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Sunday, July 29, 2018

[Matt's Messages] "These Words of Mine"

“These Words of Mine”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
July 29, 2018 :: Matthew 7:13-29 

It’s been forever since we’ve been together in the Gospel of Matthew. We started our series back in December of 2017! And this is the 19th message in this series. But we’ve taken a lot of breaks along the way, especially the last four Sundays! Joel preached while I was at Challenge, the Challenge group brought their report, and last week was Family Bible Week so it was over a month ago that we were in the Gospel of Matthew together.

I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t answer the question, “Where is Pastor Matt preaching from these days at church?”

Well, the answer is “The Gospel of Matthew.” And our series is called, “Following Jesus” because that’s what we’re learning to do as we study Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew is a theological biography of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew tells us who Jesus is, His background, His backstory, His baptism, everything.

And Matthew tells us how He began His ministry calling people to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

He called His first disciples to follow Him and make more followers of Him, and He began teaching, preaching, and healing.

And then Jesus went up on a mountainside and taught what we have come to call, “The Sermon on the Mount.”

It is the first of five major blocks of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Matthew and arguably the most famous.

Like a new Moses, Jesus went up on a mountainside and delivered His kingdom manifesto. And He taught with unparalleled authority.

In fact, look down to the last two verses of chapter 7 to see how the people responded this sermon on the mount. Look at verse 28.

“When Jesus had finished saying these things [when He had finished the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”

These people were astonished by what they heard.

We have grown familiar with so many of these teachings. They are very famous and rightfully so. Ever since February, we have been slowly working our way through these teachings, and we have come to know them.

But the first people to hear these teachings were flabbergasted by them.

They were knocked off their pins.

Their jaws were dropping. “Did just hear what I think I heard?!”

“I don’t know. I’m amazed, too. This guy teaches like no one else. He teaches with His own authority.

Who does He think He is?”

That’s what I thought again and again these last five months. “Who does Jesus think He is?”

Just as important as understanding what Jesus is teaching is to understand Who Jesus is as He teaches it!

Jesus does not teach like one of the scribes. One of the other teachers of the Law.

Jesus teaches from His own authority.

We’ve seen that again and again. Remember the “But I Tell You’s” from back in chapter 5?

“You have heard that it was said, but I tell you this...”

Nobody teaches like that.

And gets away with it.

Nobody but Jesus.

We’ve reached the conclusion of Jesus’ message.

Do you remember how He started it? With the Beatitudes?

With the blessings?

“Blessed are the...”

Jesus invited us to live the good life, the blessed life, the “Good on you” life, the flourishing life–as His followers.

But what He said was the good life was completely surprising. Do you remember?

Jesus invites us into an upside-down kingdom.

His values are not the world’s values.

Everything is upside-down.

Jesus said blessed are the needy. The sad. The lowly. The unsatisfied. The persecuted.

Those are the kind of people Jesus says are in a good place!

Which good news if you know you are needy!

And it’s not just an upside-down kingdom.

It’s also an inside-out kingdom. Do you remember this?

Jesus calls His followers to live a whole life, a perfect life, that is a life that is the same on the inside as it is on the outside.

It’s not good enough to just have an external righteousness. Jesus insists that His followers have a greater righteousness than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

They were totally focused on the externals, but Jesus drives to the heart.

It’s not good enough for Jesus that we keep from murdering each other. We aren’t allowed to hate each other.

It’s not good enough for Jesus to keep from jumping into bed with someone who is not your spouse, we aren’t allowed to lust after each other.

It’s not good enough to just keep certain oaths. We are to be totally trustworthy.

It’s not good enough for Jesus for us to just love our neighbors. He wants us to love our enemies.

From the inside out.

Because His Father sees our insides. Not just outsides.

That’s why we can’t just give or pray or fast when people are watching and for their approval. We’ve got give, pray, and fast when nobody sees but the Father.

Inside-out.

The kingdom’s values are very different from the world’s values.

The world values money. We aren’t allowed to serve both God and Money.

The world values worry. We aren’t allowed to worry about our futures.

The world values judgmentalism. We aren’t allowed to condemn others.

In fact, we are called to do to other what we would have them do to us.

That’s what Jesus is telling us to do!

That’s the kind of kingdom that Jesus is inviting us to join.

Are you in?

Upside-down, inside-out, counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, Kingdom of Heaven.

Following Jesus.

Are you in?

Because that’s the part of the Sermon we’ve finally got to. The part where Jesus gives the invitation.

Jesus calls for a response.

In Matthew chapter 7 verses 13 through 29, Jesus lands the plane.

And He does it in a very strong way.

While He was very tender at beginning of the sermon, He is very firm at the end.

Because there are only two ways to respond to Jesus’ teaching. A right way and wrong way.

And Jesus invites us to respond the right way and warns us not to respond the wrong way.

He does this with a series of contrasts that reveal the two ways.

Two roads, two trees, two claims, two builders.

And in each one, He is inviting us to respond the right way and warning us to NOT respond the wrong way to what He calls, “These Words of Mine.”

He says that in verse 24 and again in verse 26.

And I don’t know how many times I’ve missed those words as I’ve read this chapter.

Jesus is calling for a response to His sermon, to His teachings.

Not just to God’s words and God’s teachings.

The teachers of the Law did that.

But Jesus is calling for a response to these words of His.

Are you in?  Or are you out?

I have three points to make today, and here is number one:

#1. TAKE THE HARD ROAD.

Look at verses 13 and 14.

Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Do you get the picture?

As Jesus concludes His message, He says that there are two roads. Two ways to go.

And they are very different. And they lead to very different destinations.

And Jesus makes abundantly it clear which road He wants us to take.

There’s no question about it. There is no neutrality on this question.

He is not saying that they are equally valid roads. It doesn’t matter; just choose one.

He is saying that there is right road and a wrong road.

The right road is the narrow road. A small, narrow gate and a very narrow road to walk. That’s the one to take.

But it’s harder.

He says the other road is a lot easier and more popular. It’s gate is wide. You can take extra stuff with you when you cross into it. The road is broad, you can careen all over it. Many people go this way. It’s very popular. It’s very comfortable. It’s very easy.

And it leads to destruction.

But the other gate, the other road is small and narrow and confining and unpopular.

But it’s the road to life.

That’s the kingdom road.

What is He is talking about?

He’s talking about following His teachings.

He’s talking about receiving the Sermon on the Mount and living now as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven which is near.

And that means repentance.

Repentance is hard.

It’s no fun. At least at first.
It’s uncomfortable.
It’s unpopular!

Not very people choose it.

But it’s the road that leads to life.

Which road are you on?

As you look back over chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew, would you say that this life is the life that you’ve chosen?

That this kingdom is the kingdom you are living for?

Upside-down, inside-out, counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, kingdom of heaven?

I don’t mean do you live out these values perfectly.

I’m sure you don’t. That’s actually kind of part of the point.

If you know you don’t then you are poor in spirit and know that you are needy.

And, ironically, that means that you are living them out.

If you think you have it all together, then you certainly don’t!

But have you embraced Jesus’ teachings and decided to follow Him on this road?

It’s not easy!

Look back over chapters 5, 6, and 7, and you’ll see that Jesus is calling us to walk a difficult path.

“Small is the gate and narrow the road,” but it leads to life!

The second thing Jesus says is to:

#2. BEWARE OF FAKE CHRISTIANITY. V.15

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

This is where we get the phrase, “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Jesus says that there are going to be people out there who are going to seem like they are people worth following, people worth knowing, people who are God’s sheep just like you and me, but actually are ferocious wolves.

They are completely and totally dangerous to us.

And we need to keep on the look for them.

Appearances can be deceiving.

These people are not a genuine part of the inside-out kingdom.

On the outside, they look like followers of Jesus, but on the inside, they most certainly are not.

These false prophets regularly recommend the wrong road.

They invite us onto the wrong road.

And they warn us against the right road.

That’s the definition of false prophet.

But they can look so good!

They can be great communicators. Awesome story-tellers.

Powerful preachers.

Popular preachers.

They seem to have it all together and have all of the answers.

The Pharisees were like that! Everybody thought those guys were the godly guys.

But most of them were actually fakes.

How do we know which ones to listen to?

How do you know whether or not to listen to me, for example?

Well, one way is to line up what I’m teaching with what Jesus is teaching here and see if they match.

If I’m encouraging you to go the wrong way, you should run away from me, right away.

But the other way is to tell is to keep eye on their fruit. V.16

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [No!] 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.”

Jesus loves to use this metaphor.

He says, if you are not sure whether or not they are good teacher or a bad teacher, just give it a little time and watch what comes out of their life.

They might seem good at first because they have on the sheep’s clothing, but eventually a wolf will act like a wolf.

A good tree bears good fruit, and bad tree bears bad fruit. Sooner or later.

Eventually, ultimately, you can tell by watching their lives.

And the Lord is also watching their lives. And if they continually produce bad fruit and prove to be a bad tree, they become firewood.

So watch out.

Beware of whom you listen to.

I think that Jesus is continuing this same thought in verse 21.

“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

You do have to call upon the name of the Lord.
You do have to confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord.

But that’s not good enough if He really isn’t.

This is scary, but Jesus says that there will be many people who actually have taken the broad path in life and yet will try to convince Jesus on the last day that they took the narrow one. V.22

“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 perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”

Now, I think that, in general, the wrong people get scared by that teaching from Jesus.

People who love Jesus and are following Him by faith should not be scared of those words.

They should watch out for those people who are like this. They should beware false teachers who do lots of things in the name of Jesus even preaching and prophecies, and miracles. But they don’t really know Jesus.

“Watch out for false prophets.”

You don’t want to be in their shoes when Jesus says that He doesn’t know them.

There’s no real relationship there.

And you can tell because they chose the broad path.

And it showed in their fruit.

It was clear from the fruit of their lives they did not trust and love and follow Jesus.

Now, if that is true of you, then you should be scared.

Beware of fake Christianity in your own life.
The proof is not church attendance or church activity or singing songs or giving alms or even doing prophecies and miracles in the name of Jesus.

The proof is in the pudding.

The proof is in the fruit.

The proof is in what path you have chosen.

Have you taken the narrow road?

Have you chosen to trust and love and follow Jesus?

Have you repented?

Are you repenting?

Are you in?

Are you a citizen of this upside-down, inside-out, counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, counter-your-own-sinful-heart kingdom?

If so, then don’t worry. Jesus isn’t talking about you.

Jesus is telling you to watch out for people like that.

Jesus is calling you to:

#3. BUILD YOUR LIFE ON JESUS’ TEACHINGS. V.24

I love this parable. I’ll try not to break song. The kids’ song about this. V.24

“Therefore [notice that! Therefore. He’s drawing it all to a conclusion. 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. [Like the wise man in Proverbs that we looked at last week.] The rain came down, the streams rose, and the 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 [you see what He’s talking about? He’s talking the Sermon on the Mount] and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. [Why would he do that? It’s a lot easier! You don’t have to dig into that rock. It goes up much faster. You can build a bigger one because you don’t have to waste that time and energy and resources on digging into the rock if you build on sand. But the storm is coming. The storms of life and the eschatalogical storm of judgment is coming.] The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’”

Isn’t amazing Who Jesus thinks He is? Look at verse 28 again.

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”

They were right to be amazed.

Because Jesus is saying if you build your life on His teachings, then you will stand.

Your life will stand the test of time and the test of eternity.

But if you don’t build your life on “these words of mine,” of these words of Jesus, then you will fall with a great crash.

Now, He’s not saying that you can save yourself by putting His words into practice.

But He is saying that if you are genuinely trusting Him with genuine faith, then you will put His words into practice.

And it will be obvious.

Maybe not at first.

I’m sure that both of these houses looked great.

But when the storms comes, all will be made plain.

Do you feel the invitation and the warning from Jesus’ conclusion to His sermon?

He is warning us to not ignore these words of His.

They are that important.

They are not optional.

Look over chapters 5, 6, and 7 and ask yourself if you are building your life on these teachings.

And ask yourself if there is evidence that you are.

They are not optional for those who would want to enter into the kingdom, to enter into life, to flourish now and forever.

Jesus is warning that we don’t build our lives on His teachings that there will be great destruction.

He is that important. What He says is that important.

And at the same time, Jesus is inviting us to build our lives on the solid rock of His words, on the firm foundation of His teachings.

His teachings are sometimes hard to swallow.

It’s not the easiest road to walk.

But it’s the road to life.

And we get to walk it with Him!


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous

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