“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
Many people say they "know God," but the verse above implies that God will say He never knew them. This is a scary verse for a new Christian. For any Christian, really, who might be struggling with their faith. So over my next three posts, I'd like to look at them in context.
This verse is part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7. The entire chapter is about how we should live our lives. Not judging others, approaching God with our concerns (ask, seek and knock), how we should walk with God, who we should not listen to, and how to build our faith on a firm foundation are all in this chapter. But today, we are going to concentrate on the verses above. We will start with the narrow gate.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor,
When Jesus began his famous sermon on the mount, the Bible says that he was talking to his disciples - in other words - his followers (Matthew 5:1). These words were geared specifically for those who had given up everything to follow him, and they still apply to his disciples today.
Are we justified by faith alone? According to the Apostle James, we are not. But according to the Apostle Paul, we are. Who is right? What did Jesus teach? Many Christians believe that they have to work their way to heaven. In other words, the better they do, the higher their chances are of getting through the “Pearly Gates.” Others believe faith is enough and as long as they believe in Jesus as their Saviour that is all that matters. It would seem those in the early church had the same impressions. But as we have seen from the beginning of this study, our actions say a lot about our faith in Christ. James sets the record straight on the importance of our actions as believers in Jesus. Works and faith go hand in hand.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved,
In our last lesson, we learned that we are to “count it all joy” when we fall into temptation because temptation produces patience, endurance or perseverance in us. And in the next few verses, the actual word “temptation” is used openly, rather than the word previously used, which was “trials.” Now, the full context of this chapter comes into view. There is no doubt, James is talking about the temptation to sin.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
What is the Gift of Faith? Doesn’t every Christian have this gift? Isn’t it a kind of pre-requisite for belief in God? And how do you explain faith to someone who doesn’t believe? What does God say? He says that we wouldn’t even have faith in Him at all, if it wasn’t for His gift of grace to us in the first place!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
How astounding! I can’t even wrap my head around that one. It was God’s grace that saved me through “faith”, yet it would seem from the verse above that even my faith was a gift from God. I don’t know about you, but that kind of blows my mind.
Read Ephesians 4:1-6
If you have been following along in my look at Ephesians you will by now have noticed a theme. Paul was trying to instill in the Gentile converts at Ephesus who they now were in Christ. He was also trying (in a not so subtle way) to remind the Jewish converts that because of Christ, the promises given to the Jews also now belonged to the Gentiles. This, of course, could lead to friction and so since Ephesians chapter one, he has expounded on not only who they are in Christ, but the importance of unity within the body of Christ (aka - the church).
In today's verses Paul is urging the Ephesians to walk in a worthy manner befitting their calling (their vocation) to salvation. This is something I think the church as a whole needs to take to heart. So how do we "walk in unity" with our fellow believers, when so many of us have differing opinions on Scripture and what it says? In today's verses Paul explains how.
Five Ways God Shows Us to Walk