Why only a few are going to heaven? Part 1 - Matthew 7:13-20
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(A2) Start by sincerely asking God to open your mind and tell him you'll do Psalm 119:34 "Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart."
(A3) In this 15 minute Sermon on the Mount (which is the most famous sermon ever given) Jesus tells us how to live in a way that God can bless here on earth and that will also result in spending eternity with God in heaven and not in Hell. There is nothing more important for anyone to know and to follow than Jesus' teachings in this sermon.
(A4) We are starting at the end of the sermon to see how important Jesus says what he just taught is.
(A5) The green text are direct quotes from the Bible. Unless otherwise noted they are from the NLT (New Living Translation). The purple text are quotes from other sources. And the red text are questions.
(A6) To help you navigate between sessions there are at the top and bottom of every page navigation links to take you to the main index page (which has links to every page), and also to the previous (if there is one) and next sessions.
(A7) Try rotating the reading and answering the questions and allow more than one to share their thoughts on the same question if they want to.
(A8) Don't rush in order to finish the session, instead focus on good discussion and understanding on each point. It's OK if it takes more than a week. The next week you can always do the last part of that session and the first part of the next session.
(A9) The more thought you put in to answering the questions the more life change you will experience
(B1) Jesus' Warning - Work HARD to enter heaven
(B2) Matthew 7:13-14 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. (14) But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."
(1) Where does Jesus say most people are going after they die?
(2) Where do most people think they are going after they die?
(3) At 95% of the funerals you've been at don't they always say "He/she is in a better place"?
(4) Who do you think is right, Jesus or most of the people?
(5) In verse 14, if we want to go to heaven (God's Kingdom) which road does Jesus say we must take and stay on?
(6) Does Jesus place any restriction on who can go on this difficult road or is this difficult road available to ANYONE regardless of what they have done before?
(7) The very popular translation ESV translates the "road is difficult" as "the way is hard".
(8) From MacArthur Bible Commentary: "Christ continually emphasized the difficulty of following Him. Salvation is by grace alone, but it is not easy. It calls for knowledge of the truth, repentance, submission to Christ as Lord, and a willingness to obey His will and Word." While salvation is by grace alone what does it call for?
(9) After giving us this shocking warning Jesus proceeds to give his 3 requirements for finding and staying on the difficult road. We'll be studying his 3 requirements in this and the next session.
(B3) What hell is like? Matthew 18:8 "So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet."
(1) In this verse what is in hell?
(2) In this verse how long does the fire in hell last for?
(3) In this verse what causes people to go to hell?
(4) From ESV Study Bible: "Jesus uses hyperbole (intentional overstatement) to emphasize the necessity of rigorous self-discipline and radically removing sin from the disciple’s life before it leads to judgment". What happens if one doesn't remove sin?
(5) Revelation 20:10, 15 "Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ... (15) And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire." In v10 what happens in hell?
(6) From this article in gotquestions.org: "The variety and symbolic nature of descriptors do not lessen hell, however—just the opposite, in fact. Their combined effect describes a hell that is worse than death, darker than darkness, and deeper than any abyss. Hell is a place with more wailing and gnashing of teeth than any single descriptor could ever portray. Its symbolic descriptors bring us to a place beyond the limits of our language—to a place far worse than we could ever imagine." Hell is "far worse" than what? Why did Jesus talk so much about Hell?
(7) www.gotquestions.com is a fantastic resource to get answers to any questions you have about Christianity. Just type in a few words in the search box and you'll get a list of excellent articles.
(B4) What heaven is like? John 14:2-3 "There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am."
(1) How does Jesus describe Heaven?
(2) What is Jesus doing right now for his disciples? Note, in this passage he is ONLY talking to his true disciples (see John 13:22), the ones who were living to serve him.
(3) Revelation 21:3-4 "God himself will be with them. (4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." What will not be in heaven?
(4) 1 Cor 15: 42-44 "It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. (43) Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. (44) They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies." For those who go to heaven what will our bodies be like?
(B5) What is required to enter heaven? Luke 13:23-24 "Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, (24) “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail."
(1) In v23 what is required to enter God's Kingdom?
(2) From John Wesley commentary: "Strive as in an agony. So the word signifies otherwise none shall enter in. Barely seeking will not avail".
(3) From NLT Life Application Study Bible: "Finding salvation requires more concentrated effort than most people are willing to put forth. Obviously we cannot save ourselves—there is no way we can work ourselves into God’s favor. We “work hard to enter” through the narrow door by earnestly desiring to know Jesus and diligently striving to follow him whatever the cost." What does work hard mean?
(2) In v24 how many who are trying to enter heaven fail?
(3) In v24 why do they fail?
(4) If we are not working hard what does that mean?
(B6) Review: For you what verses made it clear that we need to "Work HARD to find and stay on the difficult road to heaven, because only a few make it"?
(B7) Summary: Realize only a few are going to heaven. Therefore work hard and take and stay on the difficult road. How? By doing Jesus' three requirements in the next three paragraphs.
(C1) HOW TO ENTER HEAVEN
(C2) #1 - KEEP believing only the Good News
(C3) Matthew 7:15-20 "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. (16) You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (17) A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. (18) A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. (19) So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. (20) Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."
(1) What is Jesus teaching in this passage?
(2) In v15 (verse 15) what are we to do?
(3) In v19 what will happen to those who do not produce good fruit (actions)?
(C4) False prophets teach the wrong way to live and the wrong way to heaven and therefore people who follow them miss out on God's help here on earth and end up going to hell after they die. In v20 Jesus says we can identify the false prophets by their actions (what they teach and how they live).
(C5) Galatians 1:6-8 "I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News (7) but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. (8) Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you."
(1) In v6 what damage did these particular false prophets do to these Christians?
(2) In v6 why were they turning away from God?
(3) In v8 who will receive God's curse (which is hell)?
(4) From NLT Life Application Study Bible: "Some people were preaching “a different way.” They were teaching that to be saved, Gentile believers had to follow Jewish laws and customs, especially the rite of circumcision. Faith in Christ was not enough. This message undermined the truth that salvation is a gift, not a reward for certain deeds. ... Beware of people who say that we need more than simple faith in Christ to be saved. When people set up additional requirements for salvation, they deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross". False teachers say what is not enough? False teachers say salvation is not a _______ but a reward for certain ______.
(5) Galatians 2:16 "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law." How are we made right with God?
(C6) Galatians 5:4 "For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace."
(1) What is the end result of following the teachings of the false prophets?
(2) From NIV Study Bible "because gaining God’s favor by observing the law and receiving it by grace are mutually exclusive". We have to choose between earning God's salvation and receiving it by _______".
(C7) Acts 17:11 "And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth."
(1) How did the people of Berea protect themselves from false prophets?
(2) If we attend a church, does Jesus want us to search the scriptures to see if their doctrine (set of beliefs) is supported by the Bible?
(C8) Jude 3 "But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people."
(1) From ESV Study Bible: "by the time that Jude wrote his letter, “the faith” had already been fixed and established in the apostolic teaching of the early church, and therefore could not be changed, ... nothing more could ever be added to Scripture, since the content of the faith had been delivered “once for all.”" What does "once for all time" mean?
(C9) Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, ... (20) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you."
(1) According to Jesus whose commands are we to teach?
(C10) 1 Timothy 4:16 "Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you."
(1) What happens if we don't keep a close watch on how we live (what we obey) and what we believe and teach?
(2) From ESV Study Bible: "Timothy’s perseverance in sound doctrine and practice will save him, i.e., it will lead him to persevere in the faith, confirming his salvation. This type of ministry will be effective in preserving his hearers as well." What will save Timothy?
(3) From CSB Study Bible: "Ultimately, salvation requires perseverance in faith. Romans 11:22 "Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off." What does salvation require?
(C11) Review: For you what verses made it clear that we should not be deceived by false teachings, but instead check everything with the Bible so we'll keep believing the Good News?
(C12) Summary: What we believe and put our trust in determines our eternal destiny so we must keep believing correctly. Don't be deceived by false teachings. Know Jesus' teaching so well so we can identify false teachers, false church doctrine, and false popular culture so we are not deceived to take the easy (and false) road to heaven. Our very life and those of our friends depend on it. Check not only what they are teaching BUT also if they are LEAVING OUT any of Jesus' teachings. Session 5 covers what we need to believe.
(D2) As we will see in session 3 it's not just learning but remembering and obeying Jesus' teachings that will allow God to bless us.
(1) Since hard work is required and knowing the Bible well is crucial will you commit to reading the Bible EVERY day this week? It can be just a few minutes. Maybe start with the Gospel of Matthew and read (asking the question "Am I doing this") until you find something strikes you. In this way you will start living on every word of God.
(2) Click here Next week you need to be able to say word perfect from memory Applications 1a and 1b. This little effort will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in having your and other's lives changed.
(3) During this coming week keep reviewing this lesson, let it sink in and become part of you. Talk about it with others.
(4) Read carefully and answer all of the questions in session 2. We'll discuss session 2 next time.
(5) Remember you get out of the Bible what you put into it. Put in a little time and effort and you'll get a little bit out of it. Put in a lot of time and effort and the change in your life will be great.
(6) Put this webpage on your phone's home screen so you can easily access the Sermon on the Mount Study.
Safari: View that page in Safari, then press the share icon, select "Add to Home Screen".
Android: View that page in Chrome, then press the 3 dots, select Add to home page.
(7) On your phone's podcast player listen to "BRING YOUR ONE" part 1 and part 2, (Jan 19 and Jan 27) of the 4 part sermon series by Rick Atchley, The Hills Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Each of them is only about 30 minutes long. Or watch them here sermon 1 and sermon 2. If possible, listen to them twice so you can remember and 'apply' them.
(8) When can we meet next week (or sooner) to go over the next lesson?
Index page Session 2