A Moment with the Bible
The final illustration of Jesus sermon is in the form of a parable. This will be the climactic point of His lesson. The conclusion of any man’s sermon is always the point that summarizes the whole of what he has said previously. In 7:13-14, Jesus had said that every man enters one of two gates and travels one of two roads. Now He states that every man builds a house on one of two foundations. A man’s house is his life, but there are two foundations upon which to build it.
It is interesting that Jesus does not comment on the structure of the building or the kind of building materials that are used. Upon completion, both buildings look the same; they look beautiful and solid. But it is not winter yet. It is summer and the rains have not come. We may look at our own life and say, “It looks good. I’m doing fine!” But the winds and the rain have not yet come; the trials have not tested your work. The psalmist said, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).
Which foundation is which? “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” The foundation that is solid, the house that will stand, is the one who builds his life on the word of God and acts upon it. In contrast, the one who does not hear or do His word, will be like a house built on sand. It will not stand when Judgment comes. Upon what is your life built?
A Moment with the Bible
In this text Jesus reveals that there will be some shocking surprises on the Day of Judgment. There will be people who are confident of their salvation but will instead be lost. Not only that, but these people will have worked diligently in this life in the hope of going to heaven. They will be religious people. They will be people who claim to follow the Lord and who are doing many wonderful works in the name of the Lord. They claim that the Lord is their Master and they will call on Him, pray to Him, and teach others about Him.
How could such be lost? How could the Lord say to these people that He “never knew them?” Listen to the words, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” These people were “lawless.” That is, they claimed to follow the Lord, but they did not obey His laws. These people are a dime a dozen. They are all around us. They talk about how they love the Lord and that He is the number one joy of their lives, but they do not do what He says. In a parallel passage, Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Denominations are filled with man-made creeds and traditions of men. They think nothing of gathering a convention and voting on what belief system they will accept or reject or what accepted immorality they will allow. A church can talk all it wants about how it is following God, but that does not make it so. Only those who stay within the confines of the written will of God in the New Testament are truly His disciples (John 8:31-32). Listen to Jesus, “I never knew you.” It is not that He does not know who they are or was not aware of their works. There is no fellowship with them and never was. How sad that many go placidly through life confident of their intimacy with the Savior, yet do not obey Him. And on that Day, what a surprise! We must beware that we are not surprised on the Day of Judgment.
A Moment with the Bible
Immediately after the warning that there are two gates and two ways, Jesus cautions that there are those who will try to take you down the wrong road. The disciple of Christ must be discriminating in how he esteems and evaluates those who teach. Can it possibly be that there are ministers of the gospel who are actually false teachers? Absolutely. For many, that is a shocking truth. Paul states, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
So what do these false teachers look like? They look like sheep. They look like followers of Christ. Here is the danger. Most people think that a minister of Satan will appear evil. No, they will appear to be righteous; they appear as sheep. One cannot determine their truthfulness or their character simply by their personality and their fair speeches. They are only known by their fruit. Is the lifestyle of this teacher upright and good? Is what this person teaches in accordance with the word of God? It may take diligent effort to search the scriptures to know the difference, but one’s eternity is at stake.
The fierceness of these false teachers is indicated by the fact that inwardly they are ravening wolves. They are interested in satisfying their appetites and think nothing of destroying the flock in order to obtain their goal. Notice that Jesus uses the word “beware.” The implication is that most are not aware and that the danger is serious. None of us would casually walk through a jungle filled with wild animals. But most refuse to acknowledge that there are wolves all around us.
However, some love to be deceived. The truth is difficult and hard to swallow because it is narrow and restrictive. Error is much more pleasant because it allows us to do as we please; it is the broad way that leads to destruction.
A Moment with the Bible
Look carefully at this text. You will notice a series of alternatives. In each case the alternatives are choices between one of two. In the old game show, Let’s Make a Deal, contestants could choose between what was behind door number one, door number two, or door number three. Jesus does not give three alternatives. There are only two. Notice in this text that there are two gates, two ways, two destinies, and two groups of people – one group “few” and the other group “many.” Between these two groups all of humanity is pictured. No one is left out. Every person passes through one of two gates, travels one of two ways, and will eventually arrive at one of two destinations.
Jesus’ command is to “enter” by the narrow gate, which implies that effort is required. The fact that Jesus uses the word “narrow” implies that it is not easily entered. The gate does not allow just anyone to come in. A person must strip himself of sin and worldly entanglements in order to enter. A narrow gate makes heaven more attractive because a wider gate would let in those who are evil. But not only is the gate narrow, the way is difficult. The road to heaven is not a big wide interstate allowing the traveler to use cruise control. The road to heaven is challenging and filled with sacrifices.
We must be impressed with the end of each journey. One can take a wide gate and a broad way, but the end is restrictive; the end is destruction. Take the easy way, and the end will be hard. The contrast is that one can enter the narrow gate and travel the difficult road, but the end is wide open; the end is eternal life. The man who is only looking at the gate and the road without seeing what is ahead, is a fool.
Finally, notice the words “few” and “many.” Mankind has an inexplicable tendency of believing that the majority is right. Sometimes they are. But in spiritual matters the majority is wrong. Most do not want to take the more difficult path. Most do not want to strictly follow the Bible or deny themselves the pleasures of sin. Most will not be saved. Only the few will “find it.”
A Moment with the Bible
Let’s begin with the question, “How does this text fit in within the context of the sermon, specifically in this location of the sermon?” The answer is that Jesus has just warned against disciples being critical toward one another. The Lord is the opposite. God is a liberal giver who does to others as He would have them do to Him. God is a caring God. He gives to those who ask, He makes it so those who seek will find, and He opens to those who knock. A critical speck-finder will do none of these things. Notice that verse 12 begins with “therefore.” The “golden rule,” as it is called, is the conclusion of verses 1-11. The conclusion is based on the character of God. Since God is wonderful to give when we ask and open when we knock, we should be the same to our fellow man. To do otherwise is not to be God-like.
Notice, “ask,” “seek,” and “knock.” These are present tense verbs that mean, “Ask, and keep asking, seek, and keep seeking, knock, and keep knocking.” Each command grows in intensity. “Ask,” implies recognition of our dependence. “Seek,” indicates an urgency and desire to obtain. “Knock,” shows a diligent effort to enter where blessings can be found. Only God is able to give these “good gifts” and we should be trying to obtain them.
However, the implication is that most disciples do not seek God’s good gifts as they should. Why not? Because they lack the confidence that God will give. How foolish! What father would do any less? Even earthly fathers do not give evil things to their children who ask for that which is good. Would not our heavenly Father do far more than an earthly father? Consider also, if we ask for good things, our Father will give us good things. But if we ask for that which would not be good for us, will not our Father still give us that which is good? That is the blessing of having a perfect heavenly Father.