#381 - ENTER THE NARROW WAY (28/6/21)
Updated: Jun 28
In this vast universe, there is only one place - this tiny pinprick of a planet - where there's life. Life is found in the narrow place. One gram of soil can contain as much as one billion bacteria. On Mars there is none! And there is no life -as far as we know - in the rest of the 46.5 billion light-years of visible space. Life is in the narrow! Jesus said,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ (Matthew 7:13-14)
Life is only found in Jesus. He created life (Colossians 1:16). Also, new spiritual life is only found in Him.
How does one enter the narrow gate?
Oftentimes, people think of having a restored relationship with God or spiritual powers or the universe… in terms of doing good and avoiding doing bad things. Most approaches to the spiritual life are a works-based approach. In Christian language, one would call this ‘legalism’. The legalist relies on their efforts at keeping God’s laws. However, Paul wrote,
‘A person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.’ (Galatians 2:16)
Through faith in Jesus, not by our good works, we are ‘justified’. To put it in the words of today’s text, to enter the narrow gate means to put one's faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
Justification has two elements to it:
Firstly, it is God declaring us "not guilty"! Because Jesus was judged in our place, we are guilt-free. Our debts are forgiven because they have been paid by Christ!
Secondly, Justification goes further than cancelling debts. It is God attributing (imputing) to us the perfect righteousness of Jesus!
The justified person, before God, has never sinned and has actually lived a perfect life! When we ask Jesus to forgive us our debts, He doesn’t give us an account at zero! No! God fills our account!
We are like the person who goes into their bank knowing that they have a debt they can never pay only to find the debt has been deleted! On top of this, the account is in limitless credit!
Justification has these two elements – we have something taken from us - our sin, and we have something given to us - Jesus perfect righteous life. This is what it means to enter the narrow gate!
The first response is to enter the gate. Avoid destruction by putting your faith in Christ.
Secondly, remember and worship because of Jesus’ immeasurable gift to you. You are saved for eternity. You are loved. You will never face rejection from your Heavenly Father because, in Christ, you are righteous!
Thirdly, let's seek to share the gospel with others. Our friends and family face destruction if they have not entered the narrow way.
Finally, if you are a parent, endeavour to teach your children the narrow way. Our children need to come to a personal decision to follow Jesus and enter salvation.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - GET NARROW
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have a memorable experience of taking the wrong road or route?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus uses four illustrations (we'll cover three this week) to challenge the crowd that He's teaching - and us- to a decision: will we obey Him or not?
1. ENTER THE NARROW WAY
Please read Matthew 7:13-14
JESUS IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR
The narrow way is about Jesus being the only ways to salvation. Peter said to the crowds,
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12
We cannot be saved from our good works. Paul taught,
‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 3:23-24
2. DEFEND NARROWNESS
Please read Matthew 7:15-20
We have to 'watch out' and learn to recognise wolves and those that are simply unhelpful. The 'flock' (local church) is defended in two ways:
God gives elders and other leaders who are to help the church to remain narrow. In our information age, it's important to prioritise the teaching of your local church elders.
Please read Acts 20:28-31
We must learn to defend ourselves. Church leaders and movements can go bad. It's important to pray for our leaders and talk to them if we feel uncomfortable with their teaching or behaviour.
3. DO - DO NARROW THINGS
We must enter, defend and do what's narrow.
Please read Matthew 7:21-23
These false prophets want us to abandon the narrow gate and road in favour of the broad. The broad way is living outside of the Lordship of Christ. The narrow gate and road is about obeying Jesus as His disciple. Those who truly know Jesus, will seek to obey Him.
I think that it's important to add that there's lots of teachers and teaching which is enjoyable but is simply a waste of time or promotes a 'self-help' approach to gaining success. Of course, there are no non-Christians from whom we can learn. However, Jesus wants us to be His disciple and to give our minds, predominantly, to learning from Him.
1. Did God Speak to you, or what do you plan to do in response to Sunday's message?
2. What is the narrow way?
3. How does one enter the narrow way?
3. How does one recognise false teachers?
4. How do you, or could you, give priority to learning from Jesus?
5. Jesus says that only those who 'do the will of my Father' will enter the kingdom of heaven.' We are saved by faith and not by works, so what does Jesus mean by this comment?
Serving, Investing and inviting
1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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