the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been describing the characteristics
of those who believe in God and follow Him. He has told us that the poor
in spirit, those who see themselves as spiritual beggars, will enter
the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn over their sin, are gentle, hunger
and thirst for righteousness, are merciful, are pure in heart, are peacemakers,
and are persecuted for the sake of righteousness will some day live in
heaven. We have been told that we should forgive those who offend us
and seek to make peace with another who has been offended by us. We have
been warned not to lust, not seek revenge, not love money, and not to
be judgmental of others. We have been encouraged to pray, to love God,
to love others, and to trust God. Jesus’ Golden Rule was a call
to lovingly treat others just as we would like to be treated. He has
repeatedly called us to action, but nowhere did He ever say that we should
believe. Nowhere in the Sermon on the Mount did Jesus ever tell us that
we had to believe in God in order to go to heaven. His focus has always
been on our conduct.
Wide and Narrow Roads. The same is true
about the passage for this study (Matt. 7:13-29). It is the last passage
in the Sermon on the Mount. Why has Jesus focused on external conduct?
The answer is that one’s faith in God will be reflected in one's
conduct. In the opening two verses, Jesus prepares us for the point that
He wants us to remember with these words,
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. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads
to life, and there are few who find it. (NASB) Matt. 7:13-14
Here we discover that there are two gates, two roads, two destinies,
and two groups of people. The gates open to roads, the long roads end
at distant destinations, but only some of the people will find God and
live with Him forever. One gate opens to a wide way or wide road and
the other gate opens to a narrow way or narrow road.
The Greek word that Jesus used for “narrow” in
the phrase “narrow way” is THLIBO. The word refers to a road
that is “narrow and troublesome” to travel. The road is not
difficult because it has potholes, debris, or rocks on it. It is difficult
because it is too narrow. As a result, it is very undesirable for the
few people who are traveling it. The Greek word implies that the road
is so narrow that people are crushing one another as they walk.
Only those on the narrow road get to heaven and see God
face-to-face. Unfortunately, MapQuest.com does not provide directions
to the narrow road. Only Jesus can provide the necessary directions.
In contrast, the wide road is comfortable and many are walking this road.
It is pleasant, enjoyable, and filled with friends.
Have you ever wondered if you are a Christian? Do you wonder
if you are going to heaven? Or, maybe you think you are walking on the
narrow road already! Verse 14 warns us that “there are few who
find” this narrow road. While the Greek word “find” reveals
that some are actively seeking the narrow road, the word “few” warns
us that not many are finding the narrow road.
Although a recent report says that 73% of Americans believe
in God, it is clear from Jesus’ words that this number is not correct.
Many are walking the wide road. The wide road is the main road. It is
the road on which everyone starts. One must find and choose the narrow
path in order to escape the wide road.
We will discover in the coming verses that even though
many think that they are followers of God, some day they will discover
they were not on the correct road. In the next thirteen verses, Jesus
illustrates this truth in three different ways. Each illustration reveals
the characteristics of those who are on the wide road. Only the last
illustration reveals the characteristics of those on the narrow road.
Few Good Teachers (v. 15-20). Jesus’ first
illustration is about false teachers. Since few are walking the narrow
road, it is not a surprise that there are so many false teachers. Many
false teachers are on the wide road.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s
clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (NASB) Matt. 7:15
These are individuals who claim to believe in God. They think they believe
in God. They call themselves Christians. They attended seminary, Bible
college, or have studied the Bible. They can quote scripture, but they
are not true teachers. On the outside they look like they are followers
of God, but inside they are vicious wolves seeking to convince us to
believe a lie.
Need To Inspect Fruit. How can we identify
a false teacher? Jesus tells us with these words.