Matthew chapter 7:13-29 (continued)
“Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ‘Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves!’
You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. Any tree that does not produce.
‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’
Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ So, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock.
The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the winds blew and beat against that house, but it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the wind blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed — and its collapse was horrendous! When Yeshua had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way he taught, for he was not instructing them like their Torah-teachers but as one who had authority himself.”
Last time we talked about asking the Lord for the things that we need and want. We are told by Jesus to ask the Lord for anything that we need. We are also allowed to ask for all we want. Now in the NT we are encouraged to be content with the things that we have, Hebrews 13:5.
This does not mean that we cannot have ambitions or desires, rather those ambitions and desires are subject to the will of God and we do not find our life and our worth in the accumulation of things. Often people who have a lot of things are truly miserable and many poor people seem to live in peace. God is not opposed to giving us things, but He does not want us to find our identity in these things. We must find our identity in Him.
Speaking of identity there are some tenets that set TRUE Christianity apart from the religions of the world. These tenets make the message of the Gospel unique. Jesus is a unique Savior in that he came to satisfy all that we need to be saved and our salvation is not dependent on any action or work on our part simply that we believe and put our trust solely in His death, burial and resurrection.
That sets the gospel of Jesus apart not only is it by His power that we are saved BUT it is by His power that we are transformed. No amount of human discipline can change our actions permanently. True change comes when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus in us and HE changes us. If we had the power to change ourselves then Jesus died in vain. This too separates the gospel from all other religions of the world. We are not a self-help group, rather we are a `self-helpless ‘group whose only hope to change is in Jesus and Him alone.
One WAY and Only ONE! Verses 13-14
“I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE; NO ONE comes to the Father except by ME” (John 14:6). This is a message of exclusion. The message of the gospel excludes any other avenues to God. One will not find peace with God via meditation, or philanthropy, or self-sacrifice, or in solitude, or in religious pursuits and any of a hundred ways that people all over the world try to get to God.
Jesus Christ is the only way to God, the only means of salvation and the only means of redemption. In Him and in Him alone there is eternal life. This is hard for many to swallow and accept. We live in a world of religious tolerance that is being forced upon the Lord`s churches. Many would like to believe that we are all on the same path to God, just using different routes to get to the path. Not so!!
Jesus made it clear that He is the ONE and ONLY way to ever see the Father. This is the message that the world needs more of, Jesus and Him crucified. Churches need to stop watering down the gospel, stop making it sound that because God is so loving He will not allow people to go to hell.
Yes God is the one and only loving God. He showed His love to us because He sent his Son to die for us even though we were sinners (Romans 5:8). There is no question that God is the loving God of the Bible. BUT, He is also a HOLY GOD, one that must punish sin and cannot stomach evil. He has provided a way to be saved and if we reject it, then WE have chosen hell. God does not send us there out of a lack of love; you go there because of a lack of obedience.
Have you ever tried to get a passport? There are certain forms to fill out in a certain way, then you have to get passport pictures, these have to be certain size, shape and need to be signed on the back. Then you have to go to a passport office and make sure that all the requirements are met before you get a passport.
You can try to get one with the wrong paperwork and pictures but you will be rejected, not because you can’t have a passport BUT because you refused to obey the requirements for a passport. Salvation is no different. Jesus is the Passport; one must accept His death for the full payment of sin. One must take responsibility for that sin and confess it to God, trusting in His Son’s death for life eternal. This is the only way. God wants to give you eternal life, it is yours to have BUT there is only one way to get it.
Beware of Religious Liars, Verses 15-23
God built us to worship. He made us to have fellowship with Him and to have a loving “face to face” relationship with Him. God designed us to have peace with Him. Because these deep seated needs are in us, it is easy for us to fall prey to unscrupulous men and women who use the Gospel for the sole purpose of making money off of people looking for God. They do this by pretending to be “followers of Jesus.” They really are not. They are charlatans looking to make a name of themselves with the hope of making money.
Now not ever pastor who becomes wealthy or who is famous is a fraud; this is not the case. But if a man claims to be a minster sent by God His doctrine should reflect the truth of God. First and foremost in this is that Jesus is the only way of salvation. God has a way of preparing His people to be discerning. A lot of the Lord’s people simply don’t spend enough time in the Bible to be discerning. God, writing with the pen of the apostle Paul told us in Galatians 1:8:
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!”
These are very serious words. Paul makes it very clear that there is only one Gospel and there is nothing new to be added or taken from it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2 that he “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Anything else is not from God. I am always amazed at some of the very famous preachers on TV who when cornered have a hard time stating that Jesus is the only way.
Many would see their book sales decline almost immediately. One former famous talk show host who is touted by many as a leader among women, even Christian women, made it clear that she thinks there are many ways to God. Lots of Christian women still buy her books looking for answers. o:p>
What answers will she have that God’s book does not? What insights will she offer that the Bible will not cover? You see Jesus is not just the answer for eternal life; He is the answer for life in general. He has the answers for your married life, your business life, your private life, your financial life, your recreational life and on and on.
These charlatans always have some new revelation, some new idea from God, something that God only showed them or that He obviously forgot to put in the Bible when He wrote it. They add to the word of God and more importantly they water down the gospel of Christ.
Sin and death are our enemies, not disease, not poverty, not any outside sources. Your sin and mine condemn us to death before a Holy God and Jesus died in our place that is it. From our total dependence on this sacrifice come all the benefits of the Kingdom of God. Mess this up and you lose everything.
Fake Signs and Wonders, Verses 21-23
We love a good show. Jesus knew that and He was careful where He performed miracles. He often rebuked the religious leaders when they asked for a sign since they had no intention of obeying Him. Today that fastest way to grow a church is to have a good show. Lots of signs at each service, pastors and their wives have “visions” from God (apparently), and there are healings galore.
People are “slain in the spirit” (that one is certainly not from God, there is not one verse to support this action), people get “anointed” and of course the big one is speaking in “tongues.” Lately the trip to heaven has been a “must” for anyone to be taken seriously. These are just charades done to make money and to garner fame.
The apostle Paul was very clear in 1 Corinthians about the idea of mass confusion in the midst of a corporate church service. In chapter 14 he reminds us that when a lost person comes into a worship service and sees confusion it does not draw him to Christ, rather it makes him think we are crazy, nuts, messed up, out of our minds and stupid.
It does not glorify God, rather it promotes man, it promotes emotional feeling above truth and it settles for the simple things of the scriptures rather than the deep truths and a personal relationship with God. Each week you have to have more fireworks than the week before to keep everyone entertained. We are not in the entertainment business; we are in the EDIFICATION business.
God does not know these charlatans. He is not the author of their power and He is not impressed by their ‘magic’. He is certainly not swayed by their self-importance. He is only swayed by the blood of Jesus, anything else falls short.
Build Your Life on Jesus, Verses 24-27
What a simple plan. There is no need to make it more complicated. It will probably surprise you to know that Christianity has survived for most of the last 2000 years with JUST the Bible. No Christian bookstores, no rows of “how to books” and for most of that 2000 years they only one or two versions of the Bible. Yet people were able to build their lives on Jesus with the Bible. They actually read it and obeyed it. They used it run their businesses, their homes their churches and YES, even entire countries.
The Bible is about Jesus. He is God, He is Creator, He is Savior, He is our Brother, He is our Friend, He is the silent listener in every conversation, He is our Comforter, He is our Conscience, He is our Way, He is our Standard, He is our whole example for life in every area both publicly and privately.
He is our firm foundation, one that cannot erode and one that will not crack no matter how much pressure they put on Him. Jesus is everything and in Him we should have our existence. Jesus tells us that we are to build our lives on Him. He is that immovable Rock that allows us to whether storms and pain. He gives us the will and the power to go on; to obey in spite of pain and suffering. He secures us in our insecurities.
DO YOU HAVE THIS JESUS, THE REAL JESUS?
Not this Jewish, mystical Santa Claus that is peddled about as some who is there to heal your boo boos and make you rich. No, the real Jesus that was touched with our infirmities and gives us the GRACE to endure them. Notice that both houses had to endure storms; it was the foundation that made the difference.
The Jesus who calls us to take up our crosses each day, the One who calls us to put aside ambition, pride, envy, covetousness and our personal goals for the sake of the Cross. The One who wants us to love others, serve our enemies and turn the other cheek. This is the Jesus that is the foundation of this life and the next.
DO YOU HAVE THIS JESUS?
If not, He is calling you to believe on and in Him. Admit to God that you are a sinner, agree with God that your sins are worthy of eternal death, thank God that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die to pay the price for your sins and believe that God raised Jesus up on the third day after the crucifixion to prove His power to save even beyond the grave. When you completely put your faith in Jesus He will save you. Then you will have this Jesus; more importantly He will have you.
Romans 10:9-10: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.”