- Sermon Notes
The Choice is Yours
Intro: Which way?
Read: Matthew 7:13-23
Throughout His sermon, Jesus has given the road map to life in Him, but that life He calls us to live, comes down to a choice, it’s a choice that each of us must make for ourselves, the narrow path toward Him or the broad path away from Him? Jesus makes it clear, there are two ways one can go, but leaves no room for confusion as to which way He would have His followers go!
I. Enter the Narrow Gate
Matthew 7:13-14, Enter 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.
- As we look at this narrow gate, it is not being spoken of here as our destiny, but as an entrance to a path.
- Jesus makes here a contrast: between those who choose the small gate and the wide, the narrow way and broad, between the way of the few and the many, between life and death.
- These distinctions are made clearer in our lives when we understand Jesus as the door through which eternal life is found.
John 10:9, I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.
John 14:6, I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.
Acts 4:12, There is salvation in no one else.
1 Timothy 2:5, For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and humanity, Christ Jesus.
- That the way is narrow and the gate is small, but the choice one makes determines which route they take.
Illus. In Luke 18, we read about the parable of the rich young ruler. He sought eternal life, He wanted to be reassured of it, He told Jesus he had kept the commandments, still he wanted more reassurance. Jesus responded, “you still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
- If he had truly kept all the commandments, he would surely have known the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength.
- He wanted to be assured, Jesus pointed Him toward a choice, toward what he had placed above following Jesus. For the rich young ruler, to sell his possessions would put him on a narrow path, whereby nothing would hold him back.
- So easy it is to find our identity outside of Christ, but on that narrow path we are to give Jesus the highest place.
Illus. I tried!
- The gate leading to life in Christ is narrow, not because it is difficult to call upon Jesus, He is available to those who call upon Him the moment they do so.
- Rather, the way is narrow because few decide to walk that road and there is only one way.
- There are some who suggest, “all paths lead to God. A person can follow any philosophy, guru, cultural icon, or leader as long as you are honest and always concerned with only good…They all lead to God.
- All will stand before God, but there is only one way that leads to life.
- Jesus’ encouragement to His followers is to enter the gate, not to simply stand and look at it, ponder it, think about it, delay, or turn away.
- The path toward life, comes with an invitation to enter into the narrow gate, not easy, not the way everyone else is going; but it is the way to life. Take courage in it all, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
A. Watch out for wolves
Matthew 7:15-16, Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.
- The word used for “beware” (Prosecho) is used six times in the gospel of Matthew and every time is with reference to spiritual leaders. Three times are specific to the “leaven” or teaching of the Pharisees.
- Jesus gives this warning to His followers that when you proceed to pursue the narrow path, it is imperative to beware of those who mislead you and ultimately point you away from the narrow path.
- Beware, use what He has given to “be – aware”!
Illus. Blindfold test.
Illus. That’s not what my Bible says.
- If someone tells you to turn a blind eye to sound doctrine, beware!
2 Timothy 4:3, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. And will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
- Some come to suit their own desires, one commentator likens ears being tickled to scratching an itch. It feels good, but is wrong.
2 Peter 2:1, But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them.
- Jesus says (Vs. 15), beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, are ravenous wolves.
- False prophets were frequently mentioned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 3:13; Is. 44:25; Jer. 23:16; Ezekiel 13:2-3; Micah 3:5; Zech. 13:2). They claimed to receive messages from God, but prophesied only what the king and people wanted to hear.
- False teachers are also common today. Jesus implores His followers to beware of those who say all the right things, may even use the Bible in their speech, but are motivated by money, power, fame, and deception.
Illus. “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land,” God told Jeremiah. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priest’s rule on their own authority; and my people love it so.” (Jer. 5:30-31)
Illus. In Zechariah 13:4, we are given insight into the way of a false prophet. Often, Old Testament prophets would wear rough, hairy, uncomfortable clothing as a symbol of their foregoing the normal comforts of life for the cause of God. False prophets would then put on hairy clothing to deceive.
- Whether in the flock or one who seeks to lead astray, it is important to understand that wolves don’t always look like wolves.
B. Remember where grapes are gathered
Matthew 7:16, You will know them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
- Jesus is not talking about judging, and condemning another, He is talking about discernment.
- We guard ourselves from false prophets by taking heed to their fruits.
- “Fruit” is a Jewish metaphor for both character and conduct. Jesus followers would be able to discern false prophets by looking at their lives and conduct.
- Look for character, not charisma. For integrity, one who is consistent in character and conduct. These things matter.
Illus. A discounted rate?
- Grapes and figs were two of the main agricultural products in Israel, no one would misunderstand what Jesus was saying, a person knows a tree by its fruit.
- Grapes are not found in thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles. Good trees produce good fruit.
John 15:4-5, Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit.
- In order to remain connected to Jesus, we as Jesus followers must abide in the vine. The term abide is active…To continue, to remain.
- There will be things we have to choose to disconnect from or turn away from. Wolves in sheep’s clothing who are out to deceive you.
- In this scripture, Jesus speaks of “good fruit,” some may think that means good as in “nice, tolerant and happy.” Declaring that as long as they are a good person it doesn’t matter.
- Jesus gives us the guide here, when he says not all will enter the kingdom of heaven, not all who cry out “Lord, Lord” but it is those who does the will of the Father (vs. 21).
- The call then is not to make blanket statements about what everyone is, post about it, to become a watchdog; rather, be watchful; where are you being pointed and personally, where is your life oriented.
C. Live inside His will
- Jesus gives us the anchor point to our lives, it is found in and throughout His teaching and all of scripture.
John 8:31-32, If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
Illus. Hold on.
2 Timothy 3:16, All scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
- Such difficult words to hear, that not all who say “Lord, Lord,” who prophesy in His name, or do miracles, or cast out demons will enter the kingdom...
- Is your life oriented around Jesus’ teachings, or the broad path?
- The call here, for the true follower is to do as John the Baptist told the Pharisees who came to be baptized, for us to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Mt. 3:8).
- Are you choosing the will of the Father for your life? There are two ways, the choice is yours.
Luke 13:24, Strive to enter in through the narrow door…