“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in they name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:13-27
The passage of Scripture above was given to us by Jesus Christ Himself. This does not address our self esteem or whether we feel good about ourselves, or whether or not our lives are turning out as we planned. This scripture reminds us that within years, a great number of people will be in hell. And, according to Jesus, even many who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord will be in hell.
When we take a look at Christianity in America, it is clear that it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God. So many people are being deceived into believing that because they prayed a prayer one time in their life, they are going to heaven. They may look around at others who also profess to know Christ and see those who are worldly and then compare themselves to themselves and nothing troubles their heart. They think, “I’m the same as other Christians, I love so much that is in the world. But, I am a Christian.”
The greatest heresy in the American Protestant and Evangelical churches today is that if you pray a prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart, then He will come in. You will not find that in scripture. In fact, it was never taught until approximately 60 years ago. What Christians (or those who believe they are Christians) need to know is that salvation is by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is preceded by and followed by repentance. True, heartfelt repentance. This is a turning away from sin. This is developing hatred for the things that God hates and a love for the things that God loves; a growing in holiness and a desire not to be like the world nor the great majority of American Christians but to be like Jesus Christ.
What we need to understand is that Christianity in America is almost totally wrong. Because I honor God this must be said. I’m sure it won’t be popular with some who read this. The fact remains, I must make the point. Scripture must be seen as it really is. We must quit comparing ourselves to other Christians and compare ourselves to scripture. The Bible tells us to examine ourselves, test ourselves in light of scripture to see if we are in the faith.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” II Corinthians 13:5
Everyone seems to be a Christian, but they aren’t concerned about holiness. They are not concerned about being separate from the world nor are they concerned about the Gospel being preached among the nations. But, bless God, they are saved! Why are they saved? Because some evangelist who spent more time preaching than more time studying his Bible told them they were saved? He did it so that he could brag about how many came forward in his next revival. Shocked yet? Listen to the Word of God and ask yourselves some questions.
Jesus said, “enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction…” There IS a narrow gate! There is but one gate, one God, one Mediator between man and God and that is Jesus Christ. All roads do not lead to heaven. Jesus said, “…I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father but by me.” John 14:6 Clearly we see then that the only way any human being will ever be saved is through Jesus Christ. One must realize that “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 That means we are all born radically-depraved and are born God-haters. It isn’t just an issue that we’ve sinned, it’s that we have never done anything but sin.
God’s Word says that even our greatest works are like filthy rags before God. We deserve the wrath of God. One might say, “…but wait a minute, that can’t be correct because God is love, He doesn’t hate anyone.” No, Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the prophets all taught that apart from the grace of God, revealed in Jesus Christ the Lord, the only thing left for us is the wrath, the fierce anger of God. Because of our rebellion and sin, we deserve this. But, many believe that God cannot hate because God is love. But God must hate because He is love.
I love children, therefore I hate abortion. If I love that which is holy, I must hate that which is unholy. God is an holy God. This is something Americans have forgotten. Many of the things that we love to do, God hates. Did you know that? We pray for revival and we pray for the Holy Spirit to move, but
before we do this, we watch television programs that God hates, we listen to music that God hates and we wonder why we have to create false fire and false excitement, because God is not in it. God is an holy God. The only way we can ever be reconciled to God is through His Son. When He hung upon that tree, He bore our sins. The sin of God’s people and all the fierce wrath of God that should fall upon us, fell upon His Only Begotten Son – in our place. Not because they put a crown of thorns upon His head, not because they ran a spear through His side, not because He was rejected by the Jewish people and the Romans alike! Someone had to pay the price, someone had to die. It was God the Father who crushed His Only Begotten Son. Isaiah 53 tells us,
“Yet it pleased YeHovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and he pleasure of he Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:10-11
People say the cross is a sign of how much man is worth. That is not true. The cross is a sign of how depraved we really are; that it took the death of God’s own Son paying the price and rising again from the dead, powerful to save! This IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Now, what are we called upon to do? We are to go through the “narrow gate.” How do we do that? Jesus said, “…the time is fulfilled: and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye and believe the Gospel.” Mark 1:15. What must one do? Repent! And believe the Gospel.
You weren’t saved by some magic formula or some words you repeated after someone else. You were saved because you repented of your sins and you believed. Not only that, you continue to do it until now. A proper translation of that verse in Mark is: “The Kingdom of God is come, the time is fulfilled. Spend your life repenting of your sins and believing in Me.”
Conversion is not like a flu shot! We repented, we did that…that question is: are you continuing to believe, to follow Him and His commandments each and every day? Do you do this and love Him and seek His will? Or do you give Him lip service? He who began a good work in us will finish it!
Believers, pastors and parents: we have forgotten a very important teaching in the Gospel. It says not only that the gate is narrow, it also says that the path is narrow. What we basically do now is lead someone in a prayer and then they spend the rest of their life living just like the world. If you deny this, there are plenty of statistics to prove it. Gallup Poll, Barna Research, every kind of poll you can possibly look at all show when it compares the church in America against the morality of those who claim to be lost in America; polling data finds no difference. Let that soak in.
Book after book is being churned out by theologian and philosopher alike, asking what has happened to the church? We find that abortion is just as prevalent in the churches today as it is in the world. We find that divorce is just as prevalent in the churches today as in the world. The immorality is unbelievable. Christians do all manner of immoral acts in the churches of today, as is happening in the world. The immorality is unbelievable! Christians do all manner of immoral acts and then go to their churches to worship God? Worshiping God is a daily thing – or should be. It is what we DO all of the time, or we should want to. These things are happening and no one is saying anything except this: “They are just carnal Christians. They are REALLY Christians, they are just carnal.”
That was a doctrine started in a seminary several decades ago and it is not a biblical doctrine. It is not historical. There is no such thing as a “carnal Christian.” The Scofield Reference Bible revived this flawed ideology. The Word of God directly refutes the so-called “carnal Christian” teaching in many, many places, first because of God’s decree that all Christians will be conformed to the image of Christ progressively in this life. The Scriptures teach that all those God has ordained for salvation are also ordained by God’s unchangeable decree to produce the fruits of holiness. In other words, it is impossible for a person who has been called by God to salvation to not be holy. We can see this clearly from the Book of Ephesians.
Some might say, “Wait a minute, I Corinthians 3 says, ‘are ye not carnal?’ Paul said that…” No, that is what Paul said, but we need to read
the whole book to find out what he meant. In America, most of our Christianity is based upon cliches that we read on the back of Christian t-shirts. Most of our Christianity comes from songwriters and not the Bible. What we “believe” to be true is dictated by our culture; not the Word of God.
The Bible never teaches that a person can be a genuine Christian and live in continuous carnality and wickedness and sin all the days of their lives. The Bible teaches that the genuine Christian has been given a new nature. The genuine Christian has a Father who loves them and who disciplines and watches over them and who cares for them. My heart is broken because those reading this know as well as I that there are so many around us who have wickedness in their heart. There is no difference in them. There is no light. Everything the world does, they do and that is “appropriate and okay.” That is NOT Christianity! They are not in danger of losing their reward, they are in danger of hell! They know not God. You might be one of them or know others who are this way.
What do we teach? When was the last time you heard someone say there is not only a narrow gate into heaven, but there is a narrow way? Jesus indicates that one of the principal signs of being a genuine Christian is that they walk in the narrow way. The sign for being a “genuine” Christian in America is they prayed a prayer one time. Isn’t that amazing? If you doubt your salvation, examine yourself, test yourself in the light of scripture to see if you are in the faith because a Christian will be different. Is this suggesting that a Christian is without sin? No, because in I John, we learn that Christians do sin. And, if any man does not acknowledge his sin, he knows not God. He is not walking in the light.
If you are a genuine, born-again Christian; a Child of God, you will walk in the way of righteousness as your lifestyle. And, if you step off that path of righteousness, the Father will come for you and will discipline you. He will put you back on that path. But, if you profess to have gone through that narrow gate, yet you live in the broad way just like all the other people in this world who are carnal and wicked, you should be terribly, terribly afraid. God wants you to know you should be terribly afraid because you know not God.
I fear men who have spent most of their life t elling others that they are saved. I fear you if you have done that. You don’t tell men they are saved. You tell men HOW to be saved. God tells them that they are saved!What we have forgotten to believe is that salvation is the supernatural work of God and those who have been genuinely converted, regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit are going to be a new creature. The Bible says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”
So, we find here in scripture, the narrow gate and the narrow way. In verse 15, we read, “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.” Remember this, your best friend is the one who tells you the most truth. In America, we have become so thin-skinned that no one can rebuke us. No one can tell us that we are wrong. Ministers and leaders alike have bought into this lie. We do not want to offend, we want to be seeker-friendly. What must be realized and understood is that there is only one Seeker and that is God. If churches want to be friendly to someone, then it should be God. We must be more concerned about the glory of God than we are the attitudes of men.
The person who loves you most will tell you the most truth. One of the marks of a false prophet is that he will always tell you what you want to hear! He will never rain on your parade. He will get you clapping, he will get you jumping, he will entertain you and he will present a Christianity to you that will make your church look like a “six flags over Jesus.” And, he will keep you so entertained that you are never addressed with issues such as these: Is God working in my life? Am I growing in holiness? Have I truly been born again? How does one truly know they are saved? Because someone told you? Because you prayed a prayer? Because you believed? Because everyone says that they believe. Because you say you are not like them? How do you know you are not like them?
The Bible teaches us we know we have been saved because our lives are in a process of being changed and our lifestyle is walking in the path of God’s truth. When we step off that path because of disobedience, God comes for us and puts us back on the path. One of the greatest evidences that we have truly been born again is that God will not let us talk as our flesh might want to talk. He will not let us dress as the sensual world and the sensual church allows us to dress. God will not allow us to act like the world, smell like the world, speak like the world, listen to the things that the world listens to! God will make a difference in our life!
In verse 16, Jesus tells us that we will know them by their fruit. How will you know a false prophet, and a broader application here is how will you know if someone is a genuine Christian? By their fruit! Look at your life, the way you walk, the way you talk, the passions of your heart.
Is Jesus in there somewhere? Or is he merely an accessory in your life? Is He something you “just do” on Sunday, or Wednesday? Is He something you give “mental assent” to or is He the very center of your life? What is the fruit you are bearing? Do you look like the world, act like the world, experience the same joys that the world does? Can you love sin and relish it? Can you love rebellion and relish it? Then you know not God. Then you will know them by their fruit!
God has the power to change us. Imagine Jesus teaching this passage. As you listen, He looks at you and says, “Thistles, do you find thistles on fig trees?” You respond, “Of course not, Lord. I mean, you ARE a carpenter; not a farmer, but everyone knows thistles don’t grow on fig trees!” Then He asks, “Do you find figs (good fruit) on thorn trees?” You answer, “Why no. Jesus, that’s ridiculous! You won’t find thistles on a fig tree and you won’t find figs on thorn trees. Anyone who tells you that Jesus, they are either crazy or they are a liar.” And then Jesus responds, “Well then, those who call themselves my disciples and who bear bad fruit would not it be the same to say they are lying or are out of their minds to make such a statement?”
It is impossible to have an encounter with God and not be changed! How is it that so many people profess today that they have had an encounter with Jesus Christ and yet, they are not permanently changed? How many times do you get fired up for God and it lasts about a week? One might say, “Oh but it was a great move of God.” No it wasn’t, because if it had been a great move of God, it would have lasted. It was emotion, it was so many things, but not a great move of God.
Has God worked in your life? Is God working in your life? You will know them by their fruit! Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire, so then you will know them by their fruit. Understand Hebrew literature. When you and I want to emphasize something, we raise our voices. If we are writing, then we put it in capital letters or we put an exclamation point after a sentence! But, in the Hebrew, it is different. When he wants to emphasize, he repeats something and repeats it. That is why we read so many repetitive scriptures such as we find in the Proverbs…”The wicked shall not live in the land, the wicked shall be destroyed…it is saying the same thing; in a different way, to give emphasis. That is exactly what Jesus was doing in the referenced passage of scripture…”you will know them by their fruit…” You will know them by the path they walk. Anyone who does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. What is He talking about? He is talking about the judgment of Almighty God that will one day fall upon the world. It will one day fall possibly upon me or upon you.
Oh, I cannot look into the heart of men! I am so easily deceived by my own heart! But there is One who is not deceived and He is not deceived by a contemporary Christian culture. He knows, you will know them by their fruit. He goes on and says, “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father will enter.” According to this, our “profession” of our faith in Christ is worth nothing. No? Read the passage again.
There are many people who are going to profess Lord, Lord, but they are not going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…He said, Lord, Lord, he didn’t say Lord. What does this mean? From the passage, we can know that this person being described by Jesus is not just someone who suddenly decided “Oh, it’s judgment-I’d better profess Him to be Lord.” This is a person emphatically declaring to other people that Jesus is Lord. He walks around saying, “Lord,” he sings “Lord,” but Jesus says to him, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Rev. Billy Graham is a loving, kind man. He has said that he believed a great majority of people who attend Bible-believing churches are lost. He has said that he would be happy if even 5% of people who made professions of faith were even saved. This is incredible! There are people in theird world countries professing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They can be martyred for doing so! So, when these people make this profession, one can be pretty sure that they mean it because they can die for even making that statement. But, in America, oh consider the cost! Think, examine your life in light of scripture. Do you know the Lord? Because not everyone who says…..
But, look what else is said in this passage! “But he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”! What is the sign that someone has become a genuine Christian? I wish that churches would teach this again! No one wants to hear the truth anymore. They just want to listen to songs and read the back of Christian t-shirts. What happened to truth? The evidence, the way that we can have assurance that we are born-again Christians is the way we live. We do the will of our Father. I am not referring to “works” here, but evidence of FAITH!
Your profession of faith is not evidence that you were born-again. Why? Because everyone makes that claim. Barna studies indicate that 65-70% of Americans say they are saved. This, the most godless country on earth! WE kill 4,000 babies a day, but bless God, we are born-again! How do you know that the faith you have is not false? Your style of life is to practice the will of the Father. Walk in obedience to Him. The Holy Spirit reprimands you either personally through the written Word of God or through a brother or sister in Christ. And God puts you back on the path again. If you are a genuine Christian, you cannot escape Him.
If we can play around in sin and love the world and be involved in the things of this world; if our heroes are worldly people, if we want to look like them and act like them, if we practice the same things as they do; please heed this! There is a good chance you know not God and you do not belong to Him.
Many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in they name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” We may think that the most important thing on the face of this earth is to know Jesus Christ. I don’t believe that is true. The most important thing on the face of the earth is that Jesus Christ knows US. I won’t get into the White House tomorrow just because I walk up to the guard gate and tell them that I know Barack Obama. But, they will let me in if Barack Obama walks out and says that he knows me! You can profess to know Jesus but the question is, does Jesus know you? Look at how Jesus describes the lost man in this passage of scripture, “depart from me you worker of iniquity…” In Greek this means anomos: a= without, nomos=law; thus, without law or lawless. This passage is saying, Depart from me, those of you who claim to be my disciples who confessed me as Lord and yet you live as though I never gave you a law to obey. I just described a great majority of North American Christianity. If anyone starts talking about “law” and biblical principles on what we are supposed to do and not do; how are to live, people start screaming “legalist!” But Jesus said, depart from me….
In Christian America today, many live with the attitude, “pass through the gate, praise God, live like the rest of the world, it’s oaky; you’re just carnal and maybe one day you’ll come back.” Do you know what happens because of our bad evangelism? We have gazillions of children saved in Vacation Bible School and when they become teenagers, they enter the world and live like demons; many of them. Then, when they are about 30, they come and rededicate their lives to Jesus; maybe they just got saved. It’s more than just telling someone you’re saved or because you might acknowledge that Jesus is Lord you are saved. Satan acknowledges that Jesus is Lord.
Is your life in a process of change? “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
It is important to study God’s Word and also history, so that we are not deceived. The “contemporary” interpretation of the passage above is this: If you are a Christian, you need to build your life upon the rock. Because if you build your life upon the sand, you’ll be an unhappy Christian and your life won’t go right. That is NOT what Jesus was teaching and history backs that statement up. It was hardly ever interpreted in that way. The interpretation is: there are two ways; a narrow way and a broad way. Which one are you on? There are two types of trees; there is a good tree that bears good fruit and it’s going to heaven. There is a bad tree and it bears bad fruit, it is going to hell. It will be cut down and thrown into the fire. There are those who profess that Jesus is Lord and they do the will of the Father. There are those who profess that Jesus is Lord and they do not do the will of the Father who is in heaven and they go to hell; not because of the lack of works but because of the lack of faith DEMONSTRATED by the fact that they had no works.
This scripture is not describing Christians building their houses on foundations. It describes a saved man and a lost man. The lost man hears the Word of God preached but he lays no foundation. His life is producing no change; no good fruit. Are you building your marriage on the Word of God? Are you raising your children on the Word of God? Are you managing your finances according to the Word of God?
Are you separating yourself from the things of this world? How many of us would be able to answer these positively?
I could have written something astounding that would have lifted the reader up. Something funny and the reader would laugh. But, I love you too much for that. Time is short. I know this because the Word of God is true. Remember this: we may look like our fellow church members, or small group members, but we will not be judged by them on the day of His coming. Enough of this! How does your life stand before that blazing fire that is the Holiness of God? On that final day beloved, precious; will your confession hold true? Are you saved? Not do you THINK you are saved, or that your heart tells you that you are because the heart can be deceitful. Not because someone told you; what does the Word of God tell you?
Radical Christians are not people who jump around in church or who wear Christian t-shirts. Radical Christians are those who bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They do not dress sensually in order to show off their bodies. Let’s get serious while we have time to do so. People are dying at the hands of Muslims in parts of this world because they will not denounce Jesus Christ! Walk in holiness, be Godly.
We may say that the Word of God is the inspired, infallible Word of God Almighty but all we get “fed” are these quaint little stories, illustrations; not the Gospel. WE must renounce the things that are displeasing to God. Run to Him and love Him. We must carry the banner of Jesus Christ each and every day…even if it could cost us our lives!
I pray that this message is accepted in the spirit with which it is written. My heart is heavy and burdened for the lost. If you are doing or not doing things addressed here; I strongly urge that you turn to God and do so with all of your heart. Surrender your life to Him. Time is short. The fields are white for harvest….there are so few workers.
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(Scofield Reference Bible, pp. 1213, 1214).