THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

There is a gate that opens to the road that leads to eternal life.

The gate is small. The road is narrow. Only a few people find that gate and walk on that road.

THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE 

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13,14)

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

There is a gate that opens to the road that leads to eternal life.

The gate is small. The road is narrow. Only a few people find that gate and walk on that road.

We speak of making a decision for Christ and being baptized with the Holy Spirit as "getting saved." The truth is, these are the "small gate." The Gate is Christ and you have to look carefully to find it.

But it is the road of continual, consistent repentance that finally leads to eternal life! That Road also is Christ. Receiving the blood atonement gives us the authority to travel the road to life. Receiving the Spirit of God gives us the wisdom and power to travel the road.

The atoning blood and the Spirit are the authority and power but the road is something else again.

Let's think about the road, because our salvation in Christ depends not only on going through the gate but also on traveling the road.

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are among the most important of the Scriptures. They show us how to travel the road that leads to life.

The rewards to the overcomer are gained by us each day as through Christ we overcome the problems of the day. The rewards are increments of personality added to us as we overcome. They are steps to the Throne of God and to attaining to the first resurrection from among the dead.

The Christian church of Smyrna can be used as an example of how we are to travel the road of discipleship but the same could be said of any of the seven churches. 

"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again." (Revelation 2:8)

The Lord Jesus appears to the angel (spirit) of the church in Smyrna as "him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again." This is because the challenge facing the believers in Smyrna is that of continuing in faith that He who began a good work in them would finish the work. Christ is the First but also the Last. He died but came to life again. You may be going through a terrific challenge. Your future seems bleak indeed. But Christ will finish to perfection what He began in your life if you remain in God's prison. Don't ever forget that!

Christ understood the afflictions of those believers. Christ did not tell them they never would be afflicted or if they had faith they would be able to escape all afflictions. Christ told them something infinitely more valuable: "I know your afflictions." Friend, Christ knows your afflictions. Never doubt that for one minute. He has not forgotten you.

"I know your poverty." To listen to the preaching in America today you would think it was a sin to be poor. It is no sin to be poor! The Gospel is to the poor. God gives His Kingdom to the poor. It is a good thing because most people in the world are poor by American standards.

We should be industrious and do all we can to make a living. But an abundance of material things is more of a curse than a blessing. If we have enough to eat and clothes to wear we are blessed indeed. The Bible says those who would be rich pierce themselves with many sorrows.

But the believers in Smyrna were rich! Rich in faith. Rich in the Presence of God. Rich in the peace of God, in the favor of God. These are true riches. Money, cars, and houses are not the true riches. The approval of God and the love and affection of our family and friends are the true riches.

I am the pastor of a small church (by American standards). But I am rich because I see the Lord working miracles in the adults and the children of our congregation. I wouldn't trade with anyone. 

I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)

The believers in Smyrna were being slandered by other believers. It usually is true in any Christian church that there are those who profess to be Christians but who spend their time criticizing everyone and everything. I have preached and taught much about gossip and criticism and the result seems to be that our assembly is relatively free from these roots of bitterness.

I am at a loss to know why people of this type attach themselves to Christian assemblies, calling themselves Christian and causing the trouble they do. But every pastor understands what I mean.

The Lord Jesus knows all that is being said about you.

The slander is coming from Satan. He is looking for an excuse to put you in prison.

The Lord tells us not to fear the accusations, not to be afraid of what we are to suffer. 

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

The Lord could have prevented their suffering and imprisonment. But He did not do so. The Father has given Satan some rights over us in the way of sifting our personality. Christ can prevent your suffering and imprisonment but He may not do so.

You know, Christ could have warned Adam and Eve about the snake, about what to look out for. But He did not do this. Sometimes He allows us to go through very painful circumstances that will do us good in the long run.

Christ allows Satan to put us in prison to test us. We suffer persecution to test us. Christ's response is to pray for us.

Christ tells us the trial is for a specific length of time. God, not Satan, is in control of our testing.

A fine group of believers, but now the Smyrnans are faced with a hurdle in the middle of the road to eternal life.

The issue is, will they remain faithful during their imprisonment and persecution or will they take matters in their own hands and try to find a way out?

This was the trial facing Eve: "Should I trust God to give me what is best for me or should I take matters into my own hands?

If we are to walk the road to eternal life we must always resist the temptation to take matters into our own hands.

"How long do I have to stay in this prison? How long do I have to put up with this situation?

The answer is, as long as God sees your pain to be necessary.

If you are to get the full benefit from the prison you are put in you must be faithful to the point of death. You must put your hopes beyond the grave. You must deposit your treasures in Heaven.

If you do not, if you insist on getting what you want in the present world, you will never follow the road that leads to life to its glorious end.

Listen to me! If you do not stay faithfully with God, trusting Him to bring you forth, you will never rule with Christ, for this is how the crowns are formed.

As for the rulers of the ages to come, many believers are called but few are chosen. If we follow Christ to the extent we pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen, we then must be proven faithful. Those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.

How do we walk the road to life?

First we find out what God is requiring of us. We may find out from hearing the Word preached, or reading the Word, or from an experience, or from some other quarter.

In the case of the Smyrnans the challenge was to remain faithful during imprisonment and persecution until death brought an end to their suffering.

What comes next?

The all-important action—repentance.

The road to life is one of continual repentance. Not continual guilt or condemnation or depression or sorrow or gloominess but continual repentance!

To repent is to make up your mind to do God's will, to turn away from what you are doing and go in God's direction.

Repentance is not the same as feeling sorry you are sinful. Repentance is an act of will. "Choose this day to serve the Lord!"

The reason people do not get delivered from their sinful ways is that they do not repent forcefully enough. You have to repent with all your might. You have to repent ferociously, letting the devil, God, and sometimes people know you have made up your mind to do God's will.

If you find that in the depths of your soul you don't really want to quit what you are doing, then pray for the strength to repent. Ask other Christians to pray for you. Pray, pray, pray, until you can get desperate enough to let the thing go.

We continually are finding in ourselves attitudes and behaviors not in keeping with God's will. Therefore the true Christian life is one of continual repenting, of continually turning from what we are doing. Christ gives us the wisdom and strength to repent.

Perhaps our temptation is to take matters into our own hands. We are not content with our present situation. There is something we want or something we want to escape from.

What does the Bible say about this? 

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10,11)

I am sick of hearing ministers talk about what great things they are going to do for God. Haven't they ever learned to wait quietly for the Lord?

God is not asking us to do great things for Christ. He is asking us to trust in the name of the Lord, to rely on God.

God is very displeased when we light up our darkness with our own fires and then walk in our own light. The end of this behavior is torment.

Whenever God sets out to make a ruler He first removes him from the world, just as God separated Joseph from his brothers by permitting them to throw him in a pit. Has God separated you from your old friends?

Then He tests the man concerning the lusts of the flesh, as happened to Joseph.

The next checkpoint on the road to life, to full salvation, is prison. Joseph was kept in prison until he was thirty years of age. The Word of the Lord tested Joseph. Suddenly he was removed from prison and placed over the land of Egypt.

"Only in the throne will I be greater than you," Pharaoh said. This is what Jesus Christ tells His brothers when they emerge from prison.

What takes place while you are in prison? The crown of incorruptible, resurrection life by which you will govern the nations is formed in you.

The day will come when the massive door of your prison opens. There will be an honor guard waiting for you. You will mount your stallion and ride with your fellow officers toward Jerusalem, singing the war songs of the remnant.

All who are called to rulership are called to suffering. The cross of imprisonment and the crown of authority go together.

This is how we walk the road to eternal life. We are faced with the challenge of the Lord. We repent, turning in the desired direction. Then we are given to eat of the tree of life so one day we may be a tree of life to others. We have the crown of life and the rod of iron formed in us, as we languish in our prison, so we can rule with Jesus.

Are you willing to stay in the prison where the Lord has placed you? Or are you going to take matters into your own hands? You cannot get out of the prison in which you are placed without breaking God's laws.

Are you trying to be happy in this present life or are you laying up treasures in Heaven? The Gospel of the Kingdom is the hope of the poor and afflicted of the world, the hope that one day they will be able to dwell with God, free from injustice and affliction. It is not a means whereby rich Americans can gain even more money, houses, cars, clothes, entertainment, vacations, and thus utterly destroy the vestiges of eternal life they presently possess.

The individual who waits God's time for deliverance cannot be hurt by the second death, the Lake of Fire. Why is this? It is because during his imprisonment the behaviors over which the second death always retains authority are burned out of him, driven from him.

Day by day we repent, turning in the direction God desires. Day by day the rewards, the increments of personality, are added to us. This is the road to the Throne of Christ. This is the way we become qualified and competent to be raised in the first resurrection and then to return with Jesus to serve as a tree of life and as a ruler of the nations.

Have you found the gate? Have you gone through the gate and now are walking on the road to life? If so, never, never quit. Never take matters into your own hands. Do not light up your darkness with fires of your own making. Wait for God. For how long? Until He brings you out of prison as He did Joseph.

Some of us find glory and blessing, the goodness of the Lord, in the present world. Others die in faith. But you can be sure when the eyes of those who die in faith are opened to the spirit world they are surrounded with throngs of saints congratulating them on their faithfulness to God.

Paul the Apostle went from one prison to another. When he was martyred and his eyes were opened he saw a grateful Christ standing with open arms, ready to receive him into eternal joy

Since then Paul has been able to see his writings, his letters to the churches, used by the Lord to change the course of history, to bless unnumbered multitudes of people from all walks of life.

But the end is not yet. In the Day of Resurrection and Paul is raised to receive his reward, the Divine Light and Glory that will come to rest upon Paul for eternity will be as a galaxy of stars—no, infinitely greater in splendor than any galaxy of stars.

The seed of those who die in the Lord will be comparable to faithful Abraham.

How about you. Will you take matters into your own hands so you can "enjoy" the toys of the present world? Or will you patiently bear your cross on the road to eternal life until you hear the "Well done!" of Jesus.

I have made my choice. God, help me hold steady to the end!

And God help you, friend, to hold steady to the end. I know you will as you walk hand in hand with the Lord Jesus on the narrow road that leads to eternal life.