Lord Jesus, for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray, but keep me, guide me, love me, just for today.
Read MATTHEW 7:21–29
True and False Disciples
21 “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. 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “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. 25 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. 26 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. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pray that, as we reach the end of the Sermon on the Mount, its message may shape our discipleship in ways that are faithful and radical.
The Sermon concludes with the ringing affirmation of the necessity of hearing and doing the word of God as this has now been revealed by Jesus. The repeated emphasis on the practice of truth is unavoidable: this indissoluble combination is what characterizes the ‘wise man’ (v 24), while its absence is the distinguishing mark of the ‘foolish man’ (v 26). A popular children’s chorus is based on this distinction, but the purpose here is not just the amusement of the young, but the warning for all of us that eternal issues are at stake.
Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that genuine faith must bear fruit in deeds. It is the distinctive way of life, individual and corporate, which makes the kingdom of God visible before the watching world. It is not enough to mouth the correct doctrinal confession (v 21), nor to claim spectacular powers of preaching or healing (v 22), since both propositional truth and pentecostal wonders divorced from moral and ethical transformation are useless and dangerous. The repetition of the phrase ‘puts them into practice’ (vs 24,26) drives this home in a manner designed to cause self-examination on the part of every professed disciple of Jesus.
The relationship between saving faith and good works has been debated since the Protestant Reformation. Having read these chapters and listened to Jesus’ conclusion, we may wonder how this ever came to be a problem. Moreover, in the tragically broken world of the twenty- first century it is imperative that faith is demonstrated by deeds; anything less will result in the ‘great crash’ (v 27) of which Jesus has warned. Matthew informs us that those who listened to Christ were amazed at His teaching (v 28). Can our reaction be anything less than that?
Looking back over these studies on the Sermon, what has challenged you most and where have you found encouragement to pursue the way of Christ?