Two Paths, One Way
by | Posted September 21st at 9:54am
Let us look at the end of the great Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says very provocative words to many “religious” people of the world. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven.” What a statement. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven.” He goes on to say, verse 22, “Many will say to me on that day,” – referring to the day of final judgment – “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy or preach in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Proverbs 30:12 says: “There is a generation who is pure in their own eyes, yet is not washed from their filthiness.” Romans 10:2 said: “There are those who have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Millions of people who feel religious, millions of people who associate with Christianity, millions of people who would say to Jesus: “Lord, Lord,” have no hope of entering heaven.
Millions of people who would proclaim their identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, are unaware of the importance of this teaching.
In the second chapter of John, Jesus responded to some superficial believers with rejection. He was in Jerusalem it says in verse 23: “During the feast, many believed in His name, beholding the signs He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them.” Why? Because He knew their hearts and He knew the superficiality of their belief. Is it possible, it is common knowledge, it is generally true, that the majority of people — in Christendom — who acknowledge that they believe in Jesus will never enter heaven?
We’re not even considering the world of religious people who are in religions other than some form of Christianity. There are no more unsettling words of Scripture to someone associated with Christianity than the words, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter my kingdom.”
First, apart from believing in Jesus Christ, no one will get to heaven, no one. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” In Acts 4:12, it says, “Neither is there salvation in any other. There is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” That familiar John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Salvation comes to those “who confess Jesus as Lord,” – Romans 10:9 and 10 – “and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead.”
There is no hope of heaven for those who do not believe the gospel. That we understand. No gospel, no salvation. No Christ, no salvation. No understanding of the cross and the resurrection, no salvation possible.
More shocking, is that even among those who believe and say, “Lord, Lord, we preached in Your name, we cast out demons in Your name, we did mighty works in Your name,” there will be those who have no hope of entering heaven. This then is a mind boggling passage in a day and a time when lots of people call themselves Christians.
To set a context for these words, go back, if you will, to verses 13 and 14. Matthew chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, and listen to the words of Jesus. “Enter by the narrow gate: for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” Here is the final curtain call after the greatest sermon recorded in the New Testament, the very well-known Sermon on the Mount that occupies chapter 5, chapter 6 and chapter 7.
At the conclusion of that sermon, Jesus gives what some might call an invitation. This is not only an invitation. An invitation is maybe too refined a word –a little too social word — a little too much liberality with the word invitation. Maybe there’s too much scope for the pride of man — too much freedom with the word invitation. In actuality, at the close of His great sermon, Jesus gave a command — in verse 13: “Enter by the narrow gate.”
Every biblical call to the gospel is a command. Repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. These are all imperatives, commands, mandates which call for decisive action, too obedience or disobedience, compliance or rebellion. So the Lord ends His sermon with a command and a strong and unmistakable command. It is now: make-up-your-mind time in your heart. His whole sermon has been a contrast. The whole sermon has been a contrast between true religion and the religion of Judaism. And, frankly, between true religion and all other fake religions, which is one or another form of the same thing.
There are only two possible ways to God, two conceivable ways to God. One involves your work, your effort, your righteousness, your goodness. The other acknowledges that you have none of that which pleases God. It either involves something you do to please God or nothing you do to please God and there can’t be any other way. There is no third alternative.
There are only two possible paths to heaven. Either you contribute to your getting there or you don’t. Either you bring your righteousness to God and it counts for your salvation to one degree or another, or your righteousness is filthy rags that counts for nothing. So there are only two kinds of religions. Either you can be good enough to contribute to your salvation, or you can’t be good enough to contribute to your salvation. Either you have the ability to do something to please God, or you do not have the ability to do anything to please God. That is still the distinction.
Only two religions in the world, only two. 1. The religion of divine accomplishment; you can do nothing, God has done it all. That’s the true Christian gospel. 2. Or the religion of human achievement; you do something, God does something and together, relatively, you make it to heaven and that’s every other religion in the world, but the true one.
Even many, many forms of so-called Christianity. The religion of the ego, of the self, of human achievement says that you have things that you can do that please God. Your goodness matters, your religious activity, your ceremonies. This is the religion of works. This is the religion of merit. You’ve got the perfect doctrinal lineup! This is the religion of self-righteousness. This is the religion of the flesh. It involves what we think, know, do. Or there is the true religion of divine accomplishment which is all of faith, all of grace, and all what God does. And they don’t mix. They don’t mix.
It’s very confusing to be a legalist. It’s very confusing to think you can earn your way to heaven because you know you can’t be perfect and so you want to make sure there’s a little cooperating grace there. But they can’t be mixed. It must be in humility, all of grace.
The Bible says, “By the deeds of the law, no one will be justified,” Romans 3:20. No one. The Jews of Jesus’ day were just part of the worldwide satanic counterfeit religion, the system of human achievement. And Jesus assaulted their religion, attacked their religion. He was clear “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” John 8:44 NIV
The essential attack of the Sermon on the Mount, was meant to totally discredit the religion of human achievement, attacked what they did that they thought merited righteousness before God. He attacked their praying. He attacked their giving. He attacked their service at the temple. He attacked their worship. He attacked the things that they thought, of all things, were unassailable. And that is the point of the Sermon on the Mount. He dismantles their confidence in the religion of human achievement. And He offers them the only true way to heaven. And that is the religion of divine accomplishment, which says, “I can do absolutely nothing.”
Look at how the sermon began: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” What does that mean? Those who are destitute, those who have no merit, no righteousness, nothing to offer, it is those who are spiritually broken, shattered, crushed; those who therefore mourn over their horrific condition; those who therefore are humble; those who therefore are hungering and thirsting for a righteousness they know they must have and cannot attain in and of themselves. They realize that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed freely to all who call upon him in faith. There’s no other way, this is the narrow gate way.
Source Edited from the teaching of John MacArthur
Article posted by Glen R. Jackman, founder of GraceProclaimed.org
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