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Monday, March 11, 2024

A True Disciple

I’ve been preaching through Jesus Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7.  These are the key precepts of Jesus’ message, revealing His core values for  His followers

My sermons for the last three weeks have been quite challenging.  I assure you, I would rather preach cheerful sermons.  But the texts from Jesus Sermon on the Mount have required I speak some harsh truths.

  • Matthew 7:13-14 revealed the highway to hell is broad because many people follow it, but the pathway to life is very narrow and only a few ever find it.
  • Last week I preached about telling true prophets from false prophets based on their fruit. We are called to bear love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
  • My message today is just as challenging (maybe even disturbing). It comes from Matthew 7:21-23.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

A True Disciple
In these 3 verses, Jesus warns about a terrible reality many people will face on judgment day.  He says many people who thought they were following Jesus and going to Heaven will be shocked to find out Jesus never knew them, and they are turned away from Heaven. 

And that’s disturbing, because it makes you question: “Am I one of those who will be horrified to find out Jesus never knew me?  Will I be one of the unfortunate souls turned away when Jesus says:  Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”

This brings us back again to the concerns raised in Matthew 7:13-14.  “The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” 

Friends, the Message of Christ is very serious.  And we need to take it seriously.  So many dabble in religion as if it was an after thought of life.  They go to church whenever we feel like it.  If they pray, it is only when they are desperate and need something.  God is only an after thought if He is a thought at all.  Everyone has more important things to chase after than God.  

Friends, our relationship with God is the most important thing!  It will literally determine where you spend eternity--whether you will spend it in heaven with God or in Hell eternally separated from God. 

“I never knew you…”
Jesus warns one of the claims the damned will say on judgment day is, “We prophesied in your name…”   In other words, they said all the right things.  Maybe they even spoke on behalf of Lord Jesus—sharing His Word with others.  Others who are damned will claim, “We cast out demons in your name and did miracles in your name…”  These too will be cast into hell.  Why?

Jesus gives the answer in simple terms.  “I never knew you.”  Entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven starts with a real relationship—a relationship with Jesus.  It’s not about what you know.  It’s Who you know.  Jesus left the glory of Heaven to come to our broken world to be with us.  That’s the definition of one of His names we often sing about at Christmas is Emanuel; it means "God with us." 

Jesus did ministry with 12 Disciples.  He could have done it alone.  He didn’t need help.  But Jesus chose to work with 12 people to have relationships with them.  Furthermore, Jesus ate with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, and other notorious sinners.  Jesus interacted with people.  He got to know people and built relationships.  Relationship is the most important thing to Jesus.  That’s how He knows people and saves people and heals people.


And that’s what Jesus wants with you—a relationship, to know you.  It’s what God has always wanted from the very beginning when He created us—a relationship.  But, because of sin, we turn away from God.  We chase after our own selfish ambitions instead of a relationship with God.

Matthew 11:28
Jesus came to invite us back.  He said:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Mt 11:28)


Jesus wants a real relationship with you—one where you talk every day and walk together, eat together, live together, serve together laugh and cry together.  Part of that relationship may include prophesying in His name and casting out demons and doing miracles in His name.  But it’s the relationship that’s really important.


It starts with a choice. Jesus wants a relationship with everyone. Some may think Jesus wouldn't want a relationship with you. Maybe you feel like you're not good enough or you've done something terrible and Jesus wouldn't want to be around you. But Jesus showed He loved everyone. He never shied away from anyone, no matter how bad they sinned.  Rich, poor, sinners, saints--Jesus loved them all and He still does today. There's nothing you have done or could ever do that would keep Jesus from wanting a personal relationship with you.


He stands at the door of your heart knocking.  But you have to open the door and let Him in.  And once Jesus comes onto your heart, you've got to walk with Him every day.  Are you spending time with Jesus every day in a real, personal relationship?  Some ways you can do that are through:

  • Prayer and Bible study, which are the heart of a relationship with Jesus.  Through prayer and Bible study we talk to Jesus and hear from Jesus.  We learn who He is and how He wants us to live.
  • Worship and Fellowship with Other Christians.  Just like Jesus called 12 Disciples to follow Him as a group, Jesus calls us to follow Him in a group with other believers.  We fellowship and and worship as a Church (which is a community of faith).  We have a relationship with each other adn with Jesus, together.
  • Serving.  Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  His followers serve alongside Jesus--giving ourselves to make more Disciples who also have a relationship with Jesus.  Jesus doesn't need our help, but graciously invites us to work alongside Him.  Serving together is part of how we relate with Jesus and each other. 

Matthew 7:21
The other key part of Jesus warning is in His statement in verse 21, which says, “Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.”  This statement connects to all the lessons we’ve studied from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

(as well as everything Jesus taught in the Gospels and through His servants in the Bible).  Jesus tells us in the Bible how we are to live.  These are His teachings.  The Bible is the will of His Father in Heaven.  Are we living it?


God is gracious.  He understands we often misunderstand. We may read one thing in the Bible and totally misunderstand what Jesus wants us to do.  We may do the wrong thing.  But most people aren't even reading it to try and figure it out.  Most people aren't even trying.  Do you think willfully ignoring Jesus’ teachings in the Bible is “doing the will of God?”  Of course not.  It’s no wonder there will be so many people on Judgment Day crying,  “Lord! Lord!” and Jesus will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Walking with Jesus and Doing God’s Will Go Together
Something else important needs to be said.  It’s this: Walking with Jesus and doing God’s will go together.  You really can’t separate them.  

You would think prophesying, casting out demons, and doing miracles in Jesus name must be “doing God’s will.”  Right?   Yet Jesus said many will tell Him they did all these very things in His name and Jesus will reply:  “I never knew you.”  Why is  that?  Maybe because Jesus didn’t tell them to do those things. 

Walking with Jesus means staying in tune with His daily instructions.  If He didn’t tell you to prophesy, don’t do it.  If He didn’t tell you to cast out a demon, don’t do it.  If He didn’t tell you to do a miracle, don’t do it.  Just because something sounds holy and impressive, doesn't mean Jesus told you to do it.  But do whatever He tells you to do--even if it's simple and unimpressive.

And if you truly have an intimate relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will lead you to do everything Jesus wants you to do.  A true relationship with Jesus leads you to live for Him.  As you walk with Jesus, you become more accustomed to hearing His voice through the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit directs us exactly how to obey Jesus if we are listening.  Are you listening? 

Jesus words are unsettling today in His Sermon on the Mount.  “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” 

It’s troubling.  It’s unsettling.  But that’s good. 
Because maybe it will motivate us to take our relationship with Jesus seriously.

Let me conclude with a summary of some practical things you can do to ensure you’re traveling on the pathway to eternal life and not blindly following the highway to hell.  

  • Ask Jesus to save you – decide to follow Him as Lord and start walking with Him. This is the very first step.  If you haven't already done so, please do this right now.
  • Pray and read your Bible – these are the heart of our relationship with Jesus. They are how we talk to and hear God.
  • Immerse yourself in Christian fellowship and worship.  If we are truly following Jesus, our most important social group will be other followers of Jesus.  We need each other.  
  • Listen to how the Holy Spirit is leading you to live and do it.  Practice following the Spirit's guidance every day as He:
    • leads your to forgive people who wrong you, just as Jesus forgave you,
    • teaches you to be kind and compassionate
    • enables you to be honest and ethical
    • prompts you to be a witness who share how Jesus is changing your life
    • calls you to serve.  God gives each one of us special gift so we can build up His church. Use them for the glory of God.
"Lord Jesus, forgive us for the ways we have pushed You aside in favor of other things.  Thank You for inviting us to have a relationship with You so that we can know You and be known by You.  Help us to walk with You each day as we pray and study Your Word.  Surround us with Your people, so our fellowship and worship will honor You and build up our faith.  Lea us to know and obey God's law and live for You every day.  We ask these things in Your most holy name.  Amen."

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