Straight Talk About Your Eternal Destiny
Presidential speechwriter and opinion columnist Peggy Noonan attended the state funeral for President Ronald Reagan. Surrounded by other members of the president’s administration, she jotted down some observations of those present. Peggy noted how each person had to make hard decisions about life. Writing about Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, she said, “Somewhere along the way, I have 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 merrier.” Peggy concluded, “Life is options up to a point, and then it’s decisions made.”
We all have points in our lives when we must choose between competing choices. They might be insignificant choices like what to eat for lunch, what clothes to wear, or where to go on vacation. Other choices are more significant—which university to attend, which car to purchase, or which job to accept. Some decisions are life-altering, like deciding if you should get married or whether you should have children and then, if so, how many.
Peggy is right when she says, “Life is options up to a point, and then it’s decisions made.” But whatever decisions you make or have already made concerning significant life events such as your career, marital status, or family are insignificant compared to the most important decision you’ll ever make—where you will reside for eternity.
1. Two Kinds of Roads (Matthew 7:13-14)
A common argument for people that claim those who trust Christ will be in heaven is that it is too narrow. There are seven billion people who inhabit this world, yet only a minority claim to be Christian. There are five billion non-Christians, including one billion Muslims, 650 million Hindus, 300 million Buddhists, and many others. Does that mean all those people are going to be in hell? Will only a relatively small percentage of the world’s population be in heaven?
That’s exactly what Jesus said. Most people are on the broad road that leads to hell. Few are those who ever find the road that leads to eternal life.
2. Two Kinds of Prophets (Matthew 7:15-20)
Most people who walk the wide path and enter through the wide gate do so because some teacher, author, or preacher left a trail of easy-to-believe lies and followed it down the wrong path. Like wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, false teachers can appear to be something good when they are evil. How do you recognize a false prophet? Jesus said, “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit” in verse 17.
When distinguishing between a true prophet of God and a false one, examine that prophet’s “fruit”—that is what his life is producing.
- His Teaching (1 John 4:1)
No matter who stands before you and claims to speak God’s message, the number of impressive degrees on their wall, how many letters after their name, how charming they appear, or how beautiful their facilities look, take the time to examine the Scriptures for yourself. It’s the squeeze-and-sniff test you should apply to the spiritual fruit produced by every teacher of God’s Word. That is why John admonished us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” in 1 John 4:1.
- His Lifestyle (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Another “Fruit” to examine in a teacher’s life is their lifestyle. Is his life characterized by devotion to God or rebellion against God?
When we talk of a leader’s obedience toward God, we must think about their entire life record. Is the fruit of his life godliness, or is his life littered with multiple marriages, affairs, financial dishonesty, or harshness with others?
Jesus said you can evaluate a prophet based on his message and lifestyle.
3. Two Kinds of Followers (Matthew 7:21-23)
False teachers always produce false followers. The Bible tells us that there are people alive right now who have deluded themselves into thinking they are Christians. They will receive the surprise of their life when they are turned away from heaven, and sentenced to an eternity in hell.
Jesus says at the final judgment of all unbelievers, the Great White Throne Judgment, described in Revelation 20:1-15, people will try to bargain their way into heaven.
So, who will enter into the kingdom of God? Jesus said in verse 21, “only He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” What is the will of the Father in Heaven?
The entire Sermon on the Mount is about how to accomplish the will of God. This includes:
- Practicing the Beatitudes
- Doing all you can to align your character and conduct with God’s standards
- Praying and giving with humility and integrity
- Making heavenly rewards more important than earthly success
- Learning to be more gracious and less judgmental
- Practicing discernment
- Being persistent in prayer
4. Two Kinds of Houses (Matthew 7:24-29)
Jesus uses the metaphor of building a house to describe a life. During the years we spend here on earth, we make daily and hourly choices that determine the kind of life we are constructing about career, money, friendships, and family.
But eventually, our life will experience a storm that comes out of nowhere—an accident, illness, a breakup, or the loss of a job. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from storms.
Whether your life survives these storms depends on the foundation you construct your life. The only foundation that will survive is a commitment to acting upon, not just hearing or believing, but acting on these words of Jesus.
Of the various storms we will encounter, the most severe crisis will be our inevitable death and judgment by God because Hebrews 9:22 says, “It is appointed unto every one of us to die and then the judgment.”
Full Passage: Matthew 7:13-27