Abundant Living: Two Options (Part 1)

March 4, 2024

Series: Abundant Living

Book: Matthew

This sermon is part of our Abundant Living series. You can watch more here.


Sermon manuscript:

In our passage this morning we are going to press in on the teaching that is really common in our culture “all faiths of the world are basically the same.”  Have you heard this?

Philosophically it is called Pluralism (Plural Truths.)  It is the common position of our educational institutions today.

I am sure we have all seen the illustration of the blind men touching different parts of the elephant.  One is touching the tail, leg, trunk, belly and then saying, “So it is with the religions of the world.”  Make sense?

All faiths are all basically describing god in a different way but they are basically touching the same elephant, so all faiths are basically the same.

The conclusion is god has no real objective or if god does, it is hidden from humanity, therefore human constructs of god today are humanities best attempts at describing god.  Pluralism!

The only problem is the illustration breaks down because the only way to make the claim that everyone is blind is if you are the one with sight.  Does that make sense?

And who has sight?  The one telling the story, therefore, when someone says, “All faiths are the same” they are making a dogmatic claim wrapped in humility.  You with me?

First, you need to know it is offensive to tell all faiths of the world, “There’s nothing unique about your belief system.  You’re all basically the same.”  How rude!

Second, the illustration makes the assumption that the elephant never makes a sound.  The illustration makes the assumption that the elephant never speaks, therefore, what happens if God isn’t silent but has actually revealed Himself?

What do we do if the mystery of God has become known?  What if there IS revelation for us to consider?  What if God removes the blinders of humanity to reveal Himself?

In our passage this morning, Jesus isn’t grouping Himself with all faiths of the world.  In fact, Jesus is making a claim that is just the opposite, so that the listener isn’t able to say “all faiths are the same.”

Instead the listener must make a decision on where he or she stands based on what Jesus has been teaching.  Let’s look at Matthew 7:13-14:

Matthew 7:13-14, “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.”

Let’s draw out the context of these words.  In the context of the passage Jesus has been describing heaven on earth in His kingdom and inviting all people into His Kingdom.  You with me?

It is an invitation to be a people who are salt and light, people who resolve conflict, people who turn from sexual immorality.

It is to be a people who love our enemies.  It is to be a people who walk in peace and stability, so that through faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection we get to experience heaven on earth.

This is critical.  Jesus’ invitation isn’t JUST to go to heaven one day.  It isn’t “Believe in Me and then do what you want while you wait around to die.”  Jesus’ invitation is, “Believe in Me and enjoy new life in Me today!”

A few weeks ago, we had men take time off work to spend time with one another on a Men’s Retreat.  It was heaven on earth!  Men spending time with other men, singings songs of worship together, praying together, laughing with one another.  It was glorious!

Our culture tells us men are emotionally incompetent.  Our culture tells us women have to teach men how to have emotionally mature relationships because “men so slow and stunted.”  But not in His Kingdom!

Right now, we have men and women meeting in groups throughout the week to encourage one another in their faith.  Voluntarily!

We don’t offer door prizes.  Nobody is selling multi-level marketing.  And yet men and women are getting together to study God’s Word, pray for one another and encourage one another in their faith!  It’s heaven on earth!

In our church family we have had men and women meet one another as singles, get engaged, get married and start families.  And I think all of them are still married today!  That’s a miracle!

It is common in our church family to see people helping one another financially, brainstorming ideas to serve the community.  We don’t have to ask them, guilt them, prod them; people just want to serve others!

People bringing one another meals, people visiting one another in the hospital.  I was just walking past this conversation last week on a Sunday morning where someone apologized and asked their forgiveness.

I don’t know what they were talking about but I just walked by and thought, “Did I just walk past a miracle?”  That’s amazing!

Listen, I don’t know what your work environment is like.  Maybe things like that happen all the time in your neighborhood association?  Maybe your kid’s PTA is not only seeking their interests but also the interest of others but I only hear about things like this in the body of Christ.  Heaven on earth!

I don’t want to oversell it.  I am sure some adult will push a kid down on the way to the restroom today but by God’s grace we are getting to see heaven on earth in our church family.

We aren’t just reading Jesus’ Words about His Kingdom, but we are getting to experience the fruit of Jesus’ Words in His Kingdom, and it’s glorious!  You with me?

In verses 12-29 Jesus is bringing His teaching to a close by describing the illustration of two’s that we are going to cover over the next three Sundays.

When you read it on your own you will see Jesus describe two types of gates, two types of people, two types of trees, two types of homes, and at first glance it could sound like Jesus is saying, “There are good people and there are bad people.  Don’t be like the bad people, be like the good people.”

But that’s not it.  In Matthew 5, 6 and 7 Jesus is inviting all people to enter into His kingdom, Jesus is describing in great detail what life looks like practically in His Kingdom, and in Jesus’ closing words He is clarifying, “You must decide!”

Jesus isn’t closing His teaching with “All faiths of the world are basically the same.”  Jesus isn’t closing His teaching with, “Some good things to think about.”

No, Jesus is forcing the listener to make a decision and this is so important for our church family we will draw this out over the next 3 weeks.

This morning we will focus on verses 13 and 14 because in verses 13 and 14 we don’t just see two gates but we also see two paths, two crowds and two destinies, so let’s look at our two verses again:

Matthew 7:13-14, “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.”

Let’s talk about the gates; narrow gate and wide gate.  First, we need to clarify where these gates are located.  It’s possible that we could think of these gates are at the end of the journey.

It’s possible we could be thinking Jesus has been describing these beautiful characteristics of heaven on earth and, “If I achieve all these characteristics then I will get to enter the NARROW GATE, which leads to life!”

But that would contradict the whole of Jesus’ teaching.  In chapter 5 Jesus said, “Our righteousness must exceed the religious leaders to enter into His Kingdom.”

If that’s the case then the GATE isn’t NARROW but not non-existence.  That GATE doesn’t lead to life because nobody would be entering that gate, right?

Surely the gate must be at the beginning where we receive the righteousness of Christ by grace through faith in Jesus and then as we enter into the NARROW gate we walk by faith in the righteousness of Christ.  Did you catch that?

Please don’t just diminish this invitation to just “faith in Jesus.”  It is faith in Jesus but it’s more.  The word “life” in verse 14 isn’t just eternal life but quality of life, so that the invitation to enter the NARROW gate is a decision we are making every day.  Does that make sense?  Let’s look at the two paths. (Don’t read)

Matthew 7:13-14, “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.”

The way is BROAD in verse 13 and the way is NARROW in verse 14.  Do you see that?  The word for “narrow” is the Greek Word “Stenos.”  It is where we get the English word “stenographer.”

A stenographer is someone who transcribes speech so in verse 13 we are talking about a NARROW path that is restrictive.  A NARROW path that is cramped.  A NARROW path with barriers.  Does that make sense?

The word for “broad” in verse 14 is spacious.  A BROAD path that is wide open, so that Jesus is telling us at the beginning, “Lots of people are going to take the BROAD path, therefore, we must ask ourselves, “What are things that will keep us from taking the NARROW path?”

This is the invitation.  Jesus has described the glory of His kingdom; therefore, we must consider, “What is going to keep me from not only entering the NARROW gate but walking the NARROW path?”

Worrying about what other people think at work and school is going to keep us off the NARROW path, right?  Chasing after the applause of others is going to keep us off the NARROW path, right?

Listen to me, Jesus told us in His opening Words, “People are going to persecute, mock you and falsely accuse, so that living for the applause of others is going to lead to the path that is BROAD, right?

There’s lots of people living for the applause of others.  The way that is BROAD gets pats on the back.  The way that is BROAD has a whole crew of people running with you, getting high-fives in the office and invited into social circles, so that the path of following Jesus is NARROW.

The narrow path has limbs in your face, rocks and boulders to climb over, narrow edges to traverse with very little rest stops along the way, so that Jesus is pressing the listener to decide, “Which one?” Let’s talk about those crowds. (Don’t read)

Matthew 7:13-14, “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.”

We’ve talked about the gates, we’ve talked about the paths, so that now we want to draw out the two crowds; the many and the few.

Two crowds is a little misleading because in verses 13 we see there is one crowd with many people and in verse 14 we see there are a few weary travelers.  Right?

It’s possible we could get discouraged when we don’t see more people entering through the NARROW gate.  Sometimes I find myself wondering, “Lord, why aren’t we seeing seas of people around the world glorying in your Name?”

But Jesus makes it clear there are few who will enter the NARROW gate.  There are few who will walk the NARROW path.  One has the crowd of 6th Street on a Friday night and the other are the gathered saints at prayer at 6pm tonight.  The many and the few!

One is the crowd of people chasing after the applause of others the other are those faithful men and women opening the Scriptures, humbling themselves before the Lord every day.

Again, please don’t just diminish this invitation to just “faith in Jesus.”  Jesus is inviting us into the NARROW gate and to walk the NARROW path and there are few who will find it.

It isn’t a worship service with thousands of people singing songs.  It is a rag-tag group of men and women who are making daily decisions to die to their flesh and follow Christ, because this is heaven on earth.

This is why men sit around a fire and sing songs of worship.  This is why men and women humble themselves and serve one another.  This is the greatest joy we can imagine.

Illustration:  Right now, don’t you see our culture longing for something?  Our culture chases after their little personal kingdoms of education, career, romance and every one of them comes up fragile and vulnerable.

What an exciting time to remember Jesus has invited ALL to enter into His Kingdom.  Few may respond but the invitation is wide!  In Matthew 5 there is a great crowd listening to Jesus invitation.  In that crowd there would have been Jews and Gentiles, men and women, young and old, rich and poor; all hearing Jesus to enter the NARROW gate.

In Matthew 11 when Jesus calls out, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden.”  It is a great crowd of people who hear that invitation.  In Matthew 13 the invitation is broadcast far and wide.  In Matthew 22 the disciples are sent out to issue the invitation to enter into His Kingdom.  In Matthew 28 Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations” inviting the world into His Kingdom.

Are few going to respond, maybe, but let’s not let the size of the response determine the depth of the invitation, especially for North Village Church.

Our church family has positioned us in a city that is gathering people from all over the world.  What an opportunity!

I’ve shared this with some of you but my heart’s desire was not to start a church in Austin, TX.  I came to faith in Jesus in Dallas.  There’s a church in Dallas on every corner.  Texas is in the bible belt. I wanted to take the name of Jesus to the world!  Specifically, I wanted to take the name of Jesus to Western Europe and come along side people who were indifferent to Jesus.

Holly and I tried so hard.  I worked in Germany for a while.  We interviewed with different groups.  At one point we were going to teach English as a second language and every time the door shut over and over and over.  We were so discouraged!

Then, I said, “OK, Lord, at least the Northeast of the United States.”  Please don’t make me stay in Texas.  Again, we interviewed, we prayed, we looked for opportunities in Northeast and still nothing happened until one day the Lord opened up an opportunity in Austin, TX in 2006.

I sheepishly said, “OK, at least it isn’t Dallas,” and here we are almost 20 years later in Austin and the Lord is bringing the world to me.  Almost every day I hear someone speaking German, Korean, Farsi, Italian, Scottish, and it’s awesome.

In our church building we have a gathering a people from Nepal.  I don’t have to go to Nepal.  I don’t have to get on a plane.  I just need to stick around for a few hours and they come to me!  Now we have a group of people from the Ukraine meeting in our building.  Isn’t that awesome?

What an exciting time to live in Austin!  What an exciting point in history where people are longing for an ETERNAL KINGDOM and they don’t even know it.

What an exciting time to consider Jesus’ Words, “There are two types of gates, two types of paths and two types of crowds.”  What’s your response?  Let’s read our verses one more time.

Matthew 7:13-14, “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.”

The last part of Jesus’ illustration is to determine our response.  You need to know there is an urgency to the decision.

In verse 19 Jesus will talk about being thrown into the lake of fire.  In verse 23 Jesus will say to some, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  In verse 27 the rains will fall, the flood will come and the fall will be great.  There is an urgency to respond today and every day to enter the NARROW gate and walk the NARROW path!

Therefore, we must decide today, “What does that look like for me?”  I can’t make that decision for you.  Nobody is born into the NARROW path.  We must make that decision today and every day.

Wouldn’t it be odd to have the hope of spending eternity with Christ but not wanting to walk with Christ today?  Wouldn’t that be odd to say, “I want to spend eternity in His Kingdom but right now I want to live for my personal, earthly kingdom?”

Therefore, we must hear Jesus’ Words and decide, “What’s stopping me, hindering me, or distracting me from entering through that NARROW gate and walking the NARROW path today?”


North Village Church

This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.

Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.

North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.

Check out our North Village Church calendar highlights such as our Christmas Eve Service and Easter Sunday Service.

You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.


NVC Online

Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.