Summary: Jesus give us directions on how to choose the right 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.
Staying the Right Course
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. When someone tries to force someone to follow a certain path, through manipulation or overriding their will, that is a problem. That is the tactic of a false teacher.
-Some may try to confuse others and draw a following. God is aware of this and offers us inner transformation as we seek Him. We don’t need to impress anybody but the Lord. He alone can give us a sense of direction, purpose, and hope! There is 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. Don’t let someone pull you off course simply because their path collides with yours. Stay the course! Continue to live from the heart! Don’t get distracted by performance holiness. Allow the Lord to bring transformation you the inside and then live from the new heart and spirit He puts within you!
-So from our text today, the words of Jesus give us directions on how to choose the right 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 stay connected with and keep following Him.
TS: Let’s look at these words from Jesus to help us find and stay on track w/ Him.
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. 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.
I. The only way in (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.
-But He makes it very clear throughout the Bible how we can find it. Why is it a narrow gate? There are different thoughts about what this means. Some say it means that the way is so restricted that you can’t carry anything with you. That may be true- you can’t take it with you.