Does your understanding of following Jesus align with what Scripture says about following Jesus? As we continue our Loaded Questions sermon series, Timothy Ateek shows us how Jesus addressed those whose actions weren’t in accordance with what they said they believed.
Do You Not Understand? | John 3
Why Do You Call Me Lord? | Luke 6
Have You Not Read? | Matthew 21:12-16
Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19
Why Are You So Afraid? | Mark 4:35-41
Do You Want To Go Away As Well? | John 6:60-71
Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28
Do You Want to Be Healed? | John 5:1-18
Does your understanding of following Jesus align with what Scripture says about following Jesus? As we continue our Loaded Questions sermon series, Timothy Ateek shows us how Jesus addressed those whose actions weren’t in accordance with what they said they believed.
Good morning, Watermark. It's so good to be here with you all this morning. I want to start by sharing with you a story that occurred several years ago on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. I was living in Austin at the time, and the church I was working for decided to do a joint Good Friday service with about eight other churches in the Austin area. So, I loaded up my sweet white Buick minivan with my wife and my son Noah, who was 2 years old at the time, and we made our way to downtown Austin, and all of these churches converged on the Austin Convention Center.
We go into the service, and as we are enjoying the service, our son Noah begins to be vocal at times when it's just not appropriate to be vocal, so we decide that we and everyone else in the audience will enjoy the service best if we watch it from the lobby. So, we go into the lobby, and we're watching the TV screens. We give our 2-year-old a ball. He begins to play catch with himself, and that's going really well for him. We are really the only people out there except one guy who's way down there.
I will never forget this day, because I am sitting there, and I am watching the Good Friday service on the TV screens, and as I'm watching, this guy walks in. I remember he was wearing a hat that said, "I 'Heart' Jesus." Now, if you ever wonder if someone loves Jesus and they're wearing a hat like that, it can be really helpful. He walked in, and right before he walked past me, once he got even with me, he stopped, looked at me, and here's what he said: "Hey, do you love Jesus?" I was like, "Man, if only I had worn my hat. He wouldn't have even had to ask. He'd just keep on walking."
I told him I did love Jesus. Unfortunately, that was the climax of our conversation. It was all downhill from there, because he went on to tell me… He said, "I wish they would let me lead this Good Friday service, because all of the guys in there are just false prophets." I was like, "That's interesting. My pastor is one of the people leading this thing. I probably should ask him if he's a false prophet. If he is, I should move on."
He then went on to tell me this. He said, "Jesus came to earth to show us how we can live perfect lives so that we can go to heaven one day." I didn't agree with that, and I made the mistake of telling him I didn't agree with that. I didn't agree with him because I know myself, and I am very imperfect, but I believe I will spend eternity with God one day, not because of my perfection, but because of the perfection of Jesus Christ.
So, I told him I didn't agree, and it started this back and forth. I'll call it a conversation. It started this back and forth where this guy was like, "Well, what do you think about this?" and I was like, "Well, what do you think about this?" My wife was like, "What are you doing?" and I was like, "He's wrong." So, we're just going back and forth. I can tell by this guy's body language that he is beginning to get more and more frustrated with what I am saying.
I know he has reached his boiling point when, in a moment in time, here's what happens. He looks at me, points his finger, and here's exactly what he says. No lie. He goes, "I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ!" I mean, what do you do with that? I'm a pastor. That's supposed to be my line. What am I going to say? "No, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ!" Like, who wins that rebuking?
Then the conversation got more awkward, because he was like, "Are you prepared to say the seven words? Because if you're not prepared to say the seven words, then you're not a child of God." I was like, "I'm not prepared to say the seven words. I don't know what those words are." Then he wandered into the service, and I was so rattled. I was so flustered that I looked at Kat, my wife, and I was like, "Let's just leave."
The evening ended with us sprinting through the parking garage and getting in our sweet white Buick minivan and speeding off, because as we were going out to the garage, we saw this guy coming toward us. We thought he was coming to kill us. Anyway, it was a pretty good Friday, but I will never forget that moment.
The reason I share that with you this morning is here's the realization I had. That guy believed that he was following Jesus, but I also believed that I was following Jesus. If you were to look at what he says it looks like to follow Jesus and you were to look at what I say it looks like to follow Jesus, it would appear as if we're following two totally different Jesuses.
Just think about this room. This room has a couple thousand people in it, and the majority of those couple thousand people would identify themselves as followers of Jesus. I just wonder, if there was a way to line our lives up side by side by side… If you were to take someone who's not a follower of Jesus and they were to look at all of our lives side by side by side by side, I wonder if they would say, "It's kind of like they're following different Jesuses."
We live in such an individualistic culture that it's like we kind of drag that into our relationships with Jesus, and we begin to believe it's our job or our right to decide for ourselves what we think it should look like to follow Jesus. I think one of the best and healthiest questions any Christian could ask is this.
If you were to take this book and open it up and look at what Jesus says it looks like to follow Jesus and you were to look at what you say it looks like to follow Jesus, would there be a stark contrast between what Jesus thinks it looks like to follow him and what you think it looks like to follow him? What I want to do this morning is I want to look into the Scriptures at this story and this sermon Jesus gives to a large group of people to clarify four things that should be true of anyone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ.
So, if you have a Bible, turn with me to Luke, chapter 6. I'm going to warn you. Our loaded question today is this. Jesus asks, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I tell you?" That's a super convicting question. So, if you came here today for me to tell you how amazing you are, that's probably not going to happen. Anyway, Jesus loves you, and I'm so glad you're here.
Where we pick this story up is earlier on in Jesus' ministry, but at this point, Jesus has gone viral. Jesus is trending at this point. He has done enough cool things that he's showing up on everyone's feeds. So, when word gets out that Jesus is going to be somewhere, a lot of people show up. This is one of those instances where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have shown up just to get a glimpse at Jesus.
It's good for you to know that right before this moment, Jesus stays up all night praying, and then right after that, he chooses his 12 closest friends, the twelve disciples, the twelve apostles. That's what he has just done, and then he's going to come down the mountain, and he's going to give a sermon. Commentators have called this sermon the sermon on the plain.
If you're familiar with the Bible and you've read Matthew 5-7, you know it's called the Sermon on the Mount. These might be the same sermon, but chances are, Jesus shared similar content at different points in his ministry. The point of this sermon is to make it abundantly clear what God's people should look like. Jesus is communicating, "If you're going to be a citizen of my kingdom, if you're going to be a true disciple, a true follower, then this is what should be true of you."
So, we're going to look at what the people are doing, and we're going to look at what Jesus is saying, and I'm going to give you four things that should be true of anyone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ. Look with me at chapter 6, verse 17. This kind of fills out the scene for us a little bit more. "And he came down with them…" That's Jesus. He came down with who? With his twelve apostles, his twelve disciples.
"And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to…" Watch what they came to do. "…hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all."
Let's just say that followers of Jesus should prioritize hearing from Jesus. Well, what does that look like for us today? I can't just be like, "Hey, Jesus is going to show up tomorrow. He's going to be preaching. Come and hear from him." What does it look like for us to hear from him today? Well, the good news is God has gone to great lengths to give us his Word. This is called the Word of God, because 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture has been breathed out by God. It is God-breathed. These are God's words to us.
The primary way God speaks to us today is through his Word. So, my encouragement to you is to prioritize hearing from Jesus by reading his Word on a daily basis and hearing the Word of God taught on a weekly basis. My hope is that you have a rhythm in your life where you are opening up this book every day in order to hear from Jesus.
Pastor and author Mark Batterson says, "When you open your Bible, God opens his mouth." I love that. Here's what that means. All eyes on me. It means you can hear from God every single day. If you want to, you can hear from Jesus every single day. That is the beauty of what Christ has accomplished on his cross through his death, burial, and resurrection. He has brought us close. He has brought us near. He has put us at peace. He has brought us into the family of God.
One of the beautiful realities is, because of what Jesus has done we can meet with God every day, and we can hear from him. That's why we told you about Join the Journey. That is a great opportunity. We've taken out all of the guesswork for you. There's a reading plan where, every day, you can read one chapter from the Scriptures. We can do it together as a church, and we, individually, can hear from God every single day.
Now, if you feel like you're distant from God or haven't heard from him in a while, it's just good to evaluate when the last time you opened his mouth was. When was the last time you positioned yourself to hear from him by opening up his Word? If you're sitting there saying, "Well, you know what? I still don't feel close to him, but I read the Scriptures most days of the week," let me give you some encouragement. Let me encourage you with a few things.
First, remember that the win is not completion; it's connection. We don't read the Bible to complete it; we read the Bible to connect with God. That's true of any relationship. Kat and I went on a date on Friday. When we pulled up to our house after the date, I didn't say, "Okay. Got that done." I didn't pull out Todoist and check off "Date night," because it wasn't something to complete. We went on a date so we could cultivate our relationship. The point was connection.
This is the problem I have with statistics about reading the Bible. While statistics are interesting… Like the fact that, on average, Generation Z spends about three hours a day on social media, and if you were to take those three hours a day and read the Bible during that time, you'd finish the Bible in about three weeks. Or like this: if you were to just read the Bible for five minutes a day, you would finish the Bible in three years.
Those are interesting statistics. The problem with those statistics is that they emphasize completion. I can't pull any of those statistics into any of my relationships and indicate health. Like, "You know what? If you just spend five minutes a day with your spouse, you are going to have a killer marriage. You know what? If you just spend five minutes a day with your kids, three years from now, you're going to have albums full of memories." That's not the case. Relationships are fueled by connection. The win when you read is not completion; it's connection.
Another thing I would encourage you with is this: if you want to hear from God, make it really hard to hear from anyone else during that time. If you need to turn off your phone, leave it in the other room, close the door to your office, wake up before your kids do… Whatever you need to do, do that. I didn't go on date night on Friday and have my laptop open at the table with my email pulled up and my phone on the table checking social media. No. That would not go well for me. So, let me encourage you. If God wants to talk to you, who cares who else wants to talk to you? It doesn't matter who else is trying to get ahold of you if God wants to speak into your life.
Another thing I'd share with you… This is just something the Lord has been teaching me more recently in my time with him. Quantity of time is often what leads to quality time. I tell you that just because I remember years ago a mentor of mine was talking to me about parenting, and here's what he said: "You cannot plan quality time with your kids. You can only plan quantity of time with your kids."
I can't step out of my home office tomorrow and say, "You know what? I'm going to have an amazing five minutes with my kids right now," because all three kids could be losing their ever-loving minds at the same exact moment. That happens often. So, I can't plan that quality time. Quality time with my kids comes through planning quantity of time.
We get caught off guard. We're out at brunch, and someone says something or does something or tells a story that has all of us dying with laughter. I couldn't have planned that moment. It's something that came from planning time together. Or we go to the park, or we go and do something and something happens, or we have a meaningful conversation that I didn't necessarily plan, but God brought it about; therefore, we've experienced quality time.
So, I encourage you in your time with the Lord… Quantity of time will often lead to quality time. Here's what I'm not saying. I am not encouraging you to just read larger portions of Scripture because you have more time to do it. That's not what I'm saying. I know, for me, in my own life, anytime I read more than one chapter a day, it becomes more about completion than connection. That's just for me.
What I am encouraging you with is this. I'm just talking about giving Jesus more space to speak to you through his Word. Let me let you into my own personal time with the Lord. I'm going to show you right now my journal from yesterday. Now, I want to be clear. I told you I'm going to show you my journal. This is not a diary, people. This is a man's journal. All right? This is from yesterday. Let me walk you through what this looks like for me.
I show you this not to be like, "Look at me." I just hope it's helpful. Stop reading my stuff, people. Stop trying to read what I wrote. Let me show you some of this. I read one chapter a day. I can't handle any more than that. One chapter a day allows me to possibly read it through a couple of times just to give Jesus more space to speak into my life.
What I've learned is a good rhythm for me is to take Scripture that I've read, and the way Jesus speaks to me through it is by giving me prayers to pray back to him. For example, the first line… I wrote down (this is from Acts 1), "The apostles' job was to be Jesus' witnesses to tell the world about what they had seen and heard by the power of the Spirit." That is based off of Acts 1:8, which says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
I wrote down what I'm getting from that verse, and then I turned it into a prayer. "Lord, may I lead and speak from experience. May I live to tell others about you. Lord, may my life and ministry be marked by the Holy Spirit. Lord, rid me of the things that quench the Spirit. Lord, save me from seeking to glorify myself when your Spirit inside of me exists to glorify the Son." This is how I can hear from Jesus. When I write it down, it slows me down, and it allows me to process, as opposed to just kind of flying through something, closing it, and moving on.
So, after I've read the chapter and processed through a few different verses… Right at the bottom I wrote, "They all joined together constantly in prayer." That's because one of the verses said the apostles and the people with them (there were about 120 of them) were constantly devoting themselves to prayer. So, I put a little P. That way, if I'm ever looking back at my journal, I can see where the prayers are. I wrote, "Lord, teach me to become a praying man." I said, "I pray that Watermark would be known as a praying church. I pray that we would be marked by prayer in all that we do."
After I do that, I set a timer for 10 minutes, and here's what I say: "God, you've already spoken to me through your Word, but I want to give you even more space if there's anything else you want to share with me." God will take what I've just read, and he will just double-click on it. Even yesterday… I'm letting y'all in, people. This is probably a huge mistake, but it is what it is. Here's what the Lord kind of double-clicked on.
He said, "The Watermark stage isn't an audition stage; it is a Christ-exalting stage." Why? Because the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, and that's the Spirit that empowered the apostles to be witnesses. I felt like God was telling me to initiate with Michael Parisi, so, Michael, if you're out there, I'm coming for you. Just wait and watch. It's coming. In sermon prep, I felt like God wanted me to ask the question, "What could be most glorifying to him?" Then watch this. This is really personal. I felt like God was saying, "Food is still an idol for you." I love food sometimes too much.
So then, after that time of giving God a little bit more space to speak to me, especially through what he had already spoken to me through his Word, then I write "Today" statements. That way, I make sure I apply the Word. So I wrote, "Today I will ask the question, 'What will be most glorifying as I prepare?' Today I will ask Lois to set up a lunch with Parisi." Again, Michael, see you soon. "Today I will eat slowly and prayerfully."
So, that is what my time looks like. I share that with you, and I would imagine there are people in here who have much more robust time with the Lord, and that's awesome. My fear in even showing you this is that some of y'all would be like, "Well, I guess that's what I'm supposed to do," so you're going to do it and be like, "Okay, good. I completed that." No! The goal is not completion; the goal is connection.
What I'm trying to drive at is quantity of time often is what leads to quality time. Okay? Followers of Jesus seek to hear from Jesus. I'll just tell you this. The more time I've spent with Jesus, the more I enjoy being with Jesus. Yesterday, I was able to walk away from my time with Jesus with a confidence "I've heard from Jesus today," and it feels intimate anytime you can walk away and say, "I've heard from Jesus."
I do want to be clear. My goal is not to get you to fall in love with God's Word; my goal is to get you to fall in love with the God of the Word. We have to be careful. There are times that we meet with God's Word without meeting with God. Don't ever open up this Word and study it without asking the question, "God, what are you saying to me right now through your Word?"
Before we move on, let me acknowledge… If you look at the people who were in the audience Jesus was speaking to, there were his true followers, his disciples, but then there were just the crowds. There were the people who had no intention of following him. So, you have true followers and those who aren't followers who have all come to hear from Jesus.
I tell you that just to say that's a lot like Watermark this morning. This room has people who are devoted followers of Christ, and then there are people who got tricked into being here this morning. Your friend was like, "Hey, let's go to brunch," and they drove you here. So, now you are a hearer, but you have no intention of following Jesus. I tell you that just to say that just because someone prioritizes hearing from Jesus by reading the Bible or coming to church does not mean they are truly following Jesus, so we need to go a step further.
So, who's in attendance? It's people who are sick and in need of healing. It's people with unclean spirits. And what have they come to Jesus for? They have come to experience his miraculous power. I love that we see at least three of the senses being engaged. They see Jesus, they hear Jesus, and then they touch Jesus. They want to experience Jesus. Specifically, they want to experience Jesus' miraculous power.
Followers of Jesus desire to experience Jesus. When I talk about desiring to experience Jesus, I'm just talking about desiring to have firsthand experience with the miraculous power of God. I'm talking about you desiring to have your own God stories of how God has done something really significant and meaningful and powerful in your life. I encourage you to look in your life right now. Where in your life do you need a miracle? Where in your life do you need God to do something powerful?
Maybe your marriage feels like it's on life support, and it feels like you're getting to the point where the only option left is to pull the plug. Maybe the books and the blogs are not working for you. Or maybe you're not at that point where it's on life support, but your marriage just feels strained, and you need God to do something powerful in your marriage.
Maybe there's a vice in your life that's suffocating you, yet you can't get away from it. Maybe there's a battle with pornography or alcohol or prescription pills or overspending or overeating, and you feel hopeless in your fight. No matter how hard you try, you still are getting beat down, and you need Jesus to display his power in your life.
Or maybe there's a loved one, someone you really care about, who is bent on rejecting Jesus, and you look at how hard their heart is to spiritual things, and something in you wonders if it is ever possible for their life to be changed, and you need Jesus to display his power in their life. I don't know what it is for you, whether your finances feel strained, or maybe there's something going on with one of your kids that feels so far outside of the realm of your control or your ability to help that you really need Jesus to do something significant in your life.
Followers of Jesus desire to experience Jesus. We come to Jesus with our problems because we believe he's capable of doing something about them. So, if you want to experience Jesus' miraculous power in your life, let me encourage you to do two things. First, pray fervently. I'm going to ask you a convicting question that was asked to me. I'm just passing it on to you.
I remember a friend of mine asking a group of us, "If God were to answer all of your prayers today, what would change?" What would change in your life? What would change in the lives of the people around you? The reason it can be convicting is it can expose your lack of prayer. The reality is there are times where God delays doing something until we pray, not because he waits for us to manipulate him and not because he's holding out on us, but because he is most glorified when we seek him, and then he responds, and it draws us into deeper intimacy with him. Pray fervently.
One of my kids right now has a paralyzing fear at night that makes it extremely difficult for him to fall asleep. For about the past six months, it has taken him about an hour to an hour and a half every night to fall asleep, and he needs one of us sitting in the room with him so that he feels safe to fall asleep. Early on, six months ago, during that time, I was like, "Okay. This is time for me to catch up on texts. I'm literally just sitting on the floor in the room, so I'll just look at my texts."
Then God was like, "You have all this time. This is your time to pray for him." So I am begging God to do something significant in my son's life. I want to see God display his miraculous power in my son's life. I just encourage you: pray fervently. Then the other thing I encourage you to do, if you want to experience Jesus' miraculous power, is embrace humility. What I mean by that is believe that nothing is beneath you.
Sharing with your Community Group isn't beneath you. Marriage counseling isn't beneath you. Going to re:generation for your sin struggles isn't beneath you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Why? Because God often displays his miraculous power through his people in our lives. Before I move on, though, I want to continue to acknowledge that the people who came to hear from Jesus and experience Jesus… Some were true followers, and some were just there to check things out.
There were people there who experienced healing from Jesus who never truly followed Jesus to the end. I tell you that just to say that that's congruent with our society today. There are people who boil Christianity down to going to church, which is hearing from Jesus, and praying to God in times of crisis. That's desiring to experience Jesus. There are people who boil Christianity down to going to church and praying to God in crisis, but that is not truly following Jesus, so we need to take a step further.
What Jesus is doing in this sermon is inviting people to adopt an entirely different worldview. You can think of a worldview as the lens through which you see life. It's kind of like this. If you have prescription glasses in this place, if I were to take them and put them on right now, it would feel extremely uncomfortable and life would be very distorted. The reality is we are born into a world, and we live with distorted lenses. We think we see life clearly when we don't apart from Jesus.
If we don't know Jesus, do you know what we're doing? We're just fumbling through the world with a distorted perspective, looking for life and joy. What Jesus is doing here is taking off those lenses and inviting us to put on completely new lenses with a godly prescription. He's inviting us to see the world clearly for the first time in our lives, but his prescription is vastly different than anything else in the world. Let me give you some examples. We don't have time to read his entire sermon. I just want you to see that he is turning the world on its head. He says in verse 20:
"And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.'"
Do you see what he's saying? He's saying, "If you're marginalized, if you're not winning in this world right now, if you don't have everything you want, if life isn't going how you planned it to go, that is okay. Don't expect your best life now, because a day is coming where I will establish my kingdom throughout the earth, and you'll win then."
Then he goes on and says this. Look at what he says. "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."
He takes the flip side. Now he's like, "Look. If you're winning in the world right now and you're looking to this world for all of your satisfaction and all of your fulfillment, watch out. If you think that life is just about the here and now, so you get everything you can get out of it now, watch out, because there's so much more to life than just the here and now and what you can suck out of this material world." Do you see it? He's flipping the world on its head. I mean, watch how he goes on. He says:
"But I say to you who hear…" Watch the verbs. "…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."
Did you see the verbs he used? He basically took actions that should be applied, usually, to only our closest friends. He's like, "No. You actually do that to the people who hate you, to your enemies in this world." I just show you that this is where this distinction begins to emerge between true followers and those who just want to hear from Jesus and experience Jesus but not follow Jesus. Followers of Jesus are shaped by Jesus.
When I say that followers are shaped by Jesus, I'm talking about his desires becoming your desires. I'm talking about your convictions being shaped by his convictions, your purpose in life being shaped by his purpose for you, and his mission becoming your mission. Dallas Willard explains discipleship or being a true follower of Jesus this way: "Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you."
Do you see that? That's what discipleship is. It's the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you. It is allowing your life to be shaped by Jesus. I think a good question for each of us to ask is…Who or what are the biggest shaping forces in our lives right now? Who or what has the loudest voice in your life? Is it a news outlet? Is it an influencer? Is it a pastor? Whatever it is, you just need to evaluate: Is it the way of Jesus? If it isn't congruent with what you find in this book, you've found the wrong way and the wrong shaping forces.
I want you to know we're not talking about some external force that's shaping us. It's actually an internal force. It's God himself. So, you're not hearing from me this morning, "Just go and do a bunch of things." What we're talking about is the Spirit of God doing a work inside of us. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, God himself lives inside of you through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God moves and works in your life to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ. I'll explain it this way.
Several years ago, I was watching a Japanese game show. It was a show with different obstacle courses that contestants would run. It's kind of like the show Wipeout, if you've ever seen that here in the States. I remember this one obstacle course had these four doorframes that were covered by paper. The thought was that each contestant would run full speed, pick one of the doorways, burst through the paper, and just keep running. The only catch was that behind three of the four doorframes were wooden beams.
So, what you saw was contestant after contestant run full speed, pick a doorframe, burst through it, and experience massive amounts of pain and regret. But something began to change halfway through the pool of contestants. Instead of contestants just running, hoping for the best, they would get to this point in the course, and they would just stop, and they'd begin to stare at the doorframes, because what they realized was if they waited long enough, the sunlight would hit the paper and illuminate the three ways that led to pain and the one way that led to joy.
I tell you that because when you put your trust in Jesus Christ, the light of the gospel shines into your soul and the Spirit of God begins to lead you on the path that is true. It is Christlikeness, and he leads you away from the paths of destruction. The Spirit of God is what goes to work in us, shaping us according to the life of Jesus Christ. This isn't about doing for God; this is about allowing God to do something in you. The best thing you can do is live a life surrendered to the work of the Holy Spirit.
What Jesus is saying is, "Hey, you call me 'Lord.' You look at me as a person of authority in your life, and you say it like you mean it, but then you go out and live like you don't mean it. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense for you to say, 'You're in control. You have authority over my life,' but then you go and live contrary to what I have told you to do." He says, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?"
It's good to remember that Jesus is never just Savior. Jesus is always Lord at the exact same time. When Jesus conquered death by walking out of that tomb, God the Father exalted him above every ruler or power in the world so that Jesus now has the name that is above every name. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That is who he is. He can't just be Savior when he is always the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The problem is we always want a savior, but we don't always want a king.
So, I want to encourage you. To be a true follower of Jesus is to live under the lordship of Jesus. It's to live a life surrendered to Jesus. It's to live a life of full obedience to Jesus. It's believing that partial obedience, selective obedience, or delayed obedience is disobedience. Jesus uses an illustration that many of us are familiar with to help us understand how much he cares about how we live and how seriously we take his words. Look at verse 47.
"Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."
See what Jesus is doing here? He's like, "Hey, if you call me 'Lord,' if you consider yourself a true follower of mine and you take my Word and live it out, do you know what you're like? You're like somebody who builds a house on a foundation. But if you call me 'Lord,' and then you live however you want to live, it's like you're building your house with no foundation." Which way is the normal way? Let me explain it this way.
If Kat and I were building a house and we asked Ben Caldwell, one of the elders, who's a homebuilder, to build the house, and I went to Ben, and I was like, "Hey, Ben, thank you so much for being our homebuilder. I do want you to know it is important to us that our house has a foundation," what do you think Ben would say? "Good. TA, we actually don't build houses without a foundation. That's just kind of homebuilding 101, man. You'll get a foundation." That's normal.
Ben wouldn't be like, "Oh, thank goodness! Some people in this world just don't get it, but you get it." No. He'd be like, "Yeah. I'm not going to celebrate that. I'm just going to be like, 'Good. You're doing what you're supposed to do.'" But what if I came to Ben and was like, "Hey, Ben, we've been crunching the numbers. We've been looking at our budget. We have to cut costs somewhere. We're just thinking about nixing the foundation"? What do you think Ben would say? "Nope. That is not what we do here, and for you to do that would be crazy."
See, the normal thing is to build your house on a foundation. The abnormal thing is to build a house with no foundation. So, if in Jesus' analogy, taking his Word, calling him "Lord," and fully obeying him… If that is the equivalent of building your house on a foundation, then that is the normal thing to do. The normal Christian life is a surrendered life. In Jesus' eyes, information without application is crazy. It makes no sense to him.
So, I just say this. Famous professor at Dallas Seminary, Howard Hendricks, explains it this way: "The mark of spiritual maturity is not how much you understand but how much you use. In the spiritual realm, the opposite of ignorance is not knowledge but obedience." Guys, look. This can be super convicting, but we all have work to do. That's okay. It is a good thing for you to allow God to speak into your life right now. What in your life is Jesus looking at, saying, "Hey, why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and yet you [fill in the blank]?" What is it?
What in your life has Jesus spoken about explicitly, and you're like, "I just don't feel convicted about that"? Just because you don't feel convicted doesn't mean you shouldn't. The issue isn't with Jesus' command; the issue is with your heart. Just imagine what this church and this community would look like if every person in this room took God's Word, read it, asked the Spirit of God to empower them to do it, and then just did what it said. Imagine what this church and this community would look like.
True followers of Jesus prioritize hearing from Jesus, they desire to experience Jesus, they're shaped by Jesus, and they live fully surrendered to Jesus. I'll just close out by saying this, and I hope you don't miss it. My fear with a talk like this is that some of you might leave here believing the lie that your obedience is the key to your salvation, that somehow you obeying Jesus is what will, in some way, solidify your salvation to Jesus.
I just want to remind you. Why did I get rebuked in the name of Jesus Christ? Because I disagreed with the guy when he said Jesus came to show us how we can live perfect lives and, therefore, go to heaven. See, our salvation has never been contingent upon our obedience; it has always rested upon Jesus' perfect obedience. What do we find Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane moments before he's betrayed and arrested? He's praying, "Not my will, but your will be done."
That's exactly what Jesus did. He was fully surrendered to the will of God. He went to the cross for your sin and mine. He was put in a tomb. He was punished in our place, and then he walked out of that tomb victoriously, making a way for anyone who would put their trust in him to experience intimacy with God now and forevermore.
Don't view obedience as the requirement for salvation; view obedience as the response to salvation. Obedience is what comes when you've heard from Jesus, when you've heard Jesus call your name and call you to come and be in relationship with him. Obedience is what comes when you experience the miraculous power of Jesus Christ forgiving you, washing you clean of all of your sins, and bringing you into the family of God so that you can be in right relationship with God.
Obedience is what comes when God puts his Holy Spirit inside of you and you live surrendered to the Spirit's work. The Spirit has his way in you and conforms you into the likeness of Christ. Obedience then becomes just one way that we say, "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, thank you for what you've done for me. Jesus, you are worthy of my life and my worship." We all have work to do, and that's okay, but if we're going to call ourselves followers of Jesus, then let's be people who follow Jesus. Let's pray together.
Lord Jesus, that's my hope and prayer. My hope and prayer is that we would be a people who learn to follow you, that we would be people who walk in your ways, God. I pray against anyone leaving here thinking the application is to just do more for you. The application is to allow you to do more in us. God, I pray that this week, the people of Watermark would be a people who sit with you and hear from you. I pray that we would be a people who pray fervently and experience your power in our lives.
I pray that we would be people who are shaped by you, that your worldview would be our worldview, your desires and your heart would become our desires and our heart. I pray that we would be people who are fully surrendered to you. Lord, whatever you tell us to do, may we just do that. But we need your help. We thank you, Jesus, for all you've done and all you've made possible through your death, burial, and resurrection. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.