Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 28, 2014.
Turn with me to Matthew 7:24-29. Today we are winding down the Sermon on the Mount. and we are examining the closing words of Jesus as he wraps up the sermon. As I stated a few weeks ago, we have been walking through the Sermon on the Mount since January 5th. We have soaked in the Words of Jesus. We have meditated on them, and rolled them around in our mouth. At times they have been sweet and at times that have been bitter, but no matter what they have been medicine to our souls.
I want to, once again, invite you to turn back with me and look at the teachings of Jesus that we have drenched ourselves with over the last 9 months. In this sermons Jesus has taught us about the characteristics of the Kingdom, Living as salt and light in this tasteless and dark world, Christ the fulfillment of the law, the issues of anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, the radical love of Christ that pours form our heart onto even our enemies, giving to the needy, God glorifying prayer, fasting for the reward of God's, laying up treasures in Heaven, battling anxiety with God's sovereignty, grace soaked judgment, the good and wonderful gifts of God, the narrow gate of salvation which is Christ alone, the war against false teaching, and eternal treasure of knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This sermon is overflowing with relevant teaching. There sermon is comprehensive in its scope and covers every area of your life, from eating food to world missions, and everything in between. So how does Jesus wrap it up? Lets read our text and fine out.
The one thing different about these apparently similar houses is what was underneath them, specifically, there foundation? One house was built upon sand and the other was built upon a rock. Everyone here knows how important a foundation is. It is what gives the house strength; the higher the building the deeper the foundation must go.
Currently, there is a building being built in Los Angeles that will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi. This structure will be 73 stories tall and reach 1,100 feet high. In order to have a building this tall that was able to withstand the earthquakes of southern California they had to construct a massive concrete foundation. According to USA today More than 2,100 truckloads of concrete were poured continuously for more than 18 hours. This totaled 21,200 cubic yards of concrete weighing 82 million pounds when dried. Why was this necessary? So it wouldn’t fall over. Therefore, before building up, they had to dig down. They had to dig and dig and dig and dig. This was a lot of work. It took time. It took effort. It took discipline. It took sacrifice, but it was necessary.
Imagine if they would have not dug down before building up. Imagine if 73 stores towering 1,100 feet were built up hastily without counting the cost and sacrifice of digging deep. Shortcuts were made and walls leaned up against each other so as to find their strength not from the foundation but from themselves. Imagine if it was simply a house of cards built upon the beaches of California. Everyone knows what would happen. They next storm or earthquake that would come, would cause everyone to gather not to watch it display it’s strength and withstand the storm, but to watch it crumble. Seems foolish doesn’t it? That is because it is. However, what Jesus is speaking about is far more foolish then what I just described.
For these two builders and these two buildings represent those who hear the word and do it and those who hear the word and ignore it. Jesus has just spent three chapters of Matthew speaking eternal truths into the lives of these listeners and he closes his sermon with a warning. He says if you have sat here and listened to me and you walk away and don't implement this into your life, you are a fool. Why can Jesus say that?
Authority of Jesus
I think the answer lies in verse 28 and 29. The crowds that sat on the side of the Mountain picked up on something fundamentally significant.
We are Fools
The question is, are you a fool? Do you trust in the Word of Christ? Is your life built upon the rock of God's Word, or are you just fooling yourself?
Absolutely, and amen! There is no doubt that the Bible is crystal clear that it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But we want to see evidence of your faith.
Storms and THE STORM
Lets first talk about the storms. How do you know if your Christian life is built on the rock of hearing and doing God's Word, or on sand? The answer is the storms. The storms of this life are the test of your faith. God sends trials and tribulations into your life to test the strength of your faith in His Words. To see if you really trust what he says.
Jesus tells us plainly that in this life we will have tribulations. It is guaranteed, What isn't guaranteed is that you will make it through. Only those who hear the words of God and build their lives upon the Words of God will weather the storm.
Having said that, there is a Greater Storm that is coming. We talked about it last week. There is no rainbow after this storm, for it is the storm of God's wrath that comes at the end of the age. When this day comes, it is too late, for your house is built. The question is, will you be standing in the presence of God or will you be swept into the lake of fire?
Once again, I am struck by the love of Christ in his final words to us. They are words of warning. Proclaiming to us words of life. We have no excuse. We have heard the words of Jesus. He has warned us of the narrow and hard way, they need to know Jesus, the need to hear his Words and build our entire lives upon them. Not just on Sunday mornings, but every moment of our lives. We must be like Peter who proclaimed,
So the question is simple, today as you sit here in this room, are you a fool or or you wise? Underneath the facade of Christianity is their sand or the rock of Jesus Christ and the Word of His power? Do you trust this book? Do you eat this book? Do you treasure this book? For they are all the Words of Christ.
Jesus words today is a call to dig and to examine. Dig around your life and look to see what is underneath the house you have built for you life. When you do, you may find sand. You may find that your Christianity is based on tradition of man, culture, the American dream, a false Gospel. If this is what you find, you will need to tear down your house and start all over.
So how? How do you get this type of faith? How do you get a faith that is alive? A faith that is able to weather storms. A faith that is unshakable?
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 21, 2014
Turn with me to Matthew 7:21-23. Today, as always, we have a lot to cover, so I am going to move quickly into our text and get right to work.
As some of you have been learning through our Wednesday night Bible Study, the answer to this question is because Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you enough to tell you the truth in hopes He will never have to look you in the eyes on the Day of Judgment and send you to Hell.
For some of you today, I want you to see this as your intervention. This is God sitting you down and rebuking you so as to break the chains of your addiction to yourself and your sins.
On that Day
The first thing that I want to draw your attention to are the three little words in verse 22, “On that Day.” What day is Jesus referring to? Jesus is speaking of the Day of Judgment. It is a day like no other day that will ever exist. It is the most joyous and simultaneously frightening day that will ever exist. Here is a window into that day.
Record of Your Sin
One this day, something amazing will happen. There will be a division of the people; a separation; a filtering. Books will be opened and these books will bring everything to light. For they will tell the Universe of everything you have ever done. And it will be the evidence that stands against you demanding your eternal punishment for your sins.
These books will be a record of your life. Every lie you have ever told, every penny you have hidden from the IRS, every lustful thought that has crossed your mind, every time you said the Lord’s name in vain, everything in these books. All of it will be exposed, and the evidence of our sins and the debt of our transgressions against an infinitely Holy God will be overwhelming. These books will be a record of our debt that we owe our infinitely Holy Creator. For they will be full proof that we deserve Hell. There is no other day like this day. The weight of this day is suffocating.
But, there is “another book.” This book is different. It is unique. It is a small book. The name of this book is the “Book of Life.” When this book is opened all you see are names. Names like Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the rest of the prophets. One by one as these names are read off from the Book of Life these people are asked to stand off to the side. They separated from the sea of faces. One by one the names are read…Steven, Peter, Mary, Timothy, Clement, Augustine, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoffer, CS Lewis, John Stott. With each name, your heart beats faster. Eventually you hear names of people you knew on this earth and you watch them step out of line. And the pages of this book continue to turn, and then you hear the one of saddest sounds in Heaven, the closing of the Book of the Book of life. Your name was not called. You continue to stand with the masses. This is the moment that Jesus is speaking towards in Matthew 7:22
For how could these people not know that they weren't saved? How could these people be duped? How could they spend a lifetime living and breathing religion, and not get to Heaven? Jesus tells us that these people spoke for God, cast our demons, performed miracles. These are the people here on earth that we would say qualify for sainthood. Yet they are cast out of the presence of God into the lake of fire. How could this happen?
I Never Knew You
Jesus tells us plainly in verse 23 why they were dammed, “I never knew you.” What an amazing statement, “I never knew you.” There destiny hung on Jesus knowing them. This was not the only time Jesus said something like this. The night before Jesus died he prayed this in the ears of his disciples.
Other than Jesus, no one on this planet understood this reality more than Paul. I love how Jesus used Paul. Turn with me to Philippians 3:4-11
Did you know that the “Book of Life” that we read about in Revelation 20 is actually the abbreviated title of this book? Revelation 21:27 gives us the longer name.
So this leaves us with a question, how do we get in the book? Jesus tells us. He must know us. What does it mean for Jesus know you? First, it is clear that name dropping is not proof of Jesus knowing you.
Being a follower of Jesus is not about rules, it is not about traditions, it is not about sacraments, it is about love. God’s love for you and your love for Him. Period.
If you want to find your name in the Book of Life of the Lamb Who Was Slain than you need to stop committing adultery with this world and cleave to the Bridegroom of Jesus Christ. Just as we sang earlier, your heart must cry our, “I am yours and you are mine.” For this is they way to avoid that most dreadful words ever to be spoken.
What About Lawlessness
This leaves us with one final question: What about lawlessness? What about doing the work of my father in heaven that we read about in verse 21? This is so crucial to understand. The work of God that he desires is a work that flows out of knowing Jesus. Works are a product of being in an abiding relationship with Jesus. They are fruit.
Does Jesus know you? Does Jesus know you as his bride? Does he know you intimately? Or are you just kidding yourself? Hard questions, but eternally important questions.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 14, 2014
Turn with me to Matthew 7:13-20. Today we are going to examine what I believe to be one of the most important admonishments, or warnings, in the entire Bible. It has to do with the war that wages between deception and truth. So let us get right to work and read and then equip ourselves for the battle.
The Narrow Way
In verse 13 Jesus commands us to enter by the narrow way. What is the narrow way? The answer to this should be obvious to us. The narrow way is Jesus Christ. Jesus explicitly tells us this in John 14:6.
However there is another way that Jesus is the narrow way, and it is the means by which you walk through the door. In order to be saved by Jesus you must lay down your life. You must surrender completely to Jesus. You must love him with all your heat, soul, mind and strength. He must be your greatest treasure. Him must your all in all. This is why Jesus not only proclaims that the way is narrow, but that it is hard. For the hardest thing for a us to do is to let go and trust in Christ to be our savior and our Lord.
On Wednesday nights we are going through a study named Radical by David Platt. In that study we are being forced to examine some of the hardest passages in the Bible. These are text that we we tend to ignore because they make us feel uncomfortable. Listen to some of these text.
This is why Jesus says in verse 14, few find it. Very few people will have a faith in Christ that rises to that magnitude. Very few people will have the chains broken that enslave them to the sin this world. Therefore, very few people will walk on the narrow way, but instead will take the easy way out, the wide gate.
The Wide Way
Many people instead of renouncing all that that they have to follow Jesus will instead try to sit the fence. Instead of being all in with Jesus, they will only be half in, or 75% in, in 99% in, but not all the way. Renouncing all that they have is just too uncomfortable, it is too extreme. They want to hang on to the world, whether it be their stuff, ambition, money, relationships, dreams, reputation, tradition, you name it. Those things are just to hard to sacrifice. Therefore what they do is trust Jesus some, but also trust in themselves or something else.
This is what Jesus calls the wide way. It is the easy way. The comfortable way. The worldly way. The popular way. And this way is full of people. In fact it is everyone else that is not on the narrow way. You see, there are only two groups of people, those on the narrow way and those on the wide way. The question that I pose to you today, is what path are you walking on? And it is the most important question that you will be asked.
Because those who are on the wide way, the easy way, the popular way, they are on the road to Hell. These people are selling their soul to the devil to gain the world. As I said last week, they are playing Russian roulette with their eternity. For Jesus plainly says that those who are on the wide way is condemned to destruction. So what does this have to do with false prophets?
The Wide Gate of False Prophets
It has everything to do with false prophets, for false prophets stand at the intersection of the narrow and wide way and point you to Hell. For false prophets do not speak for God, they speak for Satan. They are Satan's mouthpiece and sow seeds of lies into your life, hoping to draw you away from the narrow way of Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to understand something. The false prophets that Jesus is speaking of are not false prophets like those in the old testament who claimed to predict the future and worshiped the false God Baal. The false prophets that Jesus is speaking of are those whom we would more readily call false teachers.
And I think you would agree with me that the world is replete with false prophets claiming to have some special life changing knowledge. Some of them are easily recognizable like Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or David Koresh, but most of them are subtle. Jesus, in fact, tells us that they will be subtle. He tells us that these false prophets are wolves in sheep clothing. Meaning that they look and smell like a sheep, but inwardly they are the opposite of a sheep, they are sheep killers. This is a common strategy of Satan.
And this moment in American History, it seems to me that we are at an all time high when it comes to false prophets, and they are not just in the 2:00 a.m time slots on AM radio, but they are in Churches all over the Country. It seems they have infiltrated the institution of the Church. Listen to this text.
How Do We Determine Who is a False Prophet
When you are born again, we become a new creation. Everything changes. The old has gone and the new has come. This change takes place in your heart and it manifests itself outwardly. Instead of being self-focused, we are Fhrist focused. Instead of pursuing our glory, we pursue God's Glory. Instead of loving ourselves, we love God and we love others. All of these things can be called Christian fruit. It is the evidence that Christ lives within us.
If we see things that look and sound like Christ, then that is evidence that the Spirit of Christ compels them. If we see things that are worldly , self-centered, sinful, then this should give us pause and we should beware of those people. In evaluating false prophets we should look for two things: words and actions.
First words. When someone is attempting to persuade you of something, you must ask yourself is this what the Bible says. Listen to what Paul warns the Church in Galatia in regards to the Gospel.
Now in order to to answer that question, we must know what is in the Bible. We need to study that authentic in order to recognize the counterfeit. If you don't know what the words of Jesus are, then you are in the dark when it comes to watching out for false teaching. You are susceptible of being taken down by a wolf.
The second way we judge a false prophet is by their works. Do they walk the walk? As I stated earlier, if someone is a true follower of Jesus, it means that Jesus lives in them and compels them to live like Him. If they have been forgiven, they should forgive. If they have been given grace, they should give grace. If they have been loved, they should love. If Jesus is their greatest treasure, then our lives should reflect this. Jesus mission is their mission. Jesus' purposes s their purposes. If those things are absent, then this should be red flags to us in determining if we should listen to them or not.
And as I said to begin my message, this may be the most important admonition that we could here. For we are a weak people. We tend to follow whatever new fad is. We read whatever new book comes out. We get promote every “Christian” movie that is released. We cannot afford to do this, we must be discerning as to what bread we eat, the living bread of Jesus or the rotten bread of this world.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 7, 2012
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 7:7-11. We have been walking through the Sermon on the Mount now since January 5th, eight months. That is a long time. Granted we have taken a couple breaks along the way, but nonetheless, this has been more of a marathon than a sprint.
As we reflect on this, I want each of you to ask this question, “What seems to feed your soul better, rushing through the Bible or soaking in it?” For me, it is hands down soaking in it. The more I push into the word of God, the more it seems to push into my heart. It is amazing.
With this in mind, I want each of you to consider this as you read your Bible daily. Don’t rush through the meal, savor it. Be willing to read a verse, close your eyes, and dwell upon the implications, the power, and the truth of these words. Think about other verses that may be connected, use a cross-reference. Many of you use the ESV translation and have study Bible. Those bibles have a cross-reference that will direct you to other verses that are similar or relevant. I encourage you to take time to do so, you will not be disappointed.
Today, we are going to examine a passage that I believe will mean a great deal more to you if you have labored through the last eight months with us. We have spent week after week at the feet of Jesus listening to how to live life as a child of God. In a way it is overwhelming. It leads us to say, how can we possibly become what Jesus requires?
This text we will look at today will be like finding a cold stream after a long journey through a thick forest. It will quench the thirst that Jesus has created throughout the Sermon on the Mount. It reminds me of Isaiah 55:1
However, in doing so, He sets the bar substantially high. In fact, some would argue that he sets the bar out of reach. Verses like Matthew 5:48 do not help.
And this is what Jesus has been leading us to throughout the Sermon on the Mount. He wants us to listen to His Words and come to one singular conclusion, I can’t do it. Jesus wants us to come to the realization that we cannot reach the bar of Holiness that is required by a Holy God. He wants us to reach the end of ourselves.
This begs the question, why can’t we achieve God’s standards? Why can’t we be good enough for God? Why can't we make ourselves not get angry, not lust, not get divorces, not get anxious, love our enemies, help to poor for the right reason, pray for the right things? Because, apart from Jesus, we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Apart from Jesus, nothing good dwells in us. Apart from Jesus, we are sinners. Apart from Jesus, we are spiritually bankrupt and have no capacity to live in accordance to His will. This is why we can't be perfect. This is why we fall short of God's way to live.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is leading us through the wilderness of our sinfulness and is creating a hunger and thirst for a righteousness that is outside ourselves. And this is when he brings us to the satisfying waters of God’s grace.
Jesus’ solution to the problem is to ask, seek and knock. Jesus tells us if ask, seek, and knock, we will receive, find, and it will be opened. So let’s start with who are we asking?
Who do we ask?
Take a look at verse 11.
Now, I want to be clear about something. God is not everyone’s Father. In fact, very few people are on this planet are God's children. And I want us to understand that sitting in these chairs today does not make God your Father. Taking communion today, does not make God your Father. Being religious does not make God your Father. There is only one way that God will be your father, and that is through adoption into his family through the blood of Jesus. Therefore to drink from the waters of God's grace, you must come to the fountain of Jesus Christ. Listen to what Jesus proclaims in John 7:37-39.
If today, you do see the treasure that is Christ and repent of your sin and place your faith in Christ alone for you salvation, you are adopted into God's family. You are his son, You are his daughter, and for the first time, these words of Mathew 7 are meant for you. So let us ask, what do we, God's children, receive if we ask, seek, and knock on our father's door?
Second, no matter what life throws at you, if God foreknew you, he predestined you; if he predestined you, he called you; if he called you, he justified you; if he justified you, he will glorify you! This is an unbreakable chain. This means that no matter what is going on in our life, it is a light momentary affliction compared the the eternal weight of glory that is waiting for us. Our darkest days are but a grain of sand on the beach of God's eternal goodness that he will lavish upon us for all eternity.
Third, God loves us. Not with a wishy washy love, but with an unbreakable love. A love that is more powerful than anything that we may be experiencing. When the world is crashing down around you, who stands by your side and whispers I love you? The Sovereign and Almighty God of the Universe. If the infinitely powerful, holy and awesome God, our Father, loves us, then we can weather any storm of life.
So what do we receive when we ask, seek and knock? We receive the good gift of the amazing riches of God's forever grace, and it flows to us through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fountainhead of the good things of God. And the water of God is sweeter than any water that has ever touched your lips, and if we pursue it we will be satisfied.
River of Love that Flows Through Us
But we are not done. There is still more. Is this where God's gifts end? Are we a reservoir of God's grace? Are our hearts to be a damn collecting God's love? No.
So how would I summarize what Jesus is telling us in these verse today? God is saying, when you are empty of yourself, and you come to me through my son, I will lavish you with unending rivers of my grace, so not only will you be blessed, but you will bless others. What an amazing God that we have.