Recently a sermon that I gave at a facility was reprimanded.  I was told I should be more “all-inclusive” and more “uplifting” and that my message was not tolerant of all lifestyles.  “People should be comfortable” when they listen to your message instead of hearing something they are doing is “wrong” was the advice I was given.  I took a few days to chew on this criticism because it came from another Christian.  As much as their suggestion “sounded good” my ultimate authority is Jesus Christ as revealed by the Bible.  Did Jesus Christ give us a message of compromise?  Did Jesus Christ give us a message of tolerance? Did Jesus Christ give us a message of all-inclusiveness?   Jesus tells the parable in Luke 15…”What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing.”  Here in Luke 15 Jesus is painting a picture of His love for His sheep which is us.  He is the Good Shepherd (also mentioned in Psalms 23) who will seek and find that one lost sheep.  Jesus paints the picture here and other places that He wants everyone to go to heaven.  So this seems like an “all-inclusive” message and an “uplifting” message and it is.  But Jesus also  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.”  – Matthew 7:13-14  Jesus tells us that the right way is a narrow way.  Most people are going the wrong way unfortunately.  Most people are living how they want to live.  Most people are the lords of their own lives.  Most people do not trust that Jesus’ way is better than their own way.  So, how do we put these two seemingly opposing views together in the same Bible.  I would contend that Yes, God wants everyone to make it to heaven and He wants everyone to accept the gift of Salvation and to follow Jesus as Lord.  He sent Jesus to die for us “all” so that even the “lost sheep” could be saved.  This is the ultimate love.  This is the greatest love as John 15:13 tells us.  God is love!!  But unfortunately not everyone will accept this.  Accepting this starts with faith as Romans 10:9 tells us, “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…” and ends with works, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:17  We should show our faith in Jesus through our works.  Accepting Jesus is “difficult”, trusting in Jesus with our daily lives is “difficult”, making Jesus Lord of our life is “difficult”, lining up our lives to the way Jesus would want us to live our lives is “difficult” and not many will choose to do it.  But for those who do their reward is in heaven!!!  Everyone has the option to go, but only a few will make it in.

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