According to the latest polls there are over 2 billion people that consider themselves Christians worldwide. That is 1/3 of the world’s population. Of course the number hasn’t always been that high but with the number that high we must ask, why does God say only a few will find eternal life with him? Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life and only a few find it.…” Who are the few? How can 1/3 of the population be called a few?
There is a popular belief that if we say a prayer we will go to heaven but is that true? Doesn’t God’s word say something entirely different? While it’s true that we could be at the end of our life and be accepted into the kingdom by a sudden change of our hearts (Luke 23:43), the fact remains our hearts must change. Reciting words can be compared to circumcising the body. You can circumcise the body, an outward appearance of Godliness, and continue to do whatever you want to do. But Paul said in Galatians 5:6 that circumcision had no value and that “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” God doesn’t want words, He wants our hearts circumcised. If your hearts are circumcised, our lives will produce good fruit.
My children often say I love you to me and my wife after they have made bad choices. We often say, “I love you too but actions mean more than words. We don’t ask for perfection. We just want effort.” God is no different. He knows we can’t be perfect. He just wants effort because if our heart is right we will have effort. Words without effort are words in vain.
In Philippians Paul makes a bold statement that has recently led me to a greater understanding of what Jesus meant in Matthew 7. Philippians 3:18 “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” He goes on to say that even though those people called themselves Christians their minds were set on earthly things. Because their minds and hearts were not renewed, they would not inherit the Kingdom of God. When our minds are set on earthly things we are not being led by the spirit of God. When we are not being led by the spirit of God we are naked in His sight.
When God speaks to the church of Laodecia in Revelation, He urges believers to buy clothes from Him to cover their shameful nakedness. It is not coincidental that in Luke Chapter 8 a demon possessed man was wandering around naked. As soon as Jesus cast out the demons the man was again clothed. Our clothes in the physical world represent God’s covering over us because He gave us clothes in the garden when we realized we were naked. To take off our clothes means to walk away from Him and be led by our sinful nature.
When Jesus comes back again we must have our clothes on. Revelation 16:15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed." If we live for our sinful nature and live in the world for what we can get, we are not clothed in His spirit. 1 John 2:16 “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” If we are not led by His spirit we are not His children. Romans 8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”
What are God’s requirements for His free gift? He wants your heart. Going to church doesn’t make us right with God. Reading the Bible doesn’t make us right with God. Saying a prayer doesn’t make us right with God. To be made right with God we must act, we must turn, we must change. James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
In the Gospel of John Jesus says that if we believe in Him we are one with Him, we are in Him. But later He says something that should strike fear in us. While describing Himself as the vine He says believers are the branches. Because we are connected to the vine we can bear much fruit. But if we don’t bear fruit, we are not connected to Him and if we are not connected to Him, we will be discarded. John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit” How can a believer not bear fruit? When a believer allows their sinful nature to control their lives. We reap what we sow. We follow what controls us. Romans 6:16-17 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? We have to choose God will all our hearts.
Jesus is coming soon. Don’t believe the lie that you are ok because you said a prayer or because you were baptized. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? What is the test? Is your life full of the fruit of the sprit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Do you look forward to seeing God more than seeing your next vacation destination? Do you spend more time in the word and in prayer than watching tv? Do you get more excited about spending money on others than you do yourself? Are you more worried about pleasing God than impressing your friends?
2 chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Malachi 3:16-18 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”