Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
The past several months of studies in the Sermon on the Mount have been some of the most enlightening in my ministry at Berean. Perhaps you believe the preacher knows about as much as he can learn and what is left is for him to distill Biblical information and disseminate it to you. Every day I find out how much I don’t know, or if I did know it, how poorly I have practiced it. The Sermon on the Mount is sobering. I am reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phi. 3:12). Paul was a specially called apostle and an inspired writer of scripture. After teaching and preaching with near flawless precision, he still reminded himself and others that he had not yet reached all he wanted to be in Christ.
I wonder sometimes if there are Christians that have actually attained all they want to be in Christ. Is there any struggle in their lives to push upward for Him? In scripture, living for Christ is often described as a battle; it is warfare. Jesus said it is a road of self denial and of cross bearing. I don’t think we see much of this in churches. I am afraid there are many in our own congregation that are just holding their position, which all in all, is one not much worth defending. Satan is no real trouble to them because they have been chummily sitting around his campfire. Matthew 7:21 is a wake-up call. This is reveille for complacent self assured church members.
In the past few weeks, I have been working on sermons for Matthew 7:21-27. I have been shaken down to the foundation of my faith (Matt. 7:24). Jesus warned against false prophets that may deceive you, but I believe He reserved the most frightening words for those who are self-deceived. Is the preacher absolutely sure of his salvation? I found I could not be until I was willing to examine my motives, my desires, my beliefs—and just as importantly, the sin that I allow to lurk in my heart without enough anguish to do anything about it. It is easy to preach against the “big sins,” ones that most likely I would never commit. But what about the ones that hardly ever show outwardly and are only discernible by me?
This concerns me; and yet I have found that true concern over it is evidence the Holy Spirit is working within. I needed the wake-up call of Matt. 7:21. I think many of you do too. Sadly, some of you will not hear the ring. You claim to know Christ, but there is much evidence to prove otherwise. Profession is not enough. Saying “Lord, Lord,” is hypocritically blasphemous if you do not “do the will of the Father.” There are various ways to make the discovery if you have the sensibility to make the effort. I will give you just one today that in our modern world sounds the bells of the heart like a towering church spire. Perhaps God has blessed (?) us with a new tool of discovery. Start with this: take a look at your social life. What can others (maybe even me) learn about you on Facebook? It may just be another tool to expose false professors.
Pastor V. Mark Smith