This exposition of Matthew 7:21-27 from Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 9, 2014.
Do you ever think about the future? Do you ever dream about where you will be in the next 5 or 10 years? Some of you have a 5 or 10-year plan. You’ve got the plan and you’re working it. But what about the distant future? You say, “Oh, yeah – I’ve got the 401K and some stock. My future is pretty secure.” Well good, but I meant really long term. I’m talking about eternity. Have you considered where you will spend eternity? Have you given serious thought to your soul? It may make you uncomfortable but it’s well worth considering. In fact I would suggest you really don’t need to think about anything else until that is settled. Jesus is coming to the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. He has laid out His kingdom agenda. He has described life in the kingdom. He has made it clear that He expects certain things from those who would follow Him. He has made clear the need for genuine righteousness. In the immediate context he has warned of false teachers and their deceptive doctrines. Now He turns from false prophets to false professors, from unsound teachers to unsound hearers. Our text is found near the end of Matthew chapter 7.
Text: Matthew 7:21-27
This is a troublesome passage. It is not troublesome because it is difficult to understand. It is troublesome because it is so clear. According to our text there are many within the church that are living under a delusion. They live in a false peace. They rest in a deluded security. “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Arthur Pink wrote as early as 1969 saying, “Never were there so many millions of nominal Christians on earth as there are today, and never was there such a small percentage of real ones.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned of “cheap grace” during the 1930s and 40s. Cheap grace involves the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance. According to Bonhoeffer it is grace “without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
With record numbers claiming a “born again” experience and yet dwindling attendance figures across the board – something is wrong, dreadfully wrong. According to the most recent statistics we, as Southern Baptist, have 15.8 million members worshiping in more than 40,000 churches in the United States. One study found that an appalling 67.3% of those members do not bother to show up on any given Sunday! I wonder how many of them will cry out on that day, “Lord, Lord…” and yet be turned away, “depart from me I never knew you?”
This text is disturbing. But it is one we must explore. We cannot afford to turn a deaf ear to such teaching. My purpose is not to “create doubt” but it is without apology designed to cause you to consider.
Our text serves as a gracious warning. It serves to remind us that:
Thesis: Your eternal destiny depends upon an active, practical obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
For several years now a controversy has raged.
The issue has been the nature of salvation.
Some have dubbed the controversy “Lordship Salvation.”
Must Jesus be Lord or can he be merely savior?
Can a person be saved and then, if they so choose, make Jesus Lord at a later date?
Another question involved in the debate is what is meant by eternal security or once saved always saved?
What about those who have made “a profession of faith” but have left the faith or show no real interest in the things of God at present?
Is there such a thing as a “carnal Christian” or is that a contradiction of terms?
I’m convinced that an honest look at this passage serves to clear the air.
The bottom line to all of this is what does it mean to be “saved?”
What serves as my assurance of salvation?
There are two things I want us to note in our text.
- Our text clearly reveals that a mere verbal profession of faith accomplishes nothing. (7:21-23)
- According to our text, mere intellectual knowledge falls short of saving faith. (24-27)
I said at the beginning my purpose is not to create doubt but to cause you to consider. I don’t want you to play games with your soul. This issue is salvation. “What must I do?”
First of all, stop! Listen for the voice of the Savior. That voice may come through your circumstance, through fear or hurt or anger. It may come through a hunger for more out of life. It may come through the voice of a friend, a preacher, a book. But you must listen. You must hear God’s call.
Second, when God calls you must acknowledge what he is saying is true and that he alone is the answer to your need. Our Lord is kind and gracious but he doesn’t pull his punches. When he reveals your sin and your lack of righteousness – “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” – you must not make excuses or try to deny it. Instead you must acknowledge the truth of it.
And you must act upon what he has revealed and open your life to him. In other words you must pass through that narrow gate. You must enter upon the narrow road that leads to life.
Are you a Christian? That is the question. Is it real? The answer is not based upon your intellectual beliefs or upon your good works, but upon your relationship with Christ.
There are three elements of saving faith.
- Knowledge – you know the facts of the Gospel.
- Belief or assent – you believe those facts are true.
- Trust or commitment – you give yourself to that truth.
So what lies ahead for you?
What is your future?