November 7, 2010

Sermon on the Mount, #29

Not everyone

Matthew 7:21-23.

We will finish our study of the Sermon on the Mount today

Again, we see the unity and flow of the Lord's message.

He moves from the danger of the two paths for individuals, life or destruction.

Then to the danger of the false prophets who lead people down the false, wide way to destruction.

Then He moves from the warning directed to the individual about the false prophets to the reward waiting for the false prophets and their followers.

Vv. 21-23.

To me, this is one of the most serious passages in the Word of God.

This section deals with false assurance of those who profess to be saved, but they have never been converted by the power of the Spirit of God.

* This group of people understands the Bible maybe even better than most converted folks.
* They teach and preach the Bible, and maybe can quote it all.
* These people are known for their good works done in the name of the Lord.
* These people keep the law and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

BUT they do those things apart from conversion.

I have mentioned several times that this is the passage that the Lord used to speak to my heart in 1977. I had been offering many excuses to the Lord; excuses such as:

I would not be doing all these good works if I were not saved;

I believe John 3:16, that Jesus is the son of God and rose from the dead; &c.

This is the passage the Lord used to point out that all my good works and false assurances were useless before Him, and that nothing but faith in the finished work of Christ would save me.

And that faith had to be the result of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

The context of the passage shows that it is primarily directed toward the false prophets because of v. 22. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works. These are people who are active in the "Lord's work."

The works of v. 22 are what make the false prophets so dangerous. They look, act and sound like the real thing.

First, their message may be the true gospel of faith in Christ, yet they themselves are lost.

Second, their message may be false, yet delivered with such conviction that others are convinced the message is right.

Third, they may be knowingly offering a false message, or even a true message, for the gain that is in it for them.

2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

However, vv. 21-23 implies that the messengers were fully convinced they were right, and acting the best they could on what they understood to be right. But in the end they were lost.

I must shamefully admit that I tried to give a great amount of people false assurance by telling them if they would only "pray this prayer," they would be saved. There was no sign of Holy Spirit conviction when they "prayed this prayer." Of course, only the Lord knows, but I believe that a vast majority of those folks will stand before the Lord and say, "I prayed that prayer, and I have done many wonderful works…"

In both Deuteronomy 13 and in Matthew 24:24, the Lord said that false professors of Christ would do mighty works, so as to lead the very elect astray if possible.

Of course, this passage is not exclusively speaking of false prophets. The warning is to every man, woman and child: good works do not guarantee entrance into the kingdom. Good works are outward evidence of those who are members of the kingdom of heaven. Outward good works simply bear witness of the inward good work of the Spirit of God who worked repentance, conversion and salvation.

This passage shows us several things:

1) V. 21, every person will stand individually before the Lord to answer for his own self, Not every one…

2) V. 22, Many will say to me… The Lord is prophesying of what will take place in that final judgment. The problem will be a very prevalent problem. There will be many who will stand before Him with false assurance. But they will not find the truth until it is too late.

3) V. 22, The individuals will be as sincere as a heart attack. They, by and large, did not realize they were false prophets or had a false hope. They had prophesied in the name of the Lord. They had preached and taught the word of God.

Evidently, these false prophets were convinced they were true because of their sincerity "in the Lord." They are quite surprised here that they did not make it into the Lord's kingdom.

The thing that struck me about this passage back in 1977, was the sincerity of the false prophets when they stood before the Lord.

Clearly though, some of those before the Lord here did realize what they were doing. I heard about Robert Tiltion in his early years. It is reported that he said that he saw the gullibility of "Christians," so he "went for the gold." Thus he knew and knows full well what he is doing as he "shears the sheep." But, sadly, the "sheep" apparently want to be sheared, or they would not finance his lavish lifestyle.

4) V. 22, the fruit of these false prophets was identical to the fruit of the true prophets.

I know some preachers today who do not preach the truth of the Gospel, but they:

Cry out against the evils of our day, and do many wonderful works.

I have met some who even preach the true gospel, but on close examination, their personal profession is very questionable.

5) V. 23, though they have done the wonderful things in v. 22, they are identified as workers of iniquity.

They are wolves in sheep's clothing even though they may not have realize they were actually wolves.

Walt Disney has a cartoon, "Lambart, the sheepish lion." The lion cub is raised by sheep, he acts like a sheep, tries to sound like a sheep, but in the end, the truth comes out under pressure. He is a lion. There are many like that, according to our Lord's words here, that are totally convinced they are sheep. But they have never been born again as a sheep of His pasture.

6) V. 23, though they were doing the works of v. 23, the Lord will say, I never new you. Those sad words will catch them by surprise.

But a person does not have to wait until the final judgment to be told the truth by the Word of God. He can find out this side of the final judgment.

The passage we need to look at which corresponds to Matthew 7:21 is lengthy, but we need to look anyway:

John 6:22, Let me call your attention to some points given by the Lord here:

The Lord's doctrine offended many of his disciples so much that they refused to follow Him any longer. Let's work up to the point of their departure, vv. 60, 61 & 66.

A) Vv. 28, 29, the work of God is belief on the Son of God sent by the Father to be the sacrifice for sin. We have mentioned many times in the past the definition of believe. It is not believing a historical fact; the devils believe and tremble. It is total trust in and dependance in the work of Jesus Christ for our sins.

B) Vv. 30, 31, the people desire a physical sign that the Son is indeed sent by the Father and is doing His work.

C) Vv. 32-36, the Lord speaks in spiritual terms, but the people hear Him in physical, literal terms. He gave them the truth, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. He backed up the truth with the mighty words of feeding the multitudes, but their eyes and ears are closed; therefore, thy are unable to hear and see what is being clearly told and shown to them.

D) V. 37, the Lord gives the reason His hearers are unable to understand what they are seeing and hearing: before an individual can see and understand, the Father must give that person to Christ.

Moreover, Christ had said that He was doing the work of the Father. Now He defines that work: to receive all given to Him by the Father.

E) Vv. 38-40, the Lord expands on His responsibility to do the will of the Father. He is come to do the Father's will, and the Father's will is that Christ would keep and deliver every one safely to the Father in the end.

F) Vv. 41, 42, the Jews were upset because Jesus said His Heavenly Father sent Him and He was here to do the Father's will. Thus they refuse to believe what He told them.

G) Vv. 43-46, the Lord rebukes their unbelief, and again points out that no person can believe on Him, no person can believe His message, unless the Father draws the individual.

Christ points out that it was prophesied that only those taught by God can, by faith, come to Him. Therefore, all who come to Him have been taught the truth about the person and work of Christ by the Father, or they would not have come.

V. 46, the Father did not teach the individual believer personally, but the person was taught by the Spirit. (The Spirit teaches us to cry, Aba, Father…) Only the Son has seen the Father.

Mr 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. Ro 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Ga 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

H) V. 47, the strongest words of Christ yet: everlasting life is conditioned upon the Spirit of the Father opening the eyes, ears and understanding of the individual, and then drawing him to Christ. The Spirit must give the individual faith to believe on Christ. Then Christ promises to do the Father's will in receiving the person and giving that person everlasting life.

I) Vv. 48-59, again Jesus used the literal to explain the spiritual. His hearers, though they profess to be experts in the law, just could not understand what the Lord was talking about.

Prophecy was fulfilled,

Isa 6:9, 10, And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Mat 13:13-16, Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

J) Vv. 60-66, the message and its offensiveness.

* Christ had just taught that only those to whom the Father spoke could come to Him for everlasting life.
* He taught that many of His hearers were intentionally blind and deaf, made so by the Heavenly Father.
* He taught the absolute necessity of the individual hearing the gospel of Christ, understanding that gospel and then being drawn by the Spirit to the person and work of Christ.
* He taught (v. 63) that life can only come through a work of the Spirit of God in the heart.
* He taught that though one knows, understands and believes all the law and prophets concerning Himself and His work, all that knowledge will not provide everlasting life. The Spirit must still draw that person to faith in Christ. That person must still come to Christ as their only hope of life and peace.

Vv. 37 & 65. To make matters even worse for these religious but lost men, Christ points out that He came to receive and keep only those whom the Father decided to call and send to the Son. He points out that it is neither the Son's choice nor the individual's choice as to who comes to Him for everlasting life. It is the Father's choice.

This did not and does not set well with the religious leaders who are certain that they have everlasting life assured to them by the Father because they had been born into a covenant family and had been circumcised. We can easily follow in the New Testament the prevalence of the teaching that proper birth and circumcision assured of everlasting life.

Those who had that false confidence pursued and persecuted Paul wherever he went with the gospel of faith in Christ. This teaching was prevalent until the time Jerusalem was destroyed. (if used, use also document about circumcision by hodge.)

Nor did the Lord's doctrine set well with many of His followers. It caused many to depart from Him.

Clearly, the Lord warned those who now stand before Him in Mat 7:21 that not every one who said, Lord, Lord would enter the kingdom of heaven. He had warned them that entrance into the kingdom was only through faith in the finished work of Christ in place of the sinner.

Matthew 7:24-27
Rocks & Sand

This is one of the more familiar stories of our Lord. There is a little song sung by children that sets this parable to music. But there is a two word phrase left out of the song that gives this story its meaning: and doeth.

Observe:

1) its location. This is the conclusion of the Lord's sermon on the mount. This is the concluding statement that was necessary to finish His message. This final illustration emphasize the importance of what He had just taught.

2) Therefore, …these sayings of mine… He is referring back to the total message which started in 5:3. It adds to what He just said about those with false security.

3). V. 26, and doeth them… The comparison is between those who do His words and those who do not his words.

4) common well-known illustration, building a house. He makes a contrast between two men: one wise the other foolish. built his house… Both men build a house. Look at the implications here, which bear out what he said in vv. 21-23:

A) both men worked equally hard. The wise man worked no harder than the foolish man. The foolish man was just as confident that his house was built properly as was the wise man.

B) both houses looked the same and appeared to be made of the same material. There is no outward appreciable difference between the two houses. Their difference could not be seen from the surface. Their difference was in their foundation, an area that does not meet the eye.

5) the difference could not be seen until the storms came. This storm was not some hard wind and driving rain. This storm was more like a hurricane. Moreover, the hurricane was not just a passing glance, it parked over the houses: it beat upon that house.

6) the truth is revealed. Maybe both houses had stood proud and tall in lessor storms up to this point. It was a severe storm that revealed the truth. The way the house held up in the storm reveals whether the man was a fool or a wise man. Maybe from outward appearances, onlookers had the two men confused, thinking the wise man was the fool and the fool was the wise man. But the severe storm revealed the truth.

Furthermore, from the previous section, we see that the fool in this section probably was confident his house was firmly built. The truth did not come out until it was too late to do any thing about it.

7) the foundation, sand or rock. The house did not collapse because it was made of inferior workman ship or material, nor because the builder was inferior. The foundation of sand washed out, while the rock remained firm.

The Lord makes it very clear here that no matter how much effort goes into the construction of our house, if the foundation is wrong, the house will fall.

Illustration:

When I was in the Navy, I was in the SeaBees. They were mobile construction battalions that could be sent anywhere in the world on very short notice for any kind of construction projects. They were construction oriented, with a military organization. During peace time, the SeaBees maintained Naval facilities. We build houses, roads, railroads, defense emplacements, whatever was needed on the bases. We would go on deployment about 9 months out of the year. While on deployment, because our families were not with us, we had nothing to do but work. So we usually worked 6 ½ days a week, daylight to dark. Then the three months back in the states, we attended trade schools and did a lot of loafing.

During one 3 month period back at Davisville RI, a hurricane went close to the Florida coast and washed out a sea wall at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The houses built close to the sea were not damaged, but their protection from the action of the sea was gone. Another hurricane was plotted as heading toward that area, but now the sea wall was gone, and the sea was within a few hundred yards of the houses. My battalion was the only one in Davisville at that time, so they asked for volunteers from MCB 7 to go rebuild the sea wall. Since I had no family and nothing to do, I volunteered.

We were in Jacksonville in about 24 hours. Of course, we worked 12-16 hour days every day, even under flood lights, to construct a sea wall before the next hurricane came in.

The worry was that the sand would wash out from under the houses and the housing would be lost to the sea. The sea wall spared the houses.

The picture our Lord paints here is very similar: The foolish person built his house with a good view and maybe in a convenient location. He did not care if the house was on the sand or not: his concern was with convenience and beauty.

How many have built their houses in hurricane areas simply for the location, ignoring the fact that there is no firm foundation for the houses?

The wise man, though, was concerned with the foundation of his house more than he was about convenience and beauty. He sought for and found rock for his foundation.

8) we can count on the fact that the fierce storms will come. Mark it down, and take it to the bank, the storms of life will come. The storms will come to everyone. The storms are not the problem; the problem is what the storms reveal about our lives.

I use Ps 119:165 often: Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing will offend them. Offence proves that we do not love the law of God in a particular area of life. Offences must needs come, but woe to him by whom the offences come.

The storms of life will come, but woe unto him that causes the storms.

9) the rock and sand defined. The only thing safe to build on is hearing and doing the Word of God. Anything else will collapse. The problem is, though, that after it collapse, it is too late to do any thing about the foundation.

Our houses must be built upon the Word of God by faith. For 150 years, Noah build his house by faith upon the revealed Word of God. He was mocked and ridiculed, but in the end, his house stood and the mockers perished.

Yes, the world's crowd, and many of those who profess to be Christians, will mock us as we build like Noah did. But the storms will come. Maybe the foolish man's house will not fall this side of death, but it will fall.

Again, we cannot over emphasize the importance of seeking, studying and praying over the Word of God. The only safety in the storms of this life is hearing and doing the Word of God, these sayings of mine…

We are so close to the end, we will finish up.

Vv. 28, 29
Astonishment

Jesus' message was lengthy and astonishing. However, just reading it only takes a few minutes.

V. 29 explains why the people were astonished.

Christ spoke with authority. Vv. 24-27 pronounced judgment upon those who did not hear and do His words. I would say that this pronouncement was very authoritative. In fact, all judgement has been given to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Psalms tell us (ch 2) that we better kiss the Son less he be angry. This passage tells us that we had better obey the Son less he be angry.

The scribes knew the law of Moses, but they lacked authority because they were men. The Lord Jesus Christ not only knew the truth and the law, but He was the truth and the law. Jesus, though appearing as simply a man, spoke on the mount here as the one and only genuine law-giver from God. He did not speak as one who throughly knew the law; rather, He spoke as the One giving the law. He spoke as no teacher of the law could speak.

Thus the Word of God is the final authority for all faith, doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in right living. If the Word of God is not adhered to, the house will collapse.

The authority claimed by the Lord Jesus Christ is not only astonishing, but it is also resisted by the natural man.