Keys to Understanding God's Divine Directives!
Keys to Understanding God's Divine Directives! - Study Three!
One of the greatest sermons Jesus Christ preached while on this earth is referred to as His Sermon on the Mount. It is recorded in Matthew's Gospel, chapters 5, 6 and 7. It is a marvelous exposition of absolute and unchanging truth. You would do well to read and study it carefully for yourself. If you do, you will find it contains a number of divine directives, that is, specific things God directs people to do. May I suggest that as you read it, you make a list of the directives and consider each of them carefully. Then make a short list of those you are prepared to obey. It could change your life.
Let me give you a few examples of what Christ said.
One, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
Here's another: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
Now, how about it? Are you prepared to put those two directives on the short list of the ones you are prepared to obey? Let's try a couple more.
Matthew 6:25 and 33. "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on ... but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
How do you feel about those? Or how about Matthew 7:12, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." That's what we commonly call Christ's Golden Rule. Is that a directive you are prepared to accept and practice?
This brings us to the point in His sermon where He gave a very important directive that none of us can afford to ignore or reject if we have any concern for our own future. Listen carefully to what He said. Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Six things are drawn to our attention in this one profound sentence. Two paths or roadways are mentioned - a broad way and a narrow way. Two destinations are defined - one is destruction, the other life. We are also told that more people go in at the wide gate than find and go in at the strait gate. More people are to be found on the broad way that leads to destruction than on the narrow way that leads to life.
What is all this about, and what significance does it have for us today?
Obviously, we must interpret this passage in the context of Christ's entire sermon. Throughout His discourse He was addressing the matter of man's relationship with God, and man's ultimate spiritual condition after his life on this earth ends. He introduced His sermon with what we call the "Beatitudes" in which He spoke of the kingdom of heaven, and of the pure in heart seeing God, and peacemakers being called the children of God. He went on to say that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven it is necessary for people to acquire a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (who regarded themselves as the most righteous of all men). He talked about a literal hell as the alternative destiny to heaven and said it would be better to suffer dismemberment than for the whole body to be cast into hell. When He talked about a wide gate and a broad way leading to destruction, it is the destination in hell that He was referring to.
When He talked about the importance of finding the strait gate and narrow way that leads to life, it was eternal life with God in heaven that He was speaking about.
With all this in mind, let's look more closely at what He said about the two gates and the two ways. You'll have noticed that He said nothing about people having to seek or search for the wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction. All you have to do is follow the crowd.
The gate to the broad way is wide enough for you to drift right through without any conscious effort on your part. The reason is that all people are born into this world spiritually dead in trespasses and sin. Their natural minds are at enmity with God. The Scriptures say, "There is none that doeth good, no not one," because we are all by nature children of wrath and prone to evil rather than to good. That's why children do not have to be taught to do that which is wrong.
It comes naturally for them to do wrong, because of the sin-prone nature with which they are born. Remember the Psalmist David wrote, "I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." The great Apostle Paul described this inherent proneness to sin in his letter to the Romans in these words, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelieth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do ... 0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
It is that natural sinful condition - which is true of all of us that makes it natural for us to follow the crowd through the wide gate and down the broad way "that leadeth to destruction." It seems the right thing to do. Everybody's doing it. As the Scriptures say, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Christ's directive is that we change course, that we seek and find and enter the strait gate and follow the narrow way that leads to heaven's eternal life. It is significant that the gate we are to seek and find and enter is called the "strait" gate - not s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t but s-t-r-a-i-t gate. A strait is a narrow entrance or passage between two large bodies of water. There is a narrow passageway between the sea of humanity and the eternal living waters of heaven, and that narrow way is entered by a strait gate or narrow door which symbolizes Jesus Christ who said of himself, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved..." Christ affirmed that same truth in John 14:6 when He said to His disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father (that is, unto God), but by me."
Two gates - the wide gate through which we pass by simply following the crowd and our natural instincts; and the strait gate, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we must seek and find if we would enter the narrow way that leads to eternal life. Two ways - a broad way where the travelers are many and there are few constraints because it's the way of the unbelieving world and the world loves its own and imposes few restrictions on the desires and lusts of the flesh (but remember, the way of that way is destruction, eternal separation from God in a state of endless remorse and despair) but there also is the narrow way, often a hard way through enemy territory, but it leads to endless life and eternal fellowship with God himself in the glorious heaven He has prepared for His redeemed people.
The Apostle John was given a prophetic vision of that ultimate glory that awaits those who find and enter the strait gate and travel the narrow way. He described what he saw in Revelation, chapters 21 and 22 in these words: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away ... And I ... saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven ... And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain... And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; ... for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."
That's the glorious eternal destiny that awaits the people of God at the end of the narrow way which we can enter only through the strait gate which is Jesus Christ who died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures.
There are two other things we should learn from what Christ said about the two gates and the two ways and the two destinations. The first is the importance of getting a right start when we set out to attain any desired goal. It is only when you seek and find and enter the strait gate that you've made the right start in life. Certainly no one can say that the broad way that leads to Hell - eternal death and destruction is the right path to follow. So be wise. Be sure you have entered the strait gate - in other words, be sure you know Jesus Christ not just as an historic figure, but as your own personal, living Saviour.
The second truth that is emphasized is that once you choose which of the two pathways you will follow, there is no question about your final destination. If you refuse to receive Christ as your Saviour and the salvation God offers you in Him, the ultimate result is certain. The broad way leads inevitably to Hell - eternal, spiritual death and destruction. Make no mistake about that. There's no greater folly than to travel along with the crowd on the broad way and hope that you'll end up in heaven when your journey ends. That simply won't happen. You're deluding yourself if you think, otherwise.
But it's equally true that if you find and enter the strait gate and the narrow way of which Christ spoke, your destination will be Heaven - eternal life and the heavenly glory that God has promised to all who choose that path. In the same discourse in which Christ said He was the door or strait gate, He says of those who enter that gate, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
Now this brings us back to the matter of your acceptance or reaction of Christ's directives. Hear once more what He tells you to do: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction; and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
In the light of His statement it shouldn't surprise us that in this world Christians always will be a minority. That's why until Christ returns there will never be a Christian society on this earth. For the same reason, in a democratic society where the will of the majority rules there will never be a Christian government.
In the matter of your relationship with God, you do not have to make any decision to remain an unbeliever - just do nothing, and you will be found traveling along with the majority on the broad way that leads to Hell - eternal damnation and destruction.
If you want a different destiny, if you want forgiveness and assurance of eternal life and eternity with Christ in the glories of heaven, then there is a decision you must make, and make now. Your decision must be to believe what God tells you in His infallible Word, to acknowledge your sinfulness your rebellion, your disobedience and your need of God's forgiveness, believe Him when He tells you Christ died to pay in full the penalty for your sins, and because you believe, come to Him and receive Him as your personal Saviour. He is the strait gate through whom you enter that narrow way that leads to eternal life and heaven's eternal glory. Get a right start for the new year.
Come to the Saviour now, He gently calleth thee;
In true repentance bow, before Him bend the knee.
He waiteth to bestow salvation, peace and love,
True joy on earth below, a home in heaven above.
Come, come, come. May God help you to come, to The Lord Today.
May God bless you.
Go To Lesson Four - Keys to Understanding God's Divine Directives! - Study Four