|Posted on April 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM|
My husband and I were driving home from Wednesday Night Bible Study when he turned from our usual route of going home and drove to the post office to drop a letter in the outside drive up mail box. Located across from the post office, there was a church positioned there. As he was putting the mail in the box, I noticed the message on the church's message board located in the parking lot. The board had the name of their church and the thought for today on it. The question was asked "When Did The Narrow Road Become Wide?" It made me think, "When did it become wide?" As I thought on the question, I began to reflect on the many problems, issues, and headline news of our time. Some believe the Bible is not relevant to the issues and problems of today. Some believe that God has changed to accommodate the modern problems of society, and its political, and religious cultures. Even some in our churches, they too have taken on the same attitudes, and ways of secular, and worldly thinking. Some teaches that, God understand us and accepts our sin, and says the church should be more concerned with accepting everybody as they are. And as a church, we should approve of whatever the majority of society and cultural shifts that has taken place within our modern time, that we may more effectively minister to the growing needs of the human race.
But then I thought, who is the target audience for the message? Is it for the Christian reader, churchgoer, the backslider, or the world? I believe because it was a church it was intended for all who would read it. We are now in a season of reflecting and soul searching. Are we living up to the will of God's Word? Are we doing His will for our lives? Are we taking sides with the world, different cultures, religious views, societal attitudes as Disciples of Christ? Only God can give us clear revelations to what's in our own hearts. His Word says in the Book of Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful and wicked. Who can know it? There are some that believes that there is no God. There are some who believes there is a God but doesn't want Him in their personal lives or decision making until their is a crisis; then, they call upon him to serve and to save them by answering their prayers. Nevertheless, there is a God who created mankind and is the God of all creation. So, what was this church's message trying to say to us? It is making reference to a scripture text from the Book of Matthew 7:13-20. Jesus is the speaker and teacher to an audience of followers. It was the closing section of the Sermon on the Mount in which He presents two choices to the listener. He presented them in a series of contrasts in His teachings at the end of this chapter (two ways vv. 13-14; two trees vv. 15-20; two professions vv. 21-23; and two foundations vv. 24-29). His audience was both Jewish and Greco-Roman thought. Since His Word never changes and is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8, it is for us in our modern time as well. Entering in at the narrow gate means, one must enter in through Jesus Christ in order to reach the path that leads to eternal life. Though many are walking and living on a broad path that leads to destruction (eternal separation from God), the gate and the way that leads to life is so narrow that few there are that find it. Jesus Christ is the gate and the way (John 14:6), and God enables man to find that gate (John 6:44).
I could not help but to think of how relevant these scriptures were in relations to the church environment today. Those who once walk on the narrow road of Christ in the church are now walking comfortable on the wide road with the rest of the world. The sign on the road and the lines that define boundaries between narrow and wide, righteous and unrighteous, lawful and unlawful to many in the body of Christ have become blurred by the surrounding cultural and societal attitudes, views, and religious syncretism (the combination of different forms of belief or practice).
When reading the rest of the Scriptures, it makes reference and gives warnings to the believer about false prophets and that the believer will know them by their fruits. The Scripture engage the believer to think by requiring the reader to do a comparison of different fruits and the fruit on the tree it is to produce. The question was asked if you go out to gather grapes and they have thorns on them would you notice? The question is, "Are they grapes? And if you go out to gather figs and they have thistles, are they figs? In order to know the truth, the believer must know what a real grape and fig looks like to make clear a thought on the comparison. By knowing the identity of a true grape or fig, it will give one a better judgment to make the conclusion they are neither grapes nor figs. The lesson is to know your fruits.
Another comparison the Scripture makes is between a good tree and a corrupt tree, it goes on to say a good tree brings forth good fruit (results) and a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit (results). The Scripture wants to assure us that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits and neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. The end result of the false prophet is they will be cut down and cast into the fire. The last word of wisdom from the Scripture is that we shall know the false prophet by their fruits. For the believer today the Scripture is saying to us we shall know the false believers, teachers, saints, pastors, prophets, and apostles by their fruits. No one can hide their fruits because it is what is exhibited on the outside like the fruits on a tree. What's inside a person you cannot see, but you can see their fruits. But as the Word declares, "Wherefore by their fruit ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20)
This is very clear in Scripture and the aim of Christ's teachings to the listener, however, the questioned was asked, "When has the narrow road become wide?" From the viewpoint of the Scripture, it has not. From the viewpoint of the world, it must. From the viewpoint of false teachers of the Gospel, it has and God is all right with it. And lastly, from the viewpoint of some Christians and even some churches, it has become wide to accommodate the changing views of society, culture, and our nation's laws (Read 1John 1:18-21). And it also has become wide not to offend anyone, whether believer or nonbeliever. If I got down to listing a number of weighty issues within our churches, society, culture, and the political scene, it would not bring glory to God at all. However, I will say redefining institutions like what's a church and it's purpose, the family, marriage, government, and unrighteousness will not change the outcome of man's heart. Also redefining what is evil and not evil based on the consensus of the majority of ones population, or governmental influences will not either. By redefining laws in the highest courts in the land will not make these foundational institutions of man righteous or just when they were not created or established by man. In the eyes and will of the one who gave man these foundational institutions and established them for man, God will never approved of them. God is the author. He is a holy God. He is the one mankind seeks to justify his actions and thinking of redefining the foundation to fix their growing appetite for approval of sins. The thing that man desires and searches for as they live in their sins, is that God would approve of their unrighteous acts and sins. If this were the case, there would had been no need for Christ to come as one of us, suffer, become poor for our sake, and die a horrible death on the Cross for our sins.
This is the goal of those who believe that the narrow road has become wide, it is so that God and The Church will accept their sins. Christ's teachings and the will of God has not changed. His Word for churches, believers, disciples, and those in ministry is to live a lifestyle of holiness, separated lives before God and men that we may be a witness of God's holiness. We shall be a witness of His saving grace, love, mercies, and separated life unto Him. Be not deceived by those in societies, or cultures, or governments, or laws, or nations, or religions, or even churches gone astray among you. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The standards of righteousness, holiness and sanctification have not changed in the will or eyes of God. It is He we should seek to please and obey. The Word of God has not changed to accommodate our sins or our ways. In the end, He will judge all who says or live otherwise. Jesus warned the listener of the false prophet and else where in the Scripture it speaks of false teachers, pastors, and apostles. He told us how to identify them by teaching in comparison, like the thought provoking question he asked the listener "Does a good tree brings forth evil fruit? Does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit? Does men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? There is a time and a season for all things. It is now a time for the believer to compare the fruits of a tree whether it be good or evil (Read 1John 3:7).
The first inspection must start with our own trees. Is it bearing the fruits/results of God's righteousness or our own unrighteousness? God's Word said that there is a way that seems right unto man, but the way there is leads to death (Proverbs 16:25). Have the narrow path you are on become board and there are many people on this path with you? If so, you have veered onto the board path. Wake up; you are sleep walking. Get back on the path that leads to life through Jesus Christ, the narrow path. One will not find too many people on this path, and there are no fan clubs on it. It's not an easy path, but it the right path with great benefits here on earth as it in in heaven eternal. Jesus all ready told us the world will not like us or knows us. In fact, they will hate us without cause because we are not of them. He told us these things so that when it starts happening to you, you will know it's happening because of Him. As they did the Master, so they will do to the servant (Read John 13:15-17,24; 15:18-22). If this road of righteous living is a little too much than what you bargained for, consider the alternative, dying a second death eternally. Lets keep our eyes on Jesus and follow Him; we are to not live as the world (Read 1John 1:15-17). Has cultural and societal acceptance of behaviors, attitudes, and practices caused you to veer off the narrow road to the wide road? There is a simple solution now that you know you are on the wide road. Turn and get back on the narrow road and don't look back. It will cost you to do so. But you can do it with the help of the Holy Spirit. If as a believer you did not know, here is the solution, 1 John 1:9. Please read it. If you never were on the narrow path, it is never too late, as long as you are in the land of the living. Give your life to Jesus Christ, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and ask Him to come live in your heart. When you do, you will receive eternal life with your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life in Heaven. You will become a new creature in Him, old things have passed and new things have come. Please, hear the Spirit of God as He speaks to your heart and ask Him to come in and give you new life. After death, the judgment of God is set concerning an individual. The choice is yours; please choose wisely. It is a matter of life and death. Selah.
Matthew 7:13-14: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.
Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are revening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Written by Supervisor Cheryl J. Rountree