But you must count the cost.”
Sometimes I think when we talk to people about the gospel, we want to make it as easy as possible. Jesus never did that. He never did that. When He talked to people, He made it as hard as possible. That’s why the disciples asked that question in Luke 13: “Are just a few being saved? I mean we’ve been doing this a long time now – day after day after day – and we have a very few converts,” because the truth is it was hard.
There are two destinations then: two gates, two ways, two destinations. First destination, in verse 13, is destruction, destruction. That’s hell. Says heaven; goes to hell.
Second destination: “Life.” “Leads to life,” verse 14. That’s eternal life. There are two crowds. “There are many, there are many – ” verse 13 “ – who enter the broad gate to the broad way that leads to destruction. There are few who find the narrow gate that leads to life.” By the way, the word “few” here is micro, micro [???] in Greek. Only a few, only a few.
Now there are two evidences – two evidences, two behaviors. Drop down to verse 21: “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Lots of people say, but it’s the doers who are in the kingdom. The doomed are branded as those who speak empty words out of empty hearts. “Lord,” they say. That’s polite, that’s respectful.
“Lord, Lord – ” that’s orthodox, that’s fundamental, “ – we’ve done this and that in Your name.” They are very polite and have a certain reverence. But their eternal destiny is based not on what they say, but on what they do, what they do, what they do. And what is it that they do? “They do the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
How do you know the will of the Father who’s in heaven? It’s revealed in Scripture. That’s the Great Commission: “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Hell is full of people with empty words and empty hearts, who will claim right up to the end to be worshippers of God and Christ.
There’s an illustration of this that closes out and we’ll finish: “Anyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall because it was founded on the rock.” That’s judgment. That’s the final judgment. And when the final judgment comes, it does not crush the house on the rock – the doer, the obedient believer.
“But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them - ” just a shallow, empty profession, “ – is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” You can’t tell the difference. You can’t see a foundation. You look at this house and that religious house, and this guy’s life and that girl’s life, and you don’t really know what the foundation is. The foundation will be made manifest in judgment. “And when the judgment comes, and the rain falls and flood comes and the winds slam against that house – ” a house without a foundation, a foundation of true repentance, “ – will fall; and the fall is epic, the fall is horrific.”
Geoff O’Hara once wrote these words: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not the thing I say? You call Me the way and walk Me not. You call Me the life and live Me not. You call Me Master and obey Me not. If I condemn you, blame Me not. You call Me bread and eat Me not. You call Me truth and believe Me not. You call Me Lord and serve Me not. If I condemn you, blame Me not.”
Two foundations: A foundation of true, repentant faith in Christ is a rock, and the life of that person is a life of obedience. Then there are the empty professors whose lives will collapse under the weight of judgment, who will cry out, “Lord, Lord. But, but, but, but.” And He will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” Seize the opportunity to enter the kingdom.
Father, we thank You that we have been given Your Word, that we do not need to wonder what You’re asking of us. We also know, Lord, that in our own strength, we can’t do this. It’s natural for us to love our sin. It’s natural for us to love ourselves. It’s unnatural to hate our sin and hate ourselves.
We can’t make the break unless you empower us. And so we would say with that tax collector pounding on his chest, “Lord, be merciful to us sinners, save us.” You have shown us the narrow door. Empower us to come through, to walk in obedience, all the way to heaven. We ask this for Your glory. Amen.
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