As the discussion progresses you’ll see why it was shortened.
The text from which we’ll launch this article is one of the more famous statements of the Lord:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
All of us I hope have the ultimate goal in mind to make it to Heaven, and although that sounds like a no-brainer think about this: I’m certain none of us have as a goal, the goal to make it to hell, but just because you’re not actively trying to get to hell doesn’t mean you ARE actively trying to get to Heaven.
And we should be; we should be doing everything we can to make sure we end up in Heaven. But that’s usually not the case is it? There are so many people–the MAJORITY of people, in fact (the Lord said so in the previous quote)–who are on a path that will lead to eternal separation from God and an eternity in the horrible fires of the devil’s hell.
They’re on their way without even a second’s consideration about it.
I’m not talking about the worst of our society (the murders, the rapists, the thieves, etc), but just everyday people who just casually make the wrong decisions, spiritually speaking. I’m talking about people making the decisions that are EASY, perhaps. Those decisions will end with them being lost forever.
Before we get to our points, I want us to consider what is at stake.
First, consider Heaven:
…an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:4
This is what we’re aiming for, an inheritance reserved in Heaven. It is incorruptible (it won’t decay over time), undefiled (it is perfect from the moment you receive it), and fades not away (there’s no expiration date; it won’t be taken away from you while you’re still enjoying it).
That’s our goal, to receive that inheritance.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
What is at stake?
The tree of life (the object first placed in the garden, which granted eternal life to Adam and Eve and now resides in Heaven) is at stake.
The gates into the city (the spiritual city and the final resting place of the church) is at stake.
For all those who do his commandments, nothing less than Heaven itself is available.
But also, consider hell: It’s not a pleasant subject but it is a real place.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Don’t fear someone who can take your life on this earth. This life, on this earth is nothing. It’s temporary. Instead, Jesus says we should be concerned about the next life, the one that lasts forever. If we make the wrong choices it could mean the destruction of our body AND our soul in hell.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The book of our life, John speaks of, is the book that will be opened at the Judgment. If Hell is our destination,we’re going to know exactly WHY hell is our destination. All of the wrong that we did will be laid out before us and then we will be sentenced to our punishment…our eternal punishment.
One of these destinations will be ours (heaven, or hell) and where we end up is based, in a lot of ways, on how we relate to the points we’re going to consider in this article (one here and one next Monday).
So now that we understand what is at stake and now that we all agree that we need to aim for Heaven, let’s consider the question: WHAT IS THE EASY WAY TO MISS HEAVEN AND LAND IN HELL?
There are three we’re going to notice in this article (three more next Monday).
First of all, the easiest way to miss heaven and land in hell, a.k.a. The easy way in, comes by…
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
These words are the result of Jesus trying to get his disciples to be more spiritually minded. They had asked the Lord about food, and He said, I have a food that you don’t know about. They are thinking physically. They’re thinking “Oh you’ve got some food that we don’t know about? Well who gave it to you?”
Jesus, as He often had to do, corrected them. “No no, not physical food…My meat comes from doing what God asks Me to do.” Then Jesus carries that into a comment about not procrastinating (which I would define as “indifference” wouldn’t you?).
If you don’t care about something, you’re more inclined to say “I’ll do it later” right? When wife says to me “Come to the kitchen, I need you to help me clean” I’m more inclined to say, “just a minute.” Whereas if she says, “come to the kitchen, I’ve baked you a cake” well then I’m jumping up and in the kitchen before she finishes her sentence.
So what Jesus is talking about really does all fit together, even though at first it may not seem like it. He moves from talking about “doing God’s will” to “don’t be spiritually indifferent.”
We’re supposed to WANT to do God’s Will, and if we WANT to do God’s Will we will look out and see there’s work to be done. As He says, the fields are white with harvest (referring in the physical sense to the wheat fields, how they would turn white when it was time for harvest). The disciples could look out and see the fields and say “not ready yet.” But Jesus said look at the spiritual fields, they are white and ready. He that WORKS will receive a reward, Jesus says.
Well what if we DON’T work? What if we are indifferent? What if we don’t CARE that the fields are ready? Then we won’t receive a reward; we’ll receive punishment.
That’s indifference. It’s a sure-fire easy way to miss Heaven and land in Hell.
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
The author starts in v1 talking about how Christians should fear (literally, “be wary”) so that the promise of Heaven (the rest) is no lost. He warns his brethren not to come short of that Heavenly hope.
Then he talks about those who reject the message of the Gospel, because those who heard the word but did not mix their hearing with faith. In other words they did not put their faith into action. They got lazy.
Paul tells us that if we work for the Lord NOW, we’ll get a rest later (the eternal rest of Heaven). But if we rest now (i.e. inactivity) then we’ll receive an eternal punishment.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Notice the language here: He speaks of coming together; in fact those are the words he uses (let us “DRAW NEAR” to each other). He says “lets hold fast the PROFESSION of our faith without wavering.”
Now we’re taking about “inactivity.” Notice how Paul calls Christianity a PROFESSION. The word does not mean “to profess something.” It’s not that kind of a profession. This is the other kind of profession. This is the “job” of our faith. Now that’s not to make Christianity out to be a mundane, 9-to-5 thing. It’s not a life that you, ho-hum, have to do. It’s a profession in that it takes work and effort (the opposite of inactivity).
Then he says lets encourage one another, and provoke one another unto love and good works. Why? Because we’re not supposed to be inactive; we’re supposed to exhort one another and encourage one another to keep working, and to keep giving effort. Why? So that, as was said in the previous verses, we can lay down our troubles and rest with God.
Until then, the worst thing we can do is be inactive. That’s an easy way to miss Heaven and land in Hell.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
In the previous 2 points we dealt with the kind of person that does nothing, indifferent and inactive. This point is about doing SOMETHING, but the problem is doing something in the wrong way.
Notice v46 again: Jesus speaks to those who would call him Lord. They recognize His Deity, but despite the recognition of His God-hood they don’t follow His teaching. He compares them, in that famous illustration, to a man who builds his house on the sea shore vs. a man who builds his house of the rock. The one who listens to Jesus will build his house on the rock. Why? Because a rock is stable, secure, something you can have confidence in (like the words of Jesus).
On the other hand is the one who doesn’t listen to Jesus, and acts like he doesn’t heed His words. He then has to rely on something else (human opinion or his own reasoning). Those things are faulty; they are unstable foundations like the sand by the sea that is always changing with the tide.
The foolish man is insincere because the one who built his house on the sand knew that Jesus had good advice to offer. The other man only CLAIMED to respect Jesus as an advice giver. By not heeding to Jesus words’ he proved he was insincere in his claims. Instead of listening to Jesus, the foolish man just did what he wanted.
That’s an easy way to miss Heaven.
A lot of people give Jesus lip service, but when push comes to shove, they do whatever they want.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Jesus, speaking to his disciples, tells them about the Pharisee’s hypocrisy (a form of insincerity). He says they sit at Moses seat (they had authority as scribes and doctors of the law) so whatever they say to do (according to the law), His disciples should do it.
Then Jesus adds “but don’t observe the commands of the law just because they tell you to observe them; don’t obey them as though they are men of great character to be emulated. They’re not. They’re hypocrites.”
Have you ever heard someone say about another “he wouldn’t lift a finger to help me.” That’s what Jesus is saying of them here. They are insincere. They will order people around under the guise of helping them, but when people actually need help they offer no assistance.
They were the doctors of the law; they KNEW God’s word but they didn’t obey it. They claimed to follow God but would not obey Him. That’s how you get a one way ticket to hell. That’s the easy way to miss heaven: insincerity.
You just tell yourself you’re okay and never actually do what God says, and watch your insincerity condemn your soul forever.
Next week we’ll finish this article with three more “easy ways in” to consider.
have a great day!