Open your Bible to Matthew 7, Matthew 7, and I will read for you a very familiar and very important portion of Scripture. Matthew 7:13 down through 27. Matthew 7:13 to 27.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.”
The old spiritual said, “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.” And that, essentially, is drawn from this passage. “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.” How true that is.
In Proverbs chapter 30 and verse 12 we read, “There is a kind of generation who is pure in their own eyes, yet not washed from their filthiness, pure in their eyes, yet now washed from their filthiness.” Romans 10:2 says of the Jewish people, “They have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.”
Obviously, across the world, millions of people feel religious. Many of them come under the title “Christianity,” but have absolutely no hope of entering heaven and escaping hell. Even millions who claim to believe in Jesus believe in His life and death and resurrection. There were people like that that Jesus ran into Himself, according to the last couple of verses in John chapter 2. There were many who believed on Him, but He didn’t commit Himself to them because He knew what was in their hearts. It was a superficial kind of belief. It was a self-serving kind of belief. It lacked the character and depth and repentant attitude and full knowledge of Christ to be real saving faith.
This fact is clearly stated by our Lord in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” And He then says, “Many will say that.” This looks at the future when people arrive into the presence of the Lord and say, “Lord, Lord, we’re here,” to which He will respond, “I never knew you.” Verse 23, “Depart from Me into hell, you who practice lawlessness.”
Scripture is clear that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. He is the one mediator between God and man. He is the one Savior, the world’s only Savior. No man comes to the Father – that is to God – except through Him. There is no salvation in any other than Him, Scripture makes that clear. Salvation comes through faith, and faith comes by hearing a message concerning Christ, Romans 10.
So here at the end of this sermon called the Sermon on the Mount that started in chapter 5 – three chapters: 5, 6 and 7 – the Lord preaches this immensely significant sermon. And if you come down to verse 13, essentially, this is the end of it, and this is where He asks for a response. This is the invitation at the end of this greatest sermon in the New Testament. It is make up your mind time on the mountain.
And the whole sermon is a series of sharp, defined contrasts between false religion and true religion. And there are only two kinds of religion. There’s true religion and false religion. True religion comes in one form, and that is the Word of God, and the work of Christ, and the gospel. False religion comes in endless forms. But there are really only two religions, two paths, two approaches to God. One comes through faith in Christ alone by grace, and one comes by trusting in your own works to any degree – your own merit, your own religiosity, and your own morality. Whatever the title of that kind of religion, it is the religion of human achievement, and the other one is the true of divine accomplishment.
Only two religions. The religion of human achievement says, “We do certain things and God lets us into heaven.” The religion of divine accomplishment says, “We get into heaven only because of what Christ did, not because of what we do.” The truth is that what we do would send us all to hell, because even our righteousness is filthy rags. And by the deeds of the flesh, no person will be justified before God. In Ephesians 2, “Salvation is by grace through faith, not works.”
You cannot mix the religion of human achievement with the religion of divine accomplishment, they don’t mix. Paul in Romans says, “If you add any works to grace, grace is no more grace.” And that redefinition is deadly. You only come by grace through faith, not through any acquired morality, religiosity, sacraments, achievements, human goodness.
Now the Jews of Jesus’ day were the illustration of the wrong kind of religion. They were part of the human achievement religion. And when Jesus came, He actually assaulted them. They had not maintained the true religion of the Old Testament, which was to recognize your sin and to recognize the inability for you to do anything about your sin and throw yourself on the mercy of God. They had left the category of divine accomplishment. They had left the category of the desperate sinner crying out to God for mercy, and they had developed a form of Judaism by which they earned their way to heaven – at least they thought they did. And in Romans 11:28, a fascinating statement. The apostle Paul refers to the Jews as the enemies, the enemies of the gospel.
There are only two categories of people in the world. There are those who believe the gospel and those who are the enemies of the gospel. Jesus said, “There are those who are with Me and those who are against Me.” Those who are with Him are fully committed to the true gospel as revealed in Scripture. Those who are against Him come in endless religious forms.
The Jews of Jesus’ day were part of the religion of human achievement, and the Lord began His ministry by going into their temple, the most sacred place, and calling it a den of thieves, and throwing people out. Did the same thing at the end of His ministry three years later. He went into the temple and started throwing out the money changers and the buyers and sellers, and He said, “You’ve turned this, which is supposed to be a house of prayer, into a den of thieves. Your religion is so bad” – Jesus said – “that one stone is going to be left on another of this great temple that Herod had built. It’s all going to come crashing down. Judgment will come.” And it came in 70 AD when the Romans came, sacked Jerusalem, and leveled that temple, as Jesus said would happen.
Jesus basically, in the Sermon on the Mount earlier, attacked the prayers of the Jews. He attacked the alms or the giving of the Jews. He attacked their ceremonies, He attacked their forms of worship, all of which were designed to earn God’s favor by some work that they were doing. Romans 10:3 says, as Paul looks at Judaism as a former Pharisee, that they had so twisted the truth that not knowing about God’s righteousness, they went about to establish their own righteousness. They thought God was less righteous than He is, they were more righteous than they were, and so God would accept their righteousness.
That is the lie of all false religions, and that is what our Lord is addressing in this Sermon on the Mount. That’s why in chapter 5, as He begins the sermon, He redefines their complete understanding of how to get into the kingdom of heaven, how to come to God. He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That was absolutely the opposite Judaism.
The Jews thought they were the rich, that they were spiritually mature, that they knew God, represented God, were moral, were fastidious in keeping the law. But Jesus says, “You’ve got to begin, if you want to enter My kingdom, by realizing your spiritual bankruptcy.” The word “poor” is the lowest possible level of poverty where you have to beg. “You are spiritually bankrupt. As religious as you are, you are spiritually bankrupt. You want to enter the kingdom, you need to mourn; not rejoice over your supposed achievements, but mourn. You need to weep and mourn.”
In the next verse, “If you want to inherit the earth, be a part of the kingdom, you must be meek no proud. And if you want to be satisfied with true righteousness, you have to hunger and thirst for that righteousness, a righteousness you do not possess.” This was devastating truth striking at the Jews: “You are spiritually bankrupt, you are helpless and hopeless, you have nothing to offer by way of commending yourself to God. You have to hunger and thirst for a righteousness that you do not possess and cannot gain on your own.” This is a new kind of teaching for the Jews. This is salvation by grace through faith, as we read in Ephesians 2.
Now as we come to the end of the sermon, He started with that section on the Beatitudes, taking them back to a whole different point – spiritually bankrupt, weeping and mourning and broken over their sins, crying out for a righteousness they knew they didn’t have and couldn’t earn in deep humility. He says, “I want to talk to you about the true religion,” and so He did that through chapter 5, through chapter 6, and through chapter 7. And as I said, He basically attacked all their religious ceremonies and rites and rituals and sacraments, and even their supposed personal morality, and showed how it was insufficient. He even went so far as to say, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you’ll never enter into heaven.” And then He took it a step further and said, “Be perfect, for our God in heaven is perfect.” That is a standard that none of us can attain, and no religion offers any possible pathway to spiritual perfection as defined by God.
So He comes to the end of His sermon and He pulls together these two realities: the religion of human achievement, the religion of divine accomplishment. And as we come to the end, as I began to read in verse 13, I want you to see the contrast, they are vivid. There are two gates: wide and narrow. There are two ways: broad and narrow. There are two destinies: life and destruction. There are two crowds: many and few. There are actually two trees, good and corrupt; and two fruits, good and bad. There are two behaviors: the sayers and the doers. There are two builders: the wise and the foolish. There are two foundations: the rock and the sand. And there are two houses: the one that stood, and the one that fell.
This literally reduces the spiritual world and the religious world to two options: one is the path to heaven, and the other is the path to hell. But it’s never marked “hell,” it’s always marked “heaven”; it’s just a lie. Nobody sells tickets to hell. No religion is offering you hell, they’re all offering heaven; but only one goes there. So let’s look at these contrasts.
First of all, two gates, verses 13 and 14, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” This is the entrance into the kingdom of heaven. This is the entrance to the highway that goes into the presence of God.
Again, both roads are religious, both roads promise heaven. That’s what religion always does, it always promises heaven. But only the narrow road goes there. The true way to heaven is spelled out and it is the narrow way. “It is the narrow way” – says verse 14 – “that leads to life. It is the broad way that leads” – verse 13 says – “to destruction.”
So let me break this down very simply. Here’s our Lord’s invitation, and it’s in the form of a command: “Enter.” Verse 13, “Enter.” You must enter.
At the end of this sermon in which He has basically dismantled false religion and affirmed the truth, He says, “You must enter.” This is a call to immediate response. It’s make up your mind time on the mountain. This is a command without an alternative. Not enough to look and admire the narrow gate. Not enough to be happy that other people are going in. Not enough to listen. Not enough even to study the truths regarding the narrow gate and the true gospel. Hell is full of people who admired the Bible, admired Jesus, went to church, were baptized; but they were never in the narrow gate on the narrow way.
You must enter this way. And it narrow because it is only through Christ. “No man comes to the Father but by Me. I am the door. There’s no salvation in any other than Me.” He’s the Savior of the world because He’s the only Savior in the world. He’s the only mediator between God and man. So you must enter through Christ, there is no other way to heaven. No other religion will get you there. It’ll say heaven, it’ll take you to hell.
So you must enter. This is a command. You must enter this gate: Christ alone, Christ alone, no other than Christ. He is the only Savior. “As many as believe in Him,” – John 1:12 – “to them He gave the authority to become the children of God.” Believing in Him with saving faith, that confesses Him as Lord is the only way to get to the road to heaven. Faith comes by hearing the truth about Christ and believing it.
So you must enter, you must enter this gate, and you must enter this gate alone. And our Lord is saying to these Jews, “You’re in the wrong place, you’ve gone through the wrong gate, you’re on the wrong road. I know you think it goes to heaven, it doesn’t; it goes to hell. You must enter this gate.”
And, thirdly, you must enter this gate alone, you must enter this gate alone. Religion, part of the deception of religion is its collective nature. People who a part of a religion feel a certain amount of comfort because they’re not alone. They feel like there’s some history, some tradition, some systems. There are other people like them. The crowd is there with them. Their religion is crowded with other adherence and other believers.
But this gate is a turnstile. You don’t come in in a group. You don’t come in because you were born into a family with Christian parents. You don’t come in because you are part of a church and you hang around believing people. You come in alone, one at a time. The kingdom advances one soul at a time. You don’t inherit this from someone else. You’re not carried along by someone else, you come alone. We spend our lives, don’t we, rushing with the crowd, running with the crowd. That’s how people on the broad road function. They go through the broad door with all their friends, all those that are part of their group, and continue that way on the road to hell.
In the tenth chapter of Matthew, verse 34, our Lord says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I came not to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set a man against his brother, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who doesn’t take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” It may be that you have to break from everybody and everything in your life. This is the self-denial that our Lord talked about: “If any man come after Me, let him deny himself.”
The Jews thought they were all on the road to heaven because they were the children of Abraham, because they had been circumcised, because they had respect for the Old Testament, in spite of their apostacy. Paul says, “All of it is manure,” in Philippians 3. He was a part of it. “All of it is useless.”
So you must enter. You must enter this gate. You must enter this gate alone one soul at a time. This is individual salvation, repentance, and confessing Jesus as Lord, and acknowledging that He died in your place, paid the penalty for your sin, rose again for your life; and in that confident trust in Him you received the very righteousness of God, which satisfies God because it’s His righteousness imputed to you, something you could never earn.
Now let me add something else. You must enter this gate alone with difficulty, with difficulty. You would think, if you listen to some evangelists, that it’s pretty easy to be a Christian, you just pray a few words. Sometimes you hear them, “Say this after me,” and people mumble some words out loud as if that’s the actual entrance into the kingdom. But you’ll notice it says, “The way is narrow and the gate is narrow, and there are few who find it.”
What an amazing statement at the end of verse 14. There are few who find the narrow gate. Why? Because it’s small, it’s narrow. And on the other hand, there are so many false religionists all over the place selling tickets to the broad road. And the broad road is so much more accommodating. The broad gate is so much easier. This is very difficult, that’s why Luke 13:24, our Lord says, “Strive” – literally agonize – “to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” That’s a stunning reality that there are people who will want to become believers. They want to go through the narrow door and on to the narrow way to heaven. They will try but not be able to enter. It’s not easy. That’s why in Matthew 11, verse 12, the Lord says, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
Becoming a Christian is waging a war against yourself. Are you willing to deny father, mother, sister, brother? Are you willing to deny your own personal ambitions? Are you willing to turn from your sin? Are you willing to abandon the sovereignty you exercise over your own life and confess Jesus as Lord? That is the struggle of the heart.
When Jesus met the rich young ruler, the rich young ruler’s question was, “How do I get into the kingdom?” And when the Lord just put one little obstacle in front of him and said, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor,” he turned and walked away. There was not going to be any sacrifice on his part, none whatsoever.
There has to be a certain violence in the life of a person who is being truly converted in which you’re overwhelmed by your sin, you want to be delivered from your sin and its consequence, eternal punishment. That’s why Luke 16:16 our Lord says, “Every man presses into it.” It’s hard. It’s hard because of what Isaiah 55:6 and 7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” You have to basically go against everything you are. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek for Me with all your heart.”
So you must enter, you must enter this gate, you must enter alone, you must enter with difficulty. It is only entered by the truly penitent, by the wholehearted, by the zealous, by the serious, who are willing to say, “Jesus is Lord, and I will be His slave. I will give my life to Him for the gift that He offers, which is the forgiveness of all my sins and the promise of eternal life.” That is hard for sinners to do. That is difficult for proud hearts. And it is part of human nature to love lusts – lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life.
So you must enter, you must enter this gate, you must enter this gate alone with difficulty. And just another thought: you must enter this gate naked, as it were. You can’t go through a turnstile with your luggage. It’s a gate that requires you to drop everything; and then again, you’re back to, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” The only thing you can take through the turnstile is your cross – a willingness to suffer for Christ.
This is expressed in the two parables in Matthew 13:44 to 46 where a man found a treasure in a field and sold everything to get the treasure. Another man found a pearl of great price, sold everything to get the pearl. When Christ is so valuable you will give up everything, you have stripped yourself bare. In fact, John 12:25 says, “You can’t come to Me unless you hate yourself.”
All self, all sin, all self-righteousness, all of that has to be abandoned. That is hard for the unregenerate heart to do, and will not happen unless it is enabled by the wonderful working of the Holy Spirit who breaks the grip of sin on the heart. From the start, Jesus called for repentance, a recognition of your own spiritual emptiness, sorrow over sin, eagerness to turn from it, be rescued from judgment at any cost, willing to abandon everything and come naked.
And there’s a sixth element in this: you must enter, you must enter this gate, you must enter this gate alone, you must enter it with difficulty and naked, and you must enter it in submission to the Lord. You come not simply saying, “I want the salvation You give,” but saying, “I submit myself to You as my Lord.” “If anyone confesses Jesus as Lord as well as believing in his heart that God raised him from the dead, he will be saved.”
Listen to the language of our Lord in the fourteenth chapter of Luke in verse 25. “Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me, and doesn’t hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever doesn’t carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he’s laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he’s strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his possessions.” So He’s saying, “Don’t start following Me unless you count the cost, unless you count the cost.”
Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Me. That’s confessing Jesus as Lord. That’s true worship, that’s true religion. And salvation is marked today as if it was cheap and easy, and it is not. Again, you enter, you must enter this gate, you must enter this gate alone, with difficulty, naked, and in submission to the Lord whom you confess as Lord and Master.
Now contrast with that the wide gate in verse 13. “The gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction.” You can come with the whole crowd. You can come with all your baggage. You can come without self-denial. You can come with your own pride, your own sin. You can come with no repentance. You just become religious.
A huge crowd of the religious people have come in the broad gate and are on the broad road, and it’s broad enough for you to live any way you want. You can bounce from side to side, it doesn’t require anything. This can be a LGBTQ, same sex, transgender form of Christianity that we’re hearing about these days. It can be anything. And huge crowds of people are on this road thinking it goes to heaven when it goes to hell. So there are two gates.
Secondly, there are two ways, two ways very different. “Broad is the way” – verse 13 – “that leads to destruction.” Room for diverse doctrine, room for tolerance of sin. No curbs, no boundaries. All the desires of your fallen heart are tolerated – the prosperity gospel fits into this. It is a broad road religion. Whatever you want, whatever your desires hunger for, this is acceptable. This is what Psalm 1:6 calls the way of the ungodly, and it says, “The way of the ungodly will perish, will perish.”
And by the way, there are a lot of people selling tickets to the broad way, and we meet them in verse 15: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Prophets used to wear wool, and so these false teachers come as if they were prophets of God, but they are actually ravenous wolves who want to rip and shred their victims. “Take a look at them, you’ll know them by their fruits,” and then he goes on to give illustrations of that. Again, he repeats it in verse 20, “You will know them by their fruits.” Look closely at false teachers and take a look at what their life is like. Does their life manifest true Christian virtue and godliness, purity, humility, love?
So you have two ways. You have the broad way that many people are on. There are more people on the broad way than the narrow way – and that’s part of the illustration here.
But on the other hand, narrow is the way, constricted, pressed together, like the narrow gate, because essentially it requires that you observe all things, “whatsoever I have commanded you,” as our Lord said in Matthew 28 in the Great Commission. It requires the narrowness of obedience to the Lord. It requires godliness, purity, virtue, holy living. You can’t live any way you want. When you hear people talk about being Christians and tolerating all kinds of sins and violation of Scripture, that’s the broad road kind of Christianity which is just another form of human achievement, and it leads to hell.
Now, thirdly, there are two destinations, and that’s obvious. “The broad road” – verse 13 – “leads to destruction, the small or narrow gate and the narrow road leads to life.” “Destruction,” that’s hell. The sign says heaven, but the truth is it goes to hell. The entrance to hell is from a road falsely marked “heaven.” That’s what all religion does, all of it.
And by the way, destruction doesn’t mean annihilation, it means destroyed in the sense of any usefulness. Scripture says there will be everlasting punishment, that there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth forever. It’s not just going out of existence, not that kind of destruction. It’s the destruction of well-being, not existence, and all eternity left in remorse, suffering, emptiness, punishment. On the other hand, for those on the narrow road, there is life, eternal life, glorious life – full, rich life provided by God through the resurrection of Christ.
There are two crowds. Look back. “On the broad road there are many” – end of verse 13 – “there are many. On the narrow road” – verse 14 – “there are few.” Most of the people in the world are on the broad road. Most of the people who claim some commitment to Christianity are on the broad road. Few find the narrow road.
Jesus said in Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock.” And the disciples said in Luke 13, “Are only a few being saved?” because that was obviously what was going on during the ministry of our Lord. And our Lord responds in Matthew 22, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Isaiah 6 talks about a remnant, a tenth that will be the faithful.
So there are many on the broad road. And the same many show up again in verse 22: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” That’s the many.
False profession is the worst kind of profanity. It is taking the Lord’s name in vain, it’s worse than cursing. Hypocrisy, false profession; that’s majority – many. And they will claim a connection to Christ, and they will even claim experiences with Him; but the Lord will deny that He ever knew them at all.
Then there are two kinds of behavior, verse 21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ – later in the verse – “but he who does the will of My Father.” So you have the sayers and the doers. The doomed are branded as those who say empty words out of empty hearts. No real repentance, no real faith, no real love, no real obedience, no real sacrifice. They’re very polite. They say “Lord” twice. “Lord,” the first time perhaps politely. The second times perhaps with a measure of orthodoxy, “Lord, Lord,” – expresses also zeal in repeating it – “We’ve done all this in Your name.”
Three times it says “in Your name” in just one verse, verse 22. “We’re Yours. We’ve been doing everything in Your name. We’re Christians. Why have tried to preach in Your name. We’ve tried to cast out demons in Your name. We’ve tried to do miracles in Your name.” These are claims only, by the way. Not that they were able to do those things in His name; because they didn’t belong to Him.
But their eternal destiny will be based not on what they said, but on what they did. Whether their claim, “Lord, Lord,” is supported by a life of repentance, true faith, and loving obedience. Hell will be full of people who were religious, who were in Christianity in some form, but who were empty-hearted and spout empty words. They say, “We’ve worshiped You. Don’t You recognize us? We’re Your people,” to which He responds in verse 23, “I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. I have no idea who you are. I have never known you, literally. You do always work lawlessness,’” that’s the original intent of the structure.
And again, this is the spiritual reality that you’re known by your fruit, you’re known by your works. We saw that in Ephesians 2:10, “We’re not saved by works, we’re saved unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”
False profession is valueless. Again, it is a kind of profanity. It is the worst kind of profanity. Taking the Lord’s name in vain because you’re claiming to belong to Him when you don’t, that is worse than cursing. The blasphemy of the sanctuary is worse than the blasphemy of the street. This is a kind of Judas kiss, “Lord, Lord,” from someone whose heart is empty and whose life is bankrupt spiritually and who’s marked by disobedience.
Now what makes this passage so shocking is the disparity between what people think and what is reality. Many are going to believe that they are about to be ushered into heaven, and they will be sent to hell from the portals of heaven, from the doorway in a sense. They have respect for Christ, they have a measure of orthodoxy. They may have had religious experiences, and they may have gone through ordinances and sacraments. They may have served in some capacity. But they’re nothing but counterfeits; and the Lord says, “I don’t know you. I have no relationship to you.” And the reason that that’s obvious is because they say and they do not do, they say and they do not do. That is the difference back in verse 21: “Not everyone who says, but the ones who do.”
“Why call Me Lord, but do not the things I say? You call me the way, and walk me not. You call me the life, and live me not. You call me Master, and obey me not. If I condemn you, blame me not. You call me bread, and eat me not. You call me truth, and believe me not. You call me Lord, and serve me not. If I condemn you, blame me not.” Faith without works is dead.
So two gates, two ways, two destinations, two crowds, two professions, and finally, two foundations, two foundations. Verse 24, Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them,” – does them – “may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Then in verse 26, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them,” – does not do them – “will be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand.”
You have two foundations: rock and sand. Both build a religious house. Both have some kind of religious structure. Both hear, and at least outwardly affirm, the truth. In fact, you can’t tell the difference. We can’t see the foundation. And that’s the point of the analogy. It’s sort of like Matthew 13 where you have the wheat and the tares growing together, and we are warned not to try to pull the tares out, because we lack the ability to distinguish them so often.
Both build a house. Both build a house in the same place, because the same storm hits both. Both build essentially in the same way; and from somebody standing there and looking, they look like equally impressive religious structures. But there’s a massive difference, and that is one house is built on the rock of sound doctrine, true repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ, salvation by grace alone. The other is built on the sand of hypocrisy, false religion, human works, and religion.
“The rock is these sayings of Mine, these sayings of Mine, these words of Mine,” verse 24. “These words of Mine,” verse 26. “When you hear these words of Mine and you build your house on them, you are building on a rock.” One built the hard way. In Luke 6:47 and 48, Jesus said, “This man dug deep,” deep repentance, deep and thorough understanding of the gospel and of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Today there are superficial tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people running around, throwing the name of Jesus around; He doesn’t know them at all. And they may be claiming even miracle powers. They have no relationship to Him, because they are hearers and not doers. And maybe you can’t see it now, although you can see their fruit, as the false teachers’ fruit made manifest their character, or lack of it; but we never would sit in final judgment on someone looking at their religious house.
The house on the rock and the sand look essentially the same. And it was the same place, the same congregation, you might say. How do we know the difference? How do we know who the hypocrites are? Well, you’re not going to know really until the storm comes. And when the storms comes in verse 25, “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it didn’t fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” And then verse 27, “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.” Why? Because it was built on sand. Judgment will reveal the true condition.
Again, we can’t separate the wheat from the tares. We don’t always know the hypocrites, we don’t know those whose religious structures are built on sand; but the storm will reveal it. Some people are respectful of Jesus. They use His name; they claim to be connected to Him. They have a measure of orthodoxy. They’re active in Christian experiences. But the judgment is going to bring their hypocrisy and the house built on sand down to a crashing end. That’s why the hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but holy lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is” – what? – “sinking sand.”
Most people are self-deceived. Anybody in any form of religion under the category of human achievement is deceived. Why would you be in religion at all? Why bother with it? Why bother with all the falderal. Why bother with the morality of it, whatever that morality requires? Why bother? Why restrict your life? Why make an effort to subdue your sin? Why? Why is religion successful? Because it promises heaven, and delivers hell. That will not be known until the flood, and then they’ll be brought before the Lord. “Lord, Lord, we did this, we did this.” “I never knew you. Don’t have any relationship with you at all.”
So the bottom line in what Jesus is saying is, “You’d better examine yourselves whether you’re in the faith.” As Spurgeon said, “Whether your religion is true or false, it will be tried. Whether it is chaff or wheat, the great winnower will fan the grain, and the truth will be brought to light.” Spurgeon said, “If you have dealings with God, you have to do with a consuming fire. Whether you be really or falsely a Christian, if you come near to Christ, He will test you as silver is tested. Judgment must begin at the house of God; and if you dare to come into the house of God, judgment will begin with you.”
These are the words of our Lord at the end of this great sermon: “Don’t be on that broad road. Find the narrow way. Cry out to God to give you the strength and disconnect you from your sin and all that holds you back. Come through the door of Jesus Christ to the narrow way which truly leads to heaven.”
Dear Lord, as we bring this morning to a conclusion, and what a wonderful, rich time of worship and fellowship it’s been, things have to be considered in a serious way. We’re talking about eternity here. We’re talking about eternal punishment in hell or eternal joy in heaven. We’re talking about eternity outside of Your presence or eternity in the very center of Your presence. We’re talking about suffering on the one hand and absolute joy on the other. We have tried to take the words of our Lord and make the message clear: there is a narrow gate and a narrow way and it does lead to life, life eternal and life abundant. May be hard to find, but we have been given the directions directly to it in Your Word: “Come to Christ.” Come through Christ, through repentance and faith in Him, acknowledging that you can do nothing to purchase access to the narrow way, it is a gift of grace given to those who believe in Christ, in His sacrificial death and resurrection.
I pray, Lord, that this morning You will open the hearts of those who have been hypocritical, who are here but they don’t know You and You don’t know them. May the horrors of this day frighten them into true repentance. Do what You can only do; awaken the heart, give life, for Your glory we pray. Amen.