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
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