Saturday, April 27, 2024

2024.04.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:13–14

Read Matthew 7:13–14

Questions from the Scripture text: With what command does Matthew 7:13 begin? By what must they enter? What is the other gate like? What sort of way does it open? To what does the broad way lead? Who go in by it? But what sort of way does the narrow gate open (Matthew 7:14)? What does it lead to? Who find it? 

What is the great choice of our existence? Matthew 7:13–14 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that there are only two ways to live—one that leads to life, and one that leads to destruction.

Two Doors. Christ is the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13). You can’t enter some other way and merge into the path that leads to life. You have to begin with Him. You have to begin with nothing but Him. You have to give up everything else to follow Him (cf. Luke 9:23–24). You don’t get to keep either what good or meritorious works you once thought that you had (Philippians 3:7–9; Hebrews 6:1, Hebrews 9:14), or your former identity, allegiances, or sinful desires (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:3–7). 

The wide way is literally anything but “Christ alone” (even a wide assortment of “Christ-plus”-type hopes). It is wide indeed. We may never comfort ourselves with the idea that we must be ok because so many people believe like we do. Wide is the gate that leads to destruction.

Two Directions. The Lord has been describing to the few in front of Him the transformed life that God gives to those who will be entering the kingdom. This transformed life is the narrow path of Matthew 7:14 (cf. Matthew 5:20). Jesus is the only way into it, and it is the only path that leads from Him. If you are not on the narrow path—if you do not have a new life in pursuit of holiness—you need to go back to the gate. 

In pursuing holiness, the believer must not desire approval of men because then you would “have your reward.” And he also must not expect approval of men because there are comparatively few with you in the confined path. Jesus gives us a wide invitation to Himself and speaks of the rest in Him and the lightness of His yoke (cf. Matthew 11:28–30; John 6:35–37; John 7:37–38). But at the same time, He warns us that we have to count the cost of giving up everything and of offering ourselves as a living sacrifice (cf. Romans 12:1). 

Two Destinations. Those on the broad path do not think much about their destination. They are too busy living their best life now. When they do think of their destination, it is mostly to assure themselves the opposite of the reality, to tell themselves that the destination will be like what they enjoy now, but even better. Truly, they have their reward, and they are destroying themselves already. 

But how great is the destruction to which they go! Thus far, God spares them in kindness and mercy which are meant to lead them to repentance (cf. Romans 2:2–4). But they assure themselves that this means their path is fine, and their destination is good. They refuse to consider that they are storing up wrath against the day of wrath (cf. Romans 2:5), when they will arrive at their destruction—everlasting destruction in flaming fire that comes continually from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8–10). 

Those on the narrow path have entered through a glorious door and are enjoying an increasingly glorious (though confined) path, but they think much about the destination: life. Here, “life” is a synonym to “the kingdom” in the sermon (cf. Matthew 5:20). “Life” is the comfort that ends their current mourning (cf. Matthew 5:4), the inheritance enjoyed as co-heirs with Christ (cf. Matthew 5:5), the filling with righteous character and conduct (cf. Matthew 5:6), the final/full/forever enjoyment of mercy (cf. Matthew 5:7), the full enjoyment of God Himself (cf. Matthew 5:8), and the unimaginable honor of being displayed as His children forever (cf. Matthew 5:9). 

The text refers to it all under the one word: “life.” Life as we were created to have it. Life for which we were redeemed. Life as Christ Himself has had from all eternity as the Son of God. Life as Christ Himself perfectly and increasingly enjoyed in all of His humanity. Life! When others scoff at the exclusivity of the door, we heed them not; our destination is life! When others frown or scold as the confinement of the way, we rejoice that the confinement compels us forward to our destination—life!

What is your worthiness before God? From where does any strength and goodness in you come? What else are you tempted to trust in? What else are you tempted to live for? What is your heaven? How often do you think about it/Him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Your own Son as our gate to enter the way. Grant the ministry of Your Spirit to grow is in the holiness we must have in order to see the Lord. Give us to know you now, and bring us to glorify You and fully enjoy You forever, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP6 “Be Gracious, LORD” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

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