Matt 7:13-14 – The Narrow Gate

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13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

This closing section of the Sermon on the Mount is a gospel application.

The True Way Is Hard And Difficult

Christ continually emphasized the difficulty of following Him (10:38; 16:24, 25; John 15:18, 19; 16:1–3; cf. Acts 14:22).

  • Matthew 10:38 (NKJV)  38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
  • Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)  24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Salvation is by grace alone, but is not easy. It calls for knowledge of the truth, repentance, submission to Christ as Lord, and a willingness to obey His will and Word.

Matthew 19:16–28 (NKJV)  16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”  

  • This is the religious person looking for a way to save himself
  • This is how we all are until we are confronted with the Gospel
  • “I’m a good person” is the answer for “will God let you into Heaven?”

17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”   18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’   19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”  

  • Jesus is saying, “in your way of understanding salvation, the only way to be saved is to keep all the commandments perfectly; you EARN your salvation by keeping the law”

20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”   21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”   22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  

  • Now Jesus switches to the heart; salvation by giving up EVERYTHING for God
  • Putting aside anything in  your life that stands between you and God

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.   24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  

  • Jesus addresses just one of many obstacles that keep people from Him
  • In this case, the love for, dependence on, and worshipping of riches
  • Actually this applies to ALL efforts to be saved by works whether buying your way in to Heaven, doing religious works, or “my good outweighs my bad”

25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”   26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  

  • It is impossible for you to be saved by any other means than repentance and faith in Jesus: A VERY NARROW WAY
  • The world would have you believe that “all roads lead to God”, its intolerant and judgmental to say otherwise, and just as long are sincere, whatever you believe is just as valid as any other believe:  A VERY BROAD WAY THAT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION

The Narrow Way

So the Lord warns that the gate of Christian discipleship is narrow and the way is difficult.

  • The narrow way, those who faithfully follow His teachings, find the abundant life.
  • On the other hand, there is the wide gate—the path of human achievement, “I can earn my salvation.
  • The end of such a life is destruction.

Not Just Salvation but How You Live Your Life

These verses not only apply obviously to Salvation, but also apply to sanctification, how we live our lives, and the kind of temporal results we can expect.

  • When we live “the narrow way” – Jesus way, taking up our cross, forsaking all, being holy, dying to sin – this leads to “life” (true happiness, purpose, fulfillment, satisfaction)
  • When we live “the broad way”  – indulgence, flesh, “eat drink and be merry” – then it leads to destruction, ruin, regret, hopelessness.

Which Entrance?

Enter by the narrow gate: The gate is not the destination… it is the entrance to the destination

  • There is a right way and a wrong way, and Jesus appealed to His listeners to decide to go the more difficult way, which leads to life.

We start here with two gates, two ways, two destinations, and two groups of people (vv. 13, 14);

  • Then in following  verses, two kinds of trees and two kinds of fruit (vv. 17–20); two groups at the judgment (vv. 21–23); and two kinds of builders, building on two kinds of foundations (vv. 24–28).
  • Christ is drawing the line as clearly as possible between the way that leads to destruction and the way which leads to life.
  • Jesus is making it CLEAR: only two ways!

Both the narrow gate and the wide gate are assumed to provide the entrance to God’s kingdom. Both say “THIS WAY TO HEAVEN”

  • Two ways are offered to people.
  • The narrow gate is by faith, only through Christ, constricted and precise.
  • It represents true salvation in God’s way that leads to life eternal.
  • The wide gate includes all religions of works and self-righteousness, with no single way (cf. Acts 4:12), but leads to hell, not heaven.

There are only two religions in the world:

  • The narrow gate is DIVINE ACCOMPLISHMENT
  • The wide gate is HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT

Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life:

The true gate is both narrow and difficult. If your road has a gate that is easy and well-traveled, you do well to watch out.

  • This is a clear warning about “seeker friendly” or “health, wealth and prosperity” Christianity
  • This is a clear warning about the Joel Osteen style of Christianity where God offers you nothing but blessing, favor, abundance and “your best life”
  • If a church offers the unbeliever everything the unbeliever desires to make them comfortable, what do they need salvation for? (seeker friendly movement)
  • It is also a clear warning to lukewarm, do nothing Christianity where no difficulty, sacrifice, cost or persecution exists
  • If the Christianity you practice and desire is easy, comfortable, gives you everything your flesh desires (happiness, health, comfort, ease, leisure, favor, blessing), with no persecution, sacrifice or cost, then you should ask yourself

    “AM I ON THE WIDE PATH THAT IS EASY AND LEADS TO DESTRUCTION? Or the narrow path that is difficult and leads to Life”?

What Does the Bible Teach About the Entry into Kingdom of God?

Defined: Entering or inheriting the kingdom of God is the privilege of those who acknowledge and live by the rule of God and have become part of the new order of salvation and righteousness in Christ.

Entry into the kingdom of God is of vital importance

It is costly

  • Matthew 13:44 (NKJV) — 44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
    • It’s worth giving up everything
  • Acts 14:22 (NKJV) — 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
    • Part of the cost is many tribulations
    • The Bible never states that following Christ is all about “your best life” and prosperity and favor and abundance; you wouldn’t know that from the preaching of today’s most popular “Christian” teachers
  • Matthew 8:19–20 (NKJV) — 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
    • Following Jesus doesn’t come with promises of big houses, comfort, security and ease… the Bible emphasizes the hardship that comes with living for God
  • Luke 18:29–30 (NKJV) — 29 So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
    • The clear implication is that loss will occur when you live for Jesus
    • Families will be split; friendship lost; rejection and persecution when you stand for the truth
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:5 (NKJV) — 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
    • The matter of fact assumption is that suffering is to be expected when you are part of the Kingdom
    • We are counted worthy of the kingdom when we suffer because what we are declaring is “what Jesus did to save me, is worth suffering for”
  • Revelation 1:9 (NKJV) — 9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
    • Whose brother and companion in tribulation? OURS, readers, the churches to whom the letter was sent to

It is a matter of urgency

  • Luke 9:59–62 (NKJV) — 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
    • Nothing is worth delaying: no opportunity, no amount of money
    • Entering the Kingdom means giving up immediately anything you were seeking if it keeps you from responding and doing God’s work

Conditions of entry into the kingdom of God

Childlike trust

  • Mark 10:15 (NKJV) — 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
    • A child receives by unquestioning faith and belief
    • A child receives with joy and total investment; nothing half hearted
  • Matthew 18:3 (NKJV) — 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
    • We are to BECOME as little children
      • We are self-seeking, full of ambition and worldly
      • We are too become innocent, blameless and trusting
      • Children don’t see divisions, don’t seek power, don’t categorize people.
      • Just like a toddler simply “loves” their parent and instinctively trusts them and runs to them for security… we are to love Jesus the same

To be born again of God’s Spirit

  • John 3:3 (NKJV) — 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    • We hear a lot about “going to Church” or “being spiritual”
    • You cannot be saved unless you are regenerated (“born again”), period
  • John 3:5 (NKJV) — 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
    • CANNOT enter
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50 (NKJV) — 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
    • Neither the sin-cursed Spirit, nor the sin-cursed flesh can ultimately enter the Kingdom of God for eternity
    • Not even the sin-cursed Heavens and Earth will enter the eternal kingdom

Obedience to God’s will

  • Matthew 7:21 (NKJV) — 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
    • Some will do “works” (Matt 7 “Lord, Lord” did we not…”) but Jesus will not know them, however, everyone who truly knows Jesus obeys Him (James, “faith without works [obedience] is dead”)

Warnings about entry into the kingdom of God

The way is narrow

  • Luke 13:24–28 (NKJV) — 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.
    • A lot people will THINK they are entering the right gate because both “narrow” and “wide” are labeled “this way to Heaven”
    • Many will have seen Jesus, spent time with Him and even spoke on His behalf but they will have entered the wrong gate (works, human achievement)
  • Matthew 23:13 (NKJV) — 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
    • WOE to the highest religious rulers of the day, the most pious, highest status, most familiar with God’s Word…. WOE to them, they keep people from entering the narrow gate and redirect them to the wide

The wicked will not inherit the kingdom

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (NKJV) — 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
    • You see over and over in Scripture: DON’T FOOL YOURSELF, people who live in and practice routine, unbroken patterned sin are NOT saved, and will not enter the Kingdom
    • “But I was born that way”… does this apply to adulterers, thieves and drunkards?  (When someone uses this argument, don’t argue the point, just say “so what?”; God still declares these things SIN that will keep you from the Kingdom, born that way or not)
  • Matthew 5:20 (NKJV) — 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
    • External religious behavior and appearances mean nothing if the hear is not right
    • You can be a Pharisee or “America’s Favorite Pastor” but if you have not repented, and been saved by faith, then you will not enter the Kingdom
  • Mark 9:43–47 (NKJV) — 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—44 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’ 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—46 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’ 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—
    • Entering the Kingdom means doing everything you can do NOT to sin
    • We know these verses are not literal because the Believers body will be resurrected, re-created and glorified;
    • It means that a true Believer will have the attitude of “I’ll give up anything and make any sacrifice to avoid sin”
  • Galatians 5:19–21 (NKJV) — 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM…
    • A pattern of unbroken, unrepentant, carefree sin is evidence of a lack of salvation even if someone proclaims or believes they are saved
    • We do no favors to the carnal profession of faith when we assure someone who lives in obvious broken sin “don’t worry, you said a prayer, you’re good”
  • Ephesians 5:5 (NKJV) — 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
    • Just in case we haven’t gotten the point by now
    • If you’re life is marked by routine, care free, non-convicting sin, you should seriously consider whether you are really saved not.

The need for readiness and watchfulness

  • Matthew 24:42–44 (NKJV) — 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
    • Now is the time to respond; there is a never time to wait, delay, consider
    • “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”… you are dangled over the fires of Hell by a thin thread that could snap at any moment
  • Matthew 24:37–39 (NKJV) — 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
    • We need to warn those are blindly ignoring the impending disaster
    • While this can be taken symbolically (“eat, drink and be merry”), in an affluent culture like ours today, it is literal…
      • Why exchange our comfort, ease, leisure and pleasure for a life of sacrifice, suffering, persecution  and trials?
  • Matthew 25:13 (NKJV) — 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
    • The time to enter the Kingdom is NOW… that opportunity can end at any time without notice
  • Luke 12:35–40 (NKJV) — 35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
    •  Jesus can return at ANY moment; we don’t know how long we have to live for Him
    • We should use every moment with the sense that it could very well be our very last

Entry is not based on outward appearances nor granted to all who claim to know the Lord

  • Matthew 7:21–23 (NKJV) — 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
    • One of the most frightening verses in the Bible
    • Someone who claims to know Jesus, who has done things for him, who enters eternity expecting their welcome… only to be sent away
    • Who gets sent away? Those who “practice lawless”… ignoring what God tells us to do, this disobedient
    • Those who might be Christians with words only, but do not obey Christ

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace

It belongs to those qualified by God

  • Colossians 1:12–13 (NKJV) — 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
    • You have to be qualified to enter God’s Kingdom
    • Who qualifies you: the Father
  • Luke 12:32 (NKJV) — 32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
    • God is the one who gives the Kingdom
    • There’s only one way, one Person
    • It’s narrow, intolerant and judgment by default

It belongs to the poor and the poor in spirit

  • Luke 6:20 (NKJV) — 20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
    • Poor in spirit – those who understand their predicament and need of being rescued
    • “Be merciful to me a sinner” sums up salvation
  • Matthew 11:5 (NKJV) — 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
    • Generally speaking, the rich, powerful, upper class, talented, popular people of the world have no need for God
    • It’s the poor, outcast, helpless, rejected people who do
  • James 2:5 (NKJV) — 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
    • This is never to declare that the wealthy have no hope of salvation, but clearly warns that money and riches can easily keep us from salvation
    • One of the evidences of the truth of Christianity, is that the entire story from Jesus birth to death and the persecution/sacrifice of the Christian is never appealed to in the way the world would (appeal to the ruling class, cozy up to the rich, enlist the popular and powerful)
      • Osteen teaming up with Kanye is a perfect example

It belongs to sinners

  • Mark 2:17 (NKJV) — 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
    • Christianity is a not social club for the well adjusted and popular
    • Christianity does not require you to clean up, dress up, pay up before you can participate
    • Christianity is not for the SELF righteous, the Kingdom is for those who know they need God’s forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness
  • Matthew 21:31 (NKJV) — 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.
    • Ouch… Jesus declares that humble harlots and criminals are more likely to enter the Kingdom than the self-righteous (“I’m a good person”)
    • Self-righteous is not just those who put on a self-denying religious act… it is simply those who believe they are “good”
      • Q: why should God let you into Heaven?
      • A: because I’m a good person

It belongs to those who are persecuted for Jesus Christ’s sake

  • Matthew 5:10 (NKJV) — 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    • Fully and completely satisfied are those who suffer persecution
    • Why? Because persecution is a sign we are doing something real for God

Summary

  • Being saved is not easy; its free, its done for us, but it costs us all
  • Being saved is not “decisionism” (pray the prayer, walk the aisle, dedicate your life, ask Jesus into your heart, go to the right church, etc)
  • Being saved is not easy believism (get saved, have a free pass to sin)

There is a narrow difficult way to God: humble yourself, repent, believe, place your faith in Christ, forsake sin