Summary: In the first sermon of this series we examine what it means to "enter the gate" (enter into salvation) and the equally important matter of "walking in the way" (growing from immaturity to maturity in Christ.
Our Spiritual Walk #1
The Gate and the Way
CHCC – June 8, 2014
(This message is related to the first chapter in the book I have written entitled, "Our Spiritual Walk" which is available at Amazon.com and the e-books that are available on Smashwords.com Look for the title above by Ed Skidmore)
This summer we’re going to go through an 8 week series about Our Spiritual Walk. I’ve been studying this topic for a while because I noticed the New Testament is filled with specific instructions about how a Christian should WALK.
Today I want to kick this off with a teaching Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount. This was a ground-breaking sermon … in fact, just about everything Jesus said came as a shock to his listeners. Several times Jesus said, “you have heart it said, … but I say …” People were used to hearing their Rabbis quote each other, but Jesus said things no Rabbi had ever said before. His talk was revolutionary. He talked about things like turning the other cheek, walking a second mile, giving your cloak to go with the coat someone demanded of you. In the middle of these strange new teachings, Jesus talked about a GATE and a WAY.
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. Matthew 7:13-14
1. The Gate and the Way
This short statement is full of meaning. Jesus gave twin truths that describe the whole of the Christian experience in this world. Later Jesus would emphasize that HE is the GATE --- and HE is the WAY. Through Jesus, God has put both a GATE and a WAY before us.
The GATE represents a “one-time” type event. This is something we pass through … and once we do so, we are in a new place. Most of the cites of Jesus’ day were walled and gated. To be given entrance through the gate was a big deal.
What would be gate-type events in your life? Being BORN is the gate into life on this planet. Walking the first time, talking the first time … going to school the first time … these are gate events. Graduation, starting college, first job, marriage, becoming a parent or grandparent … all of these are gateways into a new identity and experience.
In the spiritual realm, being “born again” is the most significant gateway event for any person. When we are saved, “all things become new.”
• You go from being a child of Adam to becoming a child of God.
• You move from slavery to sin and become a servant of Christ.
• You are set free from being married to the law and become part of the church which is the bride of Christ.
• Your spirit which was dead in sin is brought to life by the Holy Spirit.
• Your mind which was stuck on the flesh is now set on things of the Spirit.
Entering the GATE of salvation is a glorious, amazing, and eternal change. But it is not the end. Sometimes churches give so much emphasis to trying to get people through that GATE that they don’t teach much of anything else.
So much attention is focused on “getting saved”, pray the sinner’s prayer, sign on the dotted line, become a member of the church, as if that is all there is to the Christian life. The end result is a bunch of frustrated (and frustrating) baby Christians wondering why their new life doesn’t seem much different from the old life. Sadly, the American church sometimes seems to be 8 miles wide and half an inch deep.
The GATE is not the end. It is the beginning point of walking the WAY.
Who would want to walk through a GATE and then just stand there? Last year Susan and I took 2 of our grandkids to Sea World. We went early, but it still took us a long time in line before we could walk through the GATE and get in. You can bet we didn’t just stand there. Our grandkids took off immediately (in two different directions, of course.) We did A LOT of walking that day.
In our spiritual life, after we enter the GATE, we must start WALKING the WAY! There is plenty to see and do … more than enough for a lifetime of Walking. And Walking is always done the same way – one step at a time.
(Talk about what you’ve learned about how important exercise-walking is lately --- and how there’s no short cut for it.)