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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » Because it’s Strait

Because it’s Strait

          Welcome to the message of the week from our Shepherd’s Hill Homechurch. We are looking at a passage this week that explains about the two gates to eternity. This is a parable of our Lord and is found in Matthew chapter seven.

It’s amazing to me that the enemy would offer so many false ways to find God. I suppose to some it seems that it would be impossible to find the way to heaven. To other people it seems that there are many ways and they as long as you are sincere you will get there.

If sincerity was all that mattered then most people seeking God would find Him. If it didn’t matter which route a person took then most people would be there someday. Let’s look and see what the Son of God says about the way to God. He should know since He has made it to Earth and back to God.

In chapter seven and verse thirteen Jesus commands that we are to enter the strait gate. Notice that He did not say straight but strait. There is a difference in these two words. We know that straight means not crooked and free from curves or bends. However, strait means narrow or restricted. Maybe you have heard of theStrait ofGibraltar. This is the narrow channel that connects theMediterranean with theAtlantic Ocean. Thus we see that word strait indicates a narrow or limited passage.

In Luke13:24Jesus says to strive to enter the strait gate. This word “strive” means to contend with adversaries-to struggle-to endeavor with strenuous zeal to obtain something. In comparing these two verses we come to the first conclusion that Jesus said the path to heaven takes effort. If a gate is narrow and it takes strenuous zeal to get through then it must mean this.

Notice now that Jesus tells us of the other gate. The other way is wide and broad. It is the other path that men might take after death. There is only one other path listed. It is not a particular path (wide) nor is it limited (broad) but it allows any to come in freely without and restrictions. It takes no effort to go through this gate.

I immediately get a mental image of a large garage door that vehicles might go through. Airplanes and yachts can be brought into this warehouse and it’s so big that you can bring anything you like in. Now I get an image of a small walk though door that is even smaller than a normal walk through area. This door requires stooping down and crawling through. Keep this image in your mind as we press on.

Read on in verse thirteen as Jesus says this broad gate leads to-destruction. It is the easy path. It allows any who want to casually stroll through. It requires no guidance or direction. You could get through with a blindfold and never hit the door. Notice that many people go this route of least resistance. Why do more people take this gate? Don’t they know it leads to Hell? The first word of verse fourteen explains why-Because-.

Jesus told us why many would chose to go to Hell. They go this way because the path to God is limited, takes effort and requires a struggle. They chose to take the easy route-not realizing that Hell is an eternal place with permanent suffering. Just as laziness will cause you to miss an appointment, an airplane flight or an engagement many people will miss heaven because they just didn’t have time to take it seriously.

You see friend, even though the enemy opens up thousands of possibilities to heaven they are all actually just one wide gate to hell. You and I have probably heard all the reasons people reject Jesus. They just got too busy for God at that stage of their life. Maybe they logically reasoned Him away as they looked for Him under a microscope. Some are just not interested in making a decision and are wandering through this wide gate without even knowing it. Whatever the excuse, it is just easier to go to Hell than Heaven.

In verse fourteen Jesus again reiterates that the gate to eternal life is a narrow confined passage that takes struggling to get through. This goes against the grain of many people who simply want to claim Christianity and enter in. They believe that it should be an easy route. God has declared that in the New Jerusalem there will be no evil there (Rev 21). There is presently a debate going on inAmericaregarding borders and aliens coming in illegally to live here. We have legal ways that people can become citizens but for many they chose to try it another way. Some would just have the rules changed and accept anyone who is already here. God controls what is allowed in His Kingdom. One day, you and I will be glad He does. We might like to think that “good” people can get in without being born-again. But no one without Christ Jesus will be there.

So what is this struggle to get through? Paul talks about it in 1st Corinthians chapter nine. In verse twenty-four Paul compares our disciplined walk as Christians as a marathon. Only one person wins a foot race. Paul said to run to win. He goes on to compare the difference between a fighter boxing the air and one who gets engaged in the fight. Notice that he says he controls his flesh. In Ephesians chapter six Paul gives us the Spiritual Armor we need to put on. Is it beginning to sound like we need it?

In Philippians 1:29Paul tells these Saints at Philippithat they are called to not only believe but also to suffer for Christ’s sake. In 2nd Timothy chapter two Paul writes that if we suffer we will reign with Him (v12). Down in verse fifteen Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved unto God. While we normally think the word study means to read and learn the Greek here actually has another meaning. The Greek word is spoudazo and the meaning is to exert oneself or to use diligence! I could go on bringing in examples from each book but I think you see that the path to Heaven is not one that many will make.

What about other religions? Doesn’t God count it when they sincerely worship their particular God? Let’s examine one more parable before I close. In Matthew twenty-four Jesus tells a parable of a King which made a marriage feast for His Son. He called the guests to come. In verse five some made light of it and went back to their lives. Others killed the messengers and despised the King. The King destroyed these that had ignored His request. Then He sent messengers to the common people to invite them in (v9). A guest was found that didn’t have on a wedding garment (v11) and was thrown out. Verse thirteen does not sound like just “missing the part” but a real picture of hell. Without this wedding garment no one will be allowed.

You see, Jesus already told us that He was THE way, THE truth, and THE life. He didn’t say that He was a way. If you’ve followed me this far you might be sure you are entering the narrow gate by proof of your life’s struggling and taking up your cross. Or perhaps you aren’t sure now and want to find out more. Jesus promised that those who truly seek would find. The Christian walk, while restricting, is certainly attainable only through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew11:30 Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden was light. You see friend, all of us will have trouble in this world. You might think the path you are on is easier than God’s. The pain that you will go through (and cause) will be much worse than the disciplined life of a Christian. Christians have joy and peace in God. When their situation is hopeless by all things seen they have hope in things un-seen. Which gate are you going toward?

Prayer-Father God, I lift up those who read the message who aren’t completely sure where they are going. I pray that You will open their eyes to the road that they are on. Cause them to see a glimpse of Your glory. For those who read this today and are struggling in life I pray a peace and comfort in knowing that they are pressing toward the mark of Jesus.

 

It’s in Jesus’ Name that I pray—Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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