Faithlife Sermons

Choices

The Sermons of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:55
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Introduction

Roads and decisions fill American literature. There is an American poem that has always fascinated me. It is called.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost
Roads and forks in roads seem to mark decisions in life. We seemingly of free will and seeing the road as being full of possibilities have the power to choose one road or the other road just as likely to lead us to an interesting end.
Robert Frost wrote this famous poem as a way to poke fun at a friend who would often regret the choice of one path over the one they traveled. It seemed his friend often worried about missing the best opportunities that the other path might have provided for entertainment.
The central character of Frost’s poem chose the less travelled road, which also happened to be the path with the most resistance. Apparently the path that was less travelled “made all the difference.” But the author does not reveal what this difference might be. That revelation is left to the reader.
Another popular work speaks of roads and choices...
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
… an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if only you walk long enough.”
Of course the idea is that if you don't care about the destination any road will do. And the reader with the idea of setting goals and chasing them, the idea is that a person without a goal can cast about in any direction without ever getting anywhere in life.
Both of these passages from popular literature have been given a variety of meanings throughout the years. Both have been used to encourage readers to set goals and know what they want out of life so that they can make decisions that will lead them to an end destination that is desired rather than just and destination at random.
Jesus uses a similar analogy, but places a greater importance on the destination rather than the road itself.
[pray]
Father God, I praise your precious and holy name. I come to you asking that you forgive our sins, Lord. God we relish being in your presence today. You bring us great joy and we honor you above all today. We thank you Lord for working in this church. May keep our mind attuned to the prompting of your Spirit as you work in our midst. Father, I ask that you give me clarity of mind and precision of speech this morning. May I speak with a heart for your people and may we ever be willing to do the work that you set before us. Amen
The entire Sermon on the Mount has focused on the Beatitudes, various ways to put righteousness into practice, and here midway through chapter 7, Jesus comes to the point where He is asking those who have heard His message, “Now what?” or more to the point, “What are you going to do with what you have heard?”
Jesus refuses to just allow His followers to bask in the abstract thought of the Beatitudes and the righteous way. He leads them to a point where they have a decision to make.
Matthew 7:13–14 NASB95
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
This concept of two ways and two gates leading to two cities was not an uncommon analogy during Jesus’ day since Greek, Roman, and Jewish literature often include the analogy.

I. The Broad Way → The Wide Gate → Destruction (Death)

The Broad Way is easily walked. There is found an abundance of travelers to help you pass the time and entertain you in many different ways. It is this crowd that celebrates being “broad minded” and accepting of all who walk the way. All those except those who encourage narrow minded thinking. The narrow minded are berated and chastised for their narrow thinking and for following like blind sheep.
The Broad Way leads to the Wide Gate, which allows all travelers to pass with all their baggage, with all their broad minded thinking. The gate is wide to accommodate all who come. This wide gate is easy to pass through without having to give up any of the easy, broad minded thinking.
Apparently we can take it with us... all our pride, arrogance, and self-righteous ways can carry us through the Broad Gate into the City of Destruction.
On the posts of the Wide Gate are two signs that say FREEDOM & FUN for all to see as they pass. But in fine print underneath, the narrow minded can see that FREEDOM leads to eternal death and FUN leads to eternal sorrow when one crosses through the wide gate.
This broad minded way of thinking depends upon self-righteous thinking, which always seeks to please man rather than God. It is working toward one’s own benefit, rather than working toward godly righteousness.
The real problem with the broad way and the wide gate is that they lead to the City of Destruction. All who walk that way and enter that broad gate are destroyed. Jesus continues “and there are many who enter through it.”
I fully believe that there are many good people who think of themselves as “good people” and maybe even “Christian” that have never chosen the righteous way of seeking to please God. They have never sought out that narrow gate, but just simply chosen to take whatever road presents itself as the easy path. They refuse to think narrowly, but accept the broad minded thinking of those around them.
In fact some of them show up at church every Sunday and when the time comes to make a decision for Christ, they look around and see who else will respond.

II. The Narrow Way → The Small Gate → Heaven (Life)

The Narrow Way is tight and difficult. It is filled with tight turns, treacherous mountainous passes, and trees and undergrowth pressing in on both sides snagging at your belongings. There are no other travelers on this road to help you pass the time. The way is lonely and the traveling is hard.
The Narrow Way leads to a Small Gate. The gate is difficult to find as it is hidden. In fact the Broad Minded Crowd could never find the Small Gate by themselves. It is only the Narrow Minded One that can perceive the Small Gate’s existence because they are led to it. The Narrow Minded One has chosen a difficult path of godly righteousness and knows exactly how to unlock the Small Gate.
Apparently you can take it with you... all the pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness can go right along with you through the Broad Gate.
Lining the posts of the Small Gate the wording is clear, DEATH on one post and SORROW on the other are posted to warn away those who may not be able to handle the rigors of righteous beyond the Small Gate. Those who linger to read can learn that the signs truly indicate that they mean DEATH (to self) and SORROW (over sin) are what awaits them.
Most would never have the patience to endure the Narrow Way or search out the Small Gate. In fact Jesus says that only a few will ever find the Small Gate. But this is the door you want, to be certain.
Jesus went into a little bit more detail in Luke 13.

The Danger of Not Entering the Narrow Gate - Luke 13:23-30

Luke 13:23–30 NASB95
23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ 28 “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 “And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”
Jesus made it clear that entering through the Narrow Door (or Gate) was imperative to experience life. But he also said that the door wouldn’t remain open forever. And there were some who might wish to enter that would find themselves unable to enter. Those people who found themselves on the wrong side of the door would not be recognized by the doorkeeper. The only place left for those would be the City of Destruction.

What (or who) is the Narrow Gate/Door?

In John chapter 10, Jesus uses a slightly different analogy. Jesus is the door to the sheep pen, (John 10:1-18), focus on v 9 for this lesson:
John 10:9 NASB95
9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
This passage of Jesus employs an illustration of sheep and shepherd analogy. But Jesus says that He is the door. It’s not a great stretch to understand that the only way into the City of Life is to enter by the door, which is Jesus.
Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate.”, and in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” He was speaking about himself in these cases...
John 14:6 NASB95
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Many people say that there is more than one way to heaven. Or they say that all religions lead to heaven. But Jesus says that HE IS THE WAY... THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN.
The Apostle Peter agreed completely when he argued before the Sanhedrin Council...
Acts 4:12 NASB95
12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
It is clear that the world has it wrong when they say “all religions are the same” or “all religions are true” for this kind of thought is exactly the kind of thing you might hear on the Broad Road.

III. Choose Well and Be Assured

Your choice of roads is literally a life and death situation.
The Broad Way looks attractive and easy, but it leads to destruction and death, not just death, but eternal death. That means separation from God for eternity.
The Narrow Way, while difficult, leads to life, eternal life in Heaven with God and Jesus at His right hand.
Given Jesus’ warning in verse 14 that few find the way to life, the best advice I could give would be that you should be sure of what your destination is.
Jesus says:
“Choose the narrow gate...” and “Strive to enter through the narrow door.”
In fact Jesus makes it very clear in His teaching that He is the best choice for eternal life. Any other choice is for eternal death.
What is your choice? Do you choose Jesus?
If you have not fully accepted and chosen Jesus to be the master of your life… If you are learning today that you have been on the Broad Way and that you are heading toward the Broad Gate and to the City of Destruction, then I have good news for you...
There is still time to change the path you are on. You can choose Jesus and move onto the narrow path easily. You can choose to live a righteous life before God. And making that move is very simple.
Allow me to just take a minute and speak to those who are still traveling that broad way...
All of you please close your eyes...
If you are on that broad path and have yet to choose Jesus, please let me know that by raising your hand.
Maybe you realize that you chose Jesus a long time ago, but have forgotten about Him in your daily life. Maybe you never give a thought as to whether your life pleases God. Maybe you don’t live righteously.
Just raise your hand and let me know that I’m talking to you...
[pray]
Father I pray for those in this room who have not chosen You. I pray for those on the Broad Road. Please bring them to your side and into the City of Life.
Maybe you made a decision for Jesus and you have still been walking that broad path. You found it too difficult to walk the narrow path. Is God leading you back to following Him and His ways? Raise your hand if this is you...
[pray]
Father God, I pray for those who have chosen you, but find the Narrow Road difficult and constantly find themselves drawn to the Broad Road. God please touch their hearts and bring them back to your way, Father. Amen.
Now the rest of you open your eyes.
If you have been trying to walk the Christian life but are unsure of your salvation, that is not an uncommon problem to have. I can tell you that beginning to walk in the righteous way explained by Jesus can strengthen your security in Christ. Understanding what the Bible says can deepen your resolve to live in Christ and walk in His ways.
It is possible that you were saved by Christ but live your life spiritually immature because you have never grown in Christ.
Peter and Paul both spoke to this condition...
1 Peter 2:1–3 NASB95
1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:1–3 NASB95
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
I would encourage you to engage yourself in Bible Study. We have several good ones on Sunday morning and other opportunities on Wednesday night.
It may be that you need a discipleship mentor. We have several opportunities in our church to pair you up with someone who can walk alongside you in your Christian walk and help you get plugged in more deeply.
But let me make it clear to you, that it is totally up to you to seek this out and take action toward living the life that Christ wants from you.

There can be no neutrality. You are either on the broad road leading to destruction or on the narrow road leading to life. You will never go through the narrow gate by accident or unawares. You must enter it thoughtfully and purposely. Have you done so? You must decide. No one else can do it for you.

We’ll sing a hymn here in just a moment...
If you have made a decision for Christ, I invite you to come.
If you have decided to get off the broad road in life and move onto the narrow road, I’ll be here waiting to receive you.
Otherwise, maybe you are seeking to unite with this church in membership or you have decided that you want to be baptized to follow Christ in a more public way. We gladly welcome you to come join us.
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