How to Get In

Sermon on the Mount  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:10
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In a complex world, Jesus makes it clear that there are only two paths in life to take. Find out which one leads to life in this message from Matthew 7:13-14.

One of the difficulties we have faced in 2020 is that our ability to travel for international missions has been limited.
Many of you know that we often take a team to Zimbabwe in the fall, and we weren’t able to do that this year due to the pandemic.
I wish we could take all of you with us, because today’s passage would make so much more sense if you could see life there.
We fly from Dulles Airport and eventually find ourselves in Harare, Zimbabwe.
From there, we get in a vehicle and drive for several hours on a paved highway that would look very familiar.
Eventually, though, you turn off a paved road onto a wide, flat dirt road through a small town.
Once you make it through that town, you turn right and start winding up the mountains for a couple of hours over roads that are rutted out, narrow, and kinda scary.
When you finally get to the village, you get off that road and start walking down narrow, winding dirt paths to navigate your way from homestead to homestead.
That network of paths takes you to homes with beautiful views and kind-hearted people, to places where you see God move in lives to draw people to himself as they hear about who Jesus is and how he can save them.
It is a really hard trip, but it is worth it.
Jesus is going to use the picture of two different kinds of paths to help us see how to get in to the kingdom of God.
One of the key truths that we have seen throughout our look at the Sermon on the Mount is that not everyone is a part of the kingdom of God.
We have seen that those of us who are a part of the kingdom should be and act differently than those who aren’t because our hearts have been transformed and we have been brought into the kingdom.
Let’s make three observations this week about how to enter the kingdom of God.
First, we must be absolutely clear that:

1) There is only one way into the kingdom.

Jesus jumps straight into verse 13 by telling us to come in through the narrow gate.
Jesus is again reversing our expectations.
After all, shouldn’t everyone want to come into the Messiah’s kingdom?
He makes it clear that the way into his kingdom is narrow.
He contrasts the narrow gate with the wide gate and broad road.
There are a lot of people who find this road, but those who stay here never enter the kingdom of God.
Instead of life, those who travel the broad road head to destruction.
In fact, putting this together with what else we see in the Bible, we can see that anyone who isn’t a true follower of Christ is on the broad path.
We actually all start on the broad path:
Psalm 51:5 CSB
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
Even if we didn’t, we all choose to go our way instead of following God:
Isaiah 53:6 CSB
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all.
So, apart from Christ, we are all on the broad path.
Every human being on the planet who has never been drawn into the kingdom of God is heading toward destruction.
Life on the broad path is characterized by these kinds of actions and attitudes:
Galatians 5:19–21 CSB
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 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.
Isn’t that what we see in the world around us? Our culture is filled with immorality, anger, envy, and things like this.
All of those things lead to destruction and away from the kingdom of God.
That doesn’t mean that everyone is intentionally throwing their lives away. In fact, most people are trying really hard to find and fulfill their purpose.
Some pour their lives into obviously destructive things like alcoholism or workaholism or sexual sin.
Others, like we said last week, take good things and make them into god-things, which makes them bad things.
Regardless, anything they are trying results in more and more destruction.
That’s why the writer of Proverbs says:
Proverbs 14:12 CSB
There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.
It may seem right, and it may even earn you respect and admiration, but if your primary pursuit isn’t the kingdom of God, then you are heading for destruction.
So, then, if we come through the wide gate by being born in sin and choosing to sin, then how do we get through the narrow gate that leads to the kingdom of God?
Jesus tells us in Mark 1:15:
Mark 1:15 CSB
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The way through the narrow gate and into the kingdom of God is to repent and believe the good news.
“Repent” is a big church word that you almost never hear outside of church.
What repentance means is to take a hard look at my heart to see that it is sick, sinful, and turned away from God.
Then, when I look back at who God is, I see how wrong I am, which breaks my heart and leads me to stop going the way I have been going, turn around, and run towards Christ.
What about “believing”?
That means not just knowing facts about Jesus, but trusting in him completely for eternal life.
Romans 10:9–10 CSB
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
That’s how we come into the narrow gate. We turn from sin and turn to Christ, putting Jesus in control.
It is that simple.
However, Jesus makes something clear about the path through the narrow gate:

2) It won’t be easy.

Look at verse 14...
The narrow path is a difficult one.
Just like the dirt hiking paths that take you to summits and waterfalls around here, small paths are often difficult to find and hard to navigate.
We miss this sometimes around here, because we can come to church and call ourselves a Christian without sacrificing a lot.
For the most part, people at work or school don’t really care about you being a Christian so long as you leave them alone about it.
You aren’t going to prison for following Jesus, and you aren’t likely to have a mob kill you for being a Christian.
However, if you really are a kingdom citizen, if you are actually following Christ, you will find that there are parts of life that get extremely hard.
Jesus warned the crowds following him about this:
Matthew 16:24–25 CSB
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.
Following Jesus is a call to die! As we talked about with repentance, it is dying to my way of living and my dreams and hopes and instead turning to live the life Jesus calls us to.
There are the internal struggles where we grow to live out what Jesus has done for us.
Even though we have all the power of God available to us, we still have to walk the difficult road of relearning how to live.
For many who have followed Jesus throughout history, this wasn’t just a call to walk the difficult road of learning to obey Jesus.
For many, it was an actual call to sacrifice their own physical life.
The narrow gate leads to a difficult road that may be filled with persecution from the world around us.
Jesus already alluded to this back in the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Look back at chapter 5...
Matthew 5:10–12 CSB
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Kingdom citizens can expect persecution as they walk on the road through the narrow gate.
Jesus explains part of the reason for this as we see that...

3) Not many will find their way in.

Look back at the end of verse 14.
This follows naturally off the first two points, doesn’t it?
If there is only way in, and it is a hard path to follow, then it would make sense that there aren’t going to be many who walk through that gate.
To our culture, this is possibly one of the most offensive truths we believe.
In fact, it is possible that you are in the room this morning, and even though you follow Jesus, you don’t believe this is true.
By saying that there is only one way to God, and that only a few people will actually come into God’s kingdom, we sound arrogant and narrow-minded.
Here’s the problem, though: truth is narrow by definition. If you look at my shirt and say, “He is wearing a solid orange shirt,” then you are wrong and need your vision checked. My shirt is plaid, and it is not orange.
That is not bigoted, that is not arrogant; that is simply the truth.
In the same kind of way, this is the simple truth: there is only one way to God, and that is through repenting of sin and believing in the good news that Jesus died, was buried, rose from the dead, and now rules and reigns as our Lord.
The painful truth that Scripture teaches us is that those who do not surrender to Jesus’ lordship will not enter the kingdom of heaven. They will spend eternity separated from God.
If you want to talk further about that truth, I would love to sit down with you over coffee and help you work through any question you have about it.
I don’t have all the answers, but I have some of them, and I have ways of finding answers to questions I don’t know the answer to.
Let’s talk about it!
Look at our world right now. It is clear from the way we are behaving that the majority of the world is still on the broad path.
That means that the majority of people you encounter on a daily basis in the community are lost and going to a real place called hell for all eternity.
That isn’t something we say lightly or happily, because even God himself, in all his holiness, doesn’t delight in the fact that someone dies without turning to him:
Ezekiel 33:11 CSB
Tell them, ‘As I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?’
God isn’t sitting in heaven, smiting people with lightning bolts because he loves to torment people.
In fact, God loves us so much that he would go to extraordinary lengths to open a gate for us at all!
John 3:16 CSB
For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
He didn’t have to save any of us; we all deserve to keep on running headlong into destruction. Yet, because of his mercy, he makes a way for anyone who will call on the name of the Lord to be saved, to receive life.
In the grand scheme of things, there are not going to be many who come through that gate and find life.
So, what do we do with this message?
First of all, you need to answer this question: have I come in through the narrow gate, or am I still living life on my turns?
If you haven’t, then you need to surrender to him, repenting and believing with a genuine trust.
Let me lean in a little, borrowing some from what we will look at last week.
We are still in the south, and a lot of you have grown up in homes that would call themselves Christian.
You can’t get to heaven because your mom and dad brought you to church, or because your grandmother knelt by her bedside every night and prayed for you. Those are tremendous blessings that pointed you toward the narrow gate, but that doesn’t mean you have ever come through it.
You can only get to heaven through the narrow gate of surrendering to Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life.
For some of you, this may be a wake up call, and you realize you need to surrender.
Others of you have come into a relationship with Christ, but to be honest, you stopped really standing up for Christ or trying to fight against sin because it was hard.
Can I remind you of what it took for God to open that door for you?
It took Jesus dying on the cross in an unfair trial after a brutal beating.
Looking around the room, I don’t see any of you having gone through what Jesus has done for us.
In fact, even if you were beaten and crucified, you could never take the spiritual pain Jesus did as he took the wrath of God for your sins and mine.
It isn’t going to be easy, so stop thinking that it should be.
Instead, lean into the pain, pick up your cross, tune out the critics, and honor your king.
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