Saturday 16 March 2019

This morning we are turning to the gospel of Luke in Chapter 13, verses 22/30

Jesus was travelling to Jerusalem and the Cross where he would die to obtain forgiveness for all the sins of his followers that they may be acceptable to his Father, God. On his way he was teaching and trying to bring his own people, the Jews, to find salvation.

For Jesus there was only one thing that mattered, changed lives; lives that listened to the Word of God, all else was hypocrisy and religious hypocrisy is the worst of all. So how do we make right judgements as to whether we enter Christ’s kingdom or be cast into a dark Christ less eternity.

The Rabbis taught the salvation was an assured thing for Jews as God’s chosen people, but Jesus was not following a nationalistic course and warned that non-Jews would be admitted into his kingdom. This caused one man to ask Jesus if only a few would be saved, but Jesus did not give a direct answer, he just said make sure you are.

We see someone, we do not know who, ask Jesus if there would be many saved. This was a question of great importance. Anyone wanting to know the answer need only to look to the Bible and will find the answer.

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, you can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. If you look at the world around you and compare the ways of the many with the Word of God, you will soon realise that the saved will be few. It is a sad conclusion, but Scripture whilst telling salvation is offered to all, few will receive it.

We see Jesus did not answer the man directly, just telling the person to make sure he went through the narrow gate, a command he offers to all his followers.

The Lord makes our duty clear, that is to make sure we will be saved, and to be successful we must follow the narrow way, whatever the cost and effort, and irrespective of whatever our friends are doing. The unbelief of others will not be any excuse for us at the last day.

We must not think we can follow the crowd in what they are doing, if we want to get to heaven, we must follow that which God has laid down in this book we call the Bible.Jesus made it clear what others think and do, we are responsible to him for the way we live our lives. We are not to go on sheltering ourselves under the plea that everybody else does it. We draw near to God and his means of grace.

Turning to verse,24, Jesus said, enter by the narrow door. He always taught there are two doors two roads. He said there are two destinies, heaven and hell and divided people into two classes. There are only two roads, no third, no alternative.

To state this, is not generally liked as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant, and we don’t like to be judged. Yet in spite of all this, Jesus says we must enter through the narrow door. So, let us look at the choice we face and consider honestly which road each of us is on and to where heading.

It is like coming to a crossroads each road going in the opposite direction. On the broad road you enter by a wide gate and the road is spacious, there is plenty of room on it and there are plenty of people on it. It is the road of self-gratification without any restrictions, there is room for diversity of opinion, lack of morality, permissiveness, no curbs or boundaries, you can twist and adapt the Bible to ease your conscience and try to justify your actions, so you can follow the desires and inclinations of your heart; which is what in fact many are now doing.

But also, there are even otherwise decent men and women on it, so many claiming to be Christians albeit without due cause. It is widely assumed, and strongly encouraged by the secular press, that if you are honest and sincere you will go to heaven.

There are the ones who will come in the last day and say, Lord, I did wonderful work in your name. Then He will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you" Because, you see, you served Him with your lips, but your heart was far from Him In outward profession you were a fine Christian, but inwardly your heart was never changed. You never really encountered Christ. You never really were born of the Spirit of God. Yes, the broad road is filled with those types of people.

The Bible says that it is crowded. The Bible says many there be which go therein. And many of us today are saying it will be all right, many others are doing it. Well, God doesn't judge you by others. You are judged according to God's law, and you are judged according to God's Son.

The Bible is all about commitment. We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time. Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church. Yet if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E and seriously consider they were Christians.

We are told how Jesus will one time shut the door and many will knock and want to enter but will be too late. This is referring to the second coming of Christ and the day of judgement. The door of mercy will be closed and the day of reckoning will have come when believers will be rewarded, and we will be in heaven with all the saved in the company of the Lord Jesus Christ and his angels.

In these verses a heart-searching prophecy is given that many will plead earnestly, but their plea will not be answered; religious profession and formal knowledge will not be of help.

As we come to the narrow gate leading to the narrow road, which Jesus wants us to take but says only few take it, and those who do must do through Him. John 14 despite being non correct in many Churches now, still states ‘no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ.’ He is the only way.

Being narrow these days means you are classed as bigoted or phobic. You are expected to be broad minded, be modern, 2+2=5. The road is narrow because it is the way of truth and truth is always narrow. It is the way of holiness and righteousness.

Neither can the narrow road be pursued if we are motivated by a desire to please society. True disciples of Jesus Christ will not play to the galleries nor form values according to the passing approval of people in general. God’s approval is all that matters.

Jesus said there is a life to come and it is a long life, it is eternal, and there are only two destinies, and as you come to the crossroads, you alone choose, God will not push you. He gave you the ability to choose and lets you do so. Where you end up in eternity will be determined by which road you take, so what you do in the world is important.

What is striking about our Lord’s words is it reveals that people will see what is right and what they should have done, but all will be too late and will be in another world and find what they rejected and even perhaps mocked, was proper after all.

The Bible quotes Paul, saying, as ‘God’s partners, we beg you to accept God’s gift of kindness and not ignore it, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the time of salvation’. In other words, accept God’s offer of salvation when you can it may be too late if you leave doing so.

This passage indicates money, prestige, rank and greatness may influence much in this world, and praying and believing the bible may be thought foolish, but a change will come one day when the last shall be first, and the lowest will be the greatest.

One of these roads leads to destruction the other to life with Jesus. He took time to remind people of the seriousness of salvation. He wanted all to be sure of the future. People do prefer the easy road in life but Jesus made it plain He wants us to journey down the difficult road and enter the narrow gate.

At the present time Churches spend a lot of time and energy engaged in very public argument over moral matters whereas a search of Scripture could resolve this debate in a few minutes, but of course the answer may not be the one wanted. The time has surely come when the good interest of the Church should be considered rather than personal preferences.

Jesus speaks firmly and rather profoundly when He says not all who think they are to enter the Kingdom of heaven will in fact do so.

But it can be hard to be a Christian in this country at the present time and many find the going too hard and strenuous and the opposition oppressive. Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work. There is so much harassment of Christians which is not reported here and you have to listen to the American news channels to discover what is going on in this country.

As Christians we must always seek to glorify the Lord in our ways and speech. Jesus warns us that there must be a clear acceptance of His teaching and total obedience to it. Just to recite a creed and attend Church is not enough. We honour Jesus by calling Him Lord and sing hymns expressive of our devotion to Him.

Each of us has to decide which will be amongst, the few or the many. Will we be ready to receive Jesus and gain entry or have the door shut on us? Are we travelling on the right road?

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