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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Eternal Destiny

Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Eternal Destiny

Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Eternal Destiny
TOPICS: 18 Minutes with Jesus, Eternity, Afterlife

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". We can't possibly predict when or where, but the day is coming for every one of us. One day, our hearts will stop beating, and we'll be on the threshold of a new beginning. So, when that day comes, what's next for you? Today we're going to see what Jesus said about your life beyond the grave. My message is titled "Straight Talk About Your Eternal Destiny" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Presidential speech writer and columnist Peggy Noonan attended the funeral service, the state funeral service of President Ronald Reagan, and while she was there, she looked around and made observations about different members of Reagan's cabinet and team, and when she came to Jeane Kirkpatrick, who had served as Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations, Peggy wrote these words: "Somewhere along the way, I've always felt she made a decision. She chose to follow the academic and analytical part of her nature and not perhaps other parts of her inner self, parts perhaps less definitive and constructive and perhaps more merry". And then Peggy concluded, "Life is options up to a point, and then it's decisions made".

That's a profound statement. "Life is options up to a point, and then life becomes decisions you have made". You know, every day, we make decisions, don't we? Most are inconsequential, what we're gonna have for lunch, what we're going to wear. Some are more important, what university to attend, what vocation to choose, and some are life-altering decisions, whether to get married, whom to marry, whether to have children, but no choice we make is any more consequential than the one we're going to look at today, the choice of where you're going to spend eternity, and it's that final choice that Jesus addresses in the Sermon on the Mount that we're going to look at today.

If you have your Bibles, turn to Matthew chapter 7, as we look at some straight talk from the Savior about your eternal destiny. Matthew chapter 7. Let's look at what he says, first of all, about two different kinds of roads in life. Matthew 7, beginning with verse 13, "Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to salvation, and there are few who find it".

A few years ago, I preached a sermon series and wrote a book entitled "Not All Roads Lead to Heaven," and my motivation for writing that book and preaching that sermon series was a poll I had come across that revealed that 60% of Evangelical Christians believe there is more than one way to heaven other than through faith in Christ alone. Isn't that astounding? Sixty percent of people, Christians, believe Jesus was wrong in John 14:6, when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me". But in seeking to be inclusive of everyone, they've rejected the gospel. They say things like, "Well, different religions, they're kind of like different paths up the same mountain that lead to the same truth" or "Different religions, they're like different tributaries that flow into the same water of eternal life, the same river of life that lead us to heaven". "No," Jesus said, "there are not multiple ways to heaven. There's one way".

And, by the way, that's not isolated to one verse, John 14:6. Throughout Scripture, the testimony is there is one way to God. Jesus said it again in John 3:16, when he said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever", what? "Believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life". In John 11:25, "Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live again". In Act 16:31, remember, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, "What must I do to be saved"? And what did Paul say to him? "Follow your own convictions, and you'll make it to heaven". No, he said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved". Romans 10:9, "If you believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved".

Think of this: If a person can go to heaven regardless of which path he follows, which religion he subscribes to, than the death of Jesus Christ was wholly unnecessary. Jesus need not have endured that agony or wasted his time that Friday afternoon on a cross if all roads lead to heaven, but remember what he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified. He said, "Father, if there be any other way, if possible, remove this cup, this experience from me". But heaven was silent. God said nothing because there was no other way. There's one way. There's one pathway that leads to heaven.

Look again at verses 13 and 14: "Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are a few", please underline that, "few who find it". The fact that only a few people profess to be Christians is absolutely affirmation of what Jesus said. Somebody once asked the great Bible expositor G. Campbell Morgan, "How do you explain the thousands and thousands and thousands of religions in the world"? And Morgan said, "There aren't thousands of religions in the world". There are only two religions in the world. Every other religion, the thousands of religions in the world are all spelled the same way: D-O, "Do this, do this, do this," but Christianity and Christianity alone is spelled, not D-O. It's spelled D-O-N-E, "done".

Salvation is not what I do for God. It is what God has done for me in sending his Son Jesus to cover my sins. That's the difference between Christianity and every other religion. There are two roads, Jesus said. You have to choose which road you're gonna be on for your eternal destiny, but that's not all. There's a second contrast: two kinds of prophets. Two kinds of prophets. Look at verse 15: "Beware of the false prophets, who have come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves". How do people get onto the wrong road that leads to eternal destruction? It's usually through somebody they listened to or read or watch on television, some kind of prophet who doesn't appear as a wolf. He appears as a harmless sheep, but inside, he's a ravenous wolf. It's a prophet who appears to be intellectual, appears to be loving and inclusive and kind and appealing. It's those kind of people that lure people on the wrong road.

So the question is "How do I know if a prophet is a true prophet or a false prophet? How do I know if I should listen to him or reject him"? Look at what Jesus says in verse 16: "You shall know them," that is, these prophets, "by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire". What does that mean? Every prophet, everybody who claims to speak for God, bears a certain kind of fruit, good or bad fruit. When you're trying to evaluate a teacher's fruit, whether he's a good prophet or a false prophet, look at two specific fruits in his life, first of all, his teaching. His teaching. Does his teaching align with the truth of God's Word? For example, you hear this all the time.

I heard it this morning on television, the idea that "God wants every Christian to be wealthy. God wants every Christian to be free from any kind of physical illness whatsoever". That is false teaching. That is not the teaching of God's Word. God's will for everyone is not that they'd be wealthy or that they'd be free from illness. If that were the case, then the apostle Paul certainly missed it. He had a thorn in the flesh that he prayed three times God would remove, and God said, "No," but there are teachers out there who teach that. Compare everything you're hearing to whether or not it's what the Scripture teaches.

Remember the story, in Acts 17, of the Bereans? The Bereans? Paul came to the city of Berea to preach, and he flashed his apostolic credentials, and the people in Berea were excited to hear him, but they said, "Paul, that's really great that you're apostle, but we're still going to search the Scriptures to see if these things are true". In fact, that's what Acts 17:11, says: "Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, but they were examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so". I don't care how many degrees a teacher has, how many books he has sold, how popular he is. If you listen to anyone, including yours truly, you check out what we say according to the Word of God itself. That's the test of whether a prophet is speaking truth or heresy.

A second fruit we need to look at in any teacher is his lifestyle. Look at the teacher's life. Is his life characterized by devotion to God or by rebellion against God? Peter makes that distinction in 2 Peter 2, beginning with verse 1: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there shall also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned, and in their greed they will exploit you with false words".

Look at the prophet's life. Is his life littered with divorces and immorality and greed and corruption and outburst of anger? Is that the fruit of his life, or is his life marked by a lifelong devotion to God? Now, I'm not claiming and saying that every prophet of God has to be perfect. Obviously, that's not true. Doesn't mean he's never made a mistake, but it does mean, if he does make a mistake, if he does fall into sin, he admits that sin and he "repents," which means "turns away from that sin," the fall becomes the exception, not the rule of his life.

Look at the fruit of a follower, of a prophet, his teaching and his lifestyle. Thirdly, Jesus makes a contrast between two kinds of followers. False teachers produce false followers. True teachers produce true followers of Christ. Look what he says about two different kinds of so-called "followers of Christ". Verse 21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. For many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"

Folks, to me, these are the three most terrifying words in all of the Bible, the three most terrifying verses because these verses tell us that there are some people seated in the pew right now, some people tuned in to this message, who have deluded themselves into thinking they're Christians. They really believe with all of their hearts that, when they die, they are gonna be welcomed into heaven. They believe they are true followers of Christ, and, yet, when they stand before the great white throne judgment, Revelation chapter 20, and God looks for their name and their name is not written in the book of life, they will hear the Lord sentence them to an eternity in hell where they will burn and be tormented day and night forever and ever. It is possible to be a professor of faith in Jesus Christ without being a possessor of faith in Jesus Christ.

"Well, so, Pastor, who will enter into the kingdom of God"? Well, what did Jesus say? Verse 21, "Only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter". Well, then, the $64,000 question is "What is the will of the Father if only those who do the will of the Father enter into heaven"? Well, first of all, it's the will of the Father that we believe, not just intellectually, but we trust and put our hope in Jesus and Jesus alone for the forgiveness of our sins. In fact, in John 6:40, Jesus said, "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day".

That's the foundational decision you make to trust in Christ and Christ alone. That is the will of the Father, but that's just the beginning. That's not the end of it. That's the beginning of it. To do the will of the Father means to do the things that Jesus just got through talking about in the Sermon on the Mount. It's the will of the Father that you forgive those who wrong you instead of retaliate against them. It's the will of the Father that you exercise the attitudes and practice the attitudes and the beatitudes. It's the will of the Father that you persist in prayer. It's the will of the Father that you act graciously instead of judgmentally toward those who have fallen. All of these things Jesus has talked about are the will of the Father.

Some may question, "Well, now, Pastor, are you teaching a works-oriented salvation? Are you saying we are saved by works"? Not at all, but what I am saying is, and Jesus is saying, more importantly, there is an inseparable connection in the Bible between belief in Jesus Christ and obedience to Jesus Christ. You can't have one without the other. D.A. Carson, the New Testament commentator, said, "It is true that no man enters the kingdom because of his obedience, but it is equally true that no man enters the kingdom who is not obedient. It is true that men are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ, but it's equally true that God's grace in a man's life inevitably results in obedience".

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it more succinctly. He said, "Only he who believes obeys, and only he who obeys truly believes". There are a lot of people who are spiritually dead, but they think, if they tie on their dead spiritual life some good works, you know, come to church, get baptized, give a few bucks to God's work, that somehow that makes them spiritually alive. No. Good works don't produce eternal life, but they prove that there is eternal life. James said it this way in James 2:17, he said, "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself". Faith without works is a dead, nonexistent faith.

Jesus has contrasted two different kinds of roads in life. He's talked about two kinds of prophets. He's talked about two kinds of followers. He closes by talking about two kinds of houses. Look at the dramatic conclusion to Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, beginning with verse 24, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds beat and slammed against that house, and it fell, and great was its fall".

Notice the similarities between these two men. They both built houses. Apparently, both houses were in the same neighborhood because they had the same weather pattern. They probably looked alike. They were alike in one aspect: They looked alike, they were built by two men, they suffered the same weather storm, but the difference was, when the storm came, one stood, and one collapsed. Why? Here's the contrast: One house, unbeknownst to anybody looking at it, had been built on a foundation of rock. The other house, and, again, nobody could see it, had only a foundation of sand. What's interesting is both houses experienced a storm, the same storm. One stood, one fell because of the foundation. Jesus is saying every one of us gets about 70 or 80 years here on earth to construct our life.

Our life is constructed out of choices we make. Life is, up to a point, options, then it's decisions made. We choose every day how to spend our time, our money, our energy, where our affections are directed. We're constructing a life, and eventually, we're all, whether we're building on the rock of obedience to Jesus Christ or the sand of pleasure, riches, and popularity, regardless of our foundation, we're all going to experience a storm. Christians and non-Christians alike experience storms. Have you noticed that? Being a Christian doesn't exempt you from a storm. Psalm 34:19, says, "The good man has troubles too. He does not escape them, but the Lord is with him in each and every one". Building your life on obedience to Christ does not exempt you from problems. Don't let anybody sell you that.

I'm thinkin' about two families in our church right now. In the last ten days, one family has suffered the devastating loss of their son. Another family, the wife is in the hospital after what you could only describe as a freak accident. Both families have suffered. Both families have questions. They feel pressure, but their lives haven't collapsed under the stress because their faith is built on Jesus Christ. You get to choose what foundation you're going to build your life on. Is there going to be a obedience to Jesus Christ and his Word, or is it going to be built on your pleasure, your riches, your popularity? It's one or the other. It can't be both.

You know, the fact is we're all going to experience storms, but the greatest storm Christians and non-Christians alike will face one day is death and their subsequent judgment by God. Hebrews 9:22, says, "It's appointed unto every one of us to die and then our judgment". Hebrews 10:31, says, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God". How are you gonna survive your inevitable death and judgment by God? There's only one way to survive that judgment. It's to make sure you've entered through the narrow gate, that gate that leads to eternal life and that you're not on that broad way that leads to eternal death.
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