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Most Likely to Succeed

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Matthew 7:13-141

[Rearrange chairs into very narrow center aisle, wide side aisles. Someone handing out donuts at top of narrow aisle only to those who walked down narrow center aisle. deceptive signs? One usher telling people that donuts are straight ahead at the end of the center aisle.]

Introduction

Nobody likes to be told what to do. And given the choice, most of us would choose to be given a choice. We want selection. We like to leave our options open. We want to be able to decide things for ourselves. Well, this morning, I’ve got some good news for you.

Series: You Have a Choice!

God gives you a choice. That’s right! He allows you to decide certain things for yourself.

All this year, we’ve been studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. It’s a lesson about God’s Kingdom that Jesus taught to his followers. Here at the end of the year, we come to the end of the lesson. Jesus has told us that although we enter the kingdom by God’s grace, the kingdom and its citizens are characterized by righteousness—not just an external conformity to the rules, but the heartfelt inner righteousness of pure thoughts, motives and attitudes. We need to be investing in the kingdom, laying up eternal treasures in heaven instead of temporary treasures on earth. And in our relationships with each other, we should treat each other well—just the way we’d want to be treated.

Now Jesus closes his lesson by giving us a choice. In fact, he gives us three choices:

· Where are you going?

· Who are your guides? and

· What will you change?

Today we want to take a look at the first choice that Jesus lays before us: Where Are You Going? What is the purpose and direction of your life?

The Bible says, there are Two Paths you can take in life. And you are free to make the choice. God gives you that freedom. But as you decide, there are a few things you should know about these two options. One of them works and the other one doesn’t. One of them feels right and the other one doesn’t. One of them is popular and the other one isn’t.

Most Likely to Succeed

These two paths lead to two very different destinations. Your selection is a matter of life and death. One of these paths is most likely to succeed. The other is doomed to fail. The verses we’re studying today, Matthew 7:13-14, are all about the choice between these two paths. These verses tell us something important about the choice we have to make and they tell us something important about ourselves.

Although the choice is ours to make, Jesus begins with some wise advice:

Matthew 7:13 Enter through the narrow gate.

Even before we examine the two paths stretching in front of us, Jesus wants us to have the inside scoop: think narrow. “I’m about to give you a choice between two doors. And by the way, if you’re paying attention, pick the narrow door.”

The Path To Death

Then he gives us a contrast between these two pathways.

For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

The first option is a wide gate and a broad path. The words used here describe a spacious, roomy, expansive highway to travel on. It’s just the kind of road you might choose. Travel along this road is easy and there’s ample room to accommodate everyone and all their baggage.

self indulgence

Destruction both now and for ever.

 

Death

Life

The Onramp

wide

 

Road Conditions

broad

 

Traffic Report

many

 

Destination

destruction

 

The Path To Life

[14] But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Even the beginning of the path is restrictive.

narrow is literally “pressed together”, restricted (tribulation)

The implication is not spacious, but crowded, hard to navigate.

KJV said “strait and narrow”, but strait means restricted, like the Strait of Magellan, not “straight” meaning without curves.

repentance, humility, discipline, persecution

self-sacrifice, self-denial, spiritual resistance and conflict

a minority religion

Oswald Sanders: “A West Indian who had chosen Mohammedanism in preference to Christianity, gave as his reason that ‘Mohammedanism is a noble, broad path—there is room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is a narrow way—the sins have to be left behind.’” (p. 149)

Life both now and for ever.

 

Death

Life

The Onramp

wide

small

Road Conditions

broad

narrow

Traffic Report

many

few

Destination

destruction

life

If you’ve entered the narrow gate, don’t expect to fit in, to be popular.

Expect continued persecution, restrictions, not a life of ease.

Many people don’t have a problem with Jesus being a Savior, but a lot of people have a hard time accepting Jesus as THE only Savior.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

1 John 5:11-12 God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

[Clip: “Planes, Trains” You’re going the wrong way!]

[Clip: “Planes, Trains” Do you feel this car is roadworthy? Yes, I do.]

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Which Path Will You Choose?

You have a choice—you can either choose to find life through Christ or through any other means. But the idea that all paths lead to God and to eternal life is a fallacy. Seeking life through anything but Christ is the most popular choice, usually an easier path, with fewer requirements and less restrictive. Most people choose that path to find life. Seeking life through Christ alone is a less popular choice, sometimes difficult, with specific requirements which eliminate many from the path (by their own choice). Jesus, however, is the only way to life. All other paths lead to death. Christianity is exclusive. All are welcome, but only those who come will be saved.

Notes:

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


1 Copyright © 2004 by Lewis B. Bell III. This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 1 in the Kingdom Choices series delivered by Chip Bell at Fellowship Bible Church Arapaho in Dallas, TX on November 28, 2004. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with credit.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians