How to take the Difficult Road to Heaven
(A2) For the scripture only version of this study click here.
(A2) In Jesus' most famous sermon, the short 'Sermon on the Mount', 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. It's in Chapters 5 to 7 in the Gospel of Matthew, which is a book in the Bible.
(A3) The green text are direct quotes from the Bible. Unless otherwise noted they are from the NLT (New Living Translation) which is an excellent translation for reading. The purple text are quotes from other sources. And the red text are questions.
(B1) Take the Difficult Road to Heaven
(B2) Matthew 7:13-14 “(13) 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) In v13, According to Jesus, is there only one way to God’s Kingdom (heaven)?
(2) In v13 how many people go to hell?
(3) In v14 is it easy or difficult to go to heaven?
(4) In v14 how many people go to heaven?
(5) Where do most go (many vs. few)?
(B3) Luke 9:23-24 "(23) 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 v24 how hard are we to work to enter God's Kingdom?
(2) In v24 how many will fail to enter heaven?
(B4) In the next 3 paragraphs Jesus explains the 3 requirements to taking the difficult road to heaven.
(C2) #1 Keep Following ONLY Jesus' Teachings
(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) In v15 what are we to do?
(2) In v15 why are we to beware of them?
(3) In v16 How can we recognize false prophets (teachers)?
(4) In v19 what will happen to those who do not produce good fruit (actions)?
(5) False prophets live the wrong way, teach the wrong way to live and the wrong way to enter 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, how they live, and their influence on others).
(C4) Nothing Can Be Added to the Gospel (Good News): 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) Does "once for all time" mean that the Gospel given in the New Testament is COMPLETE and that it will not be replaced or added to "for all time"?
(2) 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?
(3) 2 John 9 "Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. " CSB What does this verse teach?
(C5) Must Keep Believing ONLY the Gospel: 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? What will confirm our salvation?
(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." In Romans 11:22 what does salvation require?
(4) Hebrews 3:14 "We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end." NIV What does this verse teach?
(D1) #2 Keep Serving ONLY Jesus as Lord
(D2) Matthew 7:21-23 "(21) Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. (22) On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ (23) But I (Jesus) will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws."
(1) In v21 is calling Jesus ‘Lord’ enough to enter the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (heaven)?
(2) In v21 who are the ONLY ones going to heaven?
(3) In v23 who decides if we go to heaven?
(4) In v23 what did Jesus say to those who broke God’s laws?
(5) From ESV Study Bible "An oral confession of Jesus as Lord does not always indicate a repentant heart." True repentance includes making Jesus one's real Lord and Master.
(6) From CSB Study Bible "True disciples affirm Jesus’s lordship, submit to his authority, and obey his commands. Jesus insisted that a person is confirmed as a true disciple not by prophecy, exorcism, or working miracles but by living a transformed life made possible by God. The disobedient lifestyles of lawbreakers are inconsistent with genuine discipleship. Jesus’s words, I never knew you, show that these were never truly disciples." What do you think abut this quote?
(7) So, what is the 2nd key to going to heaven?
(D3) What it means to call Jesus Lord - Mark 8:34-37 "If any of you wants to be my follower, you MUST give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake AND for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?"
(1) In v34 what 3 things MUST we do if we don't want to lose our souls (go to hell)?
(2) In v34 can ANYONE, regardless of what they have done in the past, become a follower of Jesus if they give themselves to doing these 3 things? This is why Jesus’s message is called "Good News". It's available to anyone regardless of what they have done in their past. Session 2 is all about this "Good News".
(3) Do you think that to "Take up our cross" includes us being open about being a Christian even if people will think less of us or persecute us?
(4) Does "follow me" include following his example and his teachings?
(5) In v35 how are these 3 requirements in v34 summarized?
(6) In v35 who and what must we give up our lives for?
(7) From Believer's Bible Commentary: "There is always the temptation to save our life-to live comfortably, to provide for the future, to make one’s own choices, with self as the center of everything. There is no surer way of losing one’s life. Christ calls us to pour out our lives for His sake and the gospel’s, dedicating ourselves to Him spirit, soul, and body. He asks us to spend and be spent in His holy service, laying down our lives, if necessary, for the evangelization of the world. That is what is meant by losing our lives. There is no surer way of saving them." Which sentence impacted you the most?
(8) In v35 and v36 what does Jesus say will happen to us if we don’t spend our lives SERVING Jesus and SERVING the spreading of the Good News?
(9) Is this surrender and serving Jesus in Mark 8:34-37 a good summary of what it means to call Jesus Lord in Matthew 7:21?
(E1) #3 Learn and Obey All Of Jesus' Teachings
(E2) Matthew 7:24-27 "Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. (25) Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. (26) But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. (27) When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash."
(1) In v24 if we don't want our house to collapse what must we do to build it on the solid rock?
(2) From CSB Study Bible "The adjectives wise and foolish describe a person’s spiritual and moral state, not his intellect ... the storm that destroys the house on the sand is a picture of divine judgment. Hence, the person who hears and acts on Jesus’s teaching is prepared for judgment. The one who hears but doesn’t act on Jesus’s words will be destroyed in the storm of judgment." What does the storm represent?
(3) Is Jesus telling us how to avoid having Jesus tell us Matthew 7:23? "I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws."
(4) From The Gospel of Matthew by R. T. France pg 296: "... has left Jesus' hearers with a simple but demanding choice: to hear and ignore, or to hear and put into practice. It is a make-or-break choice with eternal consequences. And as we noted in v21, it is Jesus himself who is the key to this choice; it is his words (and not, as one might have expected, God's words) which must be done. Indeed, to do Jesus' words here seems to be the equivalent of "doing the will of my Father in heaven" in v21. To ignore his words, therefore, will result in total spiritual disaster." What happens to those who hear but do not put Jesus' words into practice?
(E3) How to have God's word change us - James 1:22, 25 "But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. ... (25) But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do." NIV
(1) From ESV Study Bible "In James, the “law” and the “word” are two different ways of describing the same reality."
(2) From the MacArthur Bible Commentary on "that gives freedom": "Genuine freedom from sin"
(3) In v25 if we want to have our lives blessed by God what four actions must we do?
(4) How can one "look intently into the perfect law"?
(5) How can one do "continues in it"?
(6) How can one do "not forgetting"?
(7) Are you willing to crave out some time each day to do these four actions so your life will be characterized by being blessed?
(F2) From MacArthur Bible Commentary on Matthew 7:14: "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 [7:15-20], repentance [7:21-23], submission to Christ as Lord [7:21-23], and a willingness to obey His will and Word [7:24-27]." While salvation is by grace alone what does it call for?
(F3) Proof of salvation - three quotes from John MacArthur.
"(1) The proof of conversion is not a past event, or a past prayer, or past experience. It’s a present righteousness. Ah, it’s not perfection, but it’s direction.
(2) It’s what you do with the Jesus’ words that gives evidence of your spiritual condition. ... What is the evidence of true conversion? What is the evidence of true repentance? It is a life of obedience, submission to the lordship of Christ. It’s not a profession. It’s not empty words. It’s obedience. ...
(3) If you love the truth and you love to obey the truth, even though you fall short, those are the evidences of true conversion."
From John MacArthur’s Jan 18, 2009 sermon "Foundations of Grace, Part 2: The Lordship of Christ" on Matthew 7:13-27 LINK
(1) What do you want to remember the most from what John MacArthur said?
(2) From ESV Study Bible on Matthew 7:24 "The evidence of whether one is truly a believer is in whether one does the words of Jesus" What is the proof of being a true believer?
(1) What is Jesus' Warning?
(2) Many people today take the easy road of 'believing in Jesus' but refuse to take the difficult road Jesus commands in his 3 requirements.
(3) What are Jesus' 3 requirements to stay on the difficult and ONLY road to salvation?
#1 Keep Following ONLY Jesus' Teachings
#2 Submit ONLY to Jesus
#3 Obey All Of Jesus' Teachings
(4) Who needs to hear this? Can you teach them this week?
(5) Do you want to do Jesus' third requirement (learn and obey all of Jesus' teachings) by studying the next session for next week?
(F5) Return to the Table of Contents