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Monday, November 4, 2019

A Fresh Look at the Two Roads

As we look at different scriptures in regard to the Christian walk and related topics such as rewards, crowns, the prize, maturity, and waste, I want to be sure that we understand in all of these things, resurrection life is a free gift.

The one thing we can all grasp and agree upon, from the atheist to the polytheist, is that we all die. One of the central themes of scripture is death. It is part of the curse. It is the last enemy. It is that which will one day be destroyed. It is what Christ came ti suffer on our account.
"All in Adam will die, but all in Christ will be made alive." 
It is in light of the free gift of Life and its certainty that we look at scriptures regarding our walk.

So, as we approach the metaphor of the two gates, we do not lose sight of this truth. Those on the two roads are believers. They all have the free gift of life. They all have a new, divine nature given freely by God by grace through faith.

Before we get to out passage in Matthew 7, we must pass through a number of instructions and warnings from Christ Jesus to his brethren in Israel.
  • Judge not, that you be not judged.
  • For with what judgment you judge, you will be
  • Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
  • Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine
  • Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find
  • knock, and it will be opened to you.
  • Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophet
The Lord is clearly speaking to believers. We have acknowledged these are part of his ministry to Israel (Matt 15:25; Rom 15:8; etc.), but all scripture is profitable and we take principles from here. The believer deals with his "brother" and he deals with "dogs." But in either case, the hearers are assumed to be believers. This leads us into our passage.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. -Matt 7:13-14
The Lord is telling his Jewish followers  to enter by the difficult and narrow way. Now, is the Lord's burden heavy? Must we work hard to obtain the free gift? No. We are clearly told in Romans 11 that works and grace are mutually exclusive ideas in regard to the free gift. However, entering into certain blessings requires we bear "the cross of Christ."

We have looked previously as how the scriptures instruct the believer in the epistles. We are either moving towards perfection (maturity, completion of the race we are running) or perdition (loss and waste).

For the Israelite, this has to do with a place in the Kingdom. In Matthew we will see the Lord commend the faith of a gentile and warn the Israelites.
And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” -Matt 8:11-12
Are unbelievers the heirs of the kingdom? No, the earthly kingdom is promised to Israel. But some will miss out on its blessings. They will weep, not because God is torturing them (as is often taught from this passage), but because they dis not enter into their blessings by faith.

This is where James' epistle to the "twelve tribes" (James 1:1) gives us some light. The faith here, and in James, produces good fruit. It produces action. Faith is necessary to enter into blessing, but it must be faith that takes action.

Another good illustration is found in the twelve spies who spied out the promised land. While twelve entered (all redeemed out of Egypt and identified with Moses in the Red Sea) only two believed God. Therefore, only these two entered the land of blessing (Numbers 14:29-30).

In Ezekiel 20, the Lord is chastising Israel through the prophet. He reminds them of what he has done for the nation and gives them a grave warning about entrance into the promised land.
I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. -Ezek 20:37-28
Let us return to Matthew 7. As we continue the Lord's discourse we see additional warnings.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
 While it is true that men, in general, are known by their fruits, here we see the warning in regard to testing prophets. This is, again, clearly for Israel. This is the Lord warning believing Israel test prophets and not to listen to all of them. It is assumed his listeners are sheep and the false prophets only appear so. The point being that sheep can be led astray, or led down the broad road, by false prophets.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This passage, I believe, continues to warn Israel about false prophets. These will not enter the kingdom, so don't follow them! No matter what miracles they seem to do, no matter what swelling words come forth from their mouths, beware! They will lead you down the broad road which leads to waste.

"Destruction" can be applied  to either a being or a being's works and rewards. Whereas the lost will themselves he destroyed, so shall the works of the flesh of the believer at the Judgment Seat (though he himself shall have life).

There will be Jews who miss out on the millennial kingdom. These warnings are not directed at believers of this age, but there are principles pointing us to the character of God. In this age, some may miss out on many other blessings through lack of faith or by leading wicked lives. These warnings are found in Paul's seven final epistles (especially in Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians).

The biggest blessing a believer of this age can miss is failing to enter the blessings in the heavenlies by rejecting Paul's gospel of this hour. Paul revealed a "Mystery" (hidden from before the foundation of the world) gospel of blessings in heavenly places. Many have rejected Paul. They still have the free gift of life, but by chasing the rudiments of the world and robbing from others (primarily Israel), they cannot enter into full blessings. Others walk in the flesh and forfeit rewards, crowns, and the prize of high calling.

It is absolutely essential that you believe in His name, confess his death, burial (lack of decay in the grave) and his glorious resurrection as the full payment for your sins and your full justification in his resurrection. God has already been reconciled to you in Christ, you need only be reconciled to him by faith. But after faith, seek to walk in to new nature you receive.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. -John 5:24
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, -Eph 4:1

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