The Narrow Road

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Welcome to Heartland Christian Church. If this is your first time here we’re happy to have you. Let’s get started.
Please Stand
Somebody give the Lord thanks for something He is or does.
Before we get started let’s read from Psalm 23
Psalm 23 ESV
A Psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This Psalm reminds us that no matter what, God is with us and will never forsake us; that through good times and bad times, He is always there and He will always meet our needs.
We're going to sing some songs of praise and worship, but before we do let’s recite the Lord’s prayer.
Praise and Worship
Now is the time in the service for Communion. When you came in you should’ve received a communion packet. If you don’t have one, or need one there are some on the table in the back. If you are a baptized believer in Christ we invite you to join us. We'll be reading from Luke 22:19-20
Luke 22:19–20 CSB
19 And he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Let’s pray:
Father God, thank you for bringing us here today. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins. Bless this communion we are about to take. Use it to draw us closer to you and never let us forget it’s importance. Examine us and show us where we’ve fallen short so we can repent and turn from those sins. We praise You for everything. In Jesus’s name we pray amen.
If you were here the last time I preached we talked about Zephaniah 1. We talked about the warnings issued by God through the prophet Zephaniah about what would happen to those who didn’t repent and turn back to God. Today we'll be reading from the last part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. We will be reading Matthew 7:13-29. Turn in your Bibles to that passage, and once you get there please stand for the reading of God’s word. Before we get started let’s pray:
“Father God, that you for bringing us here today. Thank you for the wonderful blessings you have given us. Open our minds and ears to you words, and teach us what you want us to learn. It’s in your Son Jesus’s might name we pray. Amen.”
The title of today’s sermon is The Narrow Road. The word of God says:
Matthew 7:13–29 CSB
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. 15 “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. 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 in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! 24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.
You may be seated.
Pastor Brennan Manning said:
“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simple finds unbelievable.”
This is tough to hear, is it not? Can Christians really be the cause of people not believing in Christ? The simple answer is yes we can.
This message isn’t meant to single anyone out and I’m speaking to myself, as much as anyone in this room. I was going to continue with Zephaniah 2, but this is a message that needs to be heard.
We live in a lost and dying world that is being lied to by evangelists every day. Have you ever been to one of those rallies where the organizers bring in a big name Christian band and a famous guest speaker? The speaker gets up and preaches a sermon about Christ and then invites the people to come up to pray and accept Christ, if they choose. Hundreds, if not thousands come forward and they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, by doing what? Saying a simple prayer. There’s no talk of repentance or baptism or living a Holy life that mirrors Christ. It amounts to nothing. Those people go home and life goes back to the way it was before the rally. They are stuck in their sin. There's no follow up.
We tell people that if they say a simple prayer, that they’re saved. That saying one simple prayer and Confessing Christ is enough to get you into heaven. The same principle is taught among our youth groups in this country. We tell students to write the date in the Bible that they got saved so that if they ever doubt they can turn to that date and know for sure that they are saved. I’ve seen this happen. I’ve been to those rallies. I was lead through the same prayer and told that if I repent for my sins and believe in the name of Christ that I'll be saved. It was in a Baptist Church so I was taught that once I was saved I couldn’t ever lose my salvation and all I ever had to do was believe. This is a lie from the pit of hell and Satan is using leaders in the church throughout the world to tell this lie. We are not saved just because we recited a simple prayer. John The Baptizer says in Matthew 3:8
Matthew 3:8 CSB
8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.
We tell people that accepting Christ will get them into heaven. But there is no discussion about repentance. To repent of your sins means to turn away from your sins. We can’t keep committing the same sin every day, ask God to forgive us, and then expect o get into heaven, simply cause we said a simple prayer. We must repent of our sins and turn from them. The editors of the website teach about Matthew 3:8. They say:
“John tells the Pharisees and Sadducees that their repentance must bear fruit. In other words, it will not be enough to be seen publicly agreeing with John and being baptized by him in the Jordan River. Repentance means to change your mind and turn around, to head in a new direction. They must change their teaching and their direction in leading the religious lives of the people of Israel. If the change is genuine, it will produce measurable results. It will bear fruit.”
We can’t accept Christ through a simple prayer, and repent just once for all our sins. We must change our lifestyles. It’s not that easy to get into heaven. If it was everyone would do it. Jesus tell us in Matthew 7:13
Matthew 7:13 (CSB)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate...
And in Matthew 7:14
Matthew 7:14 CSB
14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
Look at what Jesus said. “Narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” It's narrow because the Christian life is hard. As Christians we are constantly fighting our flesh and the Spirit. Mark 14:38
Mark 14:38 (CSB)
“...The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
In his letter to the Galatians Paul tells us that we must be led by the Spirit. He says in Galatians 5:16-21
Galatians 5:16–21 CSB
16 I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
We can’t live our lives life the rest of the world. We must live our lives apart from the world. We are told in 1 John 2:15-17
1 John 2:15–17 CSB
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
Often times we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We imitate them. We act like them. After all they say that they are Christians, so if they are Christians, then we need to talk like them, dress like them or live like them, but how do we know that they are saved? Stop comparing yourselves to other Christians. Live Holy and righteous lives, like Christ and compare yourselves to Him. We're living just like the rest of the world. We come in here on Sundays and worship Christ and then leave here and follow the rest of the world. We tell crude jokes and curse. We tell lies to enhance our stories. We listen to music and watch things on tv that Christ tells us to not be involved in. We then come to church on Sundays, repent, and then do it all again. We can’t live like the rest of the world Monday through Saturday, and then like Christ on Sunday. As Pastor Derrick has said in one of his songs.
“Ain’t no such thing as a halfway Christian.”
We can’t live half of our lives for the world and the other half in sin. It won’t work. Jesus says in Matthew 12:30
Matthew 12:30 CSB
30 Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.
If we're not with God then we are against Him. We must hate the things He hates and take a stand against the very things He teaches against. If we don’t then He has no use for us as we see in Revelation 3:15-16
Revelation 3:15–16 CSB
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.
Ouch!!! If we live our lives for the world then we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. There are those who will profess to be Christians, who get baptized, they pay their weekly tithes and they will do works for the Kingdom of God, yet they will not make it to heaven. We see this in Matthew 7:22-23
Matthew 7:22–23 CSB
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!
Why is this? Why will those who did good works for the kingdom of God not get into heaven? Because they didn’t live a life worthy of Christ. They seemed to love God, so they must be a Christian, right? It takes more than saying a prayer to get into heaven. Pastor Voddie baucham says:
“Listen to me carefully, hell will be filled with people who were baptized. Hell will be filled with people who don’t drink, and don’t smoke, and don’t cure, and didn’t have sex outside of marriage. There will be millions of people in hell who can make everyone of those claims because not one of those things makes you a Christian.”
James 2:26 says:
James 2:26 CSB
26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Faith produces good works. Because of our faith we do good works for Christ, but even those good works won’t save us. We must lived as Christ lived. We must walk that narrow road. We must have the fruits of the Spirit as Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-26
Galatians 5:22–26 CSB
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
We must live as Christ lived. we must live out Matthew 25:34-40
Matthew 25:34–40 CSB
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 “ ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
If we want to spend eternity in heaven then we must live like Christ, and love others as Christ loves us. We must feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit those who are sick and imprisoned.
Jesus says in Luke 6:46
Luke 6:46 CSB
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?
Look at what Jesus says about those who claim to be Christians, but live an abhorrent lifestyle. Jesus says in Matthew 7:15-16
Matthew 7:15–16 (CSB)
15 “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.
16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit...”
He calls them ravaging wolves and that we will know them by their fruits. We can act like a Christian all we want, and we may be able to fool those around us, but we’ll never fool God.
When we tell people that we are Christians we instantly put a target on our backs. People instantly start watching our actions. Why? They want to see if we’re living holy lives like Christ. We’re constantly being watched. If someone cuts you off in traffic do you fly the bird at them? Are you short with the waitress that gets your food order wrong, or with a co-worker or family member that you may not like?
Matthew 12:36–37 CSB
36 I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
We will be held accountable for our words and our actions. there's a phrase that we need to remember. That phrase is “so that some might be saved.” We all have heard the saying that we might be the only Jesus people ever see. Have you ever thought about that? It’s true. People may only see us one time, and we may not even notice them. Will that person see Jesus in us, or will they see something else? How do we let people see Christ in us. We must live out John 3:30
John 3:30 CSB
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
If we live holy lives that mirror Christ, if we decrease and get ourselves out of the way, then Christ will increase in our lives and magnified. And, in turn, that person that we may only see once will see Christ in us. Will they accept Christ based on what they see? Maybe, maybe not. It’s not our decision. But we can plant that seed and let them see Christ. Let our lives mirror Christ so that some might be saved. We can live our lives with the fruits of the Spirit I mentioned earlier in Galatians 5, and it may be that because they saw those fruits that they may come to know Christ. Don’t be the reason that someone doesn’t know Christ.
In order to live a life that is holy and mirrors Christ we must take up our crosses and follow Christ as Jesus tells us in Mark 8:34-38
Mark 8:34–38 (CSB)
34 ...“If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it.
36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life?
37 What can anyone give in exchange for his life?
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
If we want to take the narrow road, we must take up our crosses and follow Christ. We must build our foundation on the rock and not the sand. The foundation of the rock is strong and steady and the sand is lose and can be blown away. I ask you, what is your foundation built on? Are you friends with the world? If you're living for the world, don’t. James 4:4
James 4:4 CSB
4 You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.
Are we living like those mentioned in Titus 1:16
Titus 1:16 CSB
16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
If we know what is good and acceptable in God’s eyes, and we don’t do it, that is sin. James 4:17
James 4:17 CSB
17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.
We must take up our crosses and walk the narrow road. Stop comparing yourselves to others who claim to be a Christian. Stop living for the world.
Do you want to know how the Bible says that we are saved? We must examine our lives and compare it to the teachings of the scriptures. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5
2 Corinthians 13:5 CSB
5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.
Paul wanted people to ask themselves if they were walking according to the scriptures. The blueprint to get to heaven is right here in the scriptures. We must take a good, hard, honest look at our lives and compare ourselves to the scriptures. The answers to the test are there, we just need to make sure that we follow them.
How do we examine ourselves? Look at 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:3–6 CSB
3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: 6 The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.
Test yourselves. Are you living a holy life like Christ? Are you talking up your cross and walking the narrow road? Jesus said that we will be known by our fruits, so what kind of fruit are you producing? If you find yourselves stuck in sin, don’t give up. Get on your knees in prayer. Confess your sins to one another. Rid your lives of the things that are helping you sin. Matthew 5:29
Matthew 5:29 CSB
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Is Jesus telling us to really gouge out our left eye? He’s telling us to get rid of all the things in our lives that cause us to sin. Stop living in sin. If you’re battling sin, get up and fight. Take up your crosses daily and fight. Don’t fall into temptation. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12
Philippians 2:12 (CSB)
12 out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
He continues in Philippians 2:14-16
Philippians 2:14–16 CSB
14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, 16 by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.
Walk the narrow road. Work our your salvation with fear and trembling, examine yourselves and take up your cross daily and follow Him. Never give up on the fight. We must be innocent in our actions. Don’t stay stuck in your sins. Be innocent like little children. In fact, Jesus tells us we must be innocent like children. Matthew 18:3
Matthew 18:3 CSB
3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
And 1 John 3:7
1 John 3:7 CSB
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
We must be innocent like children. We must not sin, but if we do we must ask forgiveness for those sins and then repent and turn from them. Don’t get lost in those sins. Don’t get stuck in those sins. If you're stuck take up your cross and fight. Don’t ever let Satan win.
Look, we all sin. There isn’t one person here that hasn’t committed a sin. If someone tells you they haven’t sinned then turn and run and if you see a lightning bolt…duck. 1 John 1:8-10
1 John 1:8–10 CSB
8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
It’s in our nature to sin. When we sin, ask forgiveness and repent from that sin, confess it to one another, and then turn away from the sin. Don’t dwell on it. Too often we sin, then we feel guilty and worthless, like God couldn’t love us. But don’t ever forget that He died so that we can spend eternity in heaven. Stay strong in the faith.
Pastor Voddie Baucham says:
“Remaining is an evidence of salvation. Staying in the way. Staying on the narrow path is evidence of salvation.”
How do we know that we are saved? We stay on the narrow road. We produce good fruit. We live a life that is holy like Christ, daily taking up our crosses and following Him. What happens if we follow the broad way that leads to destruction? What happens if we produce thistles among the figs? Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:19
Matthew 7:19 CSB
19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
The tree that bears good and bad fruits is an illustration, that represents us. We are one or the other. If we're the tree that doesn’t produce good fruit then we’re told that we’re to be thrown in the fire, and of course that fire represents hell. We see this echoed in John 15:5-8
John 15:5–8 CSB
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.
If we live a life that is holy like Christ’s running the race and enduring till the end, then we will spend eternity with Christ and we will be called his disciples. And hopefully we get to hear Jesus quote Matthew 25:23
Matthew 25:23 CSB
23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’
How do we get to hear that? How do we get to spend eternity with Christ. We live out James 1:22
James 1:22 CSB
22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Read the word daily. We can’t compare ourselves to scriptures if we don’t know what the scriptures say. Live holy lives with the goal of being holy like Christ. Let our lives mirror His, so that people can see Him in us. Learn to decrease, get yourselves out of the way so that Christ can increase in our lives. Seek Christ first, rely on Him. Don’t worry about things in this life and live out Matthew 6:33-34
Matthew 6:33–34 CSB
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Most importantly, we must love. Christ was the example of perfect love. He was a servant. He washed His disciples feet. So, then we must love others as well. We are told the two greatest commandments involve love. Matthew 22:37-40
Matthew 22:37–40 CSB
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
If we walk the narrow road. Love God and others, if we live out Matthew 25 then we are told that we produce good fruits. If we believe in Christ are baptized and repent and turn from our sins then we’re told that we will spend eternity with Christ.
Now, I know that I’ve laid a lot at your feet this morning. We need to make sure that we're living lives worthy of Christ and we need to travel the narrow road. Don’t be like the Christians Brennan Manning said is the single greatest cause of atheism. The ones who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny Him by their lifestyles. Be holy like Christ so that some might be saved.
In closing, I want to leave you with a few lines from a Robert Frost poem entitled The Road Not Taken:
“Two road diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that made all the difference.”
Make a difference in your life and travel the narrow road, the road less taken. It will be rough terrain and it won’t be easy, but in the end, after our race is won, it’ll have made all the difference in our lives, and maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference in the lives of others as well.
Let’s pray:
“Father God. Thank you for bringing us all here today. Thank you for your words and for being faithful and just to forgive us. Help us as we travel the narrow road, lead and guide our steps as we traverse a world that is us. Help us to be shining lights for the world so that some might be saved. Not that we would receive all the glory, but that You would. Protect us as we travel home today, and keep us safe throughout the week. And as always, thank you for being the author of our faith. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”
If you’re not a follower of Christ then today is the day of salvation. If you would like to know more about Christ or how to become a Christian, or more about how to travel the narrow road then you are welcome to come up here to pray, or you can pray by yourselves. If you want to confess your sins to someone or need healing for illness then you’re welcome to come foreward as well. We will have people up here to pray for you.
The band is going to sing one last song before we go, but before they do, let me speak the blessing of God over you:
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord make His face shine on you, be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face towards you and give you His peace. In Jesus’s name. Amen.”
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