Sermons

Sun, Jan 31, 2016

Entering the Kingdom Part 2

What must we do to enter the Kingdom of God?
Duration:43 mins 40 secs

Entering the Kingdom Part 2

We are currently taking a look at the topic of the Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is the primary topic that Jesus spoke about

All throughout the Gospels we see passages that talk about Jesus “preaching the good news of the Kingdom” or saying things like “the Kingdom of God is like this …”

Even though the Kingdom of God it talked about a lot in Scripture, it’s still a pretty confusing topic

Graeme Goldsworthy has summarized a definition of the Kingdom of God as "God's people in God's place under God's rule."

DA Carson said “The Kingdom of God concerns the restoration of God's explicit reign among a people who have rebelled against Him”

So, the Kingdom of God is basically us surrendering ourselves totally and completely to God’s rule

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is … righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

In Matthew 6:33 we are told to “seek first” the Kingdom of God

Even if we do not totally understand what it is, we are still to seek it

Last week we started to take a look at what it takes to enter the Kingdom of God

We looked at John chapter 3 where Jesus tells us that unless we are born again we will never see God’s Kingdom

Unless we have experienced a spiritual transformation – a metamorphosis of the heart – we will never see the Kingdom

I want to build on that subject today by taking a look at a passage of Scripture that, quite frankly, used to scare me quite a bit

We find this passage in Matthew 7, right at the tail end of what we know as the Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7:13-23 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

There’s a lot in this passage that I could preach about, however I mentioned that it used to scare me – why is that?

Let’s start to take the passage apart and see

First:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Jesus is talking about the path to the Kingdom of God – the fully realized Kingdom that will occur after His return

Some may call this “heaven,” which is accurate enough!

Jesus clearly states that this path to God’s Kingdom is a narrow path and few travel on it

While the path to destruction, or hell is a wide path an many travel on it

Here’s what’s interesting about this passage – almost everyone thinks they are on the narrow path

Jesus said that FEW find it, but almost everyone thinks they are on it

In fact, I bet if I were to take a survey right now most of you would say you are on the narrow path

Many of you would be right – but some of you would be wrong

There are those of you in this room right now that think they are on the narrow path, when in reality you are not

How can we know which path we’re on?

That’s a good question that’s answered in the next verses:

15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

The answer to the question lies in the analogy of sheep, wolves, and fruit

We are given a warning about false prophets

A false prophet is someone who comes in the name of the Lord and looks and sounds like they are from the Lord when in reality they are not

This passage describes them as looking like a sheep – or a true Christ follower – on the outside, but being a “ferocious wolf” on the inside

In other words, what they look like on the outside is not what they really are on the inside

They are being deceptive, living a double life, being hypocritical

We’ve all met people like this – they act one way in front of their Christian friends and another way when they are with their non-Christian friends

When they’re with people their behavior is one way, when they’re by themselves it’s another

To a point we all do this

            “guy talk” / “girl talk”

            Modifying behavior that’s not sinful, but could be offensive to some

What is being described here is not that kind of stuff, but a much more serious lifestyle difference

Obvious sin and immoral behavior

These wolves in sheep’s clothing can be very hard to detect at first, but if you hang out with them for any length of time it becomes obvious

How?  Because of their fruit

Verse 16 tells us that we will recognize them by their fruit – or the product of their lives

            Read verses 16 – 20

So back to my question of how you know if you’re on the narrow path or the wide path –

            Are there double standards in your life?

            Are you producing good fruit or bad fruit?

                        What’s good fruit? Sing “the fruit of the spirit” song

When I started my message I made the comment that this passage of Scripture used to scare me

So far it hasn’t been too scary – but that’s about to change!

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Jesus is saying that not everyone who calls Him lord will enter heaven

But it’s scarier than that – these people are absolutely convinced that they’re serving God, when in actuality they’re not

In fact, to the casual observer it would appear that they are great Christians – prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles

Yet Jesus said He never knew them

That’s because they were wolves in sheep’s clothing – living a double standard

It’s because they have bad fruit

It’s because they never really knew Jesus

It takes more than just calling Him your Lord, He must really be your Lord

It takes more than saying you know Him, you must really know Him

Knowing someone is far more than just knowing their name along with some basic information about their life

I ran in to this situation just this last week

As a pastor I am often doing funerals, and many of them are for people I do not know at all

Yesterday I did the funeral of a man who I knew well enough to say hello when I saw him and make small conversation

I knew his wife, his kids, and his grandkids – in fact, I did the wedding for two of his kids

I knew some basic information about this guy, but I really didn’t know him

I had to meet with the family to get the information I needed to do the memorial service

So although I knew who this guy was, I really didn’t know him

Contrast this with someone I really do know, like my wife and my kids

I know tons of details about them

Their favorite colors, their favorite foods, their dreams and ambitions

I could tell you their opinions on most topics and could even predict how they would react to any given situation

I truly know them

Not only do I know them, they know me

Not only do I know all these facts, I also have a relationship with them

It’s entirely possible to know tons of facts about an individual without actually having a relationship with them

Knowing about someone, and actually knowing them, are two different things

I can tell my family that I love them all I want, but how many of you know that it takes more than saying the words for them to actually believe it?

If I truly love my family then that means that there are certain things that I will do, and certain things that I won’t do

If I verbally say that I love my family, but then start verbally and physically abusing them, do I really love them?

If I verbally say that I love my family, yet do not spend hardly any time with them, do I really love my family?

My actions must match my words – but according to Matthew 7 it takes even more than that

Did you notice what the people were saying?

“Did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”

They had the words – they called Him “Lord”

They had the actions – they prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles

What was the problem?  Their heart

They were faking it

I can tell my family that I love them, I can act like I love them, yet in my heart I can secretly despise them

I’ve met people who do the same thing with God

They say all the right words, they do all the right things, but their heart is not in it

They may not say it out loud, but deep down inside they really couldn’t care less

Mark 7:6-8 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' 8  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

So, let me ask you this morning – do you know God?

I mean really know Him?

According to Scripture the path to knowing God is a narrow path

It’s not an easy path to travel – lots of ups and downs, lots of twists and turns, several potholes and other obstacles

It’s a tough path, but it’s an amazing path!

Anyone who has ever hiked will tell you that some of the best scenery is found on the rough, narrow paths

The path to knowing God is worth every bit of the effort!

As I start to wrap things up I want to take just a moment and talk about what we need to do to really know God

You’ve heard me say this many times before – it’s pretty simple

Getting to know God is just like getting to know a person – you spend time with them

You talk, you hang out, you listen

I know many people are thinking this means spending tons of time reading the Bible

Yes, reading the Bible is a very important aspect of this process, but there is a lot more to it

In addition to reading the Bible we must also spend time in God’s presence

Pray, listen, soak in His presence

Purposefully seek Him out – spend time every day connecting and conversing

Submit to His will, His plans, and His purposes as you understand them

 

 

 

Harvest Family Fellowship

28 Shaffer Hill Road

Liberty PA, 16930

Pastor Harry

Church: 570-324-2349

Home: 570-324-5805

Cell: 570-772-3862

Email: pastorharry@harvestfam.org

Associate Pastor Mike

Cell: 570-404-1536

pastormike@harvestfam.org