Submissive Faith: Reflections on Matthew 7:13-16
Since starting full-time ministry, I preach more frequently. I desire two things when I preach: to see God’s people grow, and see lost souls added to God’s Kingdom. I think the hardest to reach are those who are convinced they have faith when they don’t. One thing I often reflect on each time I teach is Matthew 7:21, ,where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven”. Each time I share God’s Word I wonder if there is someone listening who is deceived into thinking they’re a believer when, in fact, they’re an unbeliever. Of course, I have no sure way of knowing who these individuals are or their standing with the Lord. Despite this, Jesus told us these individuals do exist and His gospel shows us why they exist. They have not chosen a submissive faith. Let’s look at the Matthew 7:13-16 together: Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it (v.13-14). I love the mountains. While in college, my wife and I took a trip to Roanoke, which from Lynchburg, is about an hour drive on the main highway. Along the way, you get some nice views of the mountains. But, if you take the Blue Ridge Parkway, it adds another 30 minutes driving time. These roads are narrower, curvier, and far more dangerous. The drive is far more difficult; but, the views along the way are matchless. The drive along the main highway pales in comparison. The narrow gate is much more difficult to walk through. It can seem far more dangerous, and it may leave you wondering if it was worth it. But, no matter the difficulties, the rewards along the way and destination are well worth it! Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit (v.15-16). The false prophets Jesus warns of do not preach a “narrow gate” gospel. In fact, what they preach is no gospel at all! Instead, they preach a gospel that deceives you into believing you can earn your salvation through your works. Or, they will preach a gospel that deceives you into thinking you can have Christ and the world at the same time. Unfortunately, many are deceived by these gospels. They call Jesus, “Lord”, with their lips, but forsake Him with their life. You see, true saving faith in Jesus Christ is a submissive faith. How do we know? Let’s look together in Matthew 16:24 where Jesus says, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” The significance of the cross was no mystery to His disciples—it was clearly an instrument of death. Here, Jesus’ call was clear: to follow Him, one must follow him in death. As Christians, we must follow Jesus to the cross and nail ourselves there with him. We must, in faith, die to ourselves. Consider this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”. This is no simple or easy task. It is why Jesus said few will find it. The only way we enter is through submission." Submissive faith is one that causes us to look at ourselves and recognize the wickedness of our own heart. When you look deeply, you see pride, lust, greed, hate, selfishness, and darkness. It’s a pretty bleak reality. But there is hope. Now, look to Christ—His sacrifice on behalf of sinners—and recognize there is no hope apart from Him on the cross. In faith, cling to the hope of the cross and nail your sins there once and for all. Submissive faith confesses, surrenders, and obeys Jesus as Lord. This is not a call to perfection--it’s a call to submission. It’s a commitment to choosing Christ every day for the rest of your life. When Jesus says forgive others, we must deny ourselves. When he says love your enemies, we must deny ourselves. Keeping your covenant with your spouse, giving to those in need, serving in and giving to your church, submitting to government, honoring others, loving your neighbor as yourself, and much more requires denying what we want and recognizing that what God wants is best. And, in faith we submit and obey. In faith we deny ourselves. In faith we pick up our cross and follow Jesus—no matter how difficult the road. Make no mistake, the road He leads us on is often difficult, but, no matter what, we go to our graves confessing Jesus Christ is Lord. The beautiful part about the Gospel is that death leads to freedom. When we truly trust Christ, God breathes new life into us and fills us with His Holy Spirit. Our hearts are forever transformed, and we are no longer slaves to our sin. Now, we are free in Christ, and the Holy Spirit begins to work in us—changing our hearts and daily making us more like Jesus. I look back on my Christian life and see how God brought me out of dark, sinful places and changed my heart to reflect Christ time and time again. I am so grateful for a God who gave me life where no life existed at all. If you are reading this as a Christian, be reminded of God’s grace and press on in faith to our kind and loving Savior. If you are reading and are not a Christian, I beg you to submit your life to Him today—confess and repent of your sin, and place your faith in Jesus—and allow Him to free your soul from sin and death forever. The narrow gate and path can be difficult, but I promise you it’s worth it.