Not So Random Thoughts 49

Matthew 7:13 “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. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “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. 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?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

When Christ tells us that it is not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will enter the kingdom, this should open our eyes to something very important. It is not what we say we believe and it is not what we are deceived into thinking we believe, but instead it has to do with the nature of our hearts. Belief is not just some action we do once and go on, but instead we need a believing heart or a heart that is in a state of belief. This is seen by the continuing action of the person who enters the kingdom. That person is one who is doing the will of the Father and thus shows that his or her true Father is the Father in heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is really the kingdom of Christ. Where Christ dwells the kingdom is set up in that heart. Where there is a person truly doing the will of the Father, it is Christ in that heart dwelling and manifesting Himself in and through that heart. The works of the truly believing one is really one who is doing the will of the Father and yet it is Christ working that in the heart. It is part of the communion between the Father and the Son. Truly good works can only come from a true heart that has Christ dwelling in it. Truly good works are in reality a manifestation of the glory of God through Christ. These works have no merit in them, but in fact they are done out of love for God and not out of an effort to obtain merit. It is necessary to state these things because of those who try to set out this passage as one setting out a works for salvation scheme.

The point of passages like those in Matthew 7 is not to set out a system of hard works and effort for people to enter heaven, but to show people that their efforts are utterly impossible and drive them to the glorious Christ for all that they must have. It is impossible in reality for people to enter the true narrow gate and be on the true narrow road, but people set their own standards of what is narrow and what it is heard. People think that they can deny self by the power and love of self, but to have Christ and His free grace is not based on how much self can deny the things of self. Free-grace must take the soul and work the death to self itself so that self gives up the religion of self and the efforts of self. Self must not be denied in just a few things here and there, even if it appears to be a severe denial of self. No, one must deny self itself which is to deny self the right to exist. We must die to self.

It is not just those who say “Lord, Lord” and does not do the will of the Father who will not enter, but it includes those who have set up their own will and have deceived themselves into thinking that the Father wills what they will. But again, the Scriptures keep pointing us to the great need for us to be born from above and as such die to self and be given life because of Christ alone and grace alone rather than anything we can do. The narrow road and the narrow gate are to drive us to the sense of how impossible things are in the power of self and see our desperate need of Christ alone. The self is so deceptive that it thinks that it can save itself by referring to Christ as Lord (a theological orthodox statement). It thinks that by its own power it can bow to Christ and make Him Lord. No, this is a work of grace as well. The Gospel teaches us grace and grace alone. It teaches us Christ and Christ alone. That is a very narrow gate. Self and the false prophets continue to cry out for some little something that self can do.

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