Kingdom Decision

March 24, 2024 | Brandon Cooper

Brandon Cooper preached on whether to follow Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus illustrates this choice by using the metaphors of two paths and building on rock or sand. False prophets try to make faith easy by ignoring Scripture, but true faith requires obedience through a relationship with God. God’s judgment will expose those without a solid foundation in Christ. Listeners are called to deliberately commit to Jesus’ narrow way despite its difficulty.


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Good morning, church. Good to see you all here today we’re gonna go ahead grab your Bibles open up to Matthew chapter seven, we will finish up our series in the Sermon on the Mount today. Matthew chapter seven, we’re beginning in verse 13. So this is the last week. This is the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve been here for a while, of course, me just give you the quick overview, in case you missed some of it, you know, it starts with the introduction, especially the Beatitudes, and the bit about salt and light. And then it’s kind of structured like a five paragraph essay. And so Jesus gives us his thesis statement and Matthew 517 to 20. And he’s got to three points, right, we got to have this greater righteousness. And then he talks about in relation to the law, our personal piety, and then the world took us a lot of weeks to get through all of that. Well, now we’re in the conclusion. And the conclusion here is, if I can misapply Reagan, it’s all about a time for choosing, like this is the are you in? Or are you out moment in the sermon and in our lives as well? You know, what I mean, by the Are you in or are you out kind of moment, like we reach a point in our lives where the road forks, and you have to choose, you got to go this way, or that way, you can’t just stand there forever, you have to keep moving, take a step. So might have looked like, you know, a couple that’s dating, and they’re kind of reaching the point where they’re going, we’ve been together for a while, either we need to get married, or we need to decide we’re not gonna get married, we need to find people that maybe we could marry. Or maybe it’s early on in your career, and you’re realizing I don’t like this. I don’t like what I started doing. So maybe I it’s time for a switch, go back to school, that kind of thing. Or maybe it’s more serious, I think, you know, Bonhoeffer, for example, when he decided to resist the scourge of Nazism that was going across his country and across Europe, in each case, that the choice these people are making is obvious because of the actions that follow. So you can’t say yes, I’m all in on this relationship. But I’m still not going to pop the question. Like, we know you’re all in because you know, you get down on one knee, there’s the ring, all that kind of stuff. And we know that you’re all in on the career switch, because you’ve resigned from your job and signed up for a masters or inbound offers case because you went undercover with the resistance. You could tell they were in they made their choice. And that’s where we are now. We’ve heard what was said, what Jesus had for us in the Sermon on the Mount. Now, what is your big idea, your takeaway? It’s actually a question this week. But it’s the question that’s just a hanging over us at this point. What will you do with what you have heard? What will you do in response to the Sermon on the Mount, you have to choose this is a crisis point decision time. And Jesus is going to make this point for us using three metaphors. These are distinct but related images, each one pointing us to choose and specifically to choose kind of like what we just saying, like I’ve decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. Okay, that’s it. That’s the direction I’m going. So I’m gonna do the will of God wholeheartedly what we keep talking about the sermon on the mount that it’s all of me, it’s not just the externals, but the internal as well. So let’s look at these three images one at a time. First, we get the two paths before us. We read Matthew seven verses 13 and 14. Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many, many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. So Jesus begins the conclusion with this striking image of the choice before us. You got two gates, two roads, two destinations, which will we choose? And of course, these two couldn’t be less alike. They’re they’re so different. The one is wide gate and a broader road. The other ones is small gate and narrow roads. So it seems like an easy choice, like why not walk on the broad easy one, I should say here too, by the way, that the wide, broad easy way, it’s not so much the way of the world because that does not fit the context of the sermon on the mount. This is not, you know, the sex, drugs and rock and roll approach. But really, this is the way of external scorekeeping. Have I checked my religious boxes the easy way of the Pharisees what we’ve looked at a lot, right. I never committed adultery, so I’m good. Doesn’t matter what’s happening inside of me if there’s love, never committed murder, doesn’t matter that I’m enraged all the time. That’s what we’re talking about. Of course, we see this today. It’s not just you know, back then and the Pharisees is to be the the sort of person who, you know, hey, I’ve literally checked the box on my Bible reading plan every day. So that means I’m good, right? Even though there’s no vital communion with the Triune God. So that’s what makes it easy is because we don’t have to do the hard work of the heart work. We don’t really have to change and be like, Jesus, we can be like the rich young ruler, all these commands I’ve kept. Okay. Yeah, the only problem is you don’t actually love God You love money, like that’s an issue. No, no, no, check my boxes, I’m good. By way of contrast, though, the way of Jesus is narrow and difficult, and if you choose it because it has nothing to recommend itself, at least at first glance, I mean, just imagine like put yourself in this scene you are you are fleeing, let’s say from some people who are pursuing you. And so you are running down at a good clip down a nice wide street, it’s paved, you’re not worried about tripping, and spraining your ankle or anything like that you’re surrounded by crowds who are in good spirits, the beer is flowing like wine, you can hear the local musicians playing, you know, music pouring out from the pub or something like that, like this is a great place to be, as you’re running down this road, you pass a small gate in the stone wall, he almost didn’t even catch it, it just out of the corner of your eye, you can see that the the gate is is rusted and creaky. It looks like it’s out of a horror movie, you would have to stoop to enter through it. And as you look in just a little bit, you notice that it is choked with vegetation. Like this is an actually a way this is like maybe one person walked through here once and so some of the leaves are kind of pushed back. It is narrow, and rocky and uphill. And it’s got those roots growing everywhere on the path where you know, you are going down soon with a twisted ankle. What would induce you to enter? Like, why would you ever choose that path? Maybe you’ve done this, we’ll take a happier one, you know, you’ve gone to like Rocky Mountain National Park or something. And you’re there in the parking lot. And there’s this nice downhill paved sidewalk to the gift shop. And then there’s a 14,000 foot mountain. Why would you choose that one? You know why all that incline all that? Because the destination? That’s why, of course, do you want to see the view at the top of the mountain, you don’t have to do the hard work of actually climbing up there. And that’s exactly what Jesus says, look at where these two paths lead. Because the one leads to destruction, the other leads to life. To the broad way, yeah, you know, you’re running down at a good clip and everything. But if you keep going down this path, pretty soon it’s filled with landmines and pitfalls. And it’s a dead end and you will be caught. And you will be in chains at the end. But that narrow, difficult path. Well, if you went there, that’s the way of escape the freedom. And as you go, the way opens before you each step that you take is actually easier and easier. Sunlight starts filtering in you end and verdant meadows with happy crowds of daffodils. Which is a good reminder, because Jesus is selling himself a bit short here. And a lot of ways the same Jesus who said, the way is narrow and difficult is the same Jesus who said Come to me all you who are weary, and heavy laden, I will give you rest. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. And you think how can that be what both are true? It’s one of the paradoxes of the Christian life. Most of the Christian life is paradox. You got to lose your life, if you want to find it and keep it like that kind of paradox. I think this is what it looks like, really, if I could describe it. Don Carson uses this metaphor. If I were Kyle, I’d have a prop up here. But you’re not getting that for me. But picture and orange traffic cone, okay, you can picture the prop in your head. And so, you know, the question is, which way is the opening there. And so Jesus is saying a lot of us, when we talk about Christianity, we make the wide end the introduction to Christianity. And so it’s very easy to enter and many are willing to take those first steps. You know, this is all joy and peace and forgiveness. Jesus will fix your marriage and help you raise better kids. But then what happens as you go along, you soon find it’s a little more confining than you had been led to believe. Because your pastor starts talking about things like discipleship, needing to take up your cross and follow Jesus repentance, you got to lay yourself down. In other words, but if we flip the cone around, and the entry is the is the, the small and the narrow point, and that’s how Jesus usually talks, right? How many times do people come to him and say, I want to follow you and he goes, No, you don’t? Really? You think so? Okay, foxes have holes, birds have nests. You know what, I got nothing. You sure you want to come after me? He’s constantly trying to talk people out of following him. You got to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. And so what happens with a little entry like this is you have to accept Jesus’s conditions to enter in. Like, you know, you’re gonna have to get rid of the baggage, you’re gonna have to lay yourself down you’re gonna have to stoop and humble yourself in order to get in. But once you’re in you find not nearly so confining as you were led to believe that it actually is the the joy and peace and forgiveness that you were looking for more than what the world has to offer. I’m reminded of the words the old hymn fading is the worldlings pleasure all his boasted pomp and show solid joys and lasting treasure. None but Zions members know. That’s the vision of the expanding horizons that come with following Jesus. So this is the choice that Jesus asks us to make. Choose the small and hard path. And when you get to stooped, enter, because you see the destination, and that is the key right, look, and where does the path lead? What’s the end and the end of Jesus’s path is grace. It’s great. So let’s go back to our image. I said we were fleeing, remember, and we are fleeing. Now I know in your heads, you’re all like, like, because I’m like the James Bond character here. That’s why I’m fleeing. So I am the good guy. We are not the good guys. We are not the good as we are the bad guys, what we’re really escaped convicts. Here we are fleeing justice. And so this path that we’re being invited to enter, it leads not just to escape, but to freedom, not just to freedom, but to pardon and restoration. Because we are fleeing, justice, we are fleeing the judge. But he is also as we’ve seen over and over again in this series, Our Father, who delights in us who wants us to return to Him, and it’s his son, who’s pointing out the gate to us, come this way, come this way. Of course we know the son is himself the gate, the only way we can get to pardon and restoration is because the son lays his life down so that we could enter in like he lets the pursuing justice take him instead, so that we are able to escape and find our father. Again, when you look at it like that it doesn’t seem so narrow or confining, does it? It seems so welcoming, why wouldn’t we go in? Quick aside here, you may have noticed it says small is the gate narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. The question comes up here, of course, so will only a few be saved. And I don’t think that’s the point. In fact, in Luke chapter 13, Jesus has asked this question directly like are you saying only a few will be saved? And basically Jesus, he doesn’t answer. And he said there’s things that are forgot. Like God knows that number. We know that it’s multitudes and heaven, we see that picture and Revelation. But here’s what you need to know. And so when when he gets to ask, this will only a few be saved. He says make every effort to enter by the small gate uses the same image here and whatnot. That’s the point. That’s the takeaway in this section. Go on in enter. There’s the gate, never mind the appearance, it is hard, but good. So enter. What will you do with what you have heard, and choose this day, the path you will take. And then we get to claims. Second section here is is the longest and most complicated. Let me read verses 15 to 23. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit, you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name, drive out demons and in your name before many miracles, then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you away from me, you evildoers. They said this is the longest most complicated section here in the conclusion. It’s got three separate metaphors in it. And they actually seem to conflict at a few points. But I promise you this is just a single unit about false teachers about false prophets. There are some subtle connections in here. For example, the repetition of the word no gets translated as recognized in verses 16 and 20. But basically, Jesus is saying by your fruit, you will know them, you will recognize you will know them and then at the end, of course, verse 23, I never knew you. So that repetition is important. Also the shift in what person is being used here. Jesus has been speaking to us like you enter through the narrow gate you Watch out for false prophets, then he switches to third person. They do that And that’s the same in verses 21 and 23. Right? It very, I will tell them plainly. So he’s talking about this other group, these false teachers, the ones who are going to try to lead us astray. And that’s the point Jesus says, Watch out for false prophets. The fact that he warns us about false prophets, of course means that they exist. So you don’t hang a Beware of Dog sign on your, you know, backyard fence. If the most dangerous pet you have the parakeet, like you put the beware there. If there’s actually danger, Jesus is saying there’s actual danger here. Now, these false prophets, I know we hear the word profit. And we always think predicting the future that’s not what’s being talked about here at all. These are just false teachers, false teachers, because a profit is the one who instructs God’s people and how to keep his covenant. So he’s not predicting the future, these false prophets, but they are leading people astray. Because they themselves are going astray. Like they’re on the wrong path. Or say, look, did you see how wide and broad this path is? You should come this way. It’s so nice. Jesus is thinking especially if the scribes and Pharisees we’ve seen throughout the Sermon on the Mount, you know, who makes it easy. Alright, love your neighbor, but go on and keep hating, you’re me, it’s fine. Like, we don’t have to be nice to them. That’s you heard that it was said like, these are the false teachers that he’s talking about. And so there’s no connection between the external acts and the internal reality. There’s no greater righteousness. They’re not really doing the will of their father, they’re on the wrong path. And so let’s unpack these three images. Briefly. First of all, Jesus says they’re like wolves in sheep’s clothing. And what makes a wolf in sheep’s clothing so dangerous is that they are not what they appear. If the wolf just came to you, you wouldn’t go, that’s a wolf, we should run. But if it looks like a sheep, then come on over, like we can hang out sheep are not dangerous. And so that’s what will destroy you. The second image, though, seems to confuse this a little bit because he says they’re like two trees. And a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit. And so you’re gonna be able to spot the difference. Good tree must be good. You know, good fruit must be good tree, vice versa. So you can see where the conflict comes in, then, are these false prophets hidden? Like they’re wolves, but they’re in sheep’s clothing? Or are they obvious so that you recognize them by their fruit? It is actually the same idea. It’s just kind of a where we are in the process. And that Jesus gives us that by this analogy and verse 16. He’s talking about actual plants that would have been familiar to his audience, they would have all gone Oh, yeah, no, I know exactly what you’re talking about. So from a distance, the buck thorns, blackberries look a little bit like grapes that are just starting to grow. And from a distance, the flower of the thistle looks a little bit like the figs they have over there. So they look the same in the same way that Oh, wolf in sheep’s clothing looks like a sheep at least for a bit until you know, the sheep smiles and you see the fangs and all that. But there is this sense of inevitability, or they may look like grapes. But as soon as you start to make a wine from them, you’re gonna know that was a buckthorn Berry. As soon as you take a bite of the figure and go, nope, that was a thistle flower. Like now I’ve got it figured out the false prophets look real at first, but they will eventually out themselves, they will reveal themselves for what they actually are. The fruit language here, which is used throughout Scripture reminds us that what we’re really talking about is character, especially. I don’t think Jesus isn’t inviting us to go heresy hunting here that would probably conflict with Matthew seven, one and two, when he says, you know, don’t judge and the measure you measure out, you know, there’s some people who are just always looking for any little statement that was wrong. I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. No, we’re talking about character. We’re talking about fruit. We’re talking about the Pharisees, for example, who are not righteous internally, but only outwardly. And that leads to this third image that not a not a metaphor, but a graphic picture here of these powerful prophets, who are doing amazing works. Outwardly, like the buckthorn berries look like fruit. Absolutely. But inwardly they don’t even know Jesus. Jesus does not even know them. And we know what these people are like we see them throughout the Old Testament. For example, Balem prophesized accurately, what will happen to Israel, he even prophesized the coming Messiah. And yet he is judged because he also helps the Moabites lead God’s people astray by enticing them into sexual sin, or the Egyptian magicians that Moses squares off against. They also turn the Nile into blood. But that’s an impressive at work. Paul tells us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
So the question is character not just works one of the earliest Christian writings outside of the Bible that you dock he says it like this not everyone who speaks in the spirit is a prophet, except he have the behavior of the Lord. That is the question. Are you like Jesus? The ultimate test is obedience, doing the Lord’s will. Paul says it to First Corinthians 13 famous passage if I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, the character of a Christian, like all the commands summed up Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, love your neighbor as yourself. If I don’t have that, then I’m nothing. I’m nothing. So the ultimate test is obedience, not just superficially correct theology. Lord, Lord, they’re speaking accurately that is who Jesus is, or flashy signs. It’s actually interesting. Jesus uses that Lord, Lord language elsewhere, too. In Luke, chapter six, verse 46. He says, Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and then not do what I say? I think how ridiculous that is. If you’re coming to Jesus, and you’re like, You are Lord, Master, like I am in submission to you. Can you go fold the laundry? No way. Like, I didn’t sign up for that. Okay, well, then I’m not Lord. That’s his point. Why would you not then do what he says? Now, in light of the whole conclusion, and kind of where we’ve been in the Sermon on Mount, it’s quite clear that these false prophets are those who make following God too easy. You know, they got the cone, the big side facing toward you take the wide road. And that’s clear from the last phrase that’s used when Jesus says away from you evil doers, he’s quoting Psalm six, verse eight, right there, the literal phrase is you workers of lawlessness, which is a really ironic term for the Pharisees, of course, who are all about the law. And yet Jesus calls them lawless, takes us back to chapter five, verse 17, that whole thesis statement, you know, I’ve not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. The Pharisees teach law breaking, as they teach law keeping, because they’re teaching the easy way, that you only need to make it external. And so their false prophets, and their fruit exposes them. Now, that’s the Pharisees. That’s one way to make it easy. I don’t think that’s the most common one today, although it might be there. What would this look like for us today? I mean, certainly, we have false prophets, false teachers, who who will tell you you can take the easy way when it comes to your sexuality will be a huge one, your sexual expression, or even your sexual identity, which is not really a biblical idea in the slightest, but talked about a lot today, you can do that. You can just go whichever way you want. Here, it’s fine. Or we have other ones we call them health, wealth, preachers or prosperity, gospel preachers, who would say, you know, God just wants to bless you all the time, which is true, by the way, just not like that. And so your life should be easy. If you have enough faith, you know, you’re just gonna get money and health and whatever else you could possibly want showered on you all the time. Or it could be subtler than that, too. I think of how often we talk about you know, the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. Again, good thing, you should have a personal relationship with Jesus. Absolutely. But that word personal, gets really dicey, in a culture as individualistic as ours, when we’re in thrall to expressive individualism, and the whole key here is that you choose what kind of life you want to live. And so now I got God is like one of the key decorations in the life that I am creating for myself. Very dangerous, very dangerous. So you see it there. These are the false prophets. This is the claims we have to be careful with. But this is not a passage about the false prophets. Jesus is speaking to us in this moment, it’s a warning to us watch out Be on your guard. What claims Do you listen to because we are all tempted to take the easy way? And so if you get a religious leader who’s telling you it’s fine, you can take the easy way like that’s great news, isn’t it? Except it’s not of course, because it leads to destruction. That’s the danger. I’ve seen this. I remember one time this was years ago, when we’re on the mission field, was a hard situation with a man who was caught in adultery and was unrepentant and the church elders put him under discipline. And so he just left the church and he found a church that wasn’t gonna put them under discipline because they didn’t really care about holiness that much. That’s the easy way. That’s the danger. We all have that temptation. Let’s go the easy way. I should finish that story. By the way, bye. He did come back, repent and came back into the church as well. But you see the danger there. So how might we take the easy way? And listening to these false prophet minutes give you a couple of thoughts just to get you thinking. First, we do this when we ignore the plain teaching of Scripture, especially its ethical commands. And because it’s so easy for us to dismiss them, you know, that times have changed, right? So what might have been true back then we know better. Now we’re now smarter than the All Knowing God of the minute doesn’t sound great when you say like that. But that’s kind of how we get plus, there’s always grace, right? So it doesn’t really matter if you’re striving for holiness, because we love to sin. God loves to forgive, it’s a match made in heaven. Let’s just keep on going. So we ignore the plain teaching of Scripture. Another one is when we replace relationship with religion, we’ve talked about already checking boxes, instead of knowing God and being known by him, that’s a really key word to when Jesus says, you know, Depart from me, I never knew you. It’s not like he’s saying, I am not aware of your existence. Again, he’s omniscient. He knows everything he knows all of us. The word know is all about intimacy, relationship. And Hebrew thought in Greek thought, I’ll give you the clear example. With a wink and whatnot. You know, if you remember your King James Version, back in Genesis two, it’s Adam knew Eve. And then Cain was born. You can make the connection. Okay, that’s the intimacy that we’re talking about here. Like it is relationship that’s in place. I think the problem is that some of us have with God, what can almost be described as a green card marriage. There’s no actual relationship. It really is just the externals, yes, we got a certificate so that you know, this person can stay in the country or some like that, so it’s transactional, instead of genuinely communal. Third way we might do this is to give God our actions, but not ourselves, not our hearts. This is like Saul, when the defeated the Amalekites, and he was supposed to put everything to destruction, and he didn’t, he kept the best stuff. And then he makes up a lame spiritual sounding excuse for it. And what a Samuel will say to him, to obey is better than sacrifice. I didn’t want your religious duties, what I wanted was your heart. That’s what God is saying to obey is better than sacrifice. These are strong and terrifying words. In this passage, there is very real danger here. Did you notice verse 22, it says, Many will say to me, how terrifying is that this is not something isn’t that like a person here? Or there? One or two? Maybe no Many will say to me in that time. And so we have to examine ourselves. Ask ourselves the tough questions. We know that we could come to Jesus with this same mentality. Because Where would people like this be on a Sunday morning? Right here, in church, in church, of course, Lord, Lord, didn’t we go to church regularly? Lord, Lord, didn’t you get my tithe check? I sent it every month. Lord, Lord, didn’t I grow up in a Christian home? So I know all the answers. Lord, Lord, didn’t I have my quiet time? Most days at least? And it’s not that those things don’t matter. But they don’t matter. Ultimately. They don’t matter if the relationship is not there. Are you doing the will of your Father because you know him? Because he knows you. He just delight to please him. What will you do with what you have heard? Choose this day which claim you will heed. And then the last section to foundations, verses 24 to 27 be familiar words too many of us I’m sure. Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and winds blew and beat against that house yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash. And this is the final knockdown punch. The last image the the last choice. We got these two builders one is wise and one is foolish and what’s the difference between him? It’s interesting how much of the language is repeated verbatim. Like this is the same house it seems like it may be in a second of division like we have today. Like I know in my neighborhood, it’s like, That’s my house. And that’s my house. And that’s my house, they all look the same. From the outside, people across the street from us have the exact same house we do. The only difference is theirs is updated. We still got original floors and original kitchen and stuff, you know, the avocado, it’s linoleum, it’s just the best of the best, right? There’s this beautiful open layout. It’s all you know, it’s everything. That’s the point like maybe even that house over there is nicer than yours. It’s got better paint and nicer furniture, and a new layout, whatever. And it just reminds us how similar these two people really are. I mean, they’re in the same place these two builders aren’t they, they’re both trying to build their home right along the river, which is a great place to build a home, of course, in the same way that these two types of disciples would be right here in this room. These two builders have the same desires, they both want shelter. That’s why they’re building a home. And they both want the convenience of water, which is why they’re building it there. We want the same things true and false disciples, we want peace and joy and all the rest. And they’re doing the same thing. They both built a house, we would do the same things we would both be praying and reading and maybe living out, you know, Matthew 721 to 23 that we just looked at the one difference is the one that you can’t see. And that’s interesting, because I think we cling to the notion that the difference between true and false disciples would be obvious. And Jesus is saying here it’s not or not, at first at least. So what’s the one difference when you can’t see it’s the foundation? In the same way that you can’t see the human heart, the fruit will show inevitably, yes, you can’t see the human heart. And so we need to examine, because you can go into a place and plaster over the cracks. Without asking why there are cracks in the wall in the first place. Did the foundation shift? Because that seems important? Nope. Let’s just paint right over it. So what is the foundation? What is the difference? And this is important, because I think we get confused here. If you were to poll, most people, they would say the the rock on which we build our lives is Jesus’s words. And then sand is when you don’t build your life on Jesus’s words. It’s not what Jesus says here. He says the difference is whoever hears these words of mine, and puts them into practice. They’re both building their lives. On the words of Jesus, only one of them is putting Jesus’s words into practice, though. That is the difference. It is interesting to that he says these words of mine, like Jesus is a it’s my word that you keep like I’m the law giver. In other words, he is very definitely claiming divine sanction here. But this is key. So Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, the cost of discipleship, he says it like this, he says, We have listened to the Sermon on the Mount, and perhaps have understood it, but who has heard it right? Jesus gives us the answer here at the end, the person who have heard it a right is the person who puts it into practice to say, Lord, Lord, and then to do what he says simple surrender, full obedience to the very core of who we are our hearts. Now we have to be careful here. Of course, Jesus is not saying that we obey in order to earn our salvation. We’ve already seen that in the Sermon on the Mount. I mean, he begins by saying busting out the poor in spirit, the people who realize they cannot earn their salvation, but we also just have too many verses elsewhere in the New Testament, Ephesians 289. For example, four It is by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. So our good works can’t get us in. But I mean, Paul goes on here Ephesians 210. So it’s not by work so that no one can boast. But we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. So we don’t get in through our works. But once God gets us in by grace, we do the good works that he has for us. James tells us that faith without works is dead. First, John, one six, John says if we claim to have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. So let me quote Don Carson here. He says, it is true that no man enters the kingdom because of his obedience, but it’s equally true no man enters who is not obedient. It’s just a consequence of us entering. If you know God, and are known by Him, you will keep his commands in increasing measure not perfectly. Sin lingers, yes, but you will keep his commands in increasing measure and whole hearted They keep saying that the fruit will eventually show and it will. It is often trials that reveal it. You know who we really are, trials come. And those are the moments where you you either lean into God or you pull away from God. And that’s what Jesus talks about. He’s got the rain and the flood, and the wind and all of that. Those are the things that will expose the shoddy construction of your house. You may have thought your roofer did a great job until it rains the first time. And then you go, Okay, we’re going to have to call these people back. So there is that, but I think this image is actually a little bit scarier than that even I think Jesus is drawing from Ezekiel chapter 13. Here’s verses 10 and 11. And verse 13, he says, because they lead my people astray, saying peace when there is no peace. And because when a flimsy wall was built, they cover it with whitewash. Therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. In my wrath, I will unleash a violent wind and in my anger, hailstones, and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. In other words, the the rain and the wind and stuff, this is what God is sending. To test us. This is a scatological judgment, like the End Times judgment that we’re talking about. If God knocks over your shoddily constructed house before then it is grace. That is an act of grace. Because it means you realize you’re not built on a solid foundation, you got a chance to examine your life but if not mean judgment is coming. It’s been the note running throughout this whole passage. And you see that verse 13. Right. broad is the road that leads to destruction. Verse 19, every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. There’s 23, I will tell you plainly, I never knew you away from me, you evildoers. And then we have this judgment. Here also judgment is coming. And this is frightening. Now we can knock this approach, maybe you have knocked it when other people have evangelized like this. It’s put somewhat crassly, but not inaccurately, that you’re trying to scare the hell out of people. That might be the Lord calling for us. So it’s time to answer right time for that, you know, is Jesus just trying to scare the hell out of people? And you’re like, yeah, yeah, kind of. And it’s fair to do that. Like he’s saying, flee the wrath to come take shelter. Now, while you still can. It’s scary, but it’s good at the same time. My cousin was up at our family’s home in Lake Placid some years ago, and they were up late. They were sitting on the balcony and stuff and they smelled smoke and notice fire at our neighbor’s house. And these are all like century old log cabins. They go up quickly. And so what did she do? took off running went into this person’s house that she did not know. Yelling, banging on their bedroom door finally stormed into their bedroom where this nice couple is asleep in bed saying your house is on fire. Did she scare them? Yeah. How’d you feel about you know, crazy people in your house in your bedroom when you’re sleeping? Were they grateful that she scared them? Of course, of course, because their house didn’t burn down. They didn’t perish? That’s what today is. It’s the pounding at your door. If you don’t know Jesus, or worse, if you don’t know that you don’t know Jesus. Listen to the knock will you wake from your sinful slumber? Will you trust and obey? And what will you do with what you have heard? Choose this day? Which foundation you will lay? So let me just briefly in clothing closing ask how can you know if you are putting Jesus’s words into practice or not? It can be hard to tell. Like we need others. One reason God calls us into community where we have things like community groups and journey groups here so that people can say, Are you sure you’re doing that? Like it’s good for us? Okay, but here are a couple questions to ask ourselves. So Do you resent the Sermon on the Mount? Have you resented even this series? It’s too hard. Okay. Like the standard is too high. Or as you’ve been listening to the Sermon on the Mount, and being humbled by it, which of course we have all been. Are you willing to accept the rebuke? It’s a little bit like a doctor giving you an unfavorable diagnosis where you’ve got to change your diet and exercise more or bad things are coming and you can be really offended by your doctor. You can go okay, she’s telling me this because she loves me and I should probably make some changes. That’s what’s happening here. Second question, having heard it, you go away and forget it. Or do you keep thinking about it? Right I asked the question that are big idea. What will you do with what you’ve heard, but we’ve been in the sermon for a long time now, it would be fair for me to ask what have you done? What have you been doing? With these words that you have heard? Are you doing anything already? Like, are you tackling sin we’re now in a unit right now in Journey groups, most of us called how we change, I think it’s the most important unit we do across the three years. But one of the things that’s delighted me so much, is that I keep having these conversations with people who aren’t in my journey group who are going, the area that I’m working on right now, the one that I chose to look at for these six weeks. And I’m like, like, that’s it. That’s the Christian life. I’m putting sin to death. I’m cultivating virtue, for God’s sake. Is that what you are doing? Are you putting it into practice joyfully? Which maybe leads us to that third and final question that I would ask, do you want to live it? Like, have you as you’re listening to the Sermon on the Mount, are you going, I wish that were true of me. It’s not yet but by God’s grace, I will get there someday, because that is a good sign. You will fail often, I fail often, when we fail. That’s when we look to Jesus. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bless it are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Alright, I’m bankrupt. I grieve over my sin. But we look to Jesus because this sermon is about Jesus. We know that because every page of this book is about Jesus. It’s always about him. In fact, look what happens afterwards, we just keep reading the last couple of verses here, verses 2829. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because he taught us one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law. When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. Of course, a lot of those crowds would later abandoned him, but there they are. You see, the crowd is amazed at Jesus, like that’s their takeaway is not one of those good teaching. But wow, like that guy is something else. They’re dumbfounded by his authority as a teacher, especially no one ever taught like this before. But his authority as Messiah, which he’s talked about, he said, Don’t think that I have come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, but I’m the one who was Come on, no one had been sent by God, Messiah. They’re amazed by his authority as a lord, did you catch that? Like the hutzpah Jesus says, Not everyone who comes to me, and says, Lord, Lord, I’m the Lord Jesus is saying, we see as authority as judge and Savior. And ultimately, as God, this is Jesus on whose words we must build our lives. And here’s the really good news. He’s the pioneer of that narrow path that we’re gonna go on. Julie read it for us earlier, right? He’s the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, you might have learned it as author and perfecter of faith. That’s not it. It’s not author, it’s Trailblazer. Jesus went before us, he made the way. Bonhoeffer says it like this. He says, We regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command. It is indeed an impossible way. But we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step we shall not go astray, for he is himself the way, the narrow way, and the straight gate. That’s who Jesus is. All of us are prone to choose the easy way. But we can follow the one who chose the hard way and made the hard way. For us. Christianity is not simply high ethical ideals, although it is that too, but it is a crucified Savior, who forgives us when we repent and follow him. This is a time for choosing a time for a deliberate act of commitment and not just living out a haphazard faith any longer. What will you do with what you have heard? Let’s pray. Father, we see the road forked before us even now. And know that we must choose the you have made it so clear to us that we must choose this day which way we will go which path we will take which Prophet we will listen to, and which foundation we will build our lives on. May You give us the wisdom to choose, well, Lord, to build our lives, on Jesus’s words, and on his finished work on our behalf. We know we could not get in on our own by all our strenuous attempts at law keeping, but we get in by grace and grace alone. And so Lord, we thank you for that. Now we fix our eyes on Jesus. Now we pray that you would overwhelm us with your grace once more, and give us grace, to choose well, to follow heart after you and to grow in obedience as we do. We pray this for your names sake. Amen.

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