Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. You could say, no right, no wrong, no gravity for me. I'm free and jump off a building, and you're going to find out no gravity was applying to you, and you were not free from the principle of gravity, and you will find yourself in a hospital or a morgue, right?
It just doesn't, it's not a workable definition of freedom to say that freedom is the absence of all restraint. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in our series called Story Wars, as presented at Rinaldo Church in North Carolina. Now, if you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource today. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. So as you listen to today's teaching, go deeper as we send you today's special offer. Contact us at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org. Or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. More on this later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching.
Here is Alan Wright. Well, don't we all want to be Spider-Man? I want to be Spider-Man. I like it when he swings out over the city with that web, and then the amazing things, he'll swing out and he'll just leap, and he can just cling to the side of a building, and then just crawl up the side of a building. No problem of gravity defies all of that, and it's so cool. But, you know, in real life, of course, if you tried to swing across and jump up against the side of a building, that's going to be a splat, isn't it? That is going to be a splat and a slide down, and you're not going to survive that. You could say, I'm no right, no wrong, no gravity for me.
I'm free, and jump off a building, and you're going to find out no gravity was applying to you, and you were not free from the principle of gravity, and you will find yourself in a hospital or a morgue, right? It just doesn't, it's not a workable definition of freedom to say that freedom is the absence of all restraint. It doesn't work.
It can't work. The amount of sugar that I'd like to eat at times in my life is unbelievable. There's a part of me that'd like to eat ice cream all day.
You know, I'm an adult now. Nobody could stop me. Really, well, my wife could stop me, but I mean, you know, I could be free to eat ice cream and only ice cream, but I wouldn't be free to wear my clothing that I currently have and probably wouldn't be free to continue to preach until my old age. See, real freedom is not found through a wide gate.
The deepest, most lavish, glorious, and sweetest freedoms come through something very narrow. I want the world to know this. In a few weeks, my wife and I will celebrate our anniversary.
We've had numbers of people in this congregation that celebrated anniversaries that were in the 70s. That's really cool. Somebody starts doing that. It's not nothing. So wide gate says keep all of your options open so you can have as many relationships with many women as you want, but marriage covenant's a narrow gate, isn't it? It is narrow. Let me tell you, it's narrow. I mean, it's narrow. It's narrow like, honey, how you feel about, can I play a little golf tomorrow? No, we're doing such and such. All right, you know, it's narrow. You don't have all the options that you once had, right? Now you could say, well, I'm going to exercise my options anyway.
I'm free. Tell me what to do. Yeah, you have not observed happy wife, happy life.
You got to get into the principle of that, but that's not really what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is how we celebrated her birthday yesterday and went out to our favorite restaurant and I got to look across the table at her and say, I love you. You're beautiful. And we've been through a lot these past few months, haven't we? And she says, yes. Let me tell you what freedom is. It is if I need someone to cry with because I'm grieving, I have someone who cares as much as I care. Let me tell you what kind of freedom you could never experience without the narrowness of this kind of covenantal relationship. You could never experience what it's like in a valley time to just lie in bed together and hold hands and speak to God together where a whole 37 years of life together is involved in that. And you know, she's exclusively mine.
I'm exclusively hers. Do you see what I'm saying? This opens up vistas of freedom that are never available to someone who would rather have a wide gate. So this is the principle that Jesus is talking about here when he comes to John chapter eight and they are offended. We're the offspring of Abraham. We've never been slaves to anyone. We don't capitulate to the empires. We keep our identity.
They didn't understand what he's talking about. Verse 34 again, Jesus said, truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is slave to sin. You think that by saying I have no restraint on my life that you're free. No, you've become a slave to that. And then he says something beautiful. Verse 35, the slave does not remain in the house forever.
The son remains forever. This is a like, as I was hearing Tim Keller say, and an excellent message he has on this subject of freedom is if you think of like the scenes in Downton Abbey, most people seen Downton Abbey, you know, back in this huge mansion and in that house, there are sons and daughters that live in there. And they're also servants that live in there.
This is the image, a big mansion and a head of a state and their sons and daughters in there. And they're also servants. And though they both live there, the servants are there working.
And if they don't do their job well enough, they can be dismissed and kicked out of the house. Not so a son or a daughter. Not so the heir. He's saying, you have viewed, as he's speaking to Pharisees and religious leaders and those who want religious legalism, you have viewed God as if God were a boss and you were a servant. But I want to introduce to you my father who can be to you a father and you be an heir. And the only way that happens is through a very narrow version of the truth. And I've come to tell you that truth. And anyone who is free in me will be free indeed.
So what we're talking about is a paradox of freedom. That's Alan Wright and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. With so much worry about yesterday's failures and so much hurry getting ready for tomorrow's tasks, sometimes it's hard to focus on the moment that matters most. Right now in a hurried worried season, God invites you into the present.
Modern day life coaches call it mindfulness, but it isn't a new psychological program and it isn't rooted in Eastern religion. Mindfulness living in the present is God's idea and the Bible unveils the way Pastor Alan Wright invites you to savor life each day. When you make your gift today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's eight messages in an attractive CD album or through digital download as our way of saying thanks for your partnership. Make your gift today and learn how to savor the textures and flavors of God's grace each moment in the moment every day of your life. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860. That's 877-544-4860 or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. His teaching now continues.
Here once again is Alan Wright. Small is the gate, the NIV says, and narrow the road. I like the NIV better than the ESV here because narrow actually is a word stenos in Greek and stenos is a word you'll hear sometimes like in medical terminology stenosis. You don't want stenosis of something. It means the narrowing of it, right?
You don't want a vessel or a spine or you don't want stenosis. It means narrow. So here's the paradox is that narrow to our ears is not a good word. I'd rather drive on a wide road with a large shoulder than a narrow road. Narrow mindedness is like the thing that we most object to with our modern mindset.
We associate with bigotry and racism. And when the ESV translate the word as hard, it's not really the right word. It really means more like pressing against. So what Jesus is saying is the gate that leads to expansive life and freedom is narrow. It's not wide. And it feels as though it is restricting and pressing upon you. That's what it feels like. And it's a paradox. He's saying that on the one hand, what seems to be the thing that would be taking away your freedom is actually the thing that is giving your freedom.
So let's take a example. One of you were sick, urgently sick, needed a hospital and you were in a town. You didn't know where the hospital was.
You stopped. You asked somebody, said, how do I get to the hospital? You don't want them to say far be it from me to restrict your freedom and tell you a specific way to get to the hospital.
Just go any way you want. No, tell me how to get to the hospital, exactly how to get there. And then let's say you get to the hospital and can you imagine this? You're in there in the emergency department and the doctor comes in and says, well, it might be an infection, could be your gallbladder, might be COVID, could be cancer, might be a blood disorder, could be a neurological problem.
So we're just not sure. And then you ask, so what are you going to do, doc, to narrow that down? Imagine the doctor, well, we're not going to narrow that down. We're broad minded people here.
We're not going to narrow this thing down. We're going to treat you for all of this. So we're going to do, we're going to give you COVID medicine. We're going to be chemo. We're going to give you radiation. We're going to take out your gallbladder and we're going to narrow it down. My life's on the line.
I need it narrow. If you were told you had a cancer and they said, the good news is it can be, it can be cured by a radiation treatment. You know what they're going to do? They're not going to take you in and put you in a machine and soak you up with radiation. They're going to get you down and lock you in place and get it so precise that the radiation only goes to the bad cells and that's the only place you want.
You want it as narrow as you could possibly get it. If you could envision, I think Jesus is saying, how something that feels narrow and restrictive could actually lead to something that was healing and liberating. If you can envision that, great, because now you stand on the edge of the gospel. Now you're ready to see the gospel because what God has said to us in coming in the person of Jesus Christ, one person who says of himself, I am the way and the truth and the life that seems so narrow that is offensive to modern sensibilities. But in order to get to this point, you've got to come first in this story war to saying that it's actually the narrow gates that lead to the most expansive freedom and not the wide gate. And now you're ready to look into this and go, maybe then I could see how it's possible that one person who seems to have a narrow way and a narrow truth that this one person is the answer.
But here is where I want the whole world to understand it. It's not that Jesus is narrow because he's narrow minded because he's bigoted because he's he's a downer, because he is a God who restrains, who limits and hates freedom. He is the God in the flesh who came to set you free. This is what he's craving.
This is what he's longing. This is why he set his face toward Jerusalem and towards the cross so that you would be free. For in this one person, the unimaginable happened. He became our sin so that whoever trusts in him would be reckoned as his righteousness and would therefore be taken into a whole new way of interacting with God and with people and living in this world. Tim Keller makes this excellent point that our passage today about the wide gate and the narrow gate is set in the Sermon on the Mount. And if you were to go back and look at this whole Sermon on the Mount, you would realize that Jesus is addressing here by talking about a higher righteousness. He's addressing the problem of the Pharisees and the scribes and their religious views.
Let me just give you an example. Matthew 5 20. I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you'll never enter the kingdom of heaven.
He's talking about the contrast here of the gospel and the old religious ways of legalism. Verse five of chapter six. When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners that they may be seen by others.
Truly, I say they've received their award. Chapter six, verse 16. And when you fast do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They disfigure their faces. He's talking about the hypocrites, the scribes, the Pharisees, the religious ones who hypocrite was someone who was play acting. They wanted to be. They wanted to appear in a certain way, regardless of what was going on her heart.
They wanted to look better than other people. They're trying to gain leverage over others by the way that they were more obedient than. So that's the context of when Jesus says, Why is this gate that leads to destruction? And Keller says, I think he's right that the wide gate is that which is not Jesus.
The wide gate is where you think you need to spell Czechoslovakia in order to get into heaven. This is the way that most people go. Most people think this is this is the message.
This is what this is the urgency of what we need to tell the whole world. Most people think that God is about a religion and that we are supposed to be good and obey all these restrictive confining commandments from God. And most people think that's that's what it's all about. So they either try hard to be legalistically obeying and be better than other people. And that makes them hypocrites. Or they say, I'm abandoning that altogether. No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I'm free. And what Jesus is saying is that the narrow way, the way that seems restrictive but leads to freedom, that's the way of Jesus. Because Jesus said in John Chapter 10, I am the gate. I'm the door, the sheep coming out through me. There's a whole other way. And it is the way of grace. It is the way in which you don't try to do the right things or abandon trying to do the right things.
You say all of that will never work. I need a savior. I need someone who lived a life I couldn't live and died death in my place that I could be truly forgiven and no longer be like a servant who could be dismissed. But I become a son or a daughter of God, my father. And when you do, you take everything in your life and it narrows down to this one man, Jesus, and you say, I trust you.
And it feels like the most restrictive thing that you could ever do, the most narrowing thing you could ever do is to say I give up every other allegiance and nothing else is important to me compared to this. Jesus, you're everything. I put my whole heart and my whole life and my whole mind and I put it all in my trust in you. I believe in you.
I trust in you. Take my life, oh Jesus, take this very narrow thing. And when you do, what happens is that you step into a narrow gate and life abundant opens up to you like you'd never tasted or seen before. And God does something better than just giving us the Garden of Eden.
He gives us eternity with him. So at the end of Frozen, it actually brings in a wonderful, I think, nuance to the movie where younger sister Anna is going to freeze to death and Elsa is about to be killed by Hans, who is going to secretly try to take over the kingdom. And Anna dives in front of her sister, showing her sacrificial love. And that solves the curse upon Anna's life. And everyone is happy in the end because it was in the end, far more nuanced. I liked that about that movie. It was far more nuanced than no right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I'm free. No, that led to you almost killing your sister. But in the end, it becomes a good love story in a deeper way. And what I just want to say is that there is a battle for our mind and it's not over just little issues that make us upset with one another and our culture right now. It's about the whole big story. Wides the gate that leads to destruction, narrow the gate that leads to authentic freedom because authentic freedom comes through Jesus. And that's the gospel. Alan Wright, our good news message today and it's titled wide gate versus narrow gate from the series story wars.
Stick with us. Pastor Alan is back in the studio sharing his parting good news thought for the day. In just a moment, unlock the power of blessing your life. Discover God's grace filled vision for your life by signing up for Alan Wright's free daily blessing. If you want to fill your heart with grace and encouragement, get Alan Wright's daily blessing.
It's free and just a click away at pastor Alan.org. With so much worry about yesterday's failures and so much hurry getting ready for tomorrow's tasks. Sometimes it's hard to focus on the moment that matters most right now in a hurried worried season. God invites you into the present modern day life coaches call it mindfulness, but it isn't a new psychological program and it isn't rooted in Eastern religion. Mindfulness living in the present is God's idea and the Bible unveils the way Pastor Alan Wright invites you to savor life each day. When you make your gift today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's eight messages in an attractive CD album or through digital download as our way of saying thanks for your partnership. Make your gift today and learn how to savor the textures and flavors of God's grace each moment in the moment every day of your life. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries.
Call us at 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Back now with Pastor Alan and our parting good news thought for the day. And I absolutely love today's message. And this is the conclusion here.
Wide gate versus narrow gate. And it probably sounds, you know, really countercultural to talk about it that way, but Jesus is the only way and in that there is freedom. So to say, take all of the restraints away and then I'll be free is it sounds appealing in our culture like, oh, I'm just going to be free.
But as Oz Guinness once said, the biggest enemy of freedom is freedom. It's like the story I was telling about my freshman year in college where the guys across the hall looked so free. They played cards every night. That's when Pac-Man came out. They played Pac-Man every day. And I thought, wow, they're so free.
They're not. And the next semester they weren't there. So they weren't free.
They were free to play cards, but they weren't free to come back to school the next semester. So a lot of the things that we think are constricting are actually the gateway into expansive life. And ultimately this is the picture of Jesus Himself who said, I am the way. Jesus is our gate. And that feels very narrow to this culture, but He didn't come to restrict us. He came to set us free. His good news message is a listener supported production of Allen Wright Ministries.
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