Setting

As a conclusion to His teachings on the mount, the Lord used three analogies with sharp contrasts to show who will be able to enter and stand firm in God’s kingdom.

Key Verse

(7:21)

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Outline

General Analysis

  • 1a.

    Record the contrasts in this passage.Record the contrasts in this passage.

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    Narrow/wide gate; small/broad road; destruction/life; many/few; sheep/wolves; grapes/thornbushes; figs/thistles; good/bad; say/do; wise/foolish; rock/sand; did not fall/great was its fall.

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  • 1b.

    What is the purpose of such contrasts?

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    These contrasts emphasize the truth that there is a definite criterion for entrance into God’s kingdom. The contrasts also bring to our attention the drastically different endings of the two types of followers of Christ.

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  • 2.

    What key concept lies behind all three analogies?

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    It is those who abide by God’s will, not those who claim to know God, who are in the kingdom of heaven.

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Segment Analysis

  • 7:13-14

    1a.

    Define the narrow and wide gates.

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    Verse 14 says that the road that leads to life is difficult. While obeying our desires (the wide gate and broad way) is much easier, following Christ and God’s will is often harsh and restrictive (the narrow gate and difficult way). Being in God’s kingdom involves suffering for righteousness’ sake and enduring persecution (5:10-12,44; 10:16-39; 24:4- 13; Acts 14:22).

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  • 1b.

    How can we find and enter through the narrow gate?

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    Having found the one true church of salvation, we need to accept the truth and determine to obey God’s will all our lives. We must follow Christ regardless of the cost, be it self-denial, persecution, restrictions, or hardships.

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  • 7:15-23

    2.

    What truths can we learn from verses 15 through 23?

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    We can recognize whether a prophet is from God by observing whether he truly practices God’s words.
    Confessing Christ does not guarantee our place in God’s kingdom.
    Having divine gifts does not necessarily mean that God is pleased with us.
    Doing God’s will is of upmost importance.

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  • 3.

    How can we apply the analogy of tree and fruit to ourselves?

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    In order to bear good fruits through our good deeds, we need to first be “good trees.” This means that we need to examine ourselves spiritually and make sure that we have good motives and are receptive of God’s word (Prov 4:23; Mt 12:33-35, 13:23).

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  • 4.

    What is the meaning of “I never knew you”?

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    The knowing here is more than mere recognition, but an intimate knowledge of someone. The Bible uses such language to refer to God’s closeness to those He loves (Deut 34:10; 1Cor 8:3). By the same token, Christ would also say to those that displease him, “I do not know you” (25:12; Lk 13:25, 27).

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  • 5a.

    Why did the Lord say that these people “practiced lawlessness” when they have done so much for God?

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    On the surface, these people were zealously serving God, but God was not pleased with them. To God, rebellion and disobedience is as evil as witchcraft and idolatry (1Sam 15:23).

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  • 5b.

    What can we learn from this about our priorities when serving God?

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    While it is important to accomplish much for God, we need to examine ourselves constantly to see if our thoughts, speech, attitude, motive, and deeds are pleasing to God (see 1Cor 9:27; 1Tim 4:16). We cannot use divine gifts as a measure of our standing before God because they are given to accomplish God’s work rather than to serve as a sign of a person’s closeness with God. Instead of putting our confidence in divine gifts, we must be obedient in every aspect of our lives in order to be acceptable.

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  • 7:24-27

    6.

    What do the beating of the rain, the flood, and the winds refer to?

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    They could refer to any form of test that may come to a believer, including persecution (13:21), cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches (13:22), and trial from God (1Cor 3:13).

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  • 7.

    Why is it so important to put what we have heard into practice?

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    An intellectual understanding of God’s word without diligence and self- discipline cannot help us in times of trial. Spiritual maturity comes by constant training (Heb 5:14). It is also in living out God’s word that we and others around us can experience God’s power and blessings (Jas 1:22-25, 2:14-17).

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  • 7:28-29

    8.

    How was Jesus’ teaching authoritative?

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    The Lord often referred to Himself as the authority behind His teachings with the words “I tell you….” He also calls the heavenly Father “my Father” (7:21). Not only so, He claims that obedience to His words is necessary for entering God’s kingdom.
    Jesus’ words also carried divine power because God was with Him and worked with Him through the Spirit (Lk 4:18; Acts 10:38).

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  • 9.

    Final Thoughts: Review the teachings on the mount and list some changes you plan to make in your life.

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