Matthew 7, You Get To Choose

Matthew 7, You Get To Choose
1. Choose To Show People Grace With Humility (v1-6)
2. Choose To Pray Until You Receive Good From God (v7-12)
3. Choose To Search Carefully For The Right Way (v13-14)
4. Choose To Listen To Others With Discernment (v15-20)
5. Choose To Obey The Word Of God (v21-29)

Pastor Jerry Simmons teaching Matthew 7, You Get To Choose

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Jerry Simmons shared this Verse By Verse Bible study from Matthew on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 using the New King James Version (NKJV).

More Bible teachings by Jerry Simmons


Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:00:00]:

This evening as we look at Matthew chapter seven, this final passage of the Sermon on the Mount. It is a powerful and packed full chapter and we'll be working our way through it. And so maybe take a deep breath because we're going to get moving a little bit swiftly after the first point. You know how it is. Got to camp out on the first point for a while and then we'll zoom through the rest. But I've titled the message tonight here in Matthew chapter seven, you get to choose. You get to choose. It's an important thing.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:00:34]:

I think the Lord wants to remind us of this evening because so many times in life we feel so trapped. We feel so locked in to circumstances. We feel perhaps helpless in the situations that we face. We feel stuck in a position, stuck in a situation or a pattern. We might look back and think, it's always been this way. We're stuck here. It's never going to change. Maybe we might be thinking about inherited traits from our family or our nationality or our gender, and we just be thinking, that's how it is.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:01:14]:

This is how I am. This is how it's always going to be. And we can feel trapped, locked in, stuck. But the Lord wants to remind us this evening, we get to choose. You have the power of choice. And sometimes we forget how powerful this opportunity is. Sure, there are plenty of things that we cannot change that are out of our realm of ability to change. But there is also so many areas that you get to make meaningful choices that dramatically shape the course of your life and the experiences that you have, you get to choose.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:02:04]:

So we're going to look at five things that you get to choose tonight here in Matthew chapter seven. Five things to remind us to make good choices and to make dramatic impacts in the life that God has set before us. The first thing I want to ask you to consider, you get to choose the measurement of judgment that you will face. You ever thought about that? You get to choose when you stand before God, what kind of measurement will he use in that day of judgment? Well, here the Lord tells us you get to choose that you get to have a say and influence in the measurement that you will be held against when you stand before the Lord one day. And so in light of that, here's point number one, choose to show people grace with humility because you get to choose the measurement of judgment that you'll face. Here, I would encourage you choose to show people grace with humility. Jumping into verse one and two, it says, judge not that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:03:28]:

And with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Here, Jesus instructs us not to judge this word judge. It means to make a decision, to choose something, whether it's evil or good. The Greek scholar Spyro Zodiades puts it this way it means to form or give an opinion after separating and considering the particulars of a case. To form an opinion after considering the particulars of the case. Now, when it comes to people, here's the real deal. We don't have the particulars of the case. So when Jesus instructs us not to judge, it is largely due to the fact that we don't have the insight that we need.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:04:25]:

We're not capable of accurate judgment because we don't know the particulars of the case. We cannot discern hearts, we cannot discern motives, we cannot discern thoughts, we cannot discern intentions of ourselves, much less others around us. And so Jesus says, judge not because you don't have the capacity to make a real conclusion or decision about that person or that situation. Judge not that you be not judged, he says. Now, he goes on in the next verse to say, we will be judged, so we will be judged regardless. He's not saying, judge not, and then you won't be judged, and you won't have that day of standing before God. You will be judged that once and for all you'll stand before the Lord. But in preparation for that, you get to have a say in how that judgment goes and what measurements the Lord will use in regards to you and to your life.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:05:43]:

Again, we don't know hearts and motives and thoughts and intentions. And another aspect of this that we need to consider when it comes to the idea of not judging is we also don't always know the personal convictions or things that the Lord has spoken to an individual. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 14, talks about our Christian liberties, and he works in judgment in light of that. And he says, look, some are free to do this and some are free to do that. And you're not to judge each other. Who are you to judge somebody else's servant to his own master, he stands or falls. And so judge not. We're not capable.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:06:25]:

We don't have all of the information to make a real conclusion about a situation, what the Lord has spoken personally. We don't know hearts and motives and intentions. We don't know what's going on behind the scenes. And so we need to be careful not to make a firm conclusion to decide a case when we don't have all of the information. The apostle Paul puts it this way in one Corinthians, chapter four, he said with me, it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself, for I know of nothing against myself, yet I'm not justified by this. But he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, judge nothing before the time until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:07:19]:

Then each one's praise will come from God. The Day of Judgment is called the Day of Judgment because it is the Day of judgment. That's the day when things will be judged and the revelation of all things will be brought forth and there will be clear facts to make a decision on. But until that day, Paul says, I don't even judge myself, even though he says, I don't know of anything against myself, but I don't consider myself righteous just because I can't think of any sins that I'm committing. The Lord knows that he who judges me is the Lord. That's his domain, that's his responsibility. And so I'm reserving judgment until the Lord comes and brings all things to light. But there Paul is making the point, we will stand before the Lord and there will be a judgment.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:08:17]:

And here the point Jesus goes on to make, is that you get to influence how that judgment goes. Look again at verse two for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. There will be that day where you stand before the Lord. I don't know how often you think about that. How do you picture, do you, at the end of the day, picture standing before the Lord and recounting to Him the events of the day and the words that you chose and the course that you took and the decisions that you made and the way that you handled things? This is the reality. We will stand before the Lord and give account. In two Corinthians, chapter five, verse ten, paul says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:09:09]:

All of us. He's writing to the church. We Church will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each 1 may receive the things done in the Body according to what he has done, whether good or bad, judgment for sin that was handled at the cross, right? We're not talking about the White Throne judgment, but there is a judgment and we will stand before God and there will be an evaluation of what we did and how we lived according to what he has done. Paul says we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And on that day, the judgment with which you judged is the judgment informs the measurement by which the Lord will be judging you. So think about it, that you get to influence how strictly you will be judged. If you are seriously lacking mercy and grace for others, then you are saying, God, I give you license to show me little mercy and grace. If you are showing humility and grace to others, then you are giving license to God.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:10:26]:

Lord, show me grace. The measurement that you use, the way that you handle these situations, influences the way that the Lord will judge you. Are we sure that's what it means? Can it really mean that in John chapter nine, you remember Jesus healing the blind man, and there was the back and forth that went on and concerns and confusions and all of that. And as Jesus met with the blind man at the end, he explains to him, for judgment I have come into the world. John chapter nine, verse 39, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind. Then some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words and said to him, are we blind also? Jesus said to them, if you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, we see, therefore your sin remains because the Pharisees insisted, no, we know what's right. We do see.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:11:29]:

We know right from wrong. We know what God wants. We know his will. Because you insist that you know God when you don't. Jesus says your sin remains if you were ignorant. If you were blind, that would be a different story. But because of your response and reaction to the light of God, well, you're going to be held accountable to that. Or think about the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew chapter 18, where the servant was forgiven this great debt, but then goes out and finds the servant who owes him a little debt and shakes him, and grabs him by the neck and says, Pay me what you owe me, and throws him in prison because he didn't have the money.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:12:14]:

And Jesus tells that parable, saying, that's what my heavenly Father will do to each of you if you do not from your heart forgive your brother his trespasses. And so if you're harsh and critical and unforgiving of others, then you can expect the Lord to be harsh and critical and unforgiving of you. If you're gracious and merciful and show humility, then you can expect the Lord to be gracious and merciful unto you as well. Jesus goes on in verse three and four and he says, why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, let me remove the speck from your eye and look, a plank is in your own eye? Jesus here starts to illustrate this a little bit. The issue with us judging is that so many times we completely miss our own failures and issues in evaluating others, and we can see that little speck in somebody else's eye, but we're completely blind and ignorant to the beam that is in our eye. This is a great passage to illustrate and remind us that Jesus has a little bit of a sense of humor. This is a comical picture that he's painting here, right? He's causing us to chuckle a little bit to the speck and the beam and it's a little bit funny, and yet at the same time we know exactly what he's talking about. We know this for real.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:13:54]:

It hurts a little bit because we've seen the specs and then later realized the beams that we have in our own eye. Again, Paul said, I know of nothing against myself one corinthians four four. But that doesn't justify me. He who judges me is the Lord. Just because I can't see the beam in my eye doesn't mean I'm right with God. That doesn't mean I'm right where I need to be. That's the Lord's domain, and he needs to reveal the beams in our eyes. Classic example of this in the Old Testament is King David.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:14:35]:

After he had sinned with Bathsheba and then killed off her husband in order to try to cover up the affair, the child that was on its way seems like he gets away with it for a time. And then the Lord sends Nathan to David. This is found in Two Samuel, chapter twelve. Nathan comes and delivers this parable to him of a poor man who lived next door to a rich man. The poor man just had one sheep. It was like a family pet to him. The rich man had flocks and flocks and flocks. But when a guest came to the rich man's house, he stole the poor man's sheep.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:15:17]:

Instead of relying upon or pulling from his abundant flock, he stole this other guy's sheep and slaughtered that to feed to the traveler that came through. And it tells us in verse five of Two Samuel Twelve that David's anger was greatly aroused. And he said to Nathan, as the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die. He saw the speck in this fabled rich man's eye. He didn't know it was a fable at that point, but he saw the speck in his eye not recognizing the beam in his own eye. He overreacts, he's livid, he's angry. He's calling for the death penalty for the stealing of a sheep. And then the Lord, through Nathan, says, David, you are the man that parable was about you.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:16:09]:

You're that guy. You had abundance and you stole this other guy's one sheep, his wife Bathsheba. And the Lord walks through this. It's pretty heavy when you walk through it. God tells him, look, I anointed you king. I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more, David.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:16:43]:

I've given you so much and more and more and more, and I would have even given you more. Why have you despised the commandments of the Lord? You have this beam in your eye. And so evaluating this other guy, you're not fair, you're not balanced, you're not seeing as the Lord sees you're not equipped to help him with the speck in his own eye. Verse five. Hypocrite, first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Hypocrites. You are trying to execute a cleansing when your hands are filthy. I was watching Chopped Canada.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:17:37]:

If you're ever bored and you want to relax for a little bit, it's a good mind numbing show to watch. They were giving this lady a hard time because she had done some breaded meat stuff and then took her hands that were all covered in the breaded stuff that she was just doing with the meat, and there was eggs in there and everything, right? And so her hands are all covered in this. And then she goes and she tosses a salad with her fingers. That's what we can be like trying to clean out that speck, but our hands are filthy. Now, Jesus is not saying that we can never help others with specks in their eyes. He says, first remove the plank from your own eye. This is where the humility comes in. First, humble yourself and let the Lord judge you and cleanse you.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:18:26]:

Let there be that work that takes place, and then you can help others. And if you don't cleanse yourself, you can't help others. Pastor Warren wearsby says it this way. He says, when we do not judge ourselves, we not only hurt ourselves, but we also hurt those to whom we could minister. The Pharisees judge and criticize others to make themselves look good. But Christians should judge themselves so that they could help others look good. There is a difference. There's a difference.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:18:58]:

The religious leaders were great at judging and bringing things to light, but it wasn't to help the people that they were exposing, but believers. We judge ourselves so that we are then able to be effective and helpful to those that God has placed around us. Verse six. Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you in pieces. Now, again, here, it's important keep the context here. We often look at this verse and just like, lock it in with this is the Gospel and talking about evangelism and that kind of stuff, but it applies but also it applies to what Jesus is talking about here. As we talk about showing grace and mercy, the Lord here is also saying, but also use wisdom. It's not indiscriminate grace, it's not indiscriminate mercy.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:20:10]:

Don't give what is holy to the dogs. And when I was thinking about the dogs, I was thinking about Samoa. You guys remember the dogs in Samoa? When the Lord's talking about dogs, he's not talking about Maui, not the island, but little six pound Maui, little pet dogs that we know. He's not talking about that kind of dog. He's talking about wild dogs. And there was an occasion, like in Samoa, the dogs are wild and like literally wild. And I know it's exaggerated, I know it can't be what really happened, but a pack of wild dogs chased us while we were at this location in Samoa, and we all had to run for our lives and dive. Into the truck while it was driving away and just barely missing getting bit at the tip of our heels by the dogs that were chasing us.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:21:03]:

I know it's a little bit exaggerated, but it's not much exaggerated. Like dogs, they're crazy. And in Jesus'day, they didn't have pet dogs like we have. They had wild dogs. Jesus is saying, look, don't give what is holy to the wild dogs or the wild pigs. Don't go out there with pearls before the swine. There is room for discernment and discretion, that we show grace, that we show mercy in humility, but that also we are careful to be discerning on when that's appropriate and when it is not. There are times for us to be firm, there are times for us to hold our ground, there are times for us to hold on to things and there are times for us the majority of the time is to be gracious and merciful.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:21:57]:

Pastor David Guzik puts it this way jesus said this to call us to discernment and to encourage us to look for prepared hearts that are ready to receive. When we find such open hearts, we can trust that God has already been working upon them. And so there's opportunity for us to show that grace and that mercy, because there is the openness to receive. Look for those prepared hearts that are ready to receive. You get to choose the measurements of judgment that you will face. You're not a victim of your circumstances, you're not stuck or doomed. There's lots of things you cannot change in life, but you get to change when you stand before God. He will measure you according to the way that you measured others.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:22:48]:

He will judge you and bring judgment into your life according to the way that you judged others, evaluated others. He will show grace and mercy. He will show forgiveness according to the way that you showed grace and mercy and forgiveness now in a much more advanced and perfect way. That's how the Lord will be. Of course, the more that we can show grace with humility and represent God well to those around us, the better it will be when we stand before Him. And God gets to be true to his nature and character and show us grace and mercy abundantly on that day. Moving on to verses seven through twelve, I would ask you now to consider you get to choose the amount of answered prayer that you receive. Think about that.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:23:42]:

You get to choose the amount of answered prayer that you receive. And in light of that, point number two, choose to pray until you receive good from God. Verse seven and eight says, ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Here, Jesus gives this instruction to ask, to seek, and to knock. There's a bit of a progression there to ask, okay, not answered, not received, okay, seek, okay, a little bit more intense now.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:24:32]:

Seek, okay, still not finding it. Start knocking. There's this intensity that increases ask and seek and knock, and there's a promise attached to it. He says, Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks, finds, and whoever's knocking it will be opened to him. Now, we can read that and we can wrestle with that a little bit because we could probably think of times where we've asked and not received. And maybe you can think of times where you've sought and not found or knocked and didn't seem like anything opened. But one of the things to understand about this is that the Lord is not instructing us to ask one time or twice, but that this instruction, this command is given literally, these verbs here are in the present tense, which is important because it could be understood and translated, that it's an ongoing thing.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:25:35]:

So the new Living translation puts it this way keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks, finds, and everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. That it's not a one time thing or a twice or thrice kind of thing, but it's an ongoing, continual asking, seeking and knocking, which makes sense because God desires a continuous, ongoing relationship with us. And so the instruction here is to not just pop in and say, hey, can I have a favor? Thanks, I'll see you later. But the instruction here is to be perpetually, continually asking and seeking and knocking.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:26:26]:

And as we do that, the Lord says, here's the promise. Everyone who asks receives. Now, there's some things that we ask God for that we do not receive because they're not good. And in those cases, if you keep on asking for those things that are not good for you, I would suggest God will instruct you to stop praying for them. It's not good for you. Stop praying for that. Like he spoke to Paul in two Corinthians chapter twelve, when he wanted that thorn in his flesh to be removed from him. He's like, I prayed three times, three seasons of prayer about this.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:27:08]:

I was really asking God, seeking, God knocking, lord, please can you take this from me? And the Lord said, stop praying for that. My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness. And so we stop praying when God instructs us to stop praying because the thing that we persistently pray for is not good for us. Are you praying for anything? Is there something just a weight of burden? It's you're waiting, you're hoping, you're praying, you're seeking, you're knocking. Keep on doing that, but also allow the Lord to instruct you to stop. If he decides this isn't good for you, then, well, you need to let Him tell you that even though you want it so badly and you are desperate for it, stop. If he tells you to stop.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:27:59]:

If it's not good for you, then you don't want it anyways. Some things we don't receive because we stop praying too soon. And that's the idea here. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. And we can think about times where I asked and did not receive. But perhaps part of the issue was it's good for us, but we stopped asking before we received it and so we didn't receive it because we stopped asking too soon. This is something the Lord instructs us in multiple times. He gave another example in Luke chapter 18, speaking of parable, and it tells us specifically the purpose of the parable.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:28:47]:

Here's what we're supposed to learn men ought always to pray and not lose heart. This is what God desires, this is what God intends that we ought always to pray ongoing, keep on seeking, keep on asking, keep on knocking, and to not lose heart. Why would you lose heart? Because you're asking and asking and asking and not seeing the response. You're not seeing the results. You're seeking, seeking, seeking, knocking, knocking, knocking, and not seeing it. But Jesus says that's normal, don't lose heart. He's not in the business of just instantly providing every desire and wish that we have. He's in the business of doing what's good for us and it's a process that takes time.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:29:36]:

So keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, don't lose heart. And he gives this parable to make that point, making the statement that God will avenge Speedily in the lives of his saints or who are calling out to Him. But then it's interesting at the end of this passage in verse 18 of Luke 18, he says, I tell you, he will avenge them speedily talking about God. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he really find faith on the earth? Here's the contrast god's going to be faithful to answer and to work and to do good at the same time. Nevertheless, will there be anyone who has kept on seeking and kept on asking and kept on knocking? God is faithful even when we are faithless. There's no risk of God not coming through, but there is a real risk of men giving up. And so I would ask you to consider, have you stopped praying for anything? Did you stop too soon? Maybe you need to pick that prayer up again and keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. Jesus goes on to illustrate it.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:30:48]:

In verses nine through eleven, he says, or what man is there among you who if his Son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father, who is in heaven, give good things to those who ask Him? Imperfect parents know how to give good gifts and don't give stones to hungry children. So how much more? God is perfect. He is good. He's not fallen like you or your spouse. If you ask God who is good, you're his child and he loves you. He's going to do good things and give good things to those who ask Him. Again, it's not an instant promise. The promise applies instantly.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:31:55]:

But the promise is not fulfilled instantly. But you can rest assured if it's good for you. God is eager to bring it to pass. He's not reluctant to do good in your life. He is eager to do good in your life. James tells us every good and perfect gift is from God. He wants to do good. So keep praying, keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:32:25]:

Then verse twelve, therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. Now again, this is one a lot of times we just pull it out. We just, okay, let's just talk about verse twelve. That's all we're going to talk about, the Golden Rule. But notice the word therefore. Therefore, look, God wants to do good in your life, so keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. Because God is going to do good in your life.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:32:48]:

Therefore, you turn around and treat others that way and do good for them. Just like you want God to do good for you. You turn around and do good for others. You get to choose the amount of answered prayer you receive. And sometimes you'll come to the conclusion, I've been asking, seeking and knocking, and Lord, I believe you. This isn't good. I don't want this answered anymore. Don't answer this prayer.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:33:19]:

It's not good. I believe you. So I'm going to stop praying for it. Some of the prayers that we pray are not answered because, well, we just stopped too soon. Keep on seeking, keep on knocking. You get to choose. Choose to pray until you receive from God. Moving on to verses 13 and 14, we get point number three and choose to search carefully for the right way.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:33:52]:

Here's the thing to consider. You get to choose whether or not you walk in the path of life or the path of destruction. Again, sometimes we feel like victims of our circumstances and the course of our life is just whatever happened, it's all of. These things, all these factors that are external to us. But the Lord says you get to choose which path you're on. Life or destruction, that's your choice. Verse 13 and 14 says enter by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it. The Lord says enter by the narrow gate.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:34:44]:

He's contrasting two gates, a wide gate and a narrow gate. He's also contrasting two ways. There's two paths attached to these gates. The wide gate is attached to the broad way, the narrow gate is attached to the narrow way. And these have two different results. Two gates, two ways, two end results. This is what the Lord is asking us to consider. It's a picture he's painting for us.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:35:22]:

And there's a bit of a progression in this as well. As you approach this, first you have the gate, then as you pass through the gate, now you're on the way and then you reach the destination and experience the result. So there's the gate. The gate is not the end of it's, not the destination, it's the entrance, the gate's where you start. So start at the narrow gate, jesus says so that way then you'll be walking on the path of life and you'll experience the end result that God intends for you. Pastor Thomas Constable puts it this way entrance through the narrow gate onto the narrow path will eventually lead a person into the kingdom. The beginning of a life of discipleship. The gate and the process of discipleship the way are both restrictive and both involve rejection by others and persecution.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:36:26]:

There's a narrow selection. You have to choose the narrow weight. That's where you start. You don't walk down the Broadway and then all of a sudden at the end try to choose the narrow gate. That doesn't work that way. It starts way back here in the beginning of the journey. You start at the narrow gate so that you can walk the narrow way so that you can end up in the path of life or the kingdom of God. Enter by the narrow gate.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:36:55]:

We can consider this for our life. We can also consider this for every decision that we make, every new season that we walk into, every direction that we take in our lives. We need to understand there's going to be a difference. There's these two paths, they start at different places, they experience different things on the way and they end with different results. Choose to search carefully for the narrow gate. Understand the popular vote will not reveal which way leads to life. What's common, what's social norms will not reveal the way which leads to life. There's going to have to be some searching, some careful search to start down the path to understand the course that God has for us.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:37:57]:

There's an easy path to follow and many find it. And we can just all kind of commend each other and talk good to each other and try to encourage each other on the way. On the path of destruction, there's a way that seems right to a man, but the end result is death. The Proverbs tells us we need to find out what is the way of life that God intends. Isaiah, chapter 55 tells us to seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he's near. Let the wicked forsake his way, the broad one that's leading to destruction, and the unrighteous man, his thoughts, let him return to the Lord and he will have mercy on him and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:38:47]:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Here's why you have to search carefully for the right way, because God's ways are not my ways. And so I cannot calculate the narrow path, the narrow gate, I can't by calculation, by decoding some biblical passage, figure out on my own with my natural resources, the right way I can't, I can't get educated enough to figure out and to understand the right way, I can't guess the right way. That's not going to land me on the path after the narrow gate. Good intentions are not going to ensure that I'm on the narrow path. Having entered through the narrow gate, only way is to seek the Lord while he may be found, because his ways are higher than our ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth, it's infinitely higher, infinitely better, infinitely more wise. We can't figure it out, we can't calculate it, we can't come across it accidentally, we can't discern it by looking at what everybody else is doing. We have to seek the Lord while he is found.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:40:12]:

You get to choose. We can end up on a path of destruction, and again, we have all kinds of reasons why it's everybody else's fault that we've ended up in this destruction. But you get to choose. The Lord says no, doesn't work that way. You get to choose. You chose the narrow gate, you chose the broad gate. It's your choice. You're not a victim of your circumstances.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:40:40]:

You're not stuck or doomed. If you're on the Broadway, there's still time to get back to the narrow gate and start down the path of life. Sure, there's plenty of things that you cannot change, but this is an area where you can change. You get to choose to search carefully for the right way and experience the goodness and abundance and blessing that God wants to provide. Not saying that there's not going to be problems or difficulties jesus says here, it's difficult. The way is difficult, but it's the way of life. The end result is life. And you're going to get there only if you choose to seek the Lord while he may be found.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:41:24]:

Moving on to verses 15 through 20 for point number four. Here's the question to evaluate, or the thing to evaluate. You get to choose whether you receive from real or false prophets. False prophets are not forced upon you. You get to choose if you receive from false prophets or not, and so choose to listen. Here's point number four. Choose to listen to others with discernment. Choose to listen with discernment.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:41:58]:

Verse 15 through 17. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Here Jesus says, beware. Watch out. Beware of false prophets. Here he's stating, it's a clear fact.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:42:35]:

We need to understand there will be false prophets. You will encounter false prophets. Do you take that as a fact? Do you take that as an expectation? I'm going to encounter false prophets in my life? I mean, maybe you should take a moment and just look suspiciously at someone else around you, right? Like it's true. You will encounter false prophets. And so Jesus says you must beware false prophets don't come in open falsehood. They come in sheep's clothing. It's the wolf in sheep's clothing. That's what Jesus is talking about here.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:43:19]:

The wolf is disguising itself as a sheep. And so the wolf gets into the flock looking like a sheep, pretending like a sheep, so that he can take out the sheep and serve his own needs. Pastor Warren Wisby says Christians must exercise discernment, for not everyone is a sheep. Some people are dogs or hogs, and some are wolves in sheep's clothing. We are the Lord's sheep. But this does not mean we should let people pull the wool over our eyes. Don't let people don't let people you get to choose who you receive from. Don't let people pull the wool over your eyes.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:44:11]:

Listen, this is a sad truth, but there are false prophets. There are people that look like sheep, that sound like sheep, that smell like sheep, that talk like sheep, that worship like sheep, that teach like sheep, but they're wolves. That has always been the case, and that will always be the case until eternity. Jesus had to deal with these false prophets, false teachers, false leaders. Paul had to deal with them. Peter had to deal with them. Moses had to deal with them. Joshua had to deal with it.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:44:47]:

Go down the list. Jeremiah had to deal with them. False prophets throughout history, pretending, speaking the language, representing the Lord, at least in their words, and in a facade, but fake and false. Paul, speaking to the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20, says, after I'm out of here, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And then also from among yourselves, men will rise up amongst our own group, guys, men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves, pointing people to themselves. Paul says, I warned you about this night and day for years. Beware watch out. Accept the reality.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:45:40]:

This is the case. So what are we to do about this? Well, Jesus says, going back to verse one, judge not. At the same time he's saying, use discernment. So it's often been said we're not to judge, but we are to inspect fruit. Verse 16 you will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:46:17]:

Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. You will know them by their fruits. Jesus says he's not saying, evaluate their motives, evaluate their hearts, come to conclusions about what their intentions are. He's saying, look at the results of their life, of their doctrine. What's the fruit look like? Is it the fruit of the spirit? Galatians, chapter five love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Is that the result of this person that you are listening to? Is that what flows out of them? Is that what flows out of the doctrine, the teaching, the things that they're bringing forth? Is it wisdom from above? James, chapter three contrasts wisdom of this world which results in bitter envy and self seeking. It's earthly, it's demonic, it's sensual. But the wisdom that's from above is pure, brings peace, it's gentle, it's willing to yield.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:47:25]:

It's full of mercy and good fruits without partiality and without hypocrisy. Jesus says, look at their life. Is there wisdom from above? Is there fruit of the Spirit? And listen with discernment. With discernment? Is not discerning what their heart is, what their intention is, what their motivations are, what their thoughts are? Discernment is. What's the end result of this? What does this produce in me? What does this produce in them? What does this produce in others as it is being brought forth? What is the result, the fruit of this? Pastor Tony Evans says, the lesson here is that you need to examine the evidence of a teacher's life and ministry. Is that person's teaching and doctrine consistent with God's word? Does his lifestyle display holiness and love for the Lord? If either answer is no, don't be deceived. Watch out for the counterfeit. Watch out for the counterfeit, because it happens.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:48:29]:

It exists. It's real. You may have not seen a counterfeit $100 bill at all in your life, but it's there, it exists. And you've probably encountered it and not realized it. In a similar way, you've probably encountered false prophets and maybe you understood it. Maybe you examined the fruit and saw it, or maybe you just walked in, received it without even realizing it's a reality. Choose to listen to others with discernment. The temptation is, okay, well, I'm not going to listen to anybody then.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:49:04]:

They might be a false prophet, but that's not what the Lord is saying. He's saying, Check out the fruit, check it with the Scriptures. Evaluate and use wisdom, use discernment. Well, finally, verses 21 through 29, here's the thing to ask or consider. You get to choose what kind of entrance you have into the kingdom of God. Did you know that? Do you think about that? An abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God, or a barely scraping by entrance into the Kingdom of God? That's your choice. You get to choose that. You might look at others and go, wow, they're going to have a glorious entrance.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:49:43]:

And poor old me, I have no hope of that. No, that's not true. You get to choose what kind of entrance you have and so choose to obey the word of God. That's point number five. Verse 21 says, not everyone who says to me, lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven, many will say to me in that day, lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness. Jesus says something pretty heavy here. There are going to be people there on that day who say, Lord, Lord.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:50:25]:

And Jesus says, I never knew you. False prophets stand before the Lord. All right, Lord, I'm ready for eternity. Take me into your kingdom. And Jesus will say, I never knew you. Not everyone who says, Lord, Lord. Saying the words is not enough. Saying the word, lord.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:50:45]:

Saying the word, master saying, yes, lord. I'm your slave. Saying the words your way and not my way, your will and not my will. Saying the words is not enough. To say, lord, Lord doesn't guarantee you entrance into the kingdom of heaven. But for that to be the reality where the Lord is your Master, where you are the Lord's slave, where you submit to the Lord and say your way, not my way. Jesus says in verse 22, many will say to me in that day, who that strikes a little bit of terror in the heart. Many.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:51:26]:

There's not going to be this rare occasion, those random three people throughout all history who were self deceived and thought they had entrance into the kingdom of God, and are surprised to find out that they don't. But many in that day and they're going to say, we prophesied in your name, we cast out demons in your name and done many wonders. But the Word says, I never knew you, you never knew me. This was all religion to you. It was all outward experience and show. It was not a real fellowship with the Father by faith in Jesus Christ. All of those things, prophecies and miracles and service, and it's all going to be tested by fire. Paul tells us in one corinthians.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:52:15]:

Chapter three, our work is going to be clear. It's going to be evaluated when we stand before the Lord. If it endures, it was real work for the Lord, then great, there's reward. But if it doesn't endure, he says we'll suffer loss. Be saved, but suffer loss. Here Jesus is saying there's some though the work started from a place of falsehood, there was no real connection to God. They're not even saved. There's some that are convinced.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:52:48]:

They say, Lord, Lord that are not actually saved, and they will be surprised on that day when they stand before the Lord. How could they do miracles and prophesy then? Well, we could understand looking at this. Maybe they're lying. They're saying Lord, Lord at the entrance, just hoping he is convinced, trying to pull the wool over his eyes, but that's not going to work. I would suggest often we give the instruments too much credit. It was nice to have Josh leading worship tonight, right? Beautiful. Awesome. Good job, Josh.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:53:21]:

Now he was playing his own guitar, but played it really well. If he played my guitar, he would play it much better than I play my. He could make my guitar sound way better than I can make it sound. Sometimes we give the instrument too much credit. Wow, the miracle happened. That guy must be holy. He must be anointed. You're looking at the instrument, that's not where you're here to focus.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:53:55]:

You might be saying, wow, that message really spoke to me, man. You're a really great teacher. More likely you're good at receiving from God. We have it backwards so many times we give people way too much credit. Remember in Acts chapter twelve, when the church was praying for Peter to be delivered from prison? Acts chapter twelve, verse five, the church was in constant prayer. And then when the Lord delivered him, they didn't believe it. They thought he was a ghost. They thought Roto was hearing things.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:54:29]:

It wasn't their great faith, their awesome prayer, it was the work of the Lord. Don't give the instrument too much credit. Verse 24 therefore, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock, how can we make sure we're not those who stand before the Lord and say, lord, Lord, let me in. I was a Christian, I went to church, I read the Bible, I prayed, I did miracles, I led worship I did all these things, how can we make sure we're not one of those surprised on that day? Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them therefore see the therefore here's how we ensure hear these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell, and great was its fall. Famous Parable building on the rock.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:55:42]:

Building on the sand. Not talking about whether a person hears both hear, but one takes it and lives it out and the other does not. Verse 28 and so it was when Jesus had ended these sayings that the people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes with authority. Jesus speaks this evening and says, you get to choose what kind of entrance you have into the kingdom, and you make the choice by your obedience to the word of God. Peter tells us in two Peter chapter one, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things, you will never stumble, for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You get to choose. You have to choose. It's not going to happen by accident.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:56:41]:

It's not going to happen without a choice. Choose to obey. Choose to take what the Lord says and let it direct and guide and shape how you live. And so tonight, the Lord reminds us, you get to choose. You're not stuck. You're not a victim of your circumstances. You're not stuck just because it's always been that way, and your mom is that way and your grandma is that way and your grandpa is that way. And that's how your nationality is, and that's how all guys are.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:57:09]:

That's how all girls are. You're not stuck or doomed. There is lots of things you cannot change. But here Jesus gives us plenty of areas where we get to make meaningful choice. You get to choose the measurement that will be used when you stand before God in judgment. You get to choose the amount of answered prayer that you will receive in this life. You get to choose whether you walk in the path of life or the path of destruction. You get to choose whether you will receive from real or false prophets.

Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:57:43]:

You get to choose what kind of entrance you have in the Kingdom of God. It's in your lap, balls, in your court. Your option your choice? What are you going to choose? Lord, we pray that you would help us to hear Your words clearly, to take them seriously and to decide to believe you at Your word, to make the choice to allow you to be Lord and Master, to submit ourselves completely to you in all areas and all aspects. Lord, would you help us to choose you continually, perpetually? We pray this in Jesus'name. Amen.