Pastor Barry Robinson

Letters to the Camberwell Congregation from Pastor Barry Robinson

October 2007 - Matthew 7

October 2007 ‘There is no third way’

Sermons on Matthew Chapter 7

Dear Church Family,

If you were to read almost any magazine, tune into anyone of a dozen TV programmes, wander into any High Street bookshop, you will quickly discover that there are endless experts offering advice on life, and how to live it.

There are, it seems, as many legitimate lifestyle choices as there are experts selling their wisdom. In this post-modern age all you have to do is find out what's true for you, and the promise is that all be well with your life.

It’s strange then, that Jesus should be so uncompromising, for He says that there are only two ways to live. Whether you are young, old, male, female, rich, poor, black, white, trendy, traditional, clever, or simple - there are only two ways to live: one way leads to life, and one way leads to destruction.

It is, of course, the height of political incorrectness to suggest that only one way leads to life, and that the alternative leads to destruction. 'Tolerant from Tottenham' would choke on her muesli if she read that in her morning edition of the Guardian!

And yet Jesus, the 'friend of tax collectors and sinners', the one who hung out with the marginalized, whether they were the wealthy and corrupt, or the poor and downtrodden, whose ministry was so tirelessly inclusive, claims that there are but two gates, two roads, two destinations, two crowds, two trees and two foundations.

Actually, hundreds of years earlier Moses set a stark choice before Israel:

“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction… This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death…Now choose life” (Deut 30:15,19).

And now Jesus sets a stark choice before you and me - so that we might choose life, and that we might go on choosing life.

In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus says of the two gates that the narrow one few will find and the wide one many will enter through (Matt 7:13-14).

By the narrow gate, coming as it does here at the end of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus means:

  • Taking him and his teaching seriously;
  • Recognizing that you can only follow him on his terms, and not your own;
  • Leaving the main road, where everyone else is happily walking and choosing the lifestyle that suits them, and entering through the narrow gate that leads to life.

To most people the wide gate seems such an obvious choice. After all, living life without reference to Jesus Christ has the scholarly endorsement of secular academics such as Richard Dawkins, and the enthusiastic approval of sceptical journalists and a godless media.

It's what most people do, isn’t it? People just get on with living their lives without the slightest thought about Jesus, and the world continues to turn.

But what if Jesus is right? What if this remarkable man of history says it as it really is? What if there really are only two ways to live, a narrow gate or a wide gate, accepting Christ on his terms, or drifting towards destruction on my own? What if what He says is true? - "See I set before you life and death - now choose life."

Well at the conclusion to what is, without doubt, the greatest sermon ever given, we find that “…the crowds were amazed at his teaching” (Matt 7:28).

You couldn’t get a better preacher than this – No one before or since could hold a candle to Him.

But, of course, it's not enough to merely hear these words of Jesus and be amazed – We have to put them into practice as well. We can be moved, inspired, even challenged by Jesus' words, but the rubber hits the road when it comes to putting them into practice.

So in the coming series of sermons from Matthew 7 we’ll be looking at the two ways of life outlined by Jesus with a view to the practical application of His teaching.

There really are only two ways to live, there is no third way – So let’s study Jesus’ words together and choose life.

Leaving the main road, where everyone else is happily walking and choosing the lifestyle that suits them, and entering through the narrow gate that leads to life.

With love in Jesus’ name,

Barry Robinson

PS: Below is a schedule of sermons from Matthew chapter 7

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Sermons on Matthew Chapter 7

Series – ‘There is no third way’
Matthew 7

  1. ‘Two Roads’ (Matt 7:13-14)
  2. ‘Two Trees’ (Matt 7:15-20)
  3. ‘Two Foundations’ (Matt 7:21-29)

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