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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Good and the Bad, The Broad and the Narrow



The Good and the Bad, The Broad and the Narrow

Jesus taught that there were only two paths for people to walk on through this life, the good path of holiness or the bad path of sin.  The narrow path or the broad.  We sometimes hear people say that there are many ways to God.  But Jesus taught that there was only one way and that He is that Way. (John 14:6) Jesus gives us His holiness which we must have in order to walk in the good way.

 Let’s hear what Jesus says about these two ways.  “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 straight is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14)

Jesus says we walk on either one path through life or on the other.  There is no middle way.  First let’s talk about the broad way.  The broad way is attractive and popular.  Many folks are travelling on this broad way and having fun.  You will feel right at home with plenty of company.  It seems natural to follow the crowd.  Also you are free to go right through the gate without checking anything.  You can bring anything you want along on the trip.  Your lusts, appetites, passions, sins, idols, anything.  You have the freedom to do your own thing on this broad road. Whether it is the high way of basking in your own importance, or the back way of taking advantage of people behind their backs, walking this road will be your ruin.  When you have walked down this broad road to the very end, Jesus tells us that it will lead to “destruction.”

And then Jesus mentions a second road, the narrow road with a straight gate.  Accepting Christ as Savior and Lord and being changed by the Holy Spirit, this is what must happen for you to go through the straight gate which leads to this narrow way.  We must bend down and stoop to get through the straight gate.  We must humble ourselves and deny ourselves and confess our sins.  Promise to follow Jesus. We must pass out of a state of sin and into a state of grace, and be born again. This straight gate is hard to find and hard to get through.  There must be a new heart and a new spirit, and old things will pass away.

When traveling the narrow road we must take up our cross and follow Jesus while enduring persecution. Christ gives us His righteousness as a covering and He gives us His peace and joy as we walk this narrow way.  And when we come to the end of the road there is eternal life waiting for us.  Christ has prepared a place for us and our mortal bodies will become immortal.

Jesus told several more stories to emphasize the same truth about the two directions in life that each person has to choose from – the good or the bad.  One of these stories is that of the Wise and the Foolish Builders.  Here is Jesus’ “Wise and Foolish Builders” story: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose up, and the winds blew and beat against that house: yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

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 up, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matthew 7:24-27)

Jesus says that there are two hearers represented here.  One hearer is wise and the other foolish.  Both hearers hear the word of Christ but only one follows His word. Only one builds his life (his house) on Christ’s words. The other hearer doesn’t.  We must ground our hope on Christ for He is our Rock.  He pardons our sins, gives us the power of his Spirit, sanctifies us, and prays for us.  We build our lives on Him because He is our rock.  And Scripture says that the Church is built on the rock, which is Jesus.  We build on the rock by hearing and doing and obeying.  By believing.  Building upon the rock requires care and pains, but also so much grace and joy!  And glory!

And then there are those builders who despise this Rock and they build their house (their life) on the sand.  The sand is anything that isn’t the Rock.  Some build their hopes upon worldly prosperity, and others upon enjoying themselves.  But then finally the rains come and the streams rise up and the winds blow and beat against the house (their life)   Death finally comes to both builders.  And when death comes the builder who built her hopes on Christ (the Rock) will stand.  His comforts will not fail and will be an anchor for her soul.  But the builder who built his house (life) on the sand will fail.  His house will be destroyed.  Washed away in the storm, with no Rock to hold him in place. 

And then Jesus told even a third story about the two choices a person has.  This story is about the good tree and the bad tree!  Let’s listen: “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  Also 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.

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:15-23) 

All three of Jesus’ stories here illustrate the same truth.  The truth that we can only live out our life on one of two paths, the broad path or the narrow path.  We can only build our life on one of two places, on the Rock or on the sand.  And like a tree we can only produce good fruit (good work) or bad fruit (bad work).  Jesus said that if a person is not for Him then that person is against Him.  No middle ground. (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23)   We each have a choice to make in our life. A choice to go one way or the other. Which way will it be?        
   



  




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