Yes, the Way is Narrow! P2

Matthew 7:13-20

What is the price for choosing the wrong, or big gate? How can you help motivate others not to make that big mistake?

The illustration of trees and fruit is the quintessential proof text of whom you are, where you came from, and what you have, or can become. You have the choice to live out Galatians 5:19-21 or Galatians 5: 22-23.

The choice is yours; the fruit is to be made by you through the Holy Spirit.

The key is to receive and work it out (Phil. 2:12-13). You can be a good tree or a bad one. You can produce fruit to nourish and impact others, or give out your rotten fruit to discourage and repulse all those who are brought to you by God. Faith that is professed may be good, but until it moves your will and feet it is no good to God or those around you!

Today, it is no different. We still need to be “set straight” because of so much false, bad, shallow and lazy teaching in the church. Churches often add in what is not there, and lead people far away from the simple, yet profound teachings of our Lord. Leaders tell us to carry what we do not need, or cut essential aspects from the Gospel, as if it were a buffet.

Added to this, we have so many false religions, cults, lifestyles, and ways of living, we can be overwhelmed and confused. The price for choosing the wrong, or big gate is the ultimate cost of eternal consequences and despair. Do not cheat yourself, and exchange what seems easy and fun for ultimate loneliness and desolation.

In what ways is the Christian life hard?

“Difficult” is the Christian way. To teach that it is easy is true on the surface; however, it minimizes who and what Christ did and the price He paid (Acts 14:21-22). It also minimizes the realization of how much you have been forgiven, and how much sin corrupts and destroys. We will go though difficulties and sufferings, but these cannot distract us; rather, we need to see the hope and glory we have to come.

“Fruits,” is an illustration of good and valuable food such as barley, figs, and pomegranates, versus what is worthless and harmful to the harvesters, such as thorns or thistles (Isa. 5:2-6; 27:6; Hos.10: 1-13; 14:7-8; Prov. 11:30-31). This, in the O.T., refers to being obedient to God in order to receive His blessings. Now, it is more of a mirror to our character, to who we are, or can be in Christ (Gal. 5:18-23).

Do not focus on your situation, but on Christ.

The Christian life requires surrender of our Will, as in self-denial and obedience to Him (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-22). Few people desire to be convicted or challenged from their thinking and comfort zones. They see this as confining, or bigoted. What needs to take place, besides the work of the Spirit, to make this happen? In so doing, will it change our behavior, which is the main theme of chapters 5, 6, and 7 (Matt. 28:19-20)?

What is the price for choosing the wrong, or big gate? How can you help motivate others not to make that big mistake?

surrender e

Yes, the Way is Narrow! P1

Matthew 7:13-20 P1

Why is it appealing to be open-minded to the point that everything is acceptable and permissible as long as no one is hurt? How does this philosophy destroy?

We live in an age where all ways and religions are accepted as equally valid and good. We are told that we, those who believe in ‘true Truth,’ are narrow minded and bigoted if we suggest anything else. However, political correctness aside, there is only One Way, and it is both the hardest way, and the easiest. Hard, because it cost our Lord so much; hard, because it requires us to surrender our Will; hard, because it is so easy, we think we do not need it. Jesus is the One and only Way, the gate that is narrow, the Way that is difficult, and to say otherwise neutralizes the Majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teaching, and it cheapens His Gospel (Matthew 7:13-20).

“Narrow gate” comes to us from Jesus using the illustration of two gates is from Ezra, and would be familiar to all first century Jews, as that passage is about coming back from captivity to rebuild the temple and the wall (Ezra 4). One leads to Life (water, food); the other, death (waste and dung).

The “wide gate” represents the beginning of the life of destruction as what is seemingly free and open, as it allows us to believe whatever we want. It does not require our Will, because our Will becomes the controlling factor. Materialism, hatred, refusing to forgive, prejudice and the rest of the rotten fruits will take hold and glue us to that destructive lifestyle, then rationalize it as good. It seems the easy path, but will soon be more difficult and destructive that we could have thought (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:15; 21:8).

The “narrow gate” represents the beginning to the “Way” that leads to life (Matt. 14:6; 16:24; 25:46; John 10:1-18).

The narrowness is not determined by God’s anger or callousness, rather by our free Will and sin that rebels (Matt. 6:14-20), so He has to chase after us. Many still refuse His Grace (Matt. 22:14).

Even though the Way is simple in concept, people, since the early Apostles and Judaizers (Jews who kept the Law, especially circumcision, while believing in Jesus), tried to add extra burdens on the Gospel of Grace. From circumcision to the scores of false teachers, Paul and Barnabas were plagued with this until Peter, through the Holy Spirit, set them straight (Acts 10-15).

The Christian life requires surrender of our Will, as in self-denial and obedience to Him (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-22).

Few people desire to be convicted or challenged in their thinking or comfort zone, which they see as confining or bigoted. It will change our behavior, which is the main theme of chapters 5, 6, and 7 (Matt. 28:19-20).

Healthy Church verses Unhealthy Church p2

• Churches that are healthy are in line with and in touch with Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD. The leaders and the people have an effectual sense of God’s presence and seek Him out of gratitude for who he is and what He has done. Their growing faith and their joyful attitude in life evidences this.

• Unhealthy churches tend not to be interested or centered upon the Lordship and centrality of Christ. They are places of personality, leadership in control for personal agendas, and/or seeking trends contrary to the agenda or call of God’s Word.

Healthy Church verses Unhealthy Church p1

• Churches that are healthy have leadership that surrenders to the Lordship of Christ and builds their church on His foundation.

• Unhealthy churches tend to have leadership that are prideful and build their church on the foundation of their legacy or personality.

2 cor 4 5

What makes a Church Healthy or Unhealthy?

This comes from a big problem we have in most churches today, that is the tendency of leaders not effectually growing in the Lord and thus do not practice their faith and this dispenses down to the congregation.

And the outcome is a church that has missed its point and reason for being; as its people, who Christ has brought in, go without being taught or discipled because the pastors and leaders are not being taught or discipled.

Being mature means you know not just Who Christ is, but His impact has gone deep and has occupied all aspects of our life and faith. Life is all about Him and not about selfish ideas or perceptions. We have gone to His throne and His priestly duty has been received, our Milk, and then the meat is feasted upon, His wondrous precepts and Truth. So our faith is real, personal, fully transformed and becoming fully engaged followers of Christ seen by a life well lived.

If we want to be an impacting Christian pastor or lay leader in a church that impacts its community and world, we have to be eating the meat of God’s precepts with passion and conviction, in love and in truth and then sharing it with others.

for more, see the research here: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44960&columnid=4545

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P4

How Important is discipleship in your church and teaching?

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23

In Matthew 13:23, we see two key words that strike at the foundation of our complacency, Hears… and does. He calls us to wake up and do something with our faith, not to just sit in a pew and complain, or lay on a couch as life drifts by. A call is pronounced. An action must take place to secure that His precepts will cause an impact.

We cannot just hear; we have to obey. Obedience is not in words, but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action.

This is not about our salvation; it is about our response of worth and our impact. Our salvation by faith alone may secure us, but what is the impact if we do nothing with it? As His elect, whenever we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire to heed the call and put it into action.

I have been in pastoral ministry as a profession since 1982, and was in lay-ministry for several years prior to that. I can tell you absolutely that the one thing that keeps most people from accepting Christ as their Savior and being born again is that they do not want to admit their need; they do not want to be convicted. They do not want to admit that there is something basically wrong with them. They still cling to the idea that there is some good thing about them that God should accept, and if they do more good than bad, He will have to let them into heaven.

I do not think anything has been more destructive in the whole realm of theology and what is preached in so many churches than the idea that we are O.K. as we are. No repentance is necessary.

Come one, come all! But, the Bible says we cannot come to Him; He comes to us.

Christ will save us if only we will acknowledge our need and accept Him as our Lord and Savior; yet, so few will. It is the same with Christians who lack the motivation to witness; they do not want to admit that others have a need. It is not an official Christian policy by any imagination; rather, it is a rationalization we make because of our fears, complacency, or indecision.

Despite our best efforts, we are not fulfilling God’s law. We are not able to do so.

People desperately need a Savior! So, carefully consider any barriers in your thinking that blocks you from this core truth and reality of life:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.) What is the barrier that holds you back from giving this proclamation of love to others? We all need to find and remove it.
Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

stott