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Which Way to Heaven? B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 2, 2023 3:00 am

Which Way to Heaven? B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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If you're not willing to say no to everything and to say, I will, as God enables me, walk that narrow walk, knowing full well that you cannot do it on your own by your own achievement, but knowing that God will give you grace upon grace to do it in your weakness through His strength, you're willing to live that way, then you're coming legitimately to Him. Think about your friends who share different beliefs from yours about God. Maybe they attend a different church. Maybe they're not part of a church, but they know the facts of the gospel.

Maybe they doubt parts of the Bible, or maybe you're the one with the questions. So who gets to heaven? Who will know the matchless eternal blessing that is found only in heaven?

Really, the bottom line question is, what is a Christian? John MacArthur helps you nail down that issue today as he continues to show you the path to true happiness. That's the title of John's study here on Grace To You, True Happiness.

And now, with a lesson, here is John MacArthur. Open your Bible with me and look together at Matthew chapter 7, verses 13 and 14. There are four contrasts I want you to see in these verses. Four contrasts. Number one, two gates. Two gates.

And this is basically the crux of the interpretation, so we'll spend a little more time on this. I want to just begin to develop the concept that's involved in this narrow gate. You must enter. You must enter the narrow gate. You must enter alone.

Listen to this one. You must enter with great difficulty. With great difficulty. Listen, Christianity doesn't come by walking an aisle. You don't become a Christian in some cheap and easy fashion. In Matthew 11 and verse 12, the Bible says, The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. There's almost a violence in the entrance into the kingdom. In Luke 16, 16, the Lord said, Every man who comes into the kingdom presses his way into the kingdom. Now this is not what you hear, but this is what Jesus said. The kingdom is to those who seek it with all their hearts. The kingdom is to those who strive, who agonize to enter it, whose hearts are shattered over their sinfulness, who mourn in meekness, who hunger and thirst and unquenchably unsatisfied long for God to change their life. It's not for the people who come along in a cheap way and want Jesus without any alteration of their living.

When Jesus emphasized that one cannot sleep his way into the kingdom, Jesus was saying, In order to be in my kingdom you must have earnest endeavor, untiring energy, utmost exertion. I believe that one of Satan's pervasive lies in the world today is it's easy to become a Christian. It's easy. It's not easy. It's not easy at all.

It's a very narrow gate. You go through all alone and you go through agonizing all the way over your sinfulness. You have to be broken in your spirit. Somebody might say, Well, that sounds like the religion of human achievement you were talking about. No, it's when you come to the brokenness and the recognition that you of yourself cannot do it, then Christ pours into you grace upon grace to strengthen you for that necessary agonizing to enter it.

In your brokenness, his power becomes your resource. You must enter. You must enter the narrow gate. You must enter alone. You must enter with difficulty. And next, you must enter naked. You can't go through a turnstile with luggage. Have you ever noticed that? It's a mess.

Can't do it. It is the gate, watch it, of self-denial. It is not the gate that admits the superstars who want to carry all our garbage in. It is a gate where you strip off all of self and self-righteousness and sin and immorality and everything.

You unload it or you don't come through it. The rich young ruler came to the gate. He searched. He really searched. And he found Jesus and he said, What do I need to do to enter the kingdom? I've come to find out.

I've been searching. I want to be in the kingdom. The Lord went right to the heart of the problem and said, Go, take everything you have, sell it and give it to the poor. And you know what he did? He hid him right at his suitcase. He was trying to get through the straight gate with the baggage of his riches. And frankly, on the other hand, he had self-righteousness because when the Lord talked about all of the things that he should have been doing, he said he did all those things. So here he came with self-righteousness in one hand and all his money in the other and he couldn't get through. And the Bible says, He went away sorrowing. He had sought, but he wasn't willing for the selfless, self-denying, agonizing over sin and the stripping to nakedness that is necessary to enter the gate. If you didn't come that way, I have a good feeling that you're on the wrong road. It says heaven, but that's not where it's going.

It may even say Jesus. There must be a jettisoning of self, self-confidence, self-righteousness. I think it's wonderfully expressed by the Lord in Matthew 18, where He says, Except you become as a little child you can into the kingdom. What is it that marks a little child? It is utter dependency, utter dependency. Nothing in My hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling. Saving faith is not just an act of the mind. It is a stripping of the self in utter nakedness.

It is a beating of the breast. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Next, you must enter. You must enter the narrow gate. You must enter alone. You must enter with difficulty.

You must enter with nakedness. And can I add, you must enter repentantly. I don't believe you come through unless your heart is repentant over sin, turning from sin to serve the living God. When John the Baptist was preparing a people to receive the Messiah, they were coming and they were being baptized because they wanted to have their sins cleansed. Anyone in a Jewish context knows that the preparation for the coming of Messiah was the purging of the heart of its sinfulness. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that great preacher, said, You and your sins must separate or you and your God will never come together.

No one sin, he said, may you keep. They must all be given up. They must be brought out like the Canaanitish kings from the cave and be hanged up in the sun.

End quote. We turn from sin to God. There must be repentance. Finally, you must enter the narrow gate alone with difficulty, naked, repentant, and in utter surrender to Christ.

In utter surrender to Christ. I do not believe that a person can be regenerate, as Christ indicates it here, by simply adding Jesus Christ to their carnal activities. I don't believe salvation is addition. I think salvation is transformation. The whole message of 1 John is that if you're truly redeemed, it will manifest itself in a transformed life where sin is confessed, where obedience is characteristic, where love is made manifest. Salvation is marked by a changed life. Jesus even said, I can tell my true disciples, for they obey My Word.

They obey My Word. Somebody says, Well, I'm a Christian and there's no sign of obedience in their life. They may think they're a Christian, but they got on the wrong road.

Sure it was marked heaven and sure it may have been marked Jesus, but it isn't the right road. A narrow, narrow gate. In contrast, there's a wide gate. We don't need to say much about it. It's obvious by contrast. The wide gate.

What? Everybody can get on together. You don't have to come on alone. The whole gang's coming on. They all got on together. They joined the church and they all got on together.

There's nothing individual about it. The whole crowd came. No self-denial. Hey, you can bring all your baggage, all your sin, all your immorality, all your lack of repentance, your lack of commitment to Christ.

You can just come along. The gate of self-indulgence. There are a lot of people who claim to be Christians and they are utterly and grossly and totally self-indulgent. Pride, self-righteousness, self-indulgence, sins of all sorts are welcome on the broad road, but if you've got them, you don't even get on the narrow road because you can't get through the gate with that stuff. A West Indian who had chosen Islam over Christianity said this, My reason is that Islam is a noble, broad path.

There is room for a man and his sins on it, and the way of Christ is far too narrow. That's the choice. Two gates. Two gates lead to two ways.

Look again. Two ways. What are the two ways? There is the broad way, verse 13, and there is the hard way, or the pressed, compressed, confined way, verse 14. That's exactly what it says in Psalm 1. There is the way of the godly and the way of the ungodly. Psalm 1 verses 1 to 3, the way of the godly. Verses 4 and 5, the way of the ungodly. Verse 6, the result of both.

The choice is the same as it's always been. The way of the ungodly and the way of the godly. Now look at the broad way. I mean, once you come in the wide gate, the whole gang's there, it's easy living, man.

Right? There's no precipice. There's lots of room.

You can just stroll and roam. No rules. No morality is particularly binding. There's room for diverse theology. There's tolerance of every conceivable sin, just as long as you love Jesus. Or as long as you're religious.

There are no curbs. There are no limits. There are no boundaries.

All the desires of the fallen heart are fed on that road. There's no need for a beatitude attitude. There's no need for humility. There's no need to study the Word of God. There's no need for hard, internal moral standards. You can just go along with a typical, mechanical religiosity that is no more than hypocrisy. It takes absolutely no character. It's like a dead fish floating downstream.

It's very easy. The current does it all. It is called in Ephesians 2, 2, the course of this world, but the utter tragedy of it all is, in the Proverbs it says, there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. It's the broad way. No rules.

No standards, except those made by man to fit into your comfortable little system. And Psalm 1, 6 says, the way of the ungodly shall perish. As opposed to that, there is a hard way, verse 14. Your Bible may say narrow. The best translation is a constricted way.

It literally means to press together, to be confined. It's like a narrow path on a precipice, very narrow. And that's why Paul says in Ephesians, you must walk circumspectly with your eyes open, because you can't just float and flip-flop. It's a very narrow way. It is hemmed in on both sides by the chastening hand of God. You step off this side and whack, you get your spiritual knuckles hit.

Same on the other side. The requirements are great and strict and refined and clear-cut and there's no room for any deviation or departure from them. It must be the desire of our heart to fulfill those, knowing full well that when we fail, God will chasten and then God will wonderfully and lovingly forgive and set us on our feet again. You say, well, I mean, it's a hard and a strict and a narrow way. It sounds to me like something I wouldn't want. One wonderful thing about it is that all the hardness and all the narrowness and all the restrictions are borne by Christ Himself so that His yoke is easy for us and His burden is what?

Is lying. I mean, when you come on that way, you better take stock of what you're asking for. In Luke 14, verse 25, what do we read? And there went great multitudes with Him, and He turned and said to them, here comes a big crowd following Him, a big pile of people.

He says, look, if you're going to follow Me, you ought to know some things. If you don't hate your father, your mother, your wife, your children, your brothers, your sisters, and your own life, you can't be My disciple. Try that on somebody the next time you're going to share the gospel with them. You want to be a Christian?

All right. Hate your mother, your father, your sister, your brother. Make it as hard as it possibly could be made. You're going to have to step out of the crowd. You're going to have to say goodbye to everybody you love, or you can't even be My disciple, and then you're going to have to pick up a cross and live a crucified life. Now try preaching that at the next revival and see how many come down the aisle. You know who'd come down the aisle?

The people who should come, who want to make the right commitment. And Jesus went on to illustrate this. For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn't sit down first and count the cost? I mean, no man is dumb enough to build something without analyzing what it's going to cost him.

Or what king in the world is going to go to war without analyzing how his troops stack up against the enemy. So likewise, verse 33, whosoever he is of you that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be My disciple. Boy, Jesus really drew a hard line. If you're not willing to say no to everything, and to say, I will, as God enables me, walk that narrow walk, knowing full well that you cannot do it on your own by your own achievement, but knowing that God will give you grace upon grace to do it in your weakness through His strength, you're willing to live that way, then you're coming legitimately to Him. You better consider persecution. In this world you'll have tribulation. The day will come, Jesus said, to His disciples when they think they'll do God's service by executing you. John 16, you're going to spend your life running from those who want to kill you. You don't walk on this narrow way with your bare feet.

This isn't a luscious meadow. The road is hard, and Christianity has never been presented by our Lord as a soft option for the weak-kneed and the weak-hearted. You declare war on hell when you start, and hell fights pretty tough. And you live the rest of your life with a beatitude attitude, where you're constantly trying to deal with your own pride and your own desires, your own selfish will. Jesus said to Peter, follow Me, and by the way, Peter, it'll cost you your life. Are you coming on those terms?

Are you coming on those terms? Because that's the narrow way. It's hard. It's pressed. It's confined. And when you wander off the path, you're going to be chastened.

You say, well, it sounds awful. No, because all the hardness is picked up by Christ, and the way becomes a way of beauty. Now when you make a choice, remember the third thing.

There are two destinations, two destinations. Back again to Matthew chapter 7. There is the broad way that leads to destruction, and there is the narrow way which leads to life. There's the way of life and the way of death, as Jeremiah said it, as Joshua said it, as Elijah said it, as Moses said it. It's the same thing, the way of life and the way of death. Psalm 1 said it. The godly enter into blessing the ungodly perish. There's the way of life and the way of death. The word destruction here simply refers to ultimate eternal judgment in hell. The Lord says that life ends up in one of two places.

All religions in the entire world apart from the religion of divine accomplishment in Christ will end up in the same place, destruction. It's easy to go that way. It's easy to get on, take all the stuff you want.

It's easy to walk along because there's no standards. It just gets tough at the very end. No restrictions, and it's crowded, but it ends up in hell. And as John Bunyan said, the entrance to hell is from the portals of heaven.

What a shock it's going to be for some people. On the other hand, the narrow way is going to open up into eternal bliss. The broad way narrows down into a terrible pit. The narrow way opens up into the fullness of an unspeakable, everlasting, unclouded fellowship of joy with God that we can't even imagine. It isn't so much that these are defining quantities of life as they are defining qualities of life, and the choice is yours. Consider the destination because you're going to spend forever there.

And how will men choose? The final point, there are two crowds, two gates, two ways, two destinations, and two crowds. The way that is wide, verse 13, many there be who go in that way. The way that is narrow, verse 14, few there be who find it.

That's really amazing. Most people are on the road of human achievement. The masses of people are on the wrong road. People often ask me, do you think that there'll be more people in heaven or hell? Jesus said here, many, few. You go back to the Old Testament and you'll find that there was always a remnant of believing people. The one time in God's redemptive history that seems to be unique is in the tribulation. According to Revelation chapter 7, verse 9, it says that there will be an innumerable number of Gentiles redeemed out of every people, tribe, and tongue, and nation, and that the whole nation of Israel will be redeemed as well. There may be a unique kind of evangelism response in the tribulation that is going to bring a great mass of the world's population to respond to Christ, but for this time and for this age, the reiteration of the truth is, few, few, few, few. Because men would rather hold on to their own sin, Jesus said. They love their darkness.

They would rather believe in themselves. Few. In Luke 12 32, Jesus looked at His disciples and He said to them this, fear not, little flock. The word little is micron, from which we get micro, something small. Fear not, little flock. It is the same word used in Matthew 13 of the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. It's always been a little flock. It's always been the few who seek with all their hearts and who agonize in the power of God knowing their own human inability to enter because they're willing to pay the price and count the cost.

In fact, in Matthew 22 14, Jesus put it this way. Many are called, but what? Few are chosen.

Few. So easy to choose the broad way. It's such an easy way to go. You just go with the crowd. And you can add Jesus to it and feel religious and go to church or belong to some kind of system of religion that tells you that's the way to go. And you never deny yourself and you wind up in an ultimate disaster. In Luke, Luke 13 24, Jesus said this, strive or agonize, we saw that earlier, to enter in at the narrow gate. For many I say unto you will seek to enter in and not be able.

Now listen. When once the master of the house has risen up and has shut the door and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. We know you. It's us, Lord, Lord. And he'll answer and say unto you, I know you not from where you are. Then shall you begin to say, we have eaten and have drunk in your presence. Some might say we've taken communion. We've fellowshiped.

And he'll say, I tell you, I don't know you from where you are. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and yourselves thrown out. These are not irreligious people. These are religious people who thought they were on the right road, but it was not the right road. And they're going to bang on the door.

I tell you, I can't think of a more horrible scene than people under the illusion that they're saved only to find out the door is shut in their face. Back in Matthew 7, Jesus says, many go that way. Many on the broad road.

You want to meet that many? Go to verse 22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thine name and in thine name have cast out demons and in thine name done many wonderful works?

Sounds so good. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What a shock. The many on the broad road are going to find out that that wasn't the road to heaven. The door will be shut in their faces forever. Listen, the way is narrow, but I'm happy to announce it's wide enough to take in the chief of sinners. You've got to come alone. You can't escape the choice. It's an utterly inevitable choice. To make no choice is to make a choice.

And you face that choice. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John's message today is part of his series from the Sermon on the Mount, titled True Happiness. John, as you wind up this study, I suppose we can summarize it like this. Our desire for happiness and true fulfillment is actually a good thing. As the first question of the Catechism reminds us, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. So the issue is, where you look for happiness and enjoyment, and what kind of fulfillment you settle for. Would you say that's a fair statement?

It is a fair statement. I think we don't talk about that enough. We talk about the glory of God. We talk about the honor of God, and rightly we should, because God deserves all glory and all honor. But God then talks about us having eternal joy. So it's not that giving God honor is some sacrifice.

It's not that at all. It's giving God honor and glory and having God return to us infinite, eternal joy. So you could look at salvation and say, well, the end of salvation is the glory of God.

But you'd be short, really, one point. That would be the next to the last point. The ultimate end of the Gospel is the glory of God for the joy of the saints. This is true happiness. God wants us to have joy. True happiness is hard to find in the world. It's impossible to find in the world because it's not available apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ. And that's what we've been saying in our series on true happiness. True happiness is within reach if you're willing to walk the path we've been looking at. This is a great study to pass along to any person who you know who is not a Christian, not a believer, and can't find happiness.

And I think that's most people, truthfully, but who wants that happiness that's so elusive. This is a great study for them. And you can put it in their hands, and you can trust God to apply it where He wills. The true happiness study comes on two CDs, a good way to get this material into the hands of someone you know and care about. And of course, it's also available free on two MP3 downloads at the Grace To You website. And the transcripts are also free, so you can use all those means to spread the truth of true happiness.

Take time at your own pace. Revisit what the Bible says about true happiness, foundational teaching from our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and spread it to those you care about. Yes, do. And friend, for even greater insight into Christ's Sermon on the Mount and a whole lot more, pick up the first volume of John's commentary on the book of Matthew. It will enrich your understanding of the first seven chapters of Matthew like nothing else will. To order Volume 1 of John MacArthur's commentary on Matthew or the entire MacArthur New Testament commentary series, get in touch today.

Our toll-free number is 855grace and our web address Keep in mind, John has written 33 total commentary volumes that cover the entire New Testament. If you'd like to order the commentary on Matthew or the entire New Testament set, call us at 855grace or shop online at And thanks for remembering that it is friends like you who help us connect people around the world with biblical truth through radio, television, and thousands of free online resources. To help bring daily spiritual nourishment to people in your community and beyond, express your support when you write to us at Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.

You can also donate online at or when you call us at 855grace. Thanks also for your prayers for John and the staff. It's really the most important way you can support Grace To You. Pray for us. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, inviting you back tomorrow for a time of Bible questions and answers. Tune in and see if John answers a question about the Bible that you've had. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-02 05:31:31 / 2023-02-02 05:42:05 / 11

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