Enter through the Narrow Gate

by LA UBF   11/15/2008     0 reads




Matthew 7:13-29

Key Verse: 7:13,14

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

1. Read verses 13-14. What does it mean to enter through the narrow gate? What is the result? What does it mean to go by the broad way? What is the result?

2. Read verse 15. What is Jesus’ warning? What is the characteristic of a false prophet? Read verses 16-20. How can false prophets be recognized? What is good fruit?  What is bad fruit?  What is the only thing to do with a bad tree?

3. Read verses 21-23. What do false disciples have in common with real disciples? What is the difference? How is it that those who know the Bible well and engage in many good activities can fail to enter the kingdom? What does it mean to know Jesus and be known by him?

4. Read verses 24-27. Regarding building a house, what is the main difference between the wise man and the foolish man? What do they have in common?

5. How does this parable apply to building up a life? How is this parable related to the good and bad trees? To knowing Jesus and being known by him?

6. Read verses 28-29. What was the response of the crowds to Jesus’ teaching? 





Matthew 7:13-29         Key Verse: 7:13-14

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Today’s passage is the final installment of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  In this passage Jesus teaches us the most important lesson of all.  Basically, that there is only one way for us to go to enter life.  Everything Jesus has taught us thus far is not up for debate.  None of it is just good advice or mere suggestion, the Sermon on the Mount shows us the only way that we can go if we want to enter into God’s Kingdom.  May God grant us humble and learning minds and hearts to hear these words and to put them into practice.

Part I – Enter Through The Narrow Gate (13-14).

Look at verses 13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Up to this point Jesus has talked about how we ought to live, while on this earth.  But in this part of the passage Jesus gives the reason behind doing so.  It is so that we can enter into the Kingdom of God. )* 

The narrow gate is Jesus Himself.  In John 10:9a Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.”  The narrow road is also Jesus himself.  Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  To enter life, i.e. the Kingdom of God, there is only one gate and one way.  God appointed Jesus as the gate and the way.  There is no other way.  

Now we need to think about a gate.  A gate is meant to enter through, but also a gate is meant to keep the unwanted out.  At the airport when you try to board a flight, you must first go through the metal detector that acts as a gate.  Before you pass through the metal detector, you are asked to strip off anything that will set the detector off; you must take off your watch, you must remove your cell phone, and take the change out of your pocket.  But this is not all, since 9/11 we also are asked to take off our shoes, and even our belt; also our luggage goes through a scanner to see if there are any items that are banned inside.  Nowadays, even a small bottle of water is not allowed because it might be a liquid explosive.  There is a whole litinay of things that are no longer allowed on board the airplane.  And if those who are manning the gate find anything that is not allowed on board they confiscate it and you are asked to throw it away; if you refuse, you are turned away and not allowed onto the flight.  The same thing happens when we try to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 5:48 reads, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”   The reason Jesus calls us to be perfect is because Heaven awaits.  Heaven is the Kingdom of God, where God dwells in holiness and righteousness forever and ever.  Heaven is perfect and nothing can enter into Heaven unless it is perfect.  So at the entrance to the Kingdom of God there is this Gate that we must enter through.  And when you come to this Gate you must strip yourself of everything that is not compatible with God’s Holy, perfect Kingdom.  This Gate faces us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’ decision on our part.  Either we are strip off everything that makes us imperfect and enter into the Kingdom of God or we chose to keep our earthly desires and cannot enter.  This is the choice that we find ourselves at.

The correct gate, because it is narrow, is hard enough on its own to find, but there is another big problem.  Our enemy has placed before us a false gate. And this false gate allures us to enter through it.  This is because this gate is not manned by guards who are checking what you have with you.  This gate allows you to bring anything and everything you chose to through it.  And the path that leads through this gate, is also wide and smooth and looks pleasant.  What’s more on this path there are many, many who are on it.  They look happy and wise and smart in going through this gate and following on this path.  They did not have to leave anything behind.  They did not have to deny themselves anything.

Had there not been this false gate, everyone would have surely sought the narrow gate because it is the only way.  Even though it is narrow, with a little more effort and perseverance we could have found the narrow gate. But because of this false gate, many are deceived to take the wrong path.  The existence of the wide gate comes from our enemy.  He places it there to deceive us.  Jesus wants us to know the gate that leads to eternal life is narrow and the road is narrow.  If He didn’t tell us, we would surely have chosen the wrong way.  Jesus warns us, because He knows us so well, that we would, not we might, choose the wrong path if left to our own.  

Verse 13 teaches us that those who enter through the wide gate and take the wrong road perish, the broad road leads to destruction.  There are only a few who want to follow Jesus, mainly because it demands decision-making, a decision to deny oneself.  People want to live according to their natural feelings and many do so.  Also, people want to live according to the social consensus.  People look around to see what others are doing.  When we find others doing the same thing, we feel secure.  When we do not see others approving of what we do, or others not doing the same thing we do, we feel difficult.  But Jesus says, this should not be the gauge.  This is not the measure we should use.  Jesus said, “narrow is the gate and the narrow is the road.”  If anything, we should question when our way is popular, or well spoken among people.   The wide way is convenient.  It looks promising.  It looks wise to take the road because it promises us a short-cut, and an easy way to follow.  It looks promising and pleasant.  It doesn’t ask us to remove anything on our journey.  For this reason, there are many who seek worldly wealth, honor, pleasures, power and achievement.  But worldly achievements and worldly pleasures cannot lead man to the Kingdom of God.  They distract men from the right path and bring them to the path that leads to destruction.  They do not lead men to a “lesser” place than the kingdom of God.  They lead men to hell.  Jesus warns His disciples not to be deceived.   

Part II – A Tree And Its Fruit (15-23).

Look at verse 15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  False prophets say they come from God, but really they do not.  They come giving all kinds of ‘good advice’ and show us the proper way to go.  But in reality false prophets come to deceive us and to lead us to the path that leads to destruction.  So not only do we have a wide gate and broad road, but we have cheerleaders who are cheering us on to take the wide gate.  These false prophets look like our friends who are giving us wise advice.  They look sincere and helpful, but in reality they are ferocious and never relent.  They battle against us without giving any quarter or mercy.  They are sent by the evil one to bring us to ruin.

How can you recognize false prophets?  Look at verse 16, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”  False prophets can be recognized by their fruit.  The fruit that they have leads to death.  Their message does not bring us life.  Their message does not come from God.  You will never hear a false prophet ever say the words, “Repent.”  You will never hear a false prophet tell you, “deny yourself.”  And even more importantly when you look at their lives you will see that they themselves have done neither as well.

Look at verses 17-20, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”  In this part of the passage we see clearly that false prophets bear bad fruit because they are bad trees.  And bad trees can only bear bad fruit.  They can never bear good fruit.  And in the same token, good trees can only bear good fruit.

What is the good fruit that good trees bear?  In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus said, “only God is good.” And the apostle James said, “Every good gift comes from above.” In other words, every good fruit should have the distinctive heavenly mark of our Father in heaven, who alone is good.  

Jesus is the exact representation of God the Father.  God revealed Himself in Jesus, the Son.  So this heavenly mark is Jesus.  Anyone who does not have Jesus’ mark is a thief and robber, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but Jesus came to give life in exchange for His own.  John 6:38 says, “I have come down from Heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  The mark of Jesus is obedience to God’s will.  This is the good fruit.  Good fruit is obedience to the Word of God.  And this fruit will leave a distinctive mark on our lives.  When we obey God’s Word, then His Heavenly Image becomes more and more imprinted in us so that all can see it.  It is like fruit that can be clearly seen by all. Love, joy, peace, self-control are all fruit from a life that obey’s God’s Word.

In vs. 21-23, Jesus gives the glimpse of the last day, when many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and heal the sick?” only to be turned down.  The disciples should not be deceived by false prophets, but also they should not deceive themselves.  V.21 says, “…..but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven will be saved.”  We are not Christians because we call Jesus “Lord.” We are not Christians because we talk powerfully in the name of Jesus.  We are not Christians because we do many powerful things in the name of Jesus.  Verse 21 teaches us that we are Christians because we do what our Father in Heaven wants us to do.  

Part III – The Wise and Foolish Builders (24-29).

Look at verse 24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  Jesus uses the analogy of building a house on the rock as the life that obeys Jesus’ words.  What happens when one obeys Jesus’ words?  

Look at verse 25, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  When we are wise enough to build our house upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, then when the rain comes and the winds blow our house will not fall.

When our house stands, it gives glory to God.  John calls this house, “fruit that will last.” “This is for my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.” Proverbs 10:1 says, “a wise son brings joy to his father.”  When we are wise and obey Jesus’ words, it brings joy to our heavenly father.   

Look at verses 26-27, “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  These verses reveal that there are counter-influences that are trying to tear down our house that we are trying to build up.

This is consistent with what we have been taught.  There is a wide gate that distracts us.  There are false prophets who lead us to destruction.  How can we overcome such counter-influences?  Only by building our lives on the rock.  Only by obeying Jesus’ words, can we overcome.

Look at verses 28-29, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”  Here we see that the crowd was amazed at Jesus because He spoke with authority.  His authority is because He is the actual author of these Words.  The people clearly could see that the teachers of the law had no authority, because they did not practice what they preached.  They had not made themselves like Jesus.  They did not put into practice His Word, they only demanded others to do so.  So the crowd was moved and could only confess that Jesus taught with authority.

This reveals that for us to have a good influence on others, we must first put God’s Word into practice.  This gives us life and also brings life to others.  In this way we bear good fruit and are building up for ourselves a heavenly dwelling.

Personally, this message was really difficult for me to serve.  It was not because the passage is so difficult to understand.  In reality, Jesus’ Words are quite simple and straight to the point.  The problem I had was that these verses were personally convicting to me.  It spoke to my own problem very clearly.  I could see that I have entered through the wide gate and have been traveling on the broad path for some time.  My real problem is that I want to take the easy way.  I am a person who wants to do something, but on my own terms and when I want to do it.  I don’t want to do anything when it is inconvenient or not easy.  Basically, I don’t like obedience, because obedience is not easy.  Obedience is entering through the narrow gate.  Obedience is not convenient.  Obedience is not doing what I want, when I want or going where I want, when I want to.

Whenever thoughts arise in me, such as, “Why do I have to do this?” or “I don’t want to do that.” Or “I’m tired, can’t I do this later?” I quickly listen to these thoughts and disregard God’s will or direction.  These are all signs of my disobedience.  Basically, I go my own way; taking the broad road.  Whenever my will and God’s will clash, I find that I almost always go my way.  Example: Basketball.

I comforted myself saying that I am still serving God because I give the message for CBF, HBF and have even started giving the message for the main service.  But deep in my heart I knew that I was deceiving myself, just like those who said, “Lord, Lord, haven’t we prophesied in Your Name.”  I thank God for this passage because it forced me to face my problem and acknowledge my sin of disobedience which is a life long problem I have and very painful to admit.  I pray God would truly help me to deny myself and learn true obedience, obedience that overcomes my will and my ideas, so that I can bear good fruit and enter through the narrow gate of Jesus Christ.

One Word: Enter through the narrow gate.