SM October 17, 1993
I have been studying through Matthew in the mornings. Last week, I arrived at Mat 7:13, 14. Because of a
message I heard at the ACUC and what came up in my Matthew study, I feel the need to present this message.
It will be probably the Oct mailing, but I will try to abbreviate this message for this morning.
As we look at the Lord's sermon on the mount, we must keep at least four things in mind:
First, its OT context of the law and the prophets.
Second, whom the Sermon is directed to (though Christ is instructing His disciples and preparing them for His departure, these instructions apply to the Saints in general).
Third, the context of the period of time in which He spoke. The faith once delivered to the saints was extremely corrupted by the religious leaders of Christ's day. False prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing, abounded, corrupting the faith for their own use, power and profit, v. 15. They had led and were leading many sincere "seekers of God" to destruction.
Fourth, we must not overlook that fact that Christ is teaching strong doctrine, 7:28.
As I meditated upon this passage of Mat 7, I could not avoid remembering Pastor Bob McCurry's message at the ACUC (Oct 4, 1993 - It would behove all to listen to the message. It is available from Indianapolis Baptist Temple, 2635 S. E. St. Indianapolis, Indiana. 2 tapes, 5.00). His text was Jude 3-7
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
After reading the text, he called attention to the terrible day of faithlessness in which we live. He pointed out some things from this text: Judgment is not coming, IT IS HERE; Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed for want of righteousness, and God's answer for the evil was/is not to contend for the Constitution (&c., though these things may be good). Rather, the Lord's answer for the overwhelming flood of evil at the end of the 20th century is to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
In light of the Lord's words of Mat 7:13-27, let me make a point from Jude: There are false teachers (certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our lord Jesus Christ) today in the assembly of believers, the church. Furthermore, their call and purpose was established by God before the world began.
With Jude's warning in mind, let's examine Mat 7:13-27.
When Christ gave the faith once delivered to the saints its proper understanding, He exposed the false teachers as the liers they were, John 8:44. He, the Truth of God, striped them of their deception and power, creating a great conflict between Himself and them.
Not only did our Lord's message create problems with the religious people His day, but it creates problems with "religionists" today. As we look at the following (which goes contrary to our human understanding), remember these are the words of GOD WITH US, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. He is presenting the Father's doctrine, and it astounded His hearers as much then as it does today, vv. 28, 29. (In fact, as time passed, they hated His doctrine so much that they killed Him.)
We must assume, though, that the Lord Jesus knew what He was talking about when He presented the following five points (when we come to this section in our series, we will deal with it in a different light.):
1) There are two paths. One path is very wide and easy to travel. The other path is quite small, narrow and difficult to follow.
2) There are two gates. Gate speaks of a means of entrance (or exit) at the end of a path. One is a large gate to accommodate the many who follow the wide, easy path. The other is a small gate to accommodate the few who find the narrow, difficult path.
3) There are two endings behind the two gates. At the end of the wide, easy path is the wide gate that has destruction behind it. At the end of the narrow, difficult path is the narrow gate that has life behind it.
4) There are two numbers of people traveling the two paths. The wide path has many travelers; its width and ease of travel appeals to vast multitudes, so its gate is wide to accommodate its many travelers. On the other hand, the narrow, difficult path is found by only a few people, so its gate is narrow to accommodate its few travelers. (He said few because He meant few.)
5) There are two types of prophets along the way, vv. 15-20. The Lord emphasizes the many false prophets, or teachers, one encounters as he travels toward his final destination.
We see from the rest of the chapter that the false teachers always lead to death as they promote the path of destruction. What makes these particular false prophets so dangerous is that they appear as sheep, ortrue prophets. These false prophets assure the travelers along the way that everything is all right as they travel the path of ease, the broad way that leadeth to destruction.
Beware..., v. 15. The matter gets complicated because Mat 7:21-27 shows us that there are two paths which lead to the gate of destruction. One is a wide path of easy travel. The other is a narrow path containing basically the same trials, tribulations and difficulties as does the proper, narrow path, but its end is also destruction.
It is a narrow path whose travelers find the way lonely and difficult; they profess the Truth and suffer the same as those on the proper, narrow path.
It has all the same markings as does the narrow path, including false prophets proclaiming "Truth" in the name of the Lord, v. 22.
The travelers on the wrong path assume that because they are being urged on in the name of the Lord, are on a narrow and difficult path of travel, stand for the same things as those on the proper path, and suffer the same adversities for the name of Christ as the ones on the proper path, they are going toward the gate of life.
Please note that we are not downplaying the importance of the Sovereignty of God in any way. Jesus is both Lord and Christ. Therefore, one can stand for the Sovereignty of God yet not be saved. On the other hand, one cannot be saved without standing for the Sovereignty of God. The following will emphasize the Christ part of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is not meant to undermine the importance of the Lord (Sovereignty of God) part of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The problem is, of course, that when they get to the end of the difficult path, they find they are at the door of destruction, Mat 7:23.
"After all," their reasoning may go, "Are we not suffering persecution for the Lord's sake just as He said we would? Are not our prophets proclaiming the name of the Lord?" Remember, the ungodly who persecute those standing for the law-word of God are against God, not against individuals, Ps 2. Therefore, any person who professes and lives God's truth as revealed in His law-word to any degree will suffer the wrath of the ungodly whether the sufferer is "saved" or not.
Furthermore, the ungodly "Empire Builders" despise any who will not submit to their desires, whether the "rebel" is a "Christian" or "Moslem." If we say that persecution proves that one is on the proper path, we must say that the Moslems (Iraqi) killed by the "Empire Builders" and the Mormons killed for polygamy were on the right path. The ungodly are against all who will not submit to their "Empire" schemes.
THE CALLING OF SATAN
Only a fool would think that man's enemy and Master Deceiver would not have a path imitating the narrow path, a false path leading to his gate of destruction, if he lives up to his calling at all.
(leave following out for time's sake.)
The calling of Satan is interesting enough to develop. There were & are elect angels, 1 Tim 5:21. Furthermore, Christ was slain in eternity pastbefore the foundation of the world:
1 Peter 1:19-21, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
The saints were called in eternity past:
Eph 1:3-6, Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Re 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
And finally, just as the saints were called before the foundation of the world, Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, Satan's purpose and calling was established before the foundation of the world, so was the purpose and calling of false prophets established before the foundation of the world.
Therefore, we must conclude that Satan's purpose ("calling") was established before his creation.
Satan's calling was/is to corrupt the Truth. As he presents an imitation of the Truth, he exalts God's marvelous wisdom. God's wisdom is revealed in time and eternity for all creation to see in His protection of a people from the purpose of Satan:
Eph 3:8-12 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
(leave out to here.)
Christ warned of two gates: one opens to destruction, the other opens to life, vv. 13, 14. Christ warned of false prophets disguised as sheep. Thus the purpose of false prophets is to corrupt the way of life and lead people contrary to the way of life. The proper way is very narrow, and, in our Lord's words, only a few people find it. ("Brother Need, you are sure narrow when you say there is only one way of life: faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ." And we have had people leave here for this very reason, so they told me anyway.)
False prophets..., Mat 7:15. Christ warns about them and the context of Christ's warning hints at their primary purpose, viz., lead individuals away from the proper, narrow path. Beware... Christ tells us that by their fruits ye shall know them (v. 20), but now we have a problem. The false prophets are also located along the narrow path leading to destruction, vv. 22, 23. The false prophets preach and stand for many of the same things found along the proper narrow path (e.g., Sovereignty, &c.); therefore, the truth of their works is not revealed until one reaches the wrong gate (note the surprise expressed by those of v. 22).
Yet Christ tells us they can be recognized by their works. But their works are basically the same as the true prophets. So now what?
Jude clears up the difficulty, v. 3:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares...
The false prophets undermine the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
When we trace that faith back to its deliverance to the saints by the Lord, we can identify the false prophets and the faith for which we are to contend. Even though the saints referred to by Jude are primarily the OT saints, we can identify both the faith and the saints from their revelation in the NT.
Romans 4:16 Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
John 8. (All of the chapter, but notice especially v. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. & v. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.)
Obviously, the basic faith to contend for is faith in the finished work of Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Abraham was the first of a great many saints to which it was delivered. Therefore, the basic fruit which the Lord warned us about is the message of the false prophet, Mat 7:15-20. The basic premise of the false prophets is that there is another way to the gate of life other than by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The message of the false prophet reveals the truth about him: E.g., By their fruit ye shall know them. Or we can say, "By their message, by their own words, you can recognize the false prophets." David said, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee..., 2 Sam 1:16. The Lord can say the same to those traveling the false (both the narrow & wide) path: Thy blood be upon thy head; for the mouth of the false prophetrevealed the truth about the path you were traveling.
Word's reveal truth: False prophets teach that one can enter the gate of life through baptism, through prayer ("Ask Jesus into your heart" ["I'm saved because I prayed and asked Jesus into my hearth," or "I asked the Lord to save me"] &c), through church attendance, through good works, through obedience to the proper set of laws and/or through numerous other methods (pathways).
The false prophets teach that it is not necessary to know and understand that the way of life is only through faith in the finished work of Christ; rather, one can enter the gate of life through other means. They continually pervert the right ways of the Lord, troubling the church as they adulterate the proper message of salvation:
Ac 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, [thou] child of the devil, [thou] enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? Ga 1:6, 7 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
There is another important point in the faith once delivered to thesaint worth mentioning: Galatians 3:29 And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Though not essential for salvation, Paul points out that the proper faith delivered to Saint Abraham involves the truth about Abraham's seed. All who are in Christ by faith in His finished work are Abraham's seed.
Our conclusion then is this:
The answer for the problems we face is given to us by the Lord throughJude, viz., that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. That faith which was once delivered is basically hearing, understanding and obeying the gospel of the substitutionary, redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the guilty sinner.
There are certainly other areas of the faith which must be contended for (e.g., Sovereignty, the inspirited Word of God, virgin birth, &c.), but the basic contending must be over salvation. For without salvation all else is useless.
It sure appears to the natural understanding that contending for the faith once delivered to the saints is not sufficient to confront the overwhelming flood of evil at the end of the 20th century, but that is the command given us by the Word of God Himself through Jude. Therefore, it is time to contend with the certain men crept in unawares,the false prophets who have very effectively perverted the gospel away from hearing, understanding and faith in the redemptive work of Christ, Eph 1:12, 13.
The false prophets have made the Word of God of none effect with their effective use of men's wisdom and traditions. ("This is the way it seems it should be.")
Their true sounding, sincere message has left and is leaving vast multitude of mankind on its way to the wide gate of destruction.
Is this not the problem Christ faced in Mat 7?