DUNCAN/The call to enter the kingdom, Part 3: The two ways contrasted

DUNCAN/The call to enter the kingdom, Part 3: The two ways contrasted


Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 7:24-29, the conclusion of the great Sermon on the Mount.  The Lord Jesus is warning us against hearing without doing.  We learn three great truths from this passage.  First, only those who practically embrace Christ’s lordship are His disciples.  Second, those who merely give lip service to Christ will be condemned.  And third, the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.  

I. Only Those Who Practically Embrace Christ’s Lordship Are His Disciples.

Only those who practically embrace Christ’s lordship are His disciples.  Notice His words in verse 24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  It is not simply those who hear the Lord.  It is those who hear the Lord and act upon His Word.  They truly embrace His Word.  They embrace the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is reminding us here that it is not enough to listen to Him, it is not even enough to acknowledge Him, though we must do both of those things.  We must go on to believe and obey Him.  And so He is warning against those who have a verbal profession, but they have no mark of holiness or obedience in their lives.  He is warning those who are respectful of Him, who will listen to Him, but who fail to follow His words.  Merely claiming to be His disciple does not make it a reality.  The Lord Jesus is talking about us embracing Him with the whole of our lives, with our hearts, with our minds, our souls, and with all our strength in action.  

Over and over the Lord stresses that we ought to be disciples not only of the lips, but disciples of our lives as well.  Our lives ought to show that we really do believe that He is Lord.  We really do embrace Him as the one who has authority to tell us how we ought to live.  Now let me say very quickly, the Lord Jesus is not saying that we save ourselves by our obedience.  That is not what Jesus is saying.  The Lord Jesus is calling His disciples to build their lives upon the foundation of His person and His words.  He is calling us to conform our thoughts and our desires and our words and our actions to the Gospel of Christ.  His life and His death on our behalf are what set us before God as we embrace Him by faith.  But all those who truly have faith in Him will have their lives transformed.    

II. Those Who Merely Give Lip Service to Christ Will Be Condemned.

Those who merely give lip service or merely give ear service to Christ will be condemned.  See the terrifying words of verses 26 and 27, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.”  Jesus is asking us to consider the foundation of our lives.  What are our lives built on?  Are our lives built on our own ambitions, our own agenda, our own ethical code, our own desires, earthly, or temporal?  If our lives are not built on Him, then our lives are built on sand.  

He is not asking whether men listen to His teaching.  He is asking whether their lives are really built on His teaching.  Now the Lord Jesus knows that it is very difficult, in fact, it is impossible for us to look into the heart of another person.  We can’t look into the heart of another person, and say, “Ah ha, I see the foundation of your life.”  But we can look at how they live.  And the Lord Jesus says we may not be able to see the foundation, it is either under the ground, or it wasn’t ever built at all, and the superstructure of the house is on top of it.  We can’t tell whether it is there, but we can see what happens to that house when the storms of life come. 

The Lord Jesus is telling us when the tests of life come, when the trials of life come, when the storms of life come, that is an inkling, that is an indication, that is evidence, that is a test, of whether we stand with Christ or not.  When the pressure of life comes, when the pressure of sin comes, when the pressure of difficulty comes, do we stand with Him?  Do our lives show that they are based on Him?  Or are our lives based on shifting sand?  The Lord Jesus is saying that the wise man builds the foundation of his life with a view to those most important things.  It doesn’t mean that nothing else is significant.  It doesn’t mean that nothing else is important.  It just means that the wise man priorities are right.  His foundations have been laid on Christ and on His Word.  And when the tests and the storms and the trials come, He will stand.  You see there are many who profess Christ, many who hope for heaven, but their lives are built on the sand.  The Lord Jesus is saying to take stock and make sure that your life is built on Him and on His Word, and if it is, that will show when you face the difficulties of life.   

III. The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Only Way of Salvation. 

This passage asserts in no uncertain terms that the Lord Jesus is the divine Son of God, that He is equal to God in power and in glory, and He is the only way of salvation.  Matthew tells us that when Jesus finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished.  That is recorded in verses 28 and 29, “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”  Do you know the sad thing that Matthew doesn’t tell us?  Matthew doesn’t tell us that they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.  They were astonished by His teaching.  They were flabbergasted by what they had heard.  But they didn’t embrace Him by faith.  It is possible to hear faithful Gospel preaching, and not embrace Christ.  But Christ in this passage makes it clear that at the Last Day, one’s eternal destiny will depend on whether He knows you and whether you know Him, or whether you don’t know Him, and He doesn’t know you.  Do you know Him?  Do you know Him who is the very Son of God?  The divine Son of God, equal with God in power and glory?  The only way of salvation.  Have you embraced Him? 

The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary.  He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at jhyde@rts.edu.

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