Summary: We can stay on track with God if we will just keep following Him.
On the Right Track
Matthew 7:13-20 [play video 1:10-1:52]
Intro: Last week we talked about the fact that every human has a free will and cannot be forced (nor can we force others) to accept God’s way of life that He offers freely. As we saw this past Tuesday, many people across our nation exercised their free will in a different way and elected a new president. Some have responded to the will of 53% of our nation with tears, disappointment, and even anger. Others are excited about the possibility of change and are expecting better and brighter days ahead.
-Now I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, so I cannot tell you what is ahead. However, I can offer you a sense of direction, purpose, and hope! The God of the Bible, whom I serve, is still in control of this world. He still loves this world and is calling people to come to Him through His Son Jesus, whom He sent to us 20 centuries ago. As I read the Bible, I don’t see any call for a change of plans. Jesus is still the answer for us and for every person in this world. He is and will always be the only Messiah- the only One who was anointed and chosen by God the Father to take away the sins of the world. In the first century the Emperor, Caesar, was considered by many to be divine. Some even worshiped him- even though many Emperors were vile wicked men. In fact, Nero was one emperor whose crimes against humanity were unthinkable. We don’t read about Paul or any of the disciples speaking ill of him or calling down curses from heaven upon him. In fact, Paul even told his readers to pray for people like him.
-So regardless of how you feel about our recent election, let me assure that God’s plan is still on! He wasn’t blindsided and He’s not up in heaven wringing His hands over what to do next. However, I do believe that He’s calling us to an increasing sense of urgency to get as close to Him as we possibly can, and to let Him use us to draw others to Him as well.
-In our text today, we are reminded again that we all have a free will, and that there are other options out there. However, when you boil them all down, you are faced with two basic options: Either love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got, or go your own way and try to handle things yourself. See, we choose who we will listen to. We align ourselves with people who think like we do and possess the same values we do. So even if we find ourselves following someone else, we have made a decision to walk through that gate and take that path.
-So from our text today, the words of Jesus give us directions on how to choose our path; He gives us a warning concerning who we follow and allow to influence our lives and decisions; and He gives the means by which we can evaluate the leadership of those whom we follow.
Prop: We can stay on track with God if we will just keep following Him.
TS: Let’s look at these instructions from Jesus to help us find and stay on track w/ Him.
I. Directions (Matthew 7:13-14)
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-- Robert Frost
-Robert Frost was not the first to talk about the road less traveled. Jesus said that only a few would take the road that leads to life.
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.
-Someone said that the road to Hell is not labeled “Hell”. It is labeled “Heaven”. It looks easy and comfortable. It requires little effort. Just go with the flow. Go along with the crowd. After all, sincerity is all that really matters, right? Those who would say so are sincerely mistaken. That approach is known as pluralism, or perhaps universalism. Pluralism presents the view that there are many gods and religions, and that they are all equally valid. Universalism gives the idea that all people will be saved and go to heaven, because a loving God would never send anyone to hell.
-Oxford theologian Alister McGrath was right when he said, "Universalism denies humanity the right to say no to God." Not everybody will make it into heaven because not everybody wants to go there. Jesus said that only a few would find it.