Roughly this is my transcript of my sermon in Callanish last night – it was a very warm welcome and a very blessed time :
Psalm 118 Verses 19 – 24
1 -the gate of the Lord
2 -the lords doing
3 -day the Lord has made
When reading through this psalm we can see the Psalmist going through certain periods that can apply to the experiences of the Christian s life
-praise of God
-to times of trial and distress
- finding strength in Lord
-finding protection I n the Lord
- being under the disciplining hand of the Lord
-but finally rejoicing in God and in his worked out will and worked out salvation
This psalm which documents the path through times of trouble and adversity through to protection and deliverance describes the experiences of the Christians walk .
In our experience of life we are faced with many choices and options in what way our life should go , what subjects to choose in school, what kind of further education to go into, what types of employment we are to follow But the time must come when we make one choice that will affect our whole life and indeed effect the rest of our eternity.
We must all choose which Gate we are wanting and willing to pass through: The true gate of the Lord, the broken gate of sin, the rusty gate of good works and self made gods.
) We can start by taking a look at the broken gate of sin = The gate that the world opens to us is one that is in direct opposition to the one that is offered to us by Christ. The path that leads to this gate and the gate itself are described to us in Matthew 7 and verse 13:
“…For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many”
The gate that the world opens to us is a wide one with a smooth and easy path that leads up to it. It is a gate that appeals to our senses and to our wants – we see this around us all the time, the extreme need for money and the greed that people show once they acquire it, The immorality that surrounds us and seems to be part of our everyday life – and this of course is nothing new, we see being documented countless times in our own history and in the bible. So the question must be then asked , how do people enter in through this broken gate ? The answer is quite simple , we enter this gate by doing nothing – we are born facing in the direction of this gate , we are born with our inherited sin which has already placed us on this path that leads towards this end. We find this in
Ephesians 2 verse 3: “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
we were born in sin and if nothing in our heart changes we will also die in sin which will lead us to an eternity void of any hope, love or sense of God’s presence.
) Another way in which this broken gate of sin exists is as a rusty gate- a gate which on the outside is hid under layers of paint or repairs but at its core it is rusting and crumbling away .
In Matthew 23 verse 27 We find this description of the Pharisees given by Jesus:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
People that pass through this gate are those that think by being good people and by doing good things this will ultimately get you into Heaven. Buddhists and Sikhs are renowned for their charity and community work, many millionaires giving hundreds of thousands of pounds to Charity, and many non Christian charity groups helping people out around the world . Even closer to home, in our own communities and in our own churches and houses there are those that believe that by acting in the Christian way and doing Christian things that this will somehow gain them Gods love. People reading their bibles daily , people praying once, twice or many times a day , and people regularly attending church and believing that these actions alone will draw Gods love towards them Before I say anything else It has to be stressed that all these things in themselves are worthy and good things to be doing. But they do not merit salvation. As only Christians can truly see and read the bible as the real and Spirit inspired word of God Only Christians (through Christ’s intercession for us ) have true access to God through Prayer. Over and over again we have it in the word of God – that God does not and will not listen to the prayers of those that are not Christians – we can see this in John 9 and verse 31 :
“We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him”: the same idea is again found in – first Peter 3 verse 12 / and in Proverbs 1 verses 26- 29 talks on how God will not help those in trouble when they don’t believe in him. God will only listen to the prayer of the unsaved if they trust in him and call out to him But those that live doing good works an acting in a good way but don’t love the Lord then they’re end is the same as the person who does nothing at all.
1C ) we can now come to look at the true gate of the Lord, the only gate that leads to an eternity with God. Unlike the broken the broken gate the path that leads to this gate is not an easy one , it is on a very narrow path – as we see in Matthew 7 verse13. but although there are many hardships on the path for the person that chooses this narrow path they have the assurance that they will be protected by their God – we can clearly see this in psalm 91 :” He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty I will say
of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
So although it may be a hard path the at the end of the path lies a true and trusted gate as we have it in John 10 and verses 9-10: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
If we enter through this gate then we are given life and life to the full – both now and in eternity. So how do we enter this gate? as we see from our text “this is the gate of the Lord the righteous shall enter through it “ For us to enter in through this gate we need to made righteous before God – something that we in no way can achieve by ourselves So how are we made righteous before God ?
Point 2 – The Lords Doing
This brings us to the second point = “The Lords Doing”
There is no way that we can achieve any kind of righteousness by our own power as we saw before – we are born in our sin and without any intervention we will die in our sin. In order to be perfect before God our sin needed to be dealt with only by God himself and we know he did this by sending His Son Jesus to stand in our place and take on himself the full weight of our punishment, we can see the psalmist reflecting this in verse 21 we can then read on to read about the rejected capstone or cornerstone . Christ was truly and fully rejected and despised by those he loved so much that he came to save them As we have in Matthew 27 and verse 28: “And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him” .
As well as being mocked Christ was truly the corner stone, the corner stone is the start on which the rest is built around, without the cornerstone there is no house. Without Christ as the central part of our life / if he is not set in our heart at its very foundations then there is nothing else to build upon and there is no salvation. Two questions were asked in the first point , firstly how are we saved and secondly how can we appear before God as righteous ? well we all know that Christ has died to offer us salvation as we have it in Romans : Romans 10:9
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. ”
It is that simple no added tricks or conditions
And secondly how can we appear to God as righteous , from the moment when we are saved Christs shed blood covers us in all our sins – making us as pure and clean in the eyes of God . Psalm 51 and verse 7 : “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Only once we are saved can we truly say along and agree with the Psalmist in Psalm 24 :
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation “
It is of no wander that the psalmist calls all this “marvellous” there is no better word to describe the extent of God’s mercy / love and forgiveness for us.
Point 3 = “The Day The Lord Has Made”
For the Christian there is indeed great reason to rejoice and be glad – for they know that their end is sure and that God is with them through it all. But it also is a cause for action – everyday is a gift from the Lord an is a chance to be a witness for him in the world – and to be lights in this dark world. But for the non Christian this is also a gift from God – it is 24 more hours for them to turn to their creator and cry out for forgiveness – 2 Corinthians 6 verse 12 “For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
There may be no tomorrow, no Monday morning so this chance is one that has to be accepted.