Let us build a house on a solid embedded rock and not on any sand

My apologies to my readers because I have not posted anything for a couple of Weeks.  The reason was that my computer gave up the ghost. I’m sure this has happened to a lot of people since computers came into the modern era.  So then in this connected world it can be so easy to lose ourselves with our digital friends.  We need to remember that when God created us, he created us in such a way that we didn’t have wires coming out of our heads.  Our Lord explains to us in the Sermon on the Mount the importance of our relationship with God and with our neighbours.  By God’s grace and mercy let us have our lives aligned in love with God and our neighbour. 

Today we are going to finish our series by looking at

  1. The narrow and wide gates Matthew. Matthew 7. 13-14
  2. A tree and its fruit Matthew 7. 15-23
  3. The two foundations Matthew 7. 13-29

Let’s begin by reading:

The Narrow and Wide Gates

“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.”

Comments

Tyndale the English Martyr says the following:

The strait gate is the true knowledge and understanding of the law,* and of the true intent of works: which whosoever understandeth, the same shall be driven to Christ, to fetch of his fulness, and to take him for his righteousness and fulfilling of the law, altogether at the beginning, and as oft as we fall afterward, and for more than the thousandth part of our fulfilling of the law and righteousness of our best works all our life long. For except the righteousness of Christ be knit to the best deed we do, it will be too short to reach to heaven.

And the narrow way is to live after this knowledge.* He that will enter in at this gate must be made anew: his head will else be too great; he must be untaught all that he hath learned, to be made less for to enter in; and disused in all things to which he hath been accustomed, to be made less, to walk through that narrow way; where he shall find such an heap of temptations, and so continual, that it shall be impossible to endure or to stand, but by prayer of strong faith.

(William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 120–121.)

So, then I would have missed this point which is very important:

” The strait gate is the true knowledge and understanding of the law, and of the true intent of works: which whosoever understandeth, the same shall be driven to Christ,”

As we already know from our regular Bible readings of this Sermon on the Mount that Jesus did not come to ‘abolish’ the law but to fulfill it.  The summing of the law is very simple:

  1. Love God
  2. Love your neighbour

Outside of Christ in our own strength it is impossible to please God because we have a lot of sinful baggage we carry on our shoulders. Just to make it easy St Paul gives us a whole list of vices that break the law of God:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 NASB

Which ones of these have we not done in our daily living?

These things (and others) we have inherited from the sinful world we have been born into because of the Fall.  This list excludes us all from the kingdom of God.  However, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus kept the law perfectly and through his death on the cross and the resurrection by faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit we can have eternal life.

The wide gate then is naturally an easy gate to follow and as human beings by doing these things in the worldly sense we could become financially well off at the expense of others.  I am not saying that every rich person has followed this way but I am saying that wealth is a great temptation and even our Lord warns about the trappings of mammon.

Our Lord while he was in this corrupt world kept the following and others perfectly:

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. “Galatians 5:22-23 NASB

Even when our Lord was dying on the cross he said, “forgive them for they know not what they do”

Our Lord through his life death and resurrection showed us perfectly how to live by faith because he live the narrow gate.  There is only one narrow gate, and it is the way of faith, hope and love. 

Before we move on to the next section the gates are a time for us to focus at where we stand before God or don’t stand.   It is not by good works that we are saved though, but good works flow from the Christian person ‘out of gratitude’, for what God has done for us already or putting it another way, works are the fruit of faith.  The disciple of Jesus having focused on their walk with God is now ready to focus on being aware of counterfeit Christianity within the Church.  In the following section our Lord gives his disciples advice:

A Tree and Its Fruit

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Comment

William Tyndale begins by saying:

 Here Christ warneth thee,* and describeth unto thee those captains that should so blind the great multitude that they should not find the strait gate, and lead them the broad way to perdition. Note first, that though they be false, yet he calleth them prophets, which word in the new testament is taken for an expounder and an interpreter of scripture. And he saith, “They shall come to you,” my disciples.

(William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 121.)

Tyndale with his keen eye on the text makes a very important point.  These false disciples are called ‘false prophets.’  It means that these particular false teachers have not come from outside the church but from within (heresy).  Our Lord gives us some advice on how to spot false teachers:

“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Matthew 7:16

I think this is very good advice from our Lord.  Today we see in the Church the ‘rejection of holy living’.  I see people dangerously reforming the interpretation of the text.  The excuse being that ‘the world has changed and we need to change with the times.’ No, my friends our Lord says:

““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” Matthew 7:21-23

In many churches the idea of holiness is thrown out that one can be a Christian and still practice immoral acts.  This is false teaching.  The Nicolaitans the precursors of the gnostics practised immorality and John in his book on Revelations wrote about their teachings.  As Christians we are called to love our neighbour no matter what their practices, but we are also called to hate the sin that is practised and through repentance purify the Church.  Some of the Churches have caved into this false teaching.  The reason why they caved in is because the Church has been willing to put people into positions of authority whilst not living to the standards of Scripture.  Those people became the future leaders who were able to vote at the synods for unholy objectives.  Corruption is rife. 

The corruption that was in secret has ebbed its way to the front.  What our Lord Jesus said here has come true.  What our Lord has said has come true over many centuries even to today.  We need to beware of false teachers in our midst and cut the gangrene away. 

So, then my friends we have learned many things along the way.  The beatitudes for me is the key to understanding the Sermon on the Mount.  The natural person needs to come to a realization that they are full of sin and that they cannot save themselves. By the work of the Trinity, we realize that God did everything for us.  God sent his Son the Lord Jesus into the world who died for us and rose again from the dead.  Jesus has opened a new and living way and through the Holy Spirit this spiritually dead stick can be born again to newness of life through the gift of faith. Our Lord finishes off by giving us two options.  One way leads to eternal life and the other way leads to eternal death:

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:13-29

Reflection

  • There is a narrow gate and a wide gate
  • There is a firm foundation and a sandy foundation

Our Lord starts by getting us to focus on where we are spiritually.  Only then does he look at the false teachers in our midst.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law which is the opposite of lawlessness. Our Lord begins by giving us steppingstones to get closer to the kingdom of God.  Once through the maze of our own sin Christ takes us to look at our relationships with others. 

So looking back we have covered:

  • The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes Matthew 5:1
  • Disciples and the World Matthew 5:13
  • Personal Relationships Matthew 5:21
  • Giving to the Poor and Prayer Matthew 6:1
  • Fasting; The True Treasure; Wealth (Mammon) Matthew 6:16
  • The Cure for Anxiety Matthew 6:25
  • Judging Others Matthew 7:1
  • Prayer and the Golden Rule Matthew 7:7
  • The Narrow and Wide Gates Matthew 7:13
  • A Tree and Its Fruit Matthew 7:15
  • The Two Foundations Matthew 7:24

No matter what denomination or no denomination I hope that you have gotten closer to the teachings of Jesus.  The next big celebration will be Christmas where we will be reminded about his incarnation.  When God became a man. We need to realize though these teachings are also part of the incarnation.  They are part of the incarnation because Jesus indeed was a real human being who lived a real life among us in this corrupt world.

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