We Must Choose Only One, Not Two! (Matthew 7:13-29)
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The Narrow and Wide Gates
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. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
This is the Sermon on the Mount – of our Lord Jesus Christ directly. This is a wonderful, yet shocking sermon.
This morning, we are in the closing time of the Sermon on the Mount. In this chapter 7, in finishing, Jesus discusses JUDGMENT. (Also, last time we saw judgment in verse 1).
- Our judgment of ourselves
- Our judgment of others
- God’s judgment of us
In every action of life, we have a choice. We cannot escape choice. We cannot stand still.
In daily lives, from waking to sleeping, we continually choose one thing out of multiple things. What to do, not to do, where to go, who to meet, what to eat. We continually choose one. So, we must take only one way. We cannot take two ways at once.
One common thing this morning – all of us have CHOSEN to attend this service. Those not with us have CHOSEN other things.
Deuteronomy = the farewell sermon of Moses to the people (30:15) “Now, see, I put before you life and prosperity and death and destruction. Choose one. If you follow the Lord, you will live and increase. But, if you turn away, you will surely be ruined. This is the time you must choose. Choose life so that you and your children may live.”
Joshua also gave a similar challenge when his time was near (24:15) “Now, choose for yourselves whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
In today’s story, there are two very contrasting things.
- Two different gates/ways
- Two different trees
- Two different builders/houses
These are 3 different (and yet the same) stories (from different angles).
#1: The Two Gates (v. 13-14)
To our sadness, only a few find the narrow gate toward eternal life.
- The broad gate = attractive, well-known, popular – many walk through this gate. But the final terminal destination of this subway line = hell, distress, regret, sadness.
- The narrow gate = difficult, lonely, long – only a few find this way. But the final terminal destination of this subway line = heaven, God’s glory, eternal life/happiness.
There is no third way. Only two ways. Choose one. You cannot go both ways at the same time. Can you right foot go to Seoul and left foot to Busan? Impossible. Check yourselves. Which way are you walking on? Be honest (not before men, but before God), which way am I walking?
On Earth, democracy, the majority decision is a very wonderful, powerful thing. It looks right while the minority looks wrong. But, remember, IF truth depends on a minority or a majority, it is not an ORIGINAL truth. TRUE truth must be true regardless of popular opinion.
If there is a hell and everyone thinks there isn’t, there is.
Listen carefully to this way to eternal life. I cannot force your choice, the choice is yours. Just listen carefully and choose.
3 Things about this way to eternal life:
#1: Narrow and small = no space, no room
Last year, I and my wife moved. We moved much furniture and gave away much furniture – not because I was generous, but because I had no space, no extra room.
This way to heaven is so small and narrow that there is no extra space to carry other things.
We CANNOT carry the baggage of worldliness, sins, etc. We cannot carry the things that heaven does not like.
If I want to visit Philip’s house, I cannot bring something he doesn’t like. Remember, we cannot bring the baggage/luggage of sins and worldliness.
- Hebrews 12:1 “Let us throw off everything that hinders and so easily entangles. But let us run with perseverance the race before us.”
- 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Are you walking this way? We must remove and drop the baggage of sin and worldliness.
#2: Narrow and small = it’s hard, difficult, lonely
The test is = Did your profession of faith in Christ cost you anything?
Last Sunday, we dedicated baby Tristan. At that time, I learned much from his story. We are still now expecting many babies.
All babies actually pay NOTHING to parents to get life. No baby paid the price to get his life because life’s price = priceless. Tristan got a beautiful life because of the lovely job of his parents. But sometime later, when he recognizes his parents – who they are, what they’ve done for him – he will do something GREAT for them.
Likewise, this is salvation. To be born again, we paid NOTHING. Jesus Paid It All. Eternal life’s price = doubly priceless. But if we are truly saved, we will pay all we have for that salvation.
Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me.”
- “The kingdom of heaven is like a field – a man sold all he had and purchased it.”
- “The kingdom of heaven is like a fine purse – a man sold all he had and purchased it.”
Likewise, this is salvation and eternal life.
But true discipleship demands servanthood, sacrifice. Sometimes true Christians must give up a lot – ALL we have – to follow Christ. Sometimes we receive harsh treatment, suffering, torture, even death. But through all of it, we have Christ – he is with us hour by hour through all of it. (This is the secret of the Christian’s joy in adversity.)
If you have Christ, what did you pay for Christ?
#3: Narrow and small = only ONE way
There are no two options, this is entirely exclusive. This way is Jesus Christ alone.
- “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- “I am the Gate for the sheep. Those who came before me were robbers and the sheep didn’t listen to them. Whoever comes to me will come in and go out and find pasture.”
If you believe Jesus is “A” way to eternal life – as well as some other ways – you will not find the path to life. Jesus is the ONLY way.
Next, fruit and builders.
The next test/question = Did your decision for Christ change your life? Your attitudes, actions, values?
The two trees show the true faith in Christ and produce fruit for the glory of God. In nature, everything reproduces according to its kind.
John _:9 “I am the Vine and you are the Branches…if anyone remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…but if anyone does not remain in me…those branches are picked up and thrown into the fire…You didn’t choose me, I chose you – to go and bear much fruit.”
- Fruit of apple trees = apples.
- Fruit of Christians = other Christians.
- The fruit of the Spirit = love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control
About the two builders.
We are builders of our own house:
“Practice” (v.26) makes perfect.
In this story, Jesus shows us the truth (spiritually) with these pictures.
- Two ways = the start of the life of faith
- Two trees = the growth of faith (in here)
- Two builders = the END of the life of faith when God calls everyone to the final judgment.
Remember, in this final judgment, what is REALLY important is not (1) what we think of us, nor (2) what others think of us, BUT (3) What GOD thinks of us.
What should we prepare?
Answer is simple: DO/OBEY God’s Word
- The doing is not simple.
- The test (at the end) is not oral, not written, not multiple-choice, not essay, not memorizing Bible verses or songs.
- The test is to OBEY the Word of God.
If we are truly saved, we have the Spirit of God living IN us – he enables and empowers us to know his will, do his will, and serve others.
- We are definitely saved by FAITH, not works.
- BUT having a saving faith WITHOUT works is impossible.
James “So a body without (breath) is dead, so is faith without works DEAD.”
DOING stuff for God is great and can be divinely inspired, but that’s not enough. We cannot stop with just hearing the Word of God, “be doers” “don’t deceive yourselves” (James).
There are two houses built on the rock and built on the sand. Both look fine outwardly. BUT, when the judgment of the heavy rain – typhoon – comes, the house built on sand will be destroyed totally with a great crash. But the house built on the rock will stand firmly.
What is the difference?
It’s not the exterior. It’s the foundation. Under the ground. This is the obedience to the will of God through the Word of Jesus Christ. This is the stone upon which we must build our house.
“The crowds were amazed!”
Are you amazed?
After his resurrection, “All authority and on earth has been given to me.”
- Human preachers preach FROM divine authority.
- Jesus preaches WITH divine authority.
If you hear the voice of Jesus who is holding ALL authority, we should submit, surrender, bow down and obey him and his will – otherwise we will be destroyed.
He is the Gate, He is the Way to life, He is the Tree to cling to, He is the Rock to build on.
Acts 2:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
That name is Jesus Christ.