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Have you ever had doubts about your salvation? About whether or not you are saved? As we finish our series, Summer on the Mount, Todd Wagner walks us through Matthew 7:21-29, teaching us how we can know we are saved and what to do—how to live—in light of studying the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount the past three-months.
How to Never Hear, “Depart From Me I Never Knew You.”
Broad vs Narrow
The Golden Rule
Prayer Connected to Promise
Matthew 7:1-6 : Judging Others
Finding Freedom From Worry
Is Money Your Servant or Master?
The Lord’s Prayer
False Religion & Outward Righteousness
Radical Love of Real Disciples
What Jesus Says About Divorce in Matthew 5:31-32
The Murderer and Adulterer Within Me
Salt, Light, the Saved, the Savior and the Law
The Life that Flourishes
A Summary of Matthew 5-7
Discussing and Applying the Sermon
Read Matthew 7:21-29. What did you learn? What are you doing to do about it? Who are you going to tell?
Have you ever had doubts about your salvation? About whether or not you are saved? As we finish our series, Summer on the Mount, Todd Wagner walks us through Matthew 7:21-29, teaching us how we can know we are saved and what to do—how to live—in light of studying the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount the past three-months.
Suggested Scripture study: Matthew 7:21-29; John 6:26-29; John 13:15-30; Luke 9:1,10; John 6:67-70; James 2:14-20; Matthew 21:33-46; 1 John 5:11-13
Real Truth Real Quick: Can Someone Do the Work of the Lord and Not Be Saved?
Real Truth Real Quick: Can I Believe in Jesus and Not Be Saved?
Real Truth Real Quick: How Do I Know if I Am Saved?
Real Truth Real Quick: Can A Believer Lose Their Salvation?
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing? It is awesome to be together and back with all of our friends in Frisco, Plano, Fort Worth, right here in Dallas, and all of you who are online today. We are thrilled to be together. It has been an amazing summer as we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount. I think Dallas knows this. I know Frisco, Fort Worth, and Plano know this. We have been intentionally working our way through this series individually on campuses.
I've been meeting with the guys who have been teaching all summer on Mondays for hours as we study the text together and make sure we all agree what it's saying and what God has for us there and that we would teach it in similar ways, but we've had over 15 different men teach this summer, 15 different folks who have taught our campuses.
In Fort Worth, Tyler did the yeoman's work, and Josh Thames and Drew Zeiler jumped in. Up in Frisco, Connor carried pretty much all 13 weeks by himself up there, and in Plano we had a number of men. In Dallas, we had six different guys who taught. So, about 15 different people have been teaching the Word. There's a reason for that.
I've jumped in three or four times to teach, but I've been here with you learning all summer. I've been sitting right there. Watermark is not Todd's church. People sometimes say to me, "Man, Todd, I love your church." I go, "First of all, it's not mine. I didn't die for the sins of the people at Watermark. This is Jesus' church." Part of what Jesus would have us, as leaders in his church, do is to raise up the future generation of leaders.
That's why we have been very intentional this summer in doing this. By the way, we know there are a lot of guys we're not raising up. They're just gifted and serve in all kinds of different ways, but we use them in different ways than they primarily do because we want you to know this church is not built on a personality; it's built on a person. His name is Jesus, and we love him, and we serve him, and we exalt him, and we're so grateful to get to use their gifts.
I am a member of this body. I am a part of the flock. I am grateful for the way you shepherd me and love me and help me, and I am humbled that you all give me the privilege also of serving as a pastor/leader/elder and that my gifts that the Spirit of God has given me can be helpful to you in some way. That's what we've been doing this summer as we've spent time in Matthew 5-7, the most famous message that has ever been given.
We are going to dismount today. We're going to finish the Sermon on the Mount. What I want to let you know is that this message, this introduction of God to his kingdom work and what will allow you to be a kingdom person as you live with a kingdom ethic and a kingdom mindset, is absolutely essential to your peace.
I'm going to tell you what we do when we teach here. Whoever teaches here, we don't try to equip the saints in the sense that we believe this is going to be a healthy and complete part of your diet. You will not be a mature believer in Christ if you just come to Watermark and expect what you hear on Sunday morning to be enough of the equipping that you would be adequate and equipped for every good work, as it says. What we try to do and what we will do at this pastors' conference… That's what I think about when we come in here.
We welcome our nonbelieving friends. We're so glad so many of you guys are here, non-members, but you need to know we are in here as God's people, and we remind ourselves of the greatness of our God, all that he has done for us, his love for us, the rescue mission God himself undertook in the person of his Son, the visible image of the invisible God, Jesus, to come and rescue us, and we seek to remember how we should respond to that so we can live worshipfully throughout the week.
This is a pastors' conference. We're a kingdom of priests. We are sheep and we are shepherds of one another. We're growing the pastoral leadership of this body that is here, but as we already said this morning and as you look in the Watermark News, there are all kinds of other equipping opportunities you must avail yourself to, the greatest of which is life together. As you devote yourself daily to the Word of God and then pursue each other relationally, live authentically, admonish each other faithfully, and speak forth the Word of God, counseling each other biblically, we can engage together on a mission.
When you teach up here… The leadership of this church is very clear with guys who come up here. We're not looking to have some professorial moment where we're breaking down a text in a way that just transfers information. The purpose of teaching is not just informational; it's transformational. So we are preaching. Let me explain what I mean. I'm going to show you how we're following the example of our Lord God when he came in the person of Jesus and gave a sermon, not a lecture.
These are the words of a man who lived about 100 years ago and was a teacher. His name is Martyn Lloyd-Jones if that means anything to you. I read this about two months ago, and I go, "That's what I've been talking about. When I talk to guys about how you communicate on Sunday, this is what I mean." I'm going to read it to you so you can at least know what I'm intending to do and decide if I fail.
He says, "I assert that preaching a sermon is not to be confused with giving a lecture. This [a lecture], again, is something quite different, and for these reasons. A lecture starts with a subject, and what it is concerned to do is to give knowledge and information concerning this particular subject. Its appeal is primarily and almost exclusively to the mind; its object is to give instruction and state facts." Have y'all been to lectures? Yeah. Most of your life.
"That is its primary purpose and function. So a lecture, again, lacks, and should lack, the element of attack, the concern to do something to the listener, which is a vital element in preaching. But the big difference, I would say, between a lecture and a sermon is that a sermon does not start with a subject; a sermon should always be expository." To posit (to think); ex (from). To take your thinking from the text and to draw it out.
"In a sermon the theme or the doctrine is something that arises out of the text and its context, it is something which is illustrated by that text and context." I mean to attack you. I want something to come out of this that is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, that is able to divide between soul and spirit, joint and marrow. I want to put the seed of the Word of God in you, and when it is in you, if your heart, by the grace of God, is malleable to truth, it will produce fruit.
Now that is exactly what Jesus does in the Sermon on the Mount. We spent nigh 12 weeks with Jesus preaching about righteousness and holiness and true humility before God. We got last week to the application section where he said, "All right, people. This is what you do with this." I want to reread it to you. I'm going to read what we talked about last week, make a couple of quick comments, because it all ties in with where we are. This is all the application section.
Are you ready? Matthew, chapter 7. I'm going to pick it up right here in verse 13, and you're going to find out that Jesus wants to do two things the rest of the message. He wants you to know why he has come and what you should do with what he has told you. He wants you to enter, and he wants to warn you that there are going to be some things that can keep you from entering: false teachers and false belief. May God give you a heart to listen, because he has come that you might hear this. Let me go on the attack from the Sermon on the Mount.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life…" What you're going to find out is that the narrow gate, the narrow way, is the firm foundation he closes this message with. They're all one and the same. He is calling men to know the holiness of God and the only true and right response to it, and he says in verse 15, "Beware. Something is going to take you on the broad way of destruction."
I am convinced that there are as many lost people in churches, percentage-wise, as there are who are not in churches this morning. There are a lot of people who have what I'm going to even call a demonic faith and not a dynamic faith. Today, I'm going to help you know that you can have a true faith, because Jesus wants you to enter. Look at what it says in verse 15. "Beware of the false prophets…" Here's the warning: "…who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."
The church is never in more danger than when false teachers tell the truth. There is nothing more dangerous to sheep than wolves in shepherd's clothing. They are ear ticklers. They are men who will not exposit, who will lecture you with tips and techniques and little blessings that will help you manage your way through life and feel just good enough about yourself that you feel like you're just good enough for God, and you will never come to repentance.
You will never have a broken and contrite heart. You will never see the glory of the cross. You will never see the wonder of the rescue mission that has been revealed in the context of history, and you will be damned. You will be on the broad way that leads to destruction, and it will not go well with you.
It might go okay with you through life. You might generally make it and be a good, strong citizen, a solid church attender. You might tithe. You might serve in children's ministry. You might sing songs when Jon says, "If you're a believer, sing," and you will be lost if you don't listen to truth. Look at what he says.
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
"I'm going to show you what the good fruit is, and you're going to know people by their fruits," Jesus says. He is trying to warn them. Let me just say something here. You need to know it's a fact that false prophets can say true things. That's part of what they do that makes them so effective. That's what con men do. Con men don't walk up and start lying to you right away. They will give you just a little bit enough of a product that you think, "This guy is trustworthy. This guy is acceptable."
False teachers sometimes will open God's Word. They will call themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They will call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses. They will call themselves holy men, because those are words that ought to make you go, "I want holy men. I want people who witness for God. I want saints today." They will call themselves pastors. They will call themselves churches. If they don't teach what Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, they are false teachers. I'm going to show you the fruit.
Now watch this. Not only can false teachers say true things. I want to warn you of this: true believers can say false things. Church, listen to me. We are one church, four campuses, thousands of locations. You are a kingdom of priests. You don't come to Watermark. You are Jesus' people if you know him. That means we are a spiritual household made up individually as members who are being built up into a glorious body for God.
It means we are a kingdom of priests. All of us, every one of us, should aspire to be faithful shepherds even while we maintain the humility of one who needs to be shepherded themselves. Every one of you. There are true believers in our church who at times in your Community Group will say things like, "Well, I think that…" or "I believe…" or "It seems to me…" or "If you're asking me what I think…" They're not counseling biblically when they do that.
If you're in a Community Group with others and they are pushing you toward their own sensibilities, if when they are talking to you about your marriage, your business, your giving, your living, if they don't go, "Let's look at what the Word of God says, and let's admonish each other in our unruliness. Let's encourage each other in our weakness. Let's help each other in our faintheartedness with great patience, but let's go to war against our flesh. Let's not tell each other what we think. Let's not be true believers who are false teachers. Let's not encourage each other in a way that seems right to us in our just 'get along, good enough' world…"
No. We are shepherds of God. We are, if we're true believers, servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, and when we speak, we counsel biblically. In your Community Group, I don't want to hear what your culture is largely saying is okay, because if you are citizens of the kingdom, you will live on this earth as God's ambassadors, and you will be aliens and strangers to the cultural flow of the world.
False teachers are going to say some true things. They are con men. They build confidence, and they set you up, and they plunder you. Too many times, true believers say false things. Here's something even more amazing. Jesus just got through telling us that you're going to know true believers by their fruit. Here's what's crazy. I'm about to read to you some of the most difficult verses in all of Scripture.
The verses I'm about to read in Matthew 7:21-23 I didn't really understand for decades after I trusted Christ. I was puzzled by them. I knew they were true. I just didn't know how to explain them. They bothered me. They created insecurity in me. They were a matter of prayer, but I was a little bit confused. When people would ask me, "What does that mean?" I would tell them as best I could, but I was largely hopeful I was not one of them, even while I knew I wasn't, and I'll tell you why I knew I wasn't.
I remember when God said to me, "Hey, Todd. You know that thing you've been wrestling with over here? This is the answer to it, and this is how you should teach it." So I'm going to teach you that today. Here's what you need to realize. We know good trees by their good fruit, but false prophets and bad trees can do good things. They can even produce what you would call the most impressive of all spiritual fruits, and they're going to hell. Matthew 7:21-23. Are you ready? Watch this.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"
Wow. Is there anything more impressive than a guy who can speak prophetically? Is there anything more impressive than the word miracle? Is there anything more impressive than somebody who can cast out demons? I mean, is that not the work of God to supernaturally intervene into a world that is wrecked and needs hope and to bring hope to a world that is destined to oppression by lies and deceit of the Enemy and the Father of Lies and to rescue them?
He's going to say there are some people who will speak forth the Word of God who he will use to do miraculous things and who will even bring demon oppression out of individuals who don't know Jesus and are going to hell. Now so far, I haven't said anything. I just repeated Matthew 7:21-23. If you're sitting out there, you might go, "Hey, Todd, how do I know that's not me?" Well, here's how.
I want you to know something. You can know that you're not a false teacher. First John 5:11-13: "This is the testimony that life is in the Son. He who has the Son has the life. He who does not have the Son does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in order that you might know that you have eternal life."
I do this thing called Real Truth. Real Quick. to help equip you and to encourage you, and when I go back at times with the guys who help me with that and they go, "Todd, do you want to know what the most watched episodes of Real Truth. Real Quick. are?" without fail, almost always the top five most watched Real Truth. Real Quick. episodes (and I've done four or five related to the same topic) all have to do with assurance of salvation.
I think that's a good thing. I think it's good that people go, "I want to know for sure that I'm saved. How can I know for sure I'm saved?" You can't know for sure you're saved if you prophesy, do miracles, or cast out demons. Does that freak you out? It shouldn't, because it's right there the very first time Jesus spoke.
The good news is that Jesus in this section says this very clarifying thing. Let me just read the words of Christ. He says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but here's who will: those who do the will of my Father." So, what's the will of the Father? "Well, isn't it to do miracles and prophesy and to cast out demons?" No. Those are things that will be a derivative of, but primarily the will of the Father is this.
It's really interesting. There was a time Jesus was standing there talking, and folks were perplexed at who he was, because he was bold. He was not running for mayor. He was on the attack, because he wanted people to respond. He loves folks, and he wants them to enter. They go, "Hey, your mom and your brothers and your sisters are outside," and he goes, "Who are my brothers and my mother and my sisters?" Then it says, "Signaling to his disciples, he said, 'These are my brothers and my mother and my sisters.'"
In Matthew 12:50, he says, "Those who do the will of my Father." I'm like, "Okay. That's awesome. How do we do the will of the Father?" Well, here's the great news. There was a time when Jesus wasn't in the middle of a long sermon that he was talking and some people interrupted him and asked him a question. "What is the will of the Father? What must we do that we are doing the work of God?"
So, here's what's going to happen. In John, chapter 6, there was a group of people who were following Jesus because he was doing miracles. He said, "Don't follow me because I'm doing miracles. You guys are here because I gave you physical bread. It was both satisfying to your flesh and amazing." It's like a Copperfield show. "How's the brother doing that?"
By the way, I'll tell you that there are a lot of guys who are doing miracles today who aren't doing miracles, speaking prophetically today who aren't speaking prophetically; they're just doing charlatan and magician and parlor tricks. I know that for a fact. What looks like miracles aren't miracles. What looks like prophetic words aren't always prophetic words. It's pathetic. It's not a godly people who seek signs. Godly people seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
What you're going to find out is the narrow gate has a very specifically defined righteousness. The narrow way has a very specifically defined righteousness. The firm foundation is a very specific righteous foundation. In John, chapter 6, Jesus said, "You come to me because you saw signs, and the signs didn't point you, like they should have, to the fact that something supernatural is among you. You came really because you wanted more signs. You wanted loaves, and you were filled."
He says, "'Do not work for the food which perishes [for things that are pleasing to you for a moment] , but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.' Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?'" This is where you ought to lean in. I'm taking you to John, chapter 6. I read you verse 28, because I want you to know how you can know that you have eternal life. Here we go.
"Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God…'" This is the will of the Father. This is the work he wants you to do. "…that you believe in Him whom He has sent." You're like, "Okay. Great, Todd. That's why I say, 'Lord, Lord.' That's why I come here. I don't walk in here at 9:20 like most Watermark people. I come here at 8:50, and I sing songs for 20 minutes. I sing, 'Lord, Lord,' and when you say, 'Lord, Lord,' I say, 'Amen.' I'm a 'Lord, Lord' person."
Well, he says, "Some of you are going to say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' and I'm going to say, 'Depart from me; I never knew you.'" It's not just that you believe that Jesus is Lord; it's that you believe in. Let me take you in my mind's eye to James, chapter 2, verse 19, where he says, "You believe that God is one? You believe in the Shema? You believe the most holy statement about God in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 6, that the Lord God is one and there is no other before him and you should love him with all your heart, soul, and mind?"
He says, "You believe that? Well, awesome. Even the demons believe that, and they tremble in their belief." Demons believe that something is true. Demons do not believe in Jesus. They believe he is the Holy One of God. I've done this before. This is the demonic faith I was talking about. When you look at demons in Scripture and listen to the way they interact with Jesus, they are the most theological, Christological, "theodical," eschatological, hamartiological informed individuals in all of Scripture.
There is nobody who speaks as much truth to Jesus in Scripture as demons. "We know who you are, the Holy One of God. Have you come to judge us before our time?" That's a good angelology. That's a good Christology. That's a good eschatology. That's a good hamartiology. That's a good theodicy. It's all of that stuff. Demons even tremble because they have a faith that sees, but they do not believe in Jesus. They do not believe ultimately that they need what Jesus had offered them, which is intimacy with him.
They don't believe God is good, they don't believe his Word is true, and they don't believe that judgment is that big of a deal, although they had a good hunch that it was going to be pretty bad and they didn't want it. There are a lot of people who believe that amazing grace is a sweet sound. There are a lot of people who believe that God is great, and they don't believe in Jesus the way you need to believe in.
They don't have the Son. They have information about the Son. They would say the things about the Son are true. They wouldn't say they're Muslim. They wouldn't say they're Buddhist. They wouldn't say they're Hindu. They wouldn't say they're atheist. They would say, "I'm a Christian. I largely believe that." It isn't what saves. In fact, let me go a little further.
It is possible that God will use you to preach the Word; that you can teach the Bible; that in teaching the Bible and praying for others, in effect, God, despite the fact that you have no relationship with him, will bring healing; that when you preach the Word people will hear it and repent at the Word that was taught, even though you yourself haven't. You're like, "Todd, what are you driving at?"
I'm going to show you very clearly here. Let me show you how God ultimately opened my eyes to what was happening. One other thing I want to stick in right here. Would you guys agree that miracles, prophecy, and demon-casting is an amazing résumé? Let me show you very quickly the very end of the Sermon on the Mount in verse 28. It says, "When Jesus had finished teaching, the crowds were amazed at his teaching."
I just want to give you a little application point here. You can be amazed at Jesus' word, like, "Bro, that guy can teach; he speaks with authority," and you can do amazing things by the power of his word, and you can still be accursed by him. A lot of people who were there that day had been doing amazing things and were amazed at his words and were on the broad way to destruction.
Here's another little statement I would tell you. This is going to help you a little bit. You have to make sure you are a doer of the Word and not just somebody that the Word of God is doing something through. I have a good friend who is a Jew. His mom and dad were both Holocaust survivors, and this good friend of mine… His dad had already been lost. He loved his mother. I'd never really seen a son love his mother this much.
I had been talking to my friend about Jesus for years. I was actually in Israel with him. When I was with him, his mom was coming to the end of her days. He still was hanging out with me, but he finally got a call saying, "You've got to come again." He was on the phone constantly with his mom throughout our time, but ultimately, his mom was dying, and he was going to go see his mom. I just sat with him and I said, "Brother, listen. I need you to do something. You know I love you." He goes, "Yeah, I know you love me."
"I love your mom. I've been praying for you. I've been praying for your mom. You have to go. I'm asking you, as my friend, would you go share with your mom these words that are true?" I walked him through a gospel presentation. I gave him Scripture, and I said, "I want you to go and sit with your mom in her last days. I want you to tell her that Jesus is the Messiah.
I want you to tell her that the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. I want you to tell her that if she will just cry out to him and accept his provision for her brokenness, even though she was a wonderful mom, and the fact that she doesn't meet the righteous standard of God, that God loves her and that he has gone to the cross for her."
He called me that night about 1:30 in the morning and said, "Todd, I shared all of that with my mom, and she listened. I know she heard you." I don't know. I pray that maybe she responded and cried out to her Messiah and that Christ delivered her, but my friend, just because he said those things… He could have cast out the demon of the unholiness that resides in all men.
Can I just say something that's going to freak you out a little bit? If you don't know Jesus and the Holy Spirit doesn't indwell you, you are demon-possessed…right now. By the way, the way to get a demon out of somebody is not to cast it out and tell it to leave; it's to bring truth in. You get rid of darkness not by yelling at it but by bringing light in. That's what you do.
You bring forth light, and when you receive the light of Christ and he comes in and you receive a right understanding of the holiness of God, it drives away the futility of the unrighteousness of men who have given themselves over to the belief that God isn't that holy, his Word is not that much big of a deal, and judgment when you reject God is not that consequential. You can be used by God if you'll just teach the Word.
By the way, here's the context. What I do is I pull the truth out of Scripture. You need to know when Jesus was teaching this Scripture to people who were listening, there were people there who were listening who had not come to the place of believing in the Messiah and who didn't even believe in the sacrificial systems God had put in place as a means through which, by faith, they could be declared righteous.
They thought they were righteous because of what they did, and they didn't even believe in God's holiness, and they were amazed at his teaching. They were doing amazing things. The Pharisees and spiritual leaders we have such a poor view of in Scripture had been casting out demons. We know that in Matthew 12, because Jesus says to them when they go, "Hey, we think you cast out demons by Beelzebub because you're a devil," he says, "Well, that's interesting. You cast out demons. Do you think you do it by the power of the Devil?"
They didn't do it by the power of the Devil. God used their teaching the Old Testament and their talking about the true sacrificial system. There were some people who genuinely believed they weren't righteous because of what they did, that God in his grace had for a time, as it says in the book of Romans, overlooked their transgressions until the full fulfillment of those sacrifices would come, and the righteous lived by faith.
But there was a whole group of people who didn't live by faith; they lived by their own false understanding that they were good enough and holy enough that they could look God in the eye and go, "There's my résumé. I taught Scripture, miracles happened when we prayed, and even demons came out of people." That happened with Pharisees, and Pharisees were not saved.
This is when it became crystal clear to me. There was a disciple. His name was Judas. Jesus describes Judas as a "son of perdition from the beginning." In John, chapter 6, he says in verse 70, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" That's John 6. He just told the Twelve who he chose, "One of you is a devil."
In John 17:12, when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane and he's praying, he's saying, "Father, I've guarded every single one you gave me, and not one of them has perished except the son of perdition, Judas." Jesus knew exactly who Judas was. He wasn't duped by his kiss. Can I tell you something about Judas? When Jesus gathered the disciples together in Luke, chapter 9… It's also in Matthew. It's also in Mark.
Jesus got the disciples together, and this is what it says in Luke 9:1: "And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases." Verse 2 does not say, "Except for Judas, because he was a son of perdition and a devil from the beginning."
He gave Judas the authority to go out and do things, as he testified to who Jesus was, that would make people go, "Who are you people?" and they would say, "We're nobody. We are just servants of Christ. He is the visible image of the invisible God, and he has given us the authority to reverse some of the effects of sin so you can see that he is the solution to your sin." I'll go a little farther just to show you this.
In verse 10 of Luke 9, it says, "When the apostles returned, they…" Notice it doesn't say, "Except for Judas, because he was a devil from the beginning." "…they [including Judas] gave an account to Him of all that they had done." It says then he withdrew with them and they went to Bethsaida. It was while they were there that the John 6 passage I read a little bit earlier, that whole conversation goes down.
Jesus is up on the mountain, and all twelve of these guys are sitting there, talking about what God had done through them, including Judas. They were sent out in twos. The guy who was sent out with Judas didn't come back and go, "Hey, how come you gave me this lame dude? He couldn't cast out a single demon, there wasn't a single miracle done by him, and he didn't speak any of the things you told us to speak." No. They all came back, including Judas, with miracles, prophecy, and demon-casting.
They were so convinced that Judas was one of them that at the very end of Jesus' life… Now we're in John 13. Watch this. We're going to read this together. Jesus is saying, "Listen. I'm going to give you guys an example. Even though I am God, I'm going to be a servant. I'm going to humble myself and do whatever I need to do to bring cleansing to people." The ceremonial foot washing was just a picture.
He's just saying, "You guys are going to have to humble yourself, and the world is going to hate you because it hates me, but I'm asking you to go to work for the glory of God and not be people who are all puffed up because you have been chosen by the Father to be the apostles who build the unstoppable force that will shatter the gates of hell. I'm asking that you would go and clothe yourself in humility and wash people's feet with the truth of the gospel and do what I have done."
This was Jesus' message to them. Then he goes on from there, and he says in verse 19 of John 13, "From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass [that this is what's going to go down] , so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.""I'm not going to be jumped. I'm not going to be surprised." "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."
"You're going to go out into the world. Some people are going to receive you. When they receive you they're going to receive me, and when they receive me they're going to receive the Father. Some people are going to reject you, just like they reject me, and when they reject me they're going to reject the Father, and I'm going to say, 'Depart from me. I never knew you.'"
Verse 21: "When Jesus had said this, He became troubled…" Because now it was time to tell them what was going to happen next. He had already told them several times, but now he's going to say it one more time. "Here's the deal. I'm going to remind you that the scribes, the Pharisees, are going to crucify me. I'm going to be handed over to the Jews and the Romans, and one of you is going to be the one who does it. One of you is going to betray me."
When Peter heard this, Peter freaked out. We know from John 13:22-23 that John was lying on Jesus. He kind of had his head on Jesus' chest, and Peter is like, "Hey, John, John! Ask him which one." We have this. Verse 25: " [John] , leaning back thus on Jesus' bosom, said to Him, 'Lord, who is it?'""Who's the guy?" So Jesus says, "This is the one who's going to do it, the one I shall dip the morsel in the wine and give it to him."
The next words are, "So when He had dipped the morsel [in the wine] , He took and gave it to Judas…" Then he said to him, "What you do, do quickly." I have to tell you something. If you don't think the church and the ongoing march of the gospel is a miracle, all you have to do is look at the idiots he started it with. He goes, "Which of you is going to betray me? The guy I dip this in and give it to him."
Then he dipped it in and gave it to him, and they all go, "Where did Judas just go, and what's he going to go do? Oh. Is he going to go pay the waiter? Is it time to pay the bill? What's next?" Here is my question for you. It says in verse 29 they were supposing that Judas had left. "Oh, he must have need to get more things. We're running out of food. He's going to order more food."
Why were they so confused? Can I tell you why they were so confused? Because they knew Judas. "I mean, I don't know who's going to betray Jesus, but not Judas." Judas cast out demons, Judas had prophesied, and Judas had done miracles. What had Judas not done? Judas rejected the idea that Jesus must go to a cross.
By the way, who else did? Peter. When Jesus said, "Hey, who do you guys say I am?" "Well, some say you're Elijah. Some say you're John the Baptist. Some would say one of the prophets." He goes, "No, no, no. Who do you say I am? Do you believe in the one the Father has sent?" Peter finally goes, "You're the Son of God. You're the Messiah.
You are the means through which the sacrificial system will be rolled up and the infinite holiness of God will be perfectly satisfied so that what all the sacrificial system anticipated, that the blood of bulls and goats could never wipe away sin finally… You're the High Priest who will come, you're the one who's going to be the Lamb of God, and you're the one who can redeem sinful humanity."
Jesus said, "Blessed are you, Simon. That wasn't revealed to you by man but by God above. That's exactly right." He said, "Now, I just want to let you know that I am going to be a sacrifice and I am going to go and give my life and I'm going to be crucified." What does Peter say at that moment? "God, no! Lord, forbid it! Over my dead body will you die!" What does Jesus say to Peter? "Get behind me, Satan. Don't you tell the Lord what he has to do to make this thing work."
Peter humbled himself and ultimately repented. He didn't get it until the very end. He was prideful and trusted in his flesh, but Peter eventually believed in Jesus and believed that he was the Messiah, the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world. Judas refused to believe it. Judas was a zealot. We know that. Judas wanted Jesus to be the Messiah, but his Messiah was going to be one who would take on Rome and use all of his conjuring and magic abilities, his sovereignty over nature and all of creation, and bring Caesar to his knees and set Israel free.
Jesus said, "Your problem, Judas and Israel, is not Caesar; it is the reign of sin in your life." Judas would never trust in the righteousness that required the glory of God to die on a cross for him. He said, "If that's the way it has to happen, I'm out. I'm going to be righteous enough because I love Israel." He said, "You aren't righteous because you love Israel; you're righteous because you love God."
Matthew 7:21-23 can best be explained by Judas. Here's a fact: God is going to use you, and God is using men in pulpits all around the country today. God is going to use you whether you're a Judas or a John. It makes no difference to him, but it's going to make an eternal difference to you. "Okay, Todd. You have 10 minutes, man. I don't want to be a Judas." Well, lucky for you, Jesus keeps preaching.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall."
What Jesus is saying is, "Mark my words. Judgment is coming. The storms will come, the winds will blow, and the waters will rise. If you do not have a firm foundation, you will not stand." I have to be honest. I think I've taught this text most of the time as what I would say is a sanctification text. That's a big word. What does that mean? It would be like, "Listen, guys. It's not just enough to say you believe in Jesus. You have to continue in Christ."
It's a fact. It's not the house of God unless the foundation is Christ and it's filled with Christ. That's the house of God. It's true all throughout Scripture that you need to be doers of the Word and not merely hearers that delude themselves, but let me just preach a sermon. In other words, let me exposit, let me teach you what's here. In this Sermon on the Mount, what Jesus has been doing is introducing to men what the Pharisees were not introducing to men.
These men who God was using to bring salvation to some of Israel were not leading Israel into true righteousness. They believed, and the Pharisees taught, that if you did the things Pharisees do you would go to heaven, that the righteousness of the Pharisees and the righteousness of works-based Judaism was enough. Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
What's really interesting to me about that… Back up in this very first part of this message today, in Matthew 7:21, he says, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven…" He hasn't used that phrase kingdom of heaven since Matthew 5:3. In Matthew 5:3, who gets to go into the kingdom of heaven? Answer: those who do the will of the Father, he says, but he also says in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit…"
In other words, blessed are those who mourn, who are brokenhearted over their sin. Blessed are those who are gentle and say, "No longer my will but your will be done." Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after true righteousness, not the righteousness of the Pharisees, not the righteousness of American Christianity. "I'm a churchgoer. I'm married to the wife of my youth. I give money. I'm not an adulterer, I'm not an alt-right idiot, I'm not a racist, and that's going to be good enough, God. I sing hymns, psalms."
He's going to say, "No, no, man. The narrow way, the narrow gate, the firm foundation is repentance. It's saying, 'I am a sinner. I have nothing to offer you, and apart from the coming of God to rescue me from the wages of my sin, I will never be able to stand before your righteousness. There is no résumé I can build. You must save me by grace through faith, and even the faith won't be of myself. It'll be a gift from God, not a result of my works, so that no man should boast.'"
Then when you understand that, you continue. The foundation is in Jesus, and then you build on Jesus, and you walk in the good works which he prepared for you beforehand as evidence that you understand the grace you have been given. We ought to be the most humble people on earth. We should not look at those who don't know what we know and believe what we believe and go, "What's wrong with you?"
We should look at them and go, "Let me tell you the works Christ has done for me, and let me just show you. As I've built on the foundation of understanding the goodness of God, as I've loved him and sought him and sought more of him, he has produced in me the fruit of love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and gentleness and goodness and faithfulness and self-control. I hope you see that in me, but it is Christ from beginning to end. I'm not better than you. Jesus is the one who saves."
This is a justification passage. What Jesus is saying is, "Enter." Do you want to know how you enter? You're holy as God is holy. "We can't be holy." Perfect. Be poor in spirit, brokenhearted. Mourn over your sin. Cry out to God, and he will save you. "What must we do to be saved?" Repent. Turn around from works-based righteousness and human understanding and listen.
Let me read you very quickly from Matthew, chapter 21. This is the context of who Jesus is preaching to. Jesus is going to tell a story, and stories are so helpful. I just want to say this to you really quickly as I get ready to do this. Way back in May of 2019, on the 26th day of that month, I got a text from my friend David Leventhal, one of the other leaders/elders/pastors of this church. We had been studying the Sermon on the Mount together, and he wrote and sent this to me.
He was just weeks away from beginning our series on this text. He wrote me and said, "The more I spend time, Todd, in the Sermon on the Mount, the more I am amazed by the genius of how Jesus completely redefines all that the Jews knew to be true, by the simplicity of his sermon, by how unbelievably high the bar is for a disciple, and by the feeling that I'm applying very little of his words.
I am so thankful for the hindsight that the perspective of history gives me to see that as he shared these words, his death was soon coming for sinners like me, the Holy Spirit was soon coming to work in my broken flesh to produce a righteousness of God, and that his church was coming to encourage and help me in my weakness as I war against sin."
That's a man who knows the narrow way. That's a man whose foundation is Jesus. He heard Jesus say, "You've heard it said you should not murder, but I say to you if you hate somebody you're a murderer. You've heard it said don't commit adultery, but I say to you if you look at a woman with lust in your heart you're an adulterer."
What Jesus kept doing was saying, "You guys don't know what righteousness is. Quit coming to me with your 'good enough is good enough.' There is no good enough. There is perfection, there is God, and there are sinners, and you are going to the broad way that leads to hell if you don't repent and come to the narrow way, which is through me." You ought to weep in your sin.
This is exactly what repentance is. Repentance always begins with a knowledge of sin. It goes to work in your heart to produce a sorrow for your sin, it leads to a confession of sin before God, it shows itself before men through a breaking off of sin, and it ultimately produces a habit of deep hatred for sin. If those things are not true of you… It worries me when I hear people say, "It's just the way God made me."
It worries me when they say, "I know what Jesus says, but I'm not going to go there." Man, that doesn't tell me that there's a Holy Spirit who has convicted you of your sin. We're not just playing church here. Jesus is calling you to repent, not show up and sing, "Amazing Grace." Do you know the despair that marks you? The people who originally heard this message never really got it. So Jesus told them another story a little bit later. This is what it says. This is Matthew 21:33 and following.
"Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'"
If you're a first-century Jew, you're a Pharisee, you know your Bible, you know that in Isaiah 5 God calls Israel a vineyard. He calls the leaders of Israel keepers of the vineyard. What he's saying is, "Hey, guys. The vineyard I have given you is not producing fruit. It's not producing humility and repentance. I don't want you to tremble at my word. I want you to have a broken and contrite spirit. That's what I have yet to deny.
I don't want you to have festivals and Passovers and Feasts of Booths and tithing your mint and your cumin and then you don't come to me acknowledging your desperation for my salvation. You guys are teaching men… In fact, when people become converts to your Judaic system or your Pharisaical church-based works righteousness, you make them twice the sons of hell that you are. You're not bringing forth fruit in the vineyard."
Watch what he says. "I sent you prophets." That's the story here. "You killed that prophet, so I sent you more prophets, and you killed those prophets, so I sent you a bigger wave of prophets, and you kept killing all of them, so then I'm going to send you the Son." "Surely," he said in the story, "they'll listen to the son."
"But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him." It's about to happen in just a few chapters. Jesus asks this question. "'Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?' They said to Him, 'He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.'" Jesus said, "Do you read your Bible?" He quotes Psalm 118.
"'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."
What Jesus is saying is, "I'm the foundation. I'm the cornerstone. If you build your righteousness and acceptance before God on anything other than my gospel, on anything other than the finished work of me on the cross, it is the broad way which leads to destruction." Let me ask you a question, church. Do you understand the depths of your sin? Quit playing with God. There is no righteousness apart from the one who has come to rescue you.
So sing your little songs. Rip out all your "How great thou arts," but know how great he is and weep at your sin and rejoice at your salvation and clothe yourself in humility and speak the words of truth so that when God uses that to bring people out of demonic possession, it's done out of a heart itself that is affected by the Word of God and not just a person who speaks the words of God. We ought to be the most humble people on earth, and it ought to show itself by people who say, "I want to be gentle in spirit. Father, guide me. Not my will but your will be done."
I'll close with this. This is a picture of a beach house. Beach houses are given names by their owners. One day maybe I'll have one to name. The owners of this beach house call it the Sand Palace. How ironic. The Sand Palace is in Mexico Beach in Florida. Mexico Beach is right in the middle of a 54-mile stretch from Tyndall Air Force Base all the way down to Apalachicola.
In October of 2018, Hurricane Michael came to that 54-mile swath of land. Category 5, 160-mile-per-hour winds with an 8-foot storm surge hit Mexico Beach, and it wiped out everything in those 54 miles. Every building was structurally damaged on the air force base. Apalachicola had massive damages, but right here, the Sand Palace stood. That's 150 yards from the Gulf of Mexico.
The reason is because the Sand Palace had built on a firm foundation. It had gone deeper than any of the other houses, and it built on that firm foundation with other sound structural engineering practices. It cost them 20 percent more. It cost God his Son. But it stood the test of the storm, and judgment is coming to every household.
Let me show you something else that's pretty amazing. This is an aerial view of the Sand Palace looking down. If you look down at it, you'll see the thing in the upper part of it looks like another house. It's not. That's just a slab, but behind it, do you see another roof? Here's a side view of that. Do you see what also survived behind the Sand Palace? Another home, because it got in the way of one whose life was on a firm foundation and, in a sense, benefited from the preaching of that word, and it was protected.
Parents, we're going to talk about what's going to happen with our kids. Can I just tell you, parents, the number-one indicator of whether kids become fully devoted followers of Christ or not in high school? It's when Mom and Dad are serious about their faith. I mean serious. There are members of this church, and they're devoted followers, and they don't have just a said faith. They talk about Christ in their home. They repent of their sin. They pursue oneness.
They talk about how Jesus is the source of their marriage. They share Christ with their neighbors. Their kids live missionally with them. They're not just loping along and skimming the top off to give it to Jesus. They are devoted to him, and the kids see that. That firm foundation often leads kids to go, "I see my parents aren't just churchgoers; they are Christ builders, and I want my life to be built on that same firm foundation, because it's leading to flourishing in this household."
I'll tell you another thing that's really interesting. There was one other house that was built by the same engineering company that was destroyed. Do you know why it was destroyed? It was destroyed because a house that was next to it was picked up and thrown into it. I thought to myself, "I just have to teach that for a second." Here's the teaching. In this world you will have trouble. I don't care how righteous you are. Sometimes sinners and idiots and cancer and drunk drivers are going to wipe you out, but it doesn't mean you're not on a firm foundation.
Don't worry. Mexico Beach is not your home, but when the storms of this world come, you stand firm against them. Sometimes you're going to get wiped out, but this isn't your home. If you faithfully live on the foundation of who he is, others behind you will be blessed. Let's go, church. Repent. Quit playing games. Quit sharing the gospel without knowing the gospel. Quit praying for people to be healed without knowing what is the healing to your corrupt, wretched soul. It is Jesus, and you and I need him.
I have nothing to offer him. I will not offer him this message, my preaching, my devotion to my wife, my discipleship of my kids, or anything I have done. When I stand before the Lord, I'm going to say, "There's a narrow way, Lord. I am accepted because of Jesus, and because of Jesus I built on that foundation, and I built by faith, and I lived with Christ, and I give all the glory to you." If that isn't you, you haven't been listening for 15 weeks.
Father, I pray that we would be people who would repent and that the knowledge of sin would bring us to our knees and would create sorrow and confession and a thorough breaking off from it and that we would rejoice in the cross and the Holy Spirit and the church and we would develop a deep hatred for sin and would have an abiding faith and we'd be your church.
O Lord, protect us from just being "Lord, Lord," "gather together on Sunday and sing" people. Let us be worshipers. Let us give glory to Jesus from beginning to end. Let it bear fruit of love and joy and peace and transformed marriages and confession and living authentically and admonishing and counseling biblically, but, Lord, it's all about you. We come to you and we say you're the firm foundation.
We're amazed that you love us. We're amazed that you use us, but this is your church and we are your people. Lord, if there's somebody here who needs to know you, would they just come? Would they not leave? Would they be frozen by conviction that they've been playing games, and would you drive them to repentance, and would they bear fruit in keeping with it? In Jesus' name, amen.