Depart From Me, You Evildoers
Matthew 7:21-23, Message by Pastor Eric Chang
We continue today in studying the Word of God from Mt 7:21-27
Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.
Let us also read the parallel passage in Lk 6:46-49
Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.
Now last week, we studied the very important matter of how to discern between a true prophet [and a false prophet], a true teacher and a false teacher. We saw, too, that eventually the Lord’s teaching in that section did not limit itself only to false and true teachers, but to every Christian, as we read from v19ff, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down.”
Our Life Conduct As Fruit - Of The Spirit? Or Of The Flesh?
Today, we continue to study our Lord’s teaching and his teaching is truly wonderful and remarkable. Here also the Lord Jesus, from the last section, speaks about fruit. He is saying, “What determines whether a tree will be cut down or not?” It is the fruit that it bears, or the lack of fruit. What does ‘fruit’ mean? ‘Fruit’ is your conduct, your behavior, that is to say, the works that you do in your everyday life. That is why in Gal 5:19, it speaks of the works of the flesh, and then in vv22&23, it speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. It speaks of two contrasting kinds of conduct.
There is no difference whatsoever between works and fruit. As I mentioned, some expositors tried to make some distinction, that one is the works of the flesh, the other is the fruit of the Spirit, saying that fruit is not the same as works. That is a failure to understand what ‘fruit’ means in the Scriptures. They want to say that ‘fruit’ is the result of God’s work in us producing that fruit. And so, you are doing nothing, but God produces the fruit. This exposition sounds very attractive at first sight, but when carefully examined, it proves false. But we need only look back into the Old Testament, i.e., using of course, Old Testament language, to see that ‘fruit’ in the Bible does not refer necessarily only to good fruit, but also to bad fruit. Of course, this point comes out already here in this passage (Mt 7:16) that thorns do not produce figs, but they do produce berries of their own. Thorn bushes also have berries. They also have a certain kind of fruit, but they are not figs. And so, in the book of Jeremiah, for example, you read about ‘fruit’ in Jer 12:2, 17:10, 21:14 and so forth. There, all these places speak of ‘fruit’ as the Lord Jesus does here in Matthew Chapter 7, but there, it does not always refer to good fruit, it may also refer to bad fruit.
In short, ‘fruit’ is simply your behavior expressed in what you do. That, of course, is in no way to deny that the fruit of the Spirit is produced by the power of the Spirit. But so it is the same then: the fruit of the flesh, the works of the flesh, is produced by the power of sin in the flesh. And just as in the case of the flesh, the person is not in any way passive as these works of the flesh are produced, in the same way, the fruit of the Spirit is not produced in a way that we are passive, as if we are doing nothing, and the fruit somehow automatically produces itself. This kind of wrong teaching has had very damaging effects; it produces a very passive Christianity which always sits back doing nothing. On the contrary, the scriptural teaching is the opposite; it is always encouraging us to move forward, to work, to strive to enter in at the narrow gate.
What Kind Of Person May Enter The Kingdom?
Here in v 21ff, the Lord Jesus says some very surprising things. The first thing is that: “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now, you only call Jesus, “Lord, Lord” if, presumably, you are some kind of Christian. The Lord Jesus tells us then that there are many people who call Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” who will not find entrance into the kingdom of heaven. No, he says, there is only one kind of person who enters the kingdom of heaven, and that is, a person who does God’s will. And he goes on to say these surprising things. He said, it does not matter if you have prophesied in Jesus’ name or you may have cast out demons in Jesus’ name, or done mighty works (which generally means works of healing). So, we have prophecy, exorcism and miracles of healing. All these amazing and mighty works! But Jesus says, even if you do these things, it is no evidence of your spirituality. Now this is very important for us, as Christians, to understand. Your spiritual experiences are not a guarantee that you are on the right and narrow road. The fact that you have these spiritual experiences are precious, but these spiritual experiences do not guarantee your spiritual quality, your spiritual life.
Now, this needs saying in these days, precisely because there are many people who imagine that because they have had some kind of spiritual experience, that it therefore proves them to be spiritual Christians. Brothers and sisters, your spiritual experience proves nothing of the kind. It does not prove that you will enter the kingdom. All that it proves is that you, right now, have a spiritual experience. It does not deny that this spiritual experience comes by the power of God. This prophesying may be by the Spirit of God. This casting out of evil spirits will be by the Spirit of God, since Satan does not cast out Satan, as the Lord Jesus taught us. And your doing mighty works can be by the power of God. But none of these prove that you will enter the kingdom of God. That is the point you need, carefully, to understand.
Think for a moment. If one day you are sitting there and suddenly you begin to prophesy - what an exciting spiritual experience! This is something wonderful. You might even be speaking, prophesying in tongues and somebody else is translating. You get so excited with this experience. You may say, “Wow! I am a super-Christian now! I have joined the ranks of the prophets! You see, Isaiah was a prophet; Jeremiah was a prophet; I am also a prophet. I can prophesy, too! And so, certainly if Isaiah is in the kingdom of God, Jeremiah and all these mighty men are in the kingdom, I will be there, too, because I am also prophesying. I may even do one better then they! They never prophesied in tongues. I prophesy in tongues!”
No. That may certainly be evidence that God is using you at that particular moment. That is to say, he may be using you to fulfill a particular job that needs to get done, seeing that you put yourself in his hands and act in his name. But again, the Lord Jesus makes it very clear to us that that is not a guarantee that you will enter the kingdom of heaven. We must also always remember that there were not only true prophets, but also false prophets, and these false prophets also prophesied in the name of God. Jeremiah in Jer 14:14 mentions this very fact, too.
So, you might say, “Well, if prophecy is not so certain [an indication] about my spiritual condition, then casting out demons must be much more certain because the Lord Jesus said very plainly that Satan never casts out Satan. Therefore, if I cast out a demon from a possessed person, then certainly, the Spirit of God is working through me.” You are right! God’s power is working through you, but that still does not prove that you will enter the kingdom. That is what the Lord Jesus is saying so clearly here. And then, you may go on to say, “Well, if I can go on to do mighty works, works of mercy - helping sick people, healing those people by the power of God, that surely is the merciful power of God working through me.” And so you think, “I am sure to have a seat in heaven.” As I said, it is so surprising, that the Lord Jesus’ reply to that is, No!
Today, we have people who go around doing miracles. No one will deny that these miracles are genuine. Many people even have it attested by the doctors that they had been genuinely healed after being prayed over in the name of Jesus. And many people are very impressed with these faith-healers. I say to them, “Be impressed with the power of God, but don’t be impressed with them because it is not their power that does it; it is God’s power that does it.” But I would say further than that. In the Lord’s teaching, it is: Don’t be impressed with miracles. It is because in Matthew Chapter 24 (which we shall come to in due time, as the Lord permits) it says this, “In the last days, there will come great deceivers” - as we saw also last week - “who will do signs and wonders to deceive many people.” Now, in a small way, I myself have done all of these things: I have prophesied, cast out demons and done works of healing. Therefore shall I say to myself, “Oh, Eric, you are all right now. Your seat is guaranteed for you in heaven. You are among the prophets!”? If I think like that, I am being very foolish. Rather, like the apostle Paul, I need to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling.” [Phil 2:12] Notice those words that Paul uses: ‘work’ - ‘work out’. Exactly how do we do this? How may I be found to be able to enter into the kingdom, to work out this salvation, to strive to enter in at the narrow gate?
The Faith That Does The Will Of The Father
Here the Lord Jesus goes on to say, he who does the will of my Father, that is the person who will enter the kingdom. Now, any of you who have been at the Bible Study and followed this series of teachings will now be very clear what the Lord’s teaching about salvation is. Is the Lord Jesus teaching us that we will be saved through our works, through our own efforts? Certainly not! What he is teaching us here is the definition of faith. We are saved by faith. But the important question to ask is: What does ‘faith’ mean? And ‘faith’ - on the definition of the Lord Jesus, as indeed in Paul and everywhere else, [and] as we have seen [in the book of] Romans - means to obey Jesus. It should immediately be obvious to you that unless you have faith, you would not obey him. How would you want to listen to what he tells you to do? It is faith that makes you want to listen to him, to obey his will. It is faith that gives you the spiritual understanding to realize that Jesus shall reign. It is faith that enables you to see that he is the judge that is to come. It is faith that enables you to see the wonder of his person. It is faith that enables you to see that only he can save you, and therefore, that is why you need to listen to him. It is faith that enables you to realize that nobody in this world can save you from sin and from the judgment to come.
If you have not got faith, you do not believe in the judgment to come. If you do not believe in the judgment to come, you would not bother to obey him, because if there is no judgment, it does not matter whether you do good or bad. All this makes it very plain to us that there is no way that you can be saved without faith. Faith, then, is what the Lord Jesus is talking about. But when the Lord Jesus speaks about faith, he is not talking about some mental perception. He speaks about a spiritual understanding. That is why you may be quite an intelligent person but spiritually blind; you do not understand spiritual things. That is why on the spiritual level, every one is equal. Every one has the same start. Your Ph.D. will give you no advantage in the spiritual world whatsoever. In fact, it might be a disadvantage because it might puff you up and you think you are somebody very important, when in fact you are nothing much in God’s sight. No! On the spiritual level - that is what we speak about - faith is spiritual discernment which, once it perceives the truth, acts upon it. So, salvation then has to do with obeying Christ. That is what faith means.
There Is A Faith That Does Not Save!
On this point then, these people who did these mighty works, do they not have some kind of faith? Can it be that you would prophesy in the name of Jesus if you did not have faith? Have you ever prophesied in the name of Jesus? Could it be that people could cast out demons without faith? Certainly they had faith! You remember that the disciples tried to cast out a demon and they could not cast him out. They [asked], “Why?” The Lord Jesus said, “It is because your faith is too small,” which goes to show that you need to have faith to do these things. Have you ever cast out demons? Have you done any mighty works? These people have done these things! They have faith! Now you can see how dangerous the term ‘faith’ is, if it is not properly defined. If you say that salvation is based on faith in Jesus, these people have faith. Who would dare to deny that these people have faith? This shows that whenever you preach about salvation by faith, be sure to define what you mean by ‘faith.’ The tragedy of the teaching in the churches today is that faith is not defined. People are simply told, “Believe in Jesus and you are saved.” These people also believed! Do these preachers want to deny that these people believe? But they are not saved! They have faith, but they are not saved. That is why I say that the Lord Jesus says some surprising things here.
What Is The Faith That Does Save?
So, do not say to yourself that you have faith. I cannot say to myself, “See, I have faith! I have done these things. That is the proof that I have faith. You see, you do not have faith as much as I have. I have done it; you have not done it. I have superior faith. So, if you can’t be saved, then at least I have a good chance of being saved.” That is wrong! All this is wrong. You can have faith without being saved. That is the striking thing that the Lord Jesus says here. This is the point that the apostle James labors to make clear in his letter. He said, “You have faith; you are doing well. But the devil also has faith. You say you believe in God? He also believes in God.” In fact he believes God more than you do because he trembles every time he thinks about God.
The striking thing, then, I would like you to remember, brothers and sisters, today is this: Your faith may not save you. Did Paul say we are saved by faith? Certainly he said so, he says, “We are saved by faith and that through grace, not of our own striving” [Eph 2:8-9], not of our own works. But then he goes on to say, “But persist in good works whereunto you were ordained.” [v10] [That is to say,] you are appointed to do good works. Now, whenever you quote any passage from the apostle Paul, make sure you quote his whole context, not just one sentence.
He says too at the end of Philippians Chapter 1. Certainly he said we are saved by faith. But if you quote him, do not forget to quote the next sentence and the next after that. And then, immediately, he goes on to speak about the will of God, exactly as the Lord Jesus does [here in Matthew Chapter 7], into [Philippians] Chapter 2. He goes on to speak about the will of God working in us [v13].
We saw also in Romans Chapter 12 how he is concerned to speak about the will of God. We saw at our Bible Study how we can know the will of God, what the apostle Paul speaks of as “good and perfect and acceptable will of God.” This kind of will, he says. How do you know it? You know it by offering yourself as a living sacrifice, most specifically the body. So, now we can see that there is a faith - and I ask you all, each one; I beg of you to remember this - there is a faith that does not save and there is a faith that saves. What is the faith that saves? It is the faith that does God’s will.
Saving Faith Requires Constant Communion
Now, here comes another striking thing the Lord Jesus said. You can do things in the name of Jesus which may not be according to his will. The fact that you do something in the name of Jesus does not mean that that becomes the will of God. What does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name? It means to act as his representative, to act on his authority. Therefore, for example, if you ask me to visit somebody, or you want to buy something and you ask me to look at the property for you, and I will go there in your name. I am not buying the property; I am acting on your behalf. So, to act in his name is to act as Jesus’ representative, as his ambassador, as his agent. But the fact that I act in his name does not necessarily mean that what I do meets his approval.
For example, you ask me to look at this property and I go there in your name, and then I decide to buy the property in your name. Well, you sent me as your agent, so, I am now acting on your authority. But you may not have asked me to buy the property, only to survey it! Now you realize you have got a property on your hands and you have got to find the money to pay for it. Because I am acting on your authority, especially if you gave me that right to use the authority, you will have to own up to it. Or else, you will have to make me pay for it. But you see, either way, just the fact that I act on your authority does not necessarily mean that it is according to your will. It will only be according to your will if I communicate with you and ask you, “Is this your will? Is this what you want me to do?” This takes us to the point to realize that you only act on his will if you are in constant communion with him.
Lawlessness - Doing Our Own Will, Not God’s
Now, these people did these things, they used Jesus’ name, they called him ‘Lord’, but they did not do his will. What does the Lord Jesus say to these people? He said, “I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” Now, if you ever do anything in the name of Jesus, make sure you are acting in his will. Otherwise, you are an evildoer. The word ‘evildoer’ here means, literary, a lawless person who does just what he likes. Now, that tells us again exactly what is the important point we need to know. You are an evildoer if you are simply doing whatever you want to do. That is to say, if you claim be a Christian and you live just in your own way, doing whatever you yourself want to do, with no regard for the will of God, you are an evildoer. The important thing to notice here in the Lord’s teaching is that an evildoer is not necessarily somebody who commits murder or adultery or robbery or any of these things. Notice these people are called evildoers yet no charge of this kind is laid against them at all. They are not accused of committing any of these sins. So, do not sit there very comfortably saying to yourself, “Well, I have not committed any major sins, so I am quite all right. I am righteous before God.” Like so many non-Christians, you preach to them about Christ and they say, “Well, I didn’t murder; I didn’t do this and that,” as though that was the thing that condemns a person. The point here is this: sin originates in the heart. Whether you have actually committed the murder or not, it does not matter. God looks into your heart.
The fact that you did not commit murder or robbery, is simply maybe that you neither had the courage nor the opportunity to do these things. How many times you might have committed murder (because in your heart there was a hatred against a certain person) if you did not think of the consequences? Oh, yes, we could commit murder if there was not the pressure of external circumstances holding us back. The Word of God goes much deeper: looks into your heart, and looks at the root of all these sins which is there in the heart. The root of it is because you want to do things your way.
Now, how many times I have noticed when we preach about the Lord Jesus’ turn-the-other-cheek, immediately there is a sense of rebellion: “Well, I don’t behave like this. I don’t like this way of doing things. God’s way is not sensible, it is not practical. If I do not stand up for myself, nobody stands up for me.” That is what leads to murder! That is what leads to these kinds of sins. We want to settle the score and we want to have the pleasure of settling the score. You may say, “God will settle the score one day. That is too long! I can’t wait for it. I want to enjoy settling the score.” So, we go our own way. Now in the Lord’s teaching, that is evildoing.
Saving Faith - Delighting In Doing God’s Will
Let us speak about the faith that saves and the faith that does not save. How do you know which kind of faith you have right now? I am sure almost everybody here has faith of some kind. You have faith, but is it a saving faith? That is the question we want to ask. How do you know that your faith is the saving faith? And do not make the mistake again of saying, “Ah! I have spiritual experiences! I spoke in tongues or prophesied or cast out demons. Yes, I have done all these things.” It is precisely to these people the Lord Jesus says, “Depart from me, you evildoers. I do not know you.” The only way we can know whether you have the saving faith is whether, right now, you love to do God’s will. Is it your attitude to delight to do God’s will? It is not to say, “Okay, since all Christians have to do God’s will, so let us get on with it; otherwise, I can’t be saved.” No, the child of God – the person who has this saving faith – is the person who just loves to do God’s will. He knows that God’s will is the best.
When God is calling you out to serve him, oh how many people have fought against that? You can feel the leading, the drawing - drawing you out! But immediately, you struggle with your own will. Think about it. Your income will be cut to one-third what you are getting. You’ll lose your pension. You have got no security for the future. It is so hard to do God’s will! But never mind being called into full-time service; everyday living is so difficult! When we were talking about the narrow way, we saw why it is difficult. It is because we always want to go our own way! And because we go our own way, we do not do God’s will.
Do you have faith or do you not have faith? If you want to have the saving faith, you should have come to see that God as a loving father, his will for you is always for your good. It may not be so nice for you at this present moment, but he is offering you an eternal good. If you have not got faith, of course, you cannot see that.
Saving Faith - Faith In God’s Love, Not Just His Power
Now, this is the faith that these people did not have. The striking thing is this: You can have one kind of faith, but your faith stops at the point where it is necessary for salvation. You can have the faith that can prophesy or do mighty works, yet not have the faith to realize God’s love for you! Isn’t that surprising? In other words, you have faith in God’s power, but not in his love. That is why so many who are least in the kingdom of God will turn out to be the greatest. Because they have faith in God’s love that no matter how the storm blows, they know, “My God loves me. He will never let me down.” Now that is saving faith. And because they know that God loves them, therefore, they delight to do his will. So, do not imagine that you have faith in God when you have only faith in his power; that faith is incomplete. But the person who has faith in God’s love also has faith in his power because he knows that God will not let him down and has the power not to let him down. Now, you can see what Paul means when he says, “...the greatest of these is love.” [1 Cor 13:13] He compares faith and hope and love, and he says love is greater even than faith!
So, we can see now whether you have this saving faith or not. What is your attitude towards God? If you think of God as a severe tyrant sitting on a throne, I am sure you have great confidence in his power, but you have no confidence in his love. Like that bad servant in the Parable of the Talents, he says to the master, “I knew you were a severe man.” He never knew that his master was also a loving master. How can faith in a tyrant sitting on a throne save you? Not until you know God as your father, and a father that you love, and that you love so much that you want to do his will with joy, then you will have saving faith.
And then the Lord Jesus goes on to say this: “Everyone who hears my words and does them is like one who builds his house on the solid rock. But the man who hears my words and does not do them, he builds his house on sand.” All of you who have been to Sunday school are so familiar with this picture. (We have to close for today and we shall continue to see the riches of what the Lord means in these words when we see next time how the Lord expounds the meaning of this precious passage. I have many times said that the apostle Paul is the finest commentator, the best teacher of the Lord’s teaching. I want to show you how he expounds these particular words.)
Do You Have Saving Faith?
But today it is sufficient for us to see then whether or not we have saving faith. Certainly, nothing will be more terrible than those people who would be disillusioned on what the Lord Jesus says on that Day. Mt 7:22 reads, “On that day...”. Which day? That, of course, is the day of judgment. Are you sure you will be on the right side of the judgment? Are you sure that because you say you have faith that you’ve got the right kind of faith? You know, this message needs to be broadcasted to all the churches today - the teaching of Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I weep for those people, when I think of that Day, the day of judgment, when the Lord will turn to them and say, “Who are you? I don’t know who you are!” On that Day, these people will say, “But, Lord, I was in church every Sunday! You surely know me. I was baptized in such-and-such a church. You know, the one with that pastor there. He is quite a good man...” or “...that pastor who is so famous.” The Lord Jesus says, “I don’t know who you are. Depart from me, you evildoer.” I dare not think, brothers and sisters, to how many people this will come as the shock of their lives when they have to hang their heads and walk away into the judgment. Because some preacher had said to them, “Just have faith and you are saved.” They quoted Paul without quoting the rest of what Paul said. Because some evangelists were more interested in counting the number of raised hands than the kind of people who could stand before the judgment of God. May God have mercy upon those preachers who simply want to report to their headquarters of how many people have made the decision for Christ.
You cannot play with the souls of people. To be able to say in this church, “So many people registered their decision for Christ,” may be very nice for my glory. That will do nothing for these poor people when they stand before God. And what will be the responsibility of these preachers before God, if ever they manage to survive the judgment? The words of the Lord Jesus - they are faithful and they are true. Whenever you tell another person and you witness to another person about being saved through faith, I beg of you, do them the favor of telling them what faith means in the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Remember: Don’t have the joy of saying, “I led somebody to Christ,” when, in fact, all you have done is led him into the judgment! Make sure that he is truly in salvation.
“We Ate And Drank In Your Presence!”
I would like to conclude with sharing a few words about Lk 13:25 that is related to this passage. Let us read from v24-27
Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us.” He will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!”
This last sentence will be very familiar to us now from Matthew. Let us also read v28: “There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out.” Notice these words: “... you will begin to say....” These words are frightening. It is almost prophetic of how many people the Lord Jesus will address in the second person, “You will say....” Now, notice here, and what I find is enough to make one weep, those words in v26, which say, “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” Are those words not enough to make you weep? “We ate and drank in your presence...”.
That is a plea: “Surely, you can’t say you don’t know us! You have seen me before! I ate and drank in front of you! If I am in front of you, you surely saw me, when I was eating and drinking. We sat at the same table! Where else would you see me eat and drink in front of you? We were sitting at the table. Don’t you remember me? I was sitting right opposite you.”
Tragic words, aren’t they? It is enough to make one weep. But the plea is of no use! The Lord repeats one more time in v27, “I tell you, I tell you truly, I don’t know who you are!”
I share something from these words, something deep from my own heart. I am sure that many people who sat at the communion table in the various communions on this very Sunday, would be able to say to Jesus, “We sat at your table. We ate and drank in front of you.” The Lord Jesus says, “I don’t know who you are?” Is that not something to think about, something to weep about? I say to you, I spend so much time on this subject with you today, precisely in the hope that this will not happen to any of you. If you say you have faith, it does not mean you have the saving faith. Just because you sat at communion today does not mean that you have saving faith. Make sure that you have saving faith. Otherwise, the final tragedy will be the greatest of all.
Will The Lord Know You?
And on the day of judgment, the Lord pronounces these frightening words: “I never knew you! I never knew you.” As we saw at the Bible study a few weeks ago, I mentioned it is the word of the ban. It means it is a banishment formula. It does not mean that Jesus has never seen you before. What this means is [it is] a banishment statement which was used by the Jewish rabbi. When they said, “I ate and drank in front of you,” [and the Lord Jesus said, “I do not know you,”] it does not mean that the Lord Jesus’ memory is so bad that he does not remember seeing them. What it means is that he does not recognize them. He has nothing to do with them. When he says, “I do not know you,” he means, “You are not one of my own. You do not belong to me.” Oh, I beg of you to realize then, that today is the day to do his will and to do it because you love him, and you love him because he loves you. He does not want to send you away. God has no pleasure in sending anyone to the judgment! But you give him no alternative, if you live a life of selfishness, of pride, of doing your own will all the time.
The Bible tells us again and again that God does not will anyone to perish. He does not desire anyone to perish. I think of those words in the prophets where he stretches out his hands and says to Jerusalem, “Why will you die? Why do you choose to die? I set before you the way of life and the way of death. Why do you choose the way of death??”
Now this message that we have preached today may not be a very comfortable message. The Lord’s words are not comfortable, but they are true, and true words are not always comfortable. You know, the Lord Jesus finishes - we have now come [to conclude], and next week we conclude on the Sermon on the Mount - and the Lord concludes his message with a warning. The last words of the Sermon on the Mount were, “...and great was the fall of it”, i.e., the fall of that Christian or so-called Christian.
Now this is interesting because in our human way of thinking, we like to conclude everything on a nice note. Every preacher and every pastor would like to close his message with something that sounds nice and comforting that you can take home with you. But not so the words of the Lord Jesus! In the Jewish synagogues, exactly the same thing happens. Do you know that there are four books in the Old Testament that conclude with words of severe warning? One of these, of course, is Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, which concludes with the word ‘curse.’ “If you do not do these things, the curse will come upon you.” The frightening words of Malachi. In consequence of this, in the Jewish synagogues, when the Bible is read, the Jews always read the penultimate verse after the last verse. That is to say, when they have read the last verse of Malachi, they go back and read the verse before that last verse one more time, in order not to have to end their Bible Reading on such a frightening word. They do the same thing when they read Isaiah because the book of Isaiah also concludes on a severe note of warning. They do the same with Ecclesiastes as well, and the book of Lamentations. All of these books end on a note of warning. And the Lord Jesus does the same; he concludes his wonderful message with a note of warning. Why? It is because he loves us so!
Thus, I share with you also these faithful words. I ask you again. Examine yourself before God and ask yourself: Is your faith a saving faith? There is no more important question that I can ask you this day because your eternal salvation depends on your right answer to this question.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church