On the Rock | Matthew 7:24-29

Week 17 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.  (Matthew 7:28-29)

OPENING THOUGHT

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is a guidebook for being a citizen of God’s kingdom. In chapter five, Jesus covered the overall characteristics of a Christ follower, their purpose on earth, and how they relate to the Old Testament laws and commandments. In chapter six, He addressed godly actions that are not so godly when done out of pride. He also beckoned us to store our treasure in heaven where it will be eternally secure so that we might be able to live without anxiety here.

Christ opened chapter seven with a warning against hypocritical judgments against others, encouraging us to love others how God has loved us. He then issued a series of warnings to finish the sermon. First, He warned against following the easy path to the broad gate of destruction, calling us to enter by the narrow gate into life. Second, He warned against being deceived by false prophets who appear to be Christ’s followers but are not. Third, He warned against self-deception, saying that many who call Christ Lord will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

To conclude the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a fourth and final warning. Jesus tells us that if we hear and obey His words we will be like a wise man who built his house on a solid rock foundation, but if we hear and do not obey His words, we will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It is important to note that Jesus is speaking of those who have heard His words, but some will obey and other will not. The question that we must therefore ask at the end of this sermon is whether we will choose to obey Christ’s words or not.

Read verses 24-27 and discuss the following.

  1. In Jesus’ analogy, what do the two builders have in common and where do they differ from one another? Under what conditions will their differences be revealed?
  2. How do Luke 6:46-49 and James 1:21-27 help to further understand the importance of obedience when following Christ?

Read verses 28-29 and discuss the following.

  1. How did Jesus’ authority compare to the scribes?
  2. Why is astonishment and amazement not a sufficient response?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Apply Jesus’ warning to how you hear His words in the Scriptures. In what ways do you obey the Bible, not just read it?
  • Pray. Ask God for the strength to obey His commands.
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12 Tests for Knowing I’m Saved

This Sunday I preached Matthew 7:21-23, which is easily one of the most solemn texts in all of Scripture.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said of these verses: “These, surely, are in many ways the most solemn and solemnizing words ever uttered in this world, not only by any man, but even by the Son of God Himself. Indeed, were any man to utter such words we should feel compelled not only to criticize but even to condemn him.”

This is because Jesus’ words reveal an unsettling truth: many who profess to know Christ will not enter the kingdom of heaven. They believe they are following the narrow path to life, but they are actually walking down the broad road toward destruction.

This is absolutely terrifying because our eternal destination is at stake.

A chill should run down our spines whenever even imagine hearing Christ’s word: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

I’ve already written on if we are able to lose our salvation, but the question still remains: how can we know that we are saved?

Paul Washer seeks to answer this question in the third book of his Recovering the Gospel series, Gospel Assurance and Warnings. In the book, Washer looks to John’s first epistle as containing tests for evaluating whether our faith is real or false.

In 1 John 5:13, the apostle states, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” This means that the purpose of 1 John is to help us KNOW that we have eternal life.

Below you will find 12 tests that Washer pulled from 1 John for evaluating our walk with the Lord.

With an open Bible and an honest heart, use God’s Word “to see whether you are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Test 1: We know that we are Christian because we walk in the light (1 John 1:4-7). Our style of life is being gradually conformed to what God has revealed to us about His nature and will.

Test 2: We know that we are Christian because our lives are marked by sensitivity to sin, repentance, and confession (1 John 1:8-10).

Test 3: We know that we are Christian because we keep God’s commands (1 John 2:3-4). We desire to know God’s will, strive to obey it, and mourn our disobedience.

Test 4: We know that we are Christian because we walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:5-6). We desire to imitate Christ and grow in conformity to Him.

Test 5: We know that we are Christian because we love other Christians, desire their fellowship, and seek to serve them in deed and truth (1 John 2:7-11).

Test 6: We know that we are Christian because of our increasing disdain for the world and because of our rejection of all that contradicts and opposes God’s nature and will (1 John 2:15-17).

Test 7: We know that we are Christian because we continue in the historic doctrines and practices of the Christian faith and remain within the fellowship of others who do the same (1 John 2:18-19).

Test 8: We know that we are Christian because we profess Christ to be God and hold Him in the highest esteem (1 John 2:22-24; 4:1-3, 13-15).

Test 9: We know that we are Christian because our lives are marked by a longing and practical pursuit of personal holiness (1 John 3:1-3).

Test 10: We know that we are Christian because we are practicing righteousness (1 John 2:28-29; 3:4-10). We are doing those things that conform to God’s righteous standard.

Test 11: We know that we are Christian because we overcome the world (1 John 4:4-6; 5:4-5). Although we are often hard pressed and weary, we press on in faith. We continue following Christ and do not turn back.

Test 12: We know that we are Christian because we believe the things that God has revealed concerning His Son, Jesus Christ. We have eternal life in Him alone (1 John 5:9-12).

I Never Knew You | Matthew 7:21-23

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom
of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is
in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did
we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your
name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I
declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers
of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

OPENING THOUGHT

Jesus’ most famous teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, was preached
to His disciples for the purpose of informing them how to live as citizens
of the kingdom of heaven. Chapter five began with the Beatitudes,
which are the characteristics for how Christians are to live. He then
proceeded to define His followers purpose and their relation to the
Old Testament commandments, which He demanded must now be
met at the heart-level. In chapter six, Jesus taught how we give to the
poor, pray, and fast in-correctly. He also encouraged us to store our
treasure in heaven, not on earth, and when they are secure with God,
we can truly live without anxiety, knowing that God is in control.

Chapter seven began with a warning against hypocritically judging
others (take the log out of your eye before removing the speck from
your brother’s eye) and continued with the call to love others with God’s
love (treat others as you desire to be treated). Jesus then began to
conclude the sermon with a series of warning. First, He warned us to
enter by the narrow gate which, though difficult, leads to life. Second,
He warned against false teachers, who would infiltrate the church like
wolves in sheep’s clothing.

We now come to Jesus’ third warning. If last week Christ warned against
deception from false teachers, He now warns against self-deception.
Jesus tells us that many who call Jesus Lord and do good works in His
name will not enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, Jesus will declare
that He never knew them at all! These are some of the most solemn
and sobering words in all the Scriptures, calling us to consider any false
hopes that we hold to and whether we truly know the Lord at all.

Read verses 21-23 and discuss the following.

1. Jesus begins by saying that not everyone who calls Him Lord
will enter the kingdom of heaven, but it is also important to
remember that no one will enter who does not call Jesus Lord.
Why is the Lordship of Christ so significant?
2. These verses reveal that many who have hope of entering the
kingdom of heaven will one day learn that their hope was false.
What are some of these false hopes?
3. The severity of this text might cause us to question the reality of
our salvation. How can we know that we are saved?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

• Obey. The only hope we have of entering the kingdom of heaven
is by following the difficult path and entering by the narrow gate,
which is marked by the death of self and faith in God’s grace.
Reflect upon whether you trust fully in the gospel or upon your
own efforts.
• Pray. This week pray for friends or family you know that are
currently being deceived by false teaching.

 

A Tree & Its Fruit (Matthew 7:15-20)

Week 15 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

OPENING THOUGHT

Since we are rapidly approaching the end of our study on the Sermon on the Mount, let us recall what we have discussed so far. Jesus preached this sermon, primarily to His disciples, as a sort of shorthand guide for living as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. He began with the Beatitudes, which defined the characteristics of a Christian. He then proceeded to establish His followers purpose on earth: to be the salt and light of the world. Finally, Christ closed out chapter five by explaining how the commandments and laws of the Old Testament function within His kingdom.

Jesus began chapter six by diving into acts of religious piety, such as giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting. Likely to His disciples’ surprise, Christ taught that those acts could easily be done from a bad heart, causing them not to be godly, but sinful. He then encouraged His disciples to seek after the heavenly reward from the Father, which is an eternal treasure that can never be lost or destroyed. And once our treasure is fixed in eternity, we can truly live without anxiety.

Now in chapter seven, Jesus has been covering highly important topics, like how not to be a hypocrite, how to come before the Father, and that the gate to heaven is narrow and hard. His warning today is against false teachers. Like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they will seek to invade the church community, but Jesus states that we will be able to recognize them. Just as a wolf will never truly imitate a sheep and bad trees will never bear good fruit, so will we be able to notice false teachers by their lifestyle.

Read verses 15-20 and discuss the following.

  1. This warning about recognizing false teachers comes directly after the explanation of the narrow and broad gates. How are both passages connected to one another?
  2. False teachers often come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. How might false teachers disguise themselves today?
  3. What are some common and/or popular false teachings of today?
  4. At the begin of chapter seven, Jesus warned against judging others. How do these two passages relate to one another?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Take time to review important confessions of faith (such as the Baptist Faith and Message, the London Confession of Faith of 1689, or the Nicene Creed), making certain that you understand the good fruit of sound doctrine.
  • Pray. This week pray for friends or family you know that are currently being deceived by false teaching.

The Narrow Gate | Matthew 7:13-14

Week 14 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

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

OPENING THOUGHT

Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount to His disciples in order to teach them what citizenship within the kingdom of heaven should look like. He began the sermon with the Beatitudes, which defined the characteristics that ought to mark Christ’s followers. He then clarified the Christian’s purpose on earth and explained how we are supposed to relate to the Old Testament’s laws and commandments. In chapter six, Jesus taught how we give to the poor, pray, and fast incorrectly. He also encouraged us to store our treasure in heaven, not on earth, and when they are secure with God, we can truly live without anxiety, knowing that God is in control.

In chapter seven, Jesus warned us against hypocritically judging others, telling us to first take the log out our own eye before getting a speck out of our brother’s eye. He then encouraged us to petition the Father in prayer. He explains that our heavenly Father will lovingly give to us what we need, so long as we first recognize our dependency upon Him. Furthermore, once we know the loving-kindness of the Father, it will transform how we love and treat the people around us.

Today, we will cover just two small verses, yet they are loaded with meaning and impact. Here Jesus commands His disciples to travel down the difficult path, entering into the narrow gate, which leads to eternal life and to avoid the easy road with a broad gate, which leads to destruction. Our Lord is describing in metaphor the only two ways of living that are available to us. Either we will follow Christ down the narrow road or we will take whatever path pleases us, which ultimately is all a part of the broad path to destruction.

Read verses 13-14 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus tells us that there are only two paths with two gates, the narrow leads to life and the broad leads to destruction. What is the narrow gate of which Jesus is speaking?
  2. Why is the gate narrow and the path hard that leads to life?
  3. Is God righteous by only providing one way of salvation?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Consider Jesus’ command: enter by the narrow gate. Take time to prayerfully meditate upon the gospel, coming to God in repentance once again.
  • Pray. Pray for friends and family in your life who are traveling down the broad and easy road toward destruction that they may come to know the truth of the gospel.

Ask & Receive | Matthew 7:7-12

Week 13 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  (Matthew 7:12)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

OPENING THOUGHT

The Gospel of Matthew proclaims that Jesus came to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth. Within this context, we can understand Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as a sort of handbook to being a citizen of God’s kingdom. Chapter five began with the Beatitudes, which are the characteristics for how Christians are to live. He then proceeded to define His followers purpose and their relation to the Old Testament commandments, which He demanded must now be met at the heart-level.

Chapter six focused upon godly religious behavior. Using the examples of giving to the poor, praying, and fasting, Jesus revealed that we could do such activities with the intent to be seen by others and render them void as godly works. Christ then urged His followers to store up for themselves treasures in heaven. This type of eternal investment could only come from a heart that served God before money or any other false gods. The chapter then closed with a command for us not to be anxious about our lives, which of course can only be followed when our heart’s treasure is eternally secure.

After discussing Facebook’s most cited verse last week, we now move into Jesus diving back into the topic of prayer. Here Jesus encourages us to bring our needs before Father, knowing that He will be faithful to give us good things. Of course, this is not a blanket promise that God will always give us what we want; rather, Jesus is affirming that we can pray knowing that the Father will provide what we need when we ask according to His will. We also close with Jesus’ succinct summary of the entire Old Testament: The Golden Rule. In light of God’s good gifts to us, we ought also to do good to others.

Read verses 7-11 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus gives us three versions of the same principle: if you ask, you will receive. Does Jesus mean that God will give Christians anything they ask for?
  2. How do Jesus’ words here relate to James 4:1-4?
  3. How are we able to have confidence that however the Father answers our prayers is always the best?

Read verse 12 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus calls the Golden Rule a summary of the Law and Prophets. How is this statement a summary of all of God’s laws and commandments?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Prayerfully evaluate how well you live out the Golden Rule. Do you truly do to others as you would have them do to you? Resolve to love others with Christ-like love.
  • Pray. Follow the commands of Jesus regarding prayer. Ask God to meet your needs, but ask in accordance with His will, seeking first His kingdom.

Judge Not | Matthew 7:1-6

Week 12 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6)

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

OPENING THOUGHT

We are now two-thirds through our study on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Because the Gospel of Matthew is primarily about how Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to earth, the Sermon on the Mount very easily fits as a citizen’s guide to living in God’s kingdom. The topics covered have also been quite vast and sweeping: the characteristics and purpose of a Christian, how Christians relate to the Old Testament commandments, and how to properly give, pray, and fast.

Chapter six then ended with Jesus encouraging us to make an eternal investment in heavenly treasure that cannot be taken away from us. Once our hearts are eternally secure with the Father, we can then live lives without being anxious for our daily needs. Instead of focusing upon our temporal needs, Jesus urges us to focus first upon God’s kingdom.

As we move into the final chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, the topic shifts again. The predominate theme of this chapter is evaluating whether we truly belong to the kingdom of heaven. This theme kicks off as we study one of Facebook’s most quoted verses of all time: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” As we will see, Jesus is not forbidding all judgment wholesale; instead, He is preventing blanket condemnation and hypocritical criticism.

Read verses 1-5 and discuss the following.

  1. Since this is one of the most widely used verses today, it should be no surprise that it is often used in a manner that Jesus did not intend. What are some ways that the command “judge not” is used incorrectly?2. What did Jesus really mean by saying “judge not”?3. What do other Scriptures say about passing judgment?

Read verse 6 and discuss the following.

  1. To what is Jesus referring when He warns not to give holy things to dogs or throw pearls to pigs?5. How does this verse relate to the five verses before it?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. After meditating upon these six verses, consider how passing judgment fits into your life. Do you have a tendency to make hypocritical criticisms of others, or do you tend to refrain from lovingly speaking truth to brothers and sisters in Christ for fear of being seen as judgmental? Repent of either extreme.
  • Pray. Ask the Father for grace to fully realize our personal failings that we would be able to lovingly reach out to others for the kingdom.