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 Two Ways to Live 

An excellent sermon on the two roads we can walk…the narrow path or the broad way. One leads to eternal life, one leads to destruction. In this sermon, Andrew Reid also warns of the reality and dangers of the false prophets (pastors/teachers) within the Body of Christ, and that it is essential that Jesus Christ and his Word are our firm foundation in our walk along the narrow path to eternal life.

Click here to listen: Two Ways to Live (Matthew 7:13-29)

Sermon Transcript

Matthew 7:13–29
Two Ways to Live by Andrew Reid

Speeches to Admire
This week I dipped into books on my shelves.
I dabbled on internet web sites.
I scoured a variety of sources for the world’s great speeches.
The speakers included…
Theodore Roosevelt.
Winston Churchill.
Mohammed.
Oliver Cromwell.
Demosthenes.
Alexander the Great.
William Wilberforce.
Moses.
And of course, Jesus Christ.
And of all the speeches of Jesus, this one that we have spent so much time on over the past months is the one inevitably singled out.
One author stated that it is impossible to deny the impact of the Sermon on
the Mount, perhaps the world’s most famous speech.
No speech has been more pondered, more influential, or more quoted.
It introduced a prayer that even those who don’t normally pray know.
It is a masterpiece among speeches.
A speech to be admired.

But friends, is this all that it is?
Well, today we are going to see what Jesus himself in his sermon thought we should do with his marvellous speech.
These are his closing words in it.
So, let’s turn to it and see how he advises us.
Today there are three final sayings by Jesus and a final postscript where we hear how people reacted.
I’d encourage you to follow with me in your Bibles.
You might also find it helpful to have my little outline beside you.
So, please turn with me to Matthew 7:13–29.

Saying 1: The Two Ways (7:13–14)

Closely linked parallel statements
There are a number of things to notice in this passage.
First, there are two very closely linked and parallel statements.
Both speak of gates.
Both speak of ways leading from the gates.
Both speak of gate widths.
Both speak of roads behind the gates.
Both speak of the destination of the roads.
And both speak of how many find the gates and their destinations.
At its most basic, the saying seems straightforward.
However, if we did a bit deeper there is lots of colour and depth to it.
Colour and depth
Enter what?
First, Jesus gives an imperative to begin.
He says, ‘Enter!’
Then he gives the way of entering.
It is through the narrow gate.
But what is he telling us to enter?
Well, verse 14 talks about it in terms of life.
It is opposed to the destruction mentioned in verse 13.
But that only gets us so far.
My view is that Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven.
Flip back to Matthew 5:20 at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus uses the enter word here.
He speaks of entering the kingdom of heaven.
Now look at the end of chapter 6.
Look at verse 33.
Jesus speaks about seeking first God’s kingdom.
Finally, look at chapter 7, verse 21.
Again, Jesus speak of entering the kingdom.
So, I think that this is what Jesus means here.
He is speaking about entering the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God,
the place where life is to be found.
Andrew Reid

One or the other
Second, I want you grasp the impact of what Jesus is saying.
Implicit in these two verses is that it’s one gate or the other.
Everyone has to go through one or the other.
You can choose the narrow gate and road.
Or you can choose the broad gate and road.
Oh, and by the way, the passage is not clear whether the road leads to the
gate or from the gate.
I’ll assume it is the latter, but it could equally be the former.

A default
Third, there’s a default gate.
It is the wide gate, which is clearly the most attractive gate.
Let me give you a feel for it.
You see, because of our background, we come to the story thinking that
narrow gates and paths are positive.
Perhaps the image is of lovely little country gate with a gentle paved path
through beautiful countryside.
The sort of journey anyone would want to take.
But instead, I want you to think of constriction.
Narrow.
A squeeze.
It’s hard to find.
Only one person at a time can get through.
Perhaps it’s so constricted that people can only get through with a struggle.
And on the other side of it is a narrow little path that can only fit one person
at a time.
This narrow path is not an obvious choice.
If it was, it would have heaps of people lining up.
They’d have to widen the gate and put a wide path in.
But no.
Not necessary.
Only a few even find this gate and path, let alone travel through it and on it.
Only a shonky GPS would bring you this way or one that allowed you to
select an option for off road and difficult tracks.
There would not be many ‘like’s ticked next to this way on its rather shoddy
Facebook page.
No.
The obvious and comfortable path is the other one.
Think wide city gate because it is the favoured choice.
Think wide path which indicates a destination of significance such as a
palace or the like.
The Facebook page for this gate and way would have many, many, ‘like’s.
All reputable GPS’s would take you this way.

Destinations
But look at where it and the heaps and heaps of people who travel on it end
up.
It goes not to a palace but over a precipice.
It leads to destruction.
But that difficult, hard to find, narrow gate and path leads to life and the
kingdom of God and the generous and benevolent God who loves giving good gifts to his children.

Summing up
Friends, Jesus is summing up all that he has said.
And his first saying is stark and clear.
His hearers, and that clearly includes us, have a choice.
It is destruction or life.
Being in or out.
Be saved or lost.
There’s no third option.
Only two options.
Two gates leading in two opposite directions with two totally opposed ends …
the kingdom of God or its alternative … heaven or hell.

Saying 2: False Prophets (7:15–23)

But let’s turn to our second concluding statement by Jesus.

Background
Now, the background to this passage is false prophets and false prophecy.
There is no shortage of false prophets and prophecy in the Old Testament.
The New Testament tells us that there will be no shortage in the early days
of the church.
Church history indicates that false prophets and false prophecy litters the
history of the church.
And our own day indicates that we too have problems in this area.
So, Jesus is preparing his people for his absence.
And he does so by using another imperative.
Previous he said ‘Enter!’
Now it is, ‘Watch out!’
‘Watch out for false prophets!’
What is a false prophet?
Now look at the rest of verse 15.
Jesus defines a false prophet.
A false prophet looks like another sheep.
They can therefore wander freely among the rest of the sheep.
But inwardly they are something else.
That is, underneath their deceptive clothing they are predatory.
They are insidious.
They are ferocious wolves.
How to recognise them under the sheep’s clothing
But then Jesus does us a great favour.
He protects his sheep by telling them how to identify the inwardly ferocious
wolves.
Look at verse 16.
He says this.

By their fruit you will recognise them.

But what exactly does Jesus mean by this?
What fruit does he mean?
What fruit do they demonstrate?
What fruit should be look for?
Well, I take it that Jesus has been telling us this right from the beginning of
his sermon.
He has been pointing out a superior righteousness, a distinctive lifestyle.
The fruit to look for in a prophet is therefore the fruit evident in the Sermon
on the Mount.
I think that this finds support in verse 21.
Look at what Jesus says:

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
[Matthew 7:21; NIV]

So, the fruit to look for in a prophet is therefore the fruit laid out for us in the
Sermon on the Mount.
So, a true prophet will be one poor in Spirit.
Meek.
One who hungers and thirsts for righteousness.
Merciful.
Pure in heart.
A peacemaker.
One willing to be persecuted and suffer because of righteousness.
Salty.
Shining to the world with good deeds.
One who does not malign other with their words.
One faithful in marriage and in mind.
One who keeps their word.
One generous with money.
One who cares for the needy.
Someone who silently and without desire for recognition practices
righteousness.
A person who seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Many of these things are the things listed in qualifications of elders in Paul’s
epistles.
Friends, the marks of the true prophet are their likeness to Jesus and the
lifestyle set before his people in the Sermon on the Mount.
Friends, whenever a pastor shifts away from the core teaching of Jesus in
their own lives, watch out!
Whenever they become focussed on money, on fame, on their own glory
rather than the glory of God…
Whenever they no longer worry about godliness…
When they can’t look after their own household…
When they don’t act as Jesus does…
When their lives don’t support their witness…
Then be cautious.
Don’t have them in your pulpit or in oversight of God’s people.
Don’t read their books.
Don’t let them expose their teaching to God’s sheep.
Friends, in the ancient world and the contemporary world, the things that
commend our preachers and teachers are giftedness, great deeds, the
miraculous, large followings, and even orthodox theology.
But such things can be simulated.
Moreover, they are the very garb that is used to beguile the sheep of God.
But Jesus is clear.
Don’t classify your preachers and teachers primarily by these standards.
His teaching about good and bad trees and the fruit they bear is clear.
Bearing fruit comes from inside.

And only where there is continuity between the being of the person and
their external life is the truth that resides within truth.
Now friends, at this point I need to be a little careful.
I’m not for a moment claiming that pastors and teachers will be perfect.
If so, you’d have to eject me from your pulpit because I am far from perfect.
No, this is not about perfection.
But it is about our pastors and teachers endorsing the teachings of Jesus here both with their mouths and in their lives.
If their roots are deep into Jesus, then their branches will be bearing the
appropriate fruit.
And your job is to watch out and be discerning.
You see, God does.
Look at verse 19.
God loves his children.
He will judge and punish those who oversee them but are wolves in disguise.
Look at verse 19.
False teachers who do not bear good fruit will be judged with firmness and
justice.
Look at verse 19.
Cutting down trees and throwing them into the fire is a metaphor for
judgment.
It is a declaration that those who so masquerade as true disciples of Jesus and who fleece the sheep of God will find their destination in eternal separation from God and Jesus.
So, if God is discerning, so should his people be.
Look at the last part of verse 20.
Be discerning.
Watch out.
Look for fruit.

Sobering words
Friends, do you see the impact of all of this.
You see, the fact is that not everyone who says they are Christian really is.
Look at verses 21–23.
These verses speak firstly about false prophets.
However, they surely have impact for us as well.
They are amongst the most sobering words in the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus says…

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out
demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you
evildoers!’ [Matthew 7:21–23; NIV]

Friends, hear the words of Jesus.
It is not what you say that makes you Christian.
It’s what you hear and what you do with it that matters.
And let me tell you friends, just as it is easy to spot the true product in a
preacher and teacher, so it is easy to spot the true product in the ordinary
Christian.
They bear fruit.
Their heart flows out into their hands and actions.
And this neatly flows into our final section.

Saying 3: Two Builders (7:24–27)
In verses 2–27 Jesus uses an analogy of building.
Again, it is not an analogy that began with him.
Others had used it before him.
They talked about building lives upon God’s word revealed in the Old
Testament law.
But that is not what Jesus is saying, is it?
Look carefully.
Jesus speaks about people hearing these words of mine and putting THEM into practice.
Jesus is putting his words, his interpretation of Old Testament Law, as being synonymous with the Father’s will.
Listening to him…
Basing your life on him…
Hearing his words in this Sermon on the Mount and shaping your existence
on them…
Is like the wise man who built his house upon the rock.
Judgment Day, which will come like a flood, will divulge the truth of where
our lives have been grounded.
Friends, there is one more thing to be noticed here.
Did you see it?

Jesus speaks of hearing and putting into practice.
This is about daily grounding your life in these words of Jesus.
It is about daily obedience to Christ.
It is about the lifelong reflection of these words in lived lives.

Postscript (7:28–29)

So, we have finally reached the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
Now, you might remember that Jesus has constantly interacted with the Old Testament law.
He has even explained parts of the Ten Commandments delivered to Israel
on Mount Sinai.
Now, I wonder whether you remember what the people of God said when
they heard God speak from Mount Sinai.
They said it repeatedly.
They said it openly, loudly, and repetitively.
They said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken, we will do.’
Well, look at verse 28.
Look at the reaction of the people who hear the word of the Lord from the
Son of God on the mountain.

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his
teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their
teachers of the law. [Matthew 7:28–29; NIV]

But friends, amazement is not what God was after.
Nor was he after quick promises to do the word of the Son.
He is after long, enduring, daily, listening and obeying.
As the prayerbook says, let us respond to God not only with our lips but with our lives, serving him with holiness and righteousness all our lives.
Friends, we have not reached the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
It is a great speech.
One of the great speeches in human history.
But Jesus did not want admiration of his speech.
As one writer has quipped:
‘The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not meant to be admired but to beobeyed.’ [R. T. France, Matthew, 146]

Only Two Ways
Friends, let me just summarise where we have been today.
Today we have heard no new commandment from Jesus.
Rather, Jesus has worked hard on getting us to put into practice all that he
has already said.
And when you combine his teaching for today, the point is clear.
Jesus is saying that there are ultimately only two categories of people in the world.
We might see gradations and shades of black and white.
But in the end, God sees only two.
Three times Jesus has said this.
There are those who choose the narrow gate and road and there are those
who choose the broad gate and road.
There are those who bear good fruit or bad fruit.
And there are those who build their lives on the strong foundation of the
teaching of Jesus and those who don’t.
The destiny of each is marked.
One is salvation and blessing.
The other is damnation and curse.
So, how do you work out which destiny you are headed for?
Well, Jesus is clear.
Blessing comes from a life filled with hearing, obeying, and bearing fruit.
It comes from filling our ears with the teaching of Jesus.
It comes from letting those words seep down into our hearts, the centre of
our existence.
And it comes from letting our heart flow out into the fruit of lives reflecting
that teaching.
Of course, we know that because we are sinful people we will never be able to do this perfectly.
We also know the end of the story, that Jesus died in order to forgive our sin.
However, this does not take away the force of what Jesus says here.
His forgiveness, his teaching, his instruction, is designed to flow out into a
life reflecting what he has said in this sermon.

Friends, I cannot close today without challenging you.
Are you Christian yet?
Have you trusted in Jesus alone for your salvation?
And if so, have you chosen to follow him and to base your life on his word?
Is your life filled with the fruit of good works?
Well, if not, then today is the day to amend this.
Today is the day to seek his forgiveness and to determine to fill your life with obedience to his word.
If you have not done this before, then do it today.
And to help you do this, I want to pray a prayer that can express this for you and also for those of us who are already Christians and who seek to live before God.
The prayer is on the Bible Talk outline.
It’s also on the data projector.
Please pray with me.
And if you are doing this with earnestness for the first time in your life,
please let me know.

A General Thanksgiving
Almighty God and merciful Father,
we give you hearty thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all people.
We bless you for our creation and preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all, for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such a sense of all your mercies,
that our hearts may be truly thankful
and that we may praise you
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
serving you in holiness and righteousness all our days,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for
ever. Amen.


Main Sermon Text:

Matthew 7:13-29

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.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (ESV)