Not So Random Thoughts 50

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)

If you will take a few moments to read and think though the passages of Scripture and the quotes above, you can see that all of them drive a person to the end of self and the power and love of self. They also drive a person who has his or her eyes opened to see that to Christ and Christ alone. It is not the power of self, but it is the power of Christ. It is not the love of self; it is the love of Christ. It is not what self can do for self; it is what Christ can do in working the death of self in us and then granting us true life by His grace alone. The hard passages of Scripture are not meant to show us a hard way, but an impossible way but for Christ and sheer and pure grace alone.

The chief end of Scripture is not simply to show a hard way to life, but to manifest the glory of God in Christ. This should make it so clear that the point of the hard passages is not just to show us a hard way, but to point sinners to Christ where God alone is truly manifested in His glory. Fallen sinners interpret things in light of self, but when this happens they are not looking at Scripture from the God-centered view that Scripture should always be looked at. When hard passages are looked at in the light of self, they will be seen as hard things for self to do. However, when the hard passages are looked at in the light of a God-centered view, they will be seen as impossible for man but as ways which set out the glorious grace of God in the face of Christ Jesus.

The impossibility of salvation for sinners should be embraced rather than just things that are hard and even extremely hard. So it is not just that we are to see that it is those who do the will of God who are saved, because it is impossible to please God apart from faith. It is also impossible to please God in our own strength and we must have Christ in us and living in us by grace in order to please God. It is Christ who pleases God and not us doing things regardless of how hard those things are. So we should look at the passage in Matthew 7 as impossible to do apart from Christ, for after all there is no fruit that pleases God unless it comes from Christ first.

This is not an effort to get away from the hard teachings of Scripture, but we should not that the hard teachings are not just hard but impossible. When we say that they are just hard, we are already watering them down to a level where it may be possible for some to keep them. For example, when we urge people to believe on Christ or in Christ, what are we urging them to do? We are urging them to do what they cannot do. It is not just hard to believe on Christ, but it is impossible in the strength of the natural man to do so. It is not just an intellectual acceptance of something that means we believe it, but it is the whole man acting upon it from the depths of the soul. It is not just accepting something as factually true, but it is the whole soul living the truth of it because of the life of Christ in the soul.

Matthew 7:10-23 is Christ-centered and teaches the impossibility of salvation on the part of man no matter how hard man tries. Christ Himself is our narrow gate and Christ Himself is the way, the truth, and the life. It is Christ who is the true Prophet and instructs the inner man in the true way of life. It is Christ who is the good tree who produces good fruit and He alone can make us into trees that good fruit can come from. It is Christ alone who can work that good fruit in us and through us. In other words, it is not the words of man calling Christ “Lord” that can save man, but it is Christ as Lord who can actually save man and please the Father by saving sinners to the glory of God. It is not that we must work harder so we can do the will of the Father, but we must have Christ who can work in us what is pleasing to the Father.

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