Many weeks ago now our Pastor preached the Sermon on the Mount. Since I've been doing much studying along these lines the last few months I decided to put my notes from his sermon down here along with some of my own thoughts.
I believe there are two ways, two crowds, two behaviours that eventually lead to two destinations.
According to a recent poll 98% of people believe (think) they are going to heaven. Well that would make sense. Who's going to admit they're going to hell? I think part of this stems from the belief that there are many ways to get to heaven. This deception appeals to most people. But what does Jesus say?
"Enter in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many go in there. Because strait is the gate and narow is the way which leads to life and few will find it."" Matt 7:13-14.
This certainly flies in the face of popular belief. So who do we believe?
I used to, when I was younger, live on a street called Broadway and I loved it. During that time I traveled along the spiritual "broad way" that Jesus spoke about here. It's such an easy road to travel and for a time loved that also. There are basically no requirements, no rules, and no correction along this broad road. People don't like to be confronted or corrected so many will opt to travel along this highway. It's indulgent. Anything goes here. It feels good.
It's a road where sin is tolerated, truth is moderated and acceptance is elevated. It's an all inclusive road where you can believe anything or nothing. You can believe in God or not. You can believe all religions are the same or...not. You can eat, drink, and be merry along this road because many will travel along it. The more the merrier they say. Not surprisingly you will travel along with athiests, communists and agnostics. You will see Gentiles, Jews, blacks, whites, and hispanics. More surprisingly you will find Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Jews, Mormons or anyone who has never put their faith in Jesus as the "only way." Like my Pastor says... "standing in McDonalds doesn't make you a Big Mac." Neither does going to church make you a Christian.
It's not about the majority. Usually it's said the majority rules. Spiritually speaking, the majority doesn't rule. It ruins. Lemmings come to mind here. You know, the ones who follow each other over the cliff? Most people are like those Lemmings, following each other right off the cliff, having no idea where the road would lead them when they began their journey. For them it's all about the travel.
Proverbs 14:12 says "There is a way which seems right to a man but the end thereof brings death."
This broad way leads to destruction. When he says destruction, he's speaking of hell. He's giving us the truth. Of course we know how popular the truth is when we're not ready to hear it. But he's warning us. If you're not driving the vehicle of faith down the road of grace you're on the wrong road. I'm not sure who said this but it's true when he said "hell is at the end of a Christless life."
When He says enter in at the straight gate, he's not making a suggestion. It's a command. Straight comes from the Greek "stenos" which means to "groan, under tremendous pressure, compressed" and where we get the word "stenography" from because it's a compressed version of writing; shorthand. Another way to look at this is sort of like squeezing thru a turnstyle before you can enter an amusement park. Or trying to crawl thru a crack in a boulder to get to the other side. Doing so means there is no room for things. You must leave stuff behind in order to make it. It's a difficult narrow passage to travel. We must come empty handed to get through this gate because it is so compressed. "Nothing in my hand I bring, only to the cross I cling."
I believe this is why Christians are called "narrow minded." We are saying the only way to Eternal Life is thru Jesus. If it sounds narrow minded, well, it is. In the end narrow is the way to go. Jesus broke it down even further when he said in John 10, "I am the door; by me if any man enters in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture." So it's not about WHAT the gate is, but WHO the gate is. We must enter thru the gate which means thru Him.
It's so true. It's not WHAT you know, but WHO you know. It's always been like that. This principle works in the spiritual realm as well. There will come a day when "many" hear "I do not know you" and that will be a day of extreme anquish and regret.
In our culture when you talk about traveling the narrow way, it means you're going in the wrong direction. Is it any wonder the majority chooses the broad way? These two roads intersect in front of the cross. One goes by it; the other goes through it. This is where destiny is determined by decision. It's a decision we all have to make regardless if we consciously make it or not. No decision is a decision.
Only one road is acceptable to the one who paved it for us. And it's not the broad way paved by many with good intentions.
We must not listen to the crowd when it comes to destiny. The crowd pulls, pushes or shoves us in the wrong direction as they pass closely by us.
Robert Frost wrote about two roads. The one less traveled is always the way to go.