Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Matt 7:[13-20]

Jesus is saying most people go to hell. And they go willingly, gladly by producing bad fruits. Who contradicts what the Lord Himself says in the Holy Gospels? Prominent “theologians”, Popes, Bishops West and East, priests, popular pastors and modernists of all stripes and types.

Either you believe Jesus, or you believe them.

What are Jesus works? He gives Himself for us on the Cross and raises Himself from the dead.

What are the works of popular pastors, celebrity Bishops, and even Popes and Patriarchs? They enjoy the first places in our feasts, being called Father, Master, Teacher. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and He calls us to pick up a Cross and not a paycheck, or a flock, or grand stand, or recognition and fame. And this is not against organized religion. There is an extreme danger in the modern world where people do not believe that hell exists, and end up going there.

All of us are guilty of sin. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am first.[1]

Holy Saint John the Baptist, all of the prophets, all of the Saints, all of the Apostles and Jesus Himself taught baptism with repentance for remission of sins. By baptism we are given the Holy Spirit to cultivate our Christianity and our cultivation of the Living All Good Holy Spirit is through prayer, fasting, good works and sacramental life in the Church. This is the way of Christians; self-denial, self-improvement and realization of the Commandments of God not only on the outside, but more importantly on the inside to transform our life from inside out. Only through this process, and the miracle that comes from Jesus, are we saved from the fires of hell. We are called by Jesus to prune ourselves and fix ourselves and repent ourselves, but no so much to reform others. We can present the Gospel, try to live the Gospel, but those who contradict the Holy Gospels do not bear good fruit.

Of hell one should not belabor the point with respect to its torments, the pit, the outer darkness, the worm that will not die, the fire that will not quench, the utter separation from God, the lake of fire of the second death, and the awful judgment. All these things are extant in the Holy Bible. Let us instead follow the Fathers, and keep our mind in hell so as to avoid it. Jesus frames hell and teaches not only of the reality, but of how to escape it through counter example. Let us listen to Jesus from the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew:

5:[21-22]” You have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say to you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Many in the modern world teach that Jesus somehow overthrew the Law or that His death and resurrection somehow fulfill the law so we do not have to live underneath its rigors. This is false. Jesus preaches far greater responsibility on our parts to repent so as not to say evil things about other people. Jesus extends the Law as He fulfills it, and by the Word He speaks to us He makes us clean when we accept His words and try to live by them.

It is not merely enough for Christian to refrain from killing. A Christian must refrain from every evil word and every evil thought, and when we see our words do not match our religion, we repent and humble ourselves. This is the way of the Cross, of Christ and it is “Orthodox” Christianity. That is far from the modern “theology” that seems to surrender to sin. Yes we sin, and we are failing, but in failure we repent. Our journey isn’t about being magically perfect, but truly imperfect and realizing in our imperfection our need for improvement. We must clean the bowl from the inside. We must see the moat in our own eye and come to tears of repentance.

Jesus discourse in Matthew is against the rulers, against the evil speakers who make the outward appearance of the law the fulfillment of the law, when the Love of God demands we come to true Love internally.

Psalm 139/140 “Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man; Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.

Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings. The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.

I said to the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle. Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.

As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them. Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again. Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

When we see the mischief in our own hearts, we seek repentance. We want to the evil man to perish – even the evil within ourselves. And in this way we become poor and afflicted and Jesus saves us.

5:[27-41]”You have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say to you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

It has been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say to you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.”

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak.

For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.

But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for verily I say to you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

What I tell you in darkness, that speak in light: and what you hear in the ear, that preach upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.

He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it. He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me. He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say to you, he shall in no way lose his reward.”

Jesus has directly countered modern psychological “well being”, self-esteem, and contentment. He has challenged us to live in charity, in love, in faithfulness to the bride or groom of our youth, and yet to accept division from our loved ones for His sake and the sake of the Holy Gospel. This is for all of us. Christianity is not luxury and salvation is not ease.

When a measure of grace comes, then in the world we are at variance with everyone else including our beloved within our own families. But notice that when true grace comes, one is not generally at variance with one’s spouse. Jesus speaks of the three against two, two against three and this is of His own household as well as our own and was all foretold:

Psalm 86/87 “His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.

I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The LORD shall count, when he writes up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.

As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.”

11:[20-24] “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe to thee, Chorazin! woe to thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”

‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ So many people line up for miracles when we ourselves are miracles and are bathed in the miraculous! Our very being is a miracle.

Life Itself is a Beautiful Manifest ever-present Miracle

16:[15-28] “He saith to them, But whom so say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

And I say also to thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Then he charged his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be to thee. But he turned, and said to Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: you are an offence to me: for you savor not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say to you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

No one is exempt from the rebuke of the Lord Jesus, including Saint Peter. And Peter is called Satan and is certainly in danger of hell. Those who preach an easy Christ, or an easy repentance, or a cheap worldly Grace miss the mark. We are all called to a Cross. Peter is the man of repentance.

Every morning when the cock crowed, Peter wept for his sins. He wept so much, that on the way to his own cross, he was blinded by the overflowing tears, saying he was unworthy of the cross; “But when you are old, you shall stretch forth thy hands, and another shall guide thee, and carry thee whither thou would not. This He spoke, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” That is a Pope all the people can follow with a clear conscience.

18:[1-10]”At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receives me.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if your eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

23:[1-15] “Then Jesus spoke to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not do after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

But be not called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer them that are entering to go in.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

23:[23-39] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. You blind guides which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are likened to whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

Wherefore you be witnesses to yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them you shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar.

Verily I say to you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”

[1] 1 Timothy 1:15 – quoted by all Orthodox prior to taking Holy Communion because it is real of us all. We know our sins better than we know the sins of others.

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