Are you on the highway to hell or the pathway to heaven?

Ds J Bruintjes
Mattheus 7: 12 - 14
Sermon on the Mount
Preek Inhoud: 

One commentator writes,

“After nineteen hundred years the Sermon on the Mount still haunts men. They may praise it, as Mahatma Gandhi did; or like Nietzsche, they may curse it. They cannot ignore it. Its words are winged words, quick and powerful to rebuke, to challenge, to inspire. And though some turn from it in despair, it continues, like some mighty magnetic mountain, to attract to itself the greatest spirits of our race (many not Christians), so that if some world-wide vote were taken, there is little doubt that men would account it 'the most searching and powerful utterance we possess on what concerns the moral life”

“So, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Are these not some of the most well-known words in history! Here we have a summary of the law. It is other focused. What do you want from other people? What do you want your wife or husband to treat you? What do you want from your friends? What do you want from other church members? Do that to them.

This verse closes the body of the sermon on the mount which started in Matthew 5:17. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and if he lives in us his life will bear fruit. . Only in Christ do we not fear for our own well-being and security both temporally and eternally. This frees us up to truly obey this command. We don’t need to live for ourselves. Jesus Christ has lived and died for us, so that we can die to ourselves, and live for God and others.

We need to put ourselves in their shoes so to speak, and then ask what I would do for me if I were this person. That is how we need to see every person. Regardless of who they are. Family, church member, friend, or enemy.

This is so extremely countercultural that all of us struggle against it. It goes against everything that is in our sinful nature. We are by nature self-centered and therefore selfish. But God command us to go against the grain. what he has preached can be packed up powerfully in this verse. This this is not the way of natural man. It is the narrow way. The way of active self-sacrificial love. This is the way of the disciple who walks in Christ, by faith.

We need God. And only in him and through him can we accomplish this. This is why he says, “Enter by the Narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are man. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few.”

Are you on the highway to hell or the pathway to heaven?

  1. Highway to hell, the city of destruction
  2. Pathway to heaven, the city of God.

Highway to hell, the city of destruction

For the Gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction. “The gate is wide, and way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” The gate is where you start your journey, and then the way comes after the gate. There are two gates in life, and two ways. Lets look at them. First let’s look at the wide gate and wide way.

The gate is wide Wideness tells us it is the easy way.

In the ancient times there would be a highway of commerce going in and out of the city where one would come in and out with all one’s goods, and sell, and buy. Hells gate and the sins pathway are wide and there is a ton of stuff and people on the way to distract you from the fact that you are heading to destruction. It requires no concentration of mind, no discipline in life. No self control. Simply live and let live.

It is wide. There are many ways to destruction, and only one way to life. If you are not on the pathway to heaven, then it does not matter way road you are taking it is the highway to hell. You really don’t have to do anything to be lost except say no to God and Jesus. Destruction, lostness, and death never require that we do anything difficult or courageous.

Do what everyone else does. Avoid suffering. Avoid pain at all cost. The World will offer you everything it can to do just that. Entertain it away, drink it way, sleep it away, work it away, pleasure it away, smoke it away, numb it away, play it away. Do whatever you have to do but just don’t face reality. Don’t face the fact that you are lost. In need of a savior, in need of renewing, in need of Jesus.

Ask yourself seriously.

Many are those who enter it. It is well populated.

Because people are naturally evil. Because people naturally take the easy way and third is the false prophets.

You are not required to give up anything that you really like. You can keep being selfish. Your time. your money. Your energy. You can keep it all for yourself. You never have to go outside your comfort zone. It is about you after all.

Many are those who enter it: They go with popular opinion. They say all religions lead to God. Never take stand that makes you unpopular. Its nice to conform, to be like everyone else. Some people are like this, they compare ourselves with the person next to them, or with the church next door and they feel like we are not doing too bad. They dare not make ourselves uncomfortably by living in the light of Christ righteousness which exposes sin and leads to holiness.  

You see Christianity can so easily fall into this trap. The goalpost for what it means to be a Christian gets moved. You can have Jesus and the world. You can have Jesus without ever attending church. You can have Jesus without having to go through all the bother of loving your enemies. You can have Jesus and not forgive! Now let me ask you, if Christ lives in you does it even make sense that you don’t forgive, or love his enemies, or not go to the worship like he did every sabbath. The church can so quickly move the goalpost and make it wide enough to accommodate more traffic. In fact, some make it so wide it accommodates all traffic, and before you know it you have a lie, that has clothed itself in the word “love.” The highway to hell is paved with good intentions.

The church must never succumb to those temptations. Never be more concerned with success then faithfulness, more concerned with quantity then quality, more concerned with image then integrity. That is easy. To keep up a good image. To pretend. To be outwardly clean but inwardly dirty. It is a lot harder to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus. That is where the pathway to heaven starts. Those that enter it know they need a new way.

The Road to heaven, the City of God

. You see the highway to hell maybe easy, but it is utter stupidity. Total foolishness. For you are trading in perfect joy and blessedness for all eternity for something that is worthless.

AS CS Lewis notes in the famous quote from the “Weight of Glory,”

“Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

. But once we catch a true glimpse of who Jesus the Messiah is and what he has done there is no way we will not give it all up for him. There is no way that we will not lose everything including life to gain him. He is the precious pearl. He is the way the truth and the life.

Jesus calls us into discipleship, and his demands are absolute. He demand is your life. Now because we are sinners and selfish, we consider this a great cost, and indeed a most painful cost, and we may shy away, and think we cannot do! But if only we would see the way to which it leads. If only we could keep our eyes on the destination, we would say that it is infinitely worthy. That really the cost is nothing at all, compared to what we are receiving! It is only such a great cost because we are sinners! In the end all the suffering will seem as nothing! Paul even says, “I consider this present suffering as not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed!”

In Ancient cities there were normally two ways to get into the city. Like we already said there would be a highway of commerce going in and out of the city where one would come in and out. Then there was also a small way and gate that led into the city that would normally only fit one person at a time, without any extra baggage. It was used in the evenings when the wide gate would be closed, or in times of danger. Enter through the small gate says Jesus. The first hearers would have thought of that small gate in the wall. The gate where only one could enter at a time, and without any large bags otherwise he would not fit through.  

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few.

The gate is narrow. There is just one way in, and it is narrow. It is only in and through the person of Jesus Christ that one can enter the city. No one thinks that having only one vaccine that works perfectly for COVID, or polio is too narrow minded of doctors. That we should be able to take wahter vaccine we want. Why do people think that about eternity something of far greater importance? You see the people that say a Christian is too narrow minded as assumes God is unjust, and think they know better the one who is the source of all Knowledge. You would not question the justice of goodness of the sceitneist who provided only one cure for the great plague. Why then do so many Judge God for providing one cure for the Greatest plague. Why so narrow is a question of ingratitude and insubordination.

God the Father has proved his Son Jesus Christ. He is the gate and he is the way. We start on this path by believing in him and continue the path by walking in him. Jesus himself claims to be the only way. This is not the claims of just some preacher, this is the claims of the one who himself stands at the center of Christianity. Don’t let anyone tell you Christian that there are many ways to God. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” No way to God except through Jesus. You must go through him.

The way is hard. Its hard. Because we are sinners. Which means that there will be a lot that remains in us that we will have to put off. The bible describes the Christian walk as an athletic race or as a war, where we are striving and fighting. Grace is free but it is not cheap - it is costly. It was Bonhoeffer who said in that famous quote,

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life but delivered him up for us.”

Brothers and sister God gave his own Son for us that we should be his sons and daughters. This should spur us on, this should push us, and pull us! This grace should humble us and cause us to so overflow with thankfulness that we would do anything in service to him, for what he has done for us. It is not the sort of grace that you shrug your shoulders and go back to your life. It is life changing grace. The live that Christ has given us cannot leave us where we are.

I am praying that every week you catch new glimpses of the glory of his grace, and the riches that are found in Christ, and are transformed more and more into his glorious image. I pray that the Holy Spirit would convict you, and do a mighty work in your heart. So that you desire nothing and want nothing else then to see the risen Christ in all of your life. In your work, your family, your relationships, your stuff, your time, your energy. That your life would be spent in service to him, becoming more like him.

Few are they who enter.

Dear church, my deepest prayer is that none of you would be missing on that day. There may very well be some in the building or listening who have simply walked their whole life on the easy way never having taken serious consideration of their life before God! O please let it not be. There may be some here who are visiting for the first time, and others who have grown up here, and come to find now that they have always walked the highway to hell and are heading off the cliff! It is not too late! Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! There is life.

New life! Eternal life. The world cannot offer yo tht. You are thinking to small. May God open your lives to come to know that you were meant to live for som much more. Then just this live and enjoyment in this life. You were meant for eternity, and the joy that comes from fellowship with god through his Son Jesus Christ.  We journey together, church. He knows the way is hard. That is why we are in community. As a body. We journey as one. So let us point run the race set before us! Let us go to that small gate.

I will end it a this short picture from John Bunyan,

“So in the process of time Christian got up to the [narrow] Gate. Now over the Gate there was written, Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. He knocked therefore more than once or twice, saying,

May I now enter here? Will he within
Open to sorry Me, though I have been
An undeserving Rebel? Then shall I
Not fail to sing his lasting Praise on high.

At last there came a grave person to the Gate, named Goodwill, who asked, Who was there? and whence he came, and what he would have?

Christian: Here is a poor burdened Sinner. I come from the City of Destruction, but I am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the Wrath to come; I would therefore, Sir, since I am informed that by this Gate is the Way thither, know if you are willing to let me in?

Goodwill: I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the Gate.

The new Jerusalem lies before you dear traveller. The city of God. May God use this moment to bring us one step closer.