October 9, 2011
Pastor Joe Wittwer

The Jesus Revolution

Just Do It!

Matthew 7:21-27

 

Opening:

ILL: Have you ever read some of the warnings that are printed on consumer products?  You’ll like these:

  • On a Duraflame fireplace log: “Caution—Risk of Fire.”

  • On a Batman costume: “Warning: Cape does not enable user to fly.”

  • On a bottle of hair coloring: “Do not use as an ice cream topping.”

  • On a cardboard sun shield for a car: “Do not drive with sun shield in place.”

  • On a portable stroller: “Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.”

Do they think we’re idiots?  Yep.

    Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with some warnings—needed warnings.  He tells us that not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of God.  Talk is cheap.  Don’t just say it; do it.  And He tells us that hearing His words isn’t enough; you’ve got to put them into practice.  If you hear and don’t do, your house will crash.  Don’t just hear it, do it!  

 

Greeting: In Matthew 7:24-27 (leave Scripture up while people talk), Jesus contrasts someone who hears and does what he hears with the person who hears and doesn’t do it.  So: what is something you have heard here at Life Center, or from reading your Bible that you have done?  What is something you have heard and have not done yet?  


Introduction:

    We’re doing something different today—does this surprise you?  I’m going to give the talk first, and then we’ll worship and take communion.  And we have a surprise—hang on to your rock!

    This is the Jesus Revolution.  We have been looking at Jesus’ revolutionary teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, widely considered the greatest ethical teaching ever.  But Jesus didn’t just give us a new ethic; he calls us into a new relationship.  “Follow me, and I will change you.”  The power to do these things comes from Jesus, from a relationship with Jesus.  Follow Jesus and He will change you.  

    I need a drum roll for what I’m going to say next—everyone pound your knees.  Today we finish the Sermon on the Mount!  Woohoo!  Well, sort of.  Actually, we don’t finish at all; we’re really just starting.  We’ve read it and heard it, and now we have to do it!  Live it!  And that’s precisely what Jesus says in our text.

Matthew 7:21–27 “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!’

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.”

Last week, we read Jesus’ warning about false prophets; this week, Jesus warns us about ourselves.  It is possible to be deceived by others; it is even more possible to be self-deceived.  So Jesus tells us not to fool ourselves.  It is not enough to just say the right words; you have to do what God wants.  It is not enough to just hear what Jesus says; you have to do what Jesus says.  So the end of the Sermon on the Mount is really just the beginning: go and do it!

 

1. Don’t just say it; do it! 21-23

“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.

    Being a Christian is more than just saying the right words.  It is more than a profession of faith—even a sincere profession of faith.  It’s more than words, it’s action; we are transformed by Jesus to do God’s will.

    Jesus said we would know a false prophet by his fruit.  Here, he is saying the same thing about us.  You can tell a true Christian by his/her fruit.  And what is the fruit?  We do the will of God.  Don’t just say it; do it!  What do you call someone who professes faith but doesn’t live it?  A hypocrite.  Don’t just say it; do it.

    If you are going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk!

    Is a verbal profession of faith important?  Yes.  We ask people to profess or acknowledge their faith in Jesus in several ways: by raising your hand to say yes to Christ, by telling someone you have decided to follow Jesus, by praying a prayer, and by baptism.  All of these are public professions of faith.  Jesus said:

Matthew 10:32–33 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Obviously, Jesus expects us to publicly acknowledge him, to openly identify ourselves as followers of Jesus.  Paul said:

Romans 10:9–10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Is a verbal profession of faith important?  “It is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  When you believe, you stand up and are counted.  You publicly declare, “Jesus is Lord,” which means that He is your Leader and you do what He wants.

    So is a verbal profession of faith important?  Yes!  But is it enough by itself?  No.  It is the starting point, not whole package.  Jesus said, “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 in heaven.”

    This is a little surprising; notice these things about this profession.  First, it is orthodox.  “Jesus is Lord” was the first confession of the early church, and has remained its simplest core confession.  Would you say this with me: Jesus is Lord.  It acknowledges the deity of Jesus, for “Lord” was a term that Jews applied to God.  And it acknowledges the supremacy of Jesus over my life.  Jesus is Lord, I am His servant.  Jesus is Lord—no one else.  Not Caesar, not any other gods, and especially not me.  It is orthodox.

    Second, it is enthusiastic.  The double “Lord, Lord” suggests the speaker is drawing attention to his zeal; it is a fervent confession.  It is orthodox, enthusiastic, and…

    Third, it is public.  The next few verses describe ministry done in the name of Jesus.  In fact, the phrase “in your name” is placed first: “in your name we prophesied; in your name we drove out demons; in your name we performed miracles.”  They did these good things publicly and in the name of Jesus.  

This profession of faith is orthodox, enthusiastic and public—what is not to like?  But Jesus said, “I never knew you; away from me, you evildoers.”  Even though they were saying the right words, they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus and weren’t doing what He said.

“I never knew you.”  Jesus calls us to follow; He calls us into a relationship.  The Christian life is fundamentally a relationship with Jesus.  We know Him and He knows us.  We walk with Jesus; we do life with Jesus; we follow Jesus.  And as we follow Jesus, He changes us.  We become new and different people and we do what Jesus wants.  

Without this relationship, they did evil: “away from me, you evildoers.”  They were not doing what Jesus said.  Luke’s version of this puts it plainly:

Luke 6:46 Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Startling as it seems, it is possible to make a profession of faith (Lord, Lord), and even do miracles in Jesus’ name, and not know Him and not do what Jesus says.  How can someone do miracles in Jesus’ name and not know Him?  I don’t know.  I think the point Jesus is making is that verbal profession isn’t enough, and even miracle working isn’t enough.  What God is looking for is a relationship with Jesus that transforms your life!  You know Him and knowing Him transforms you so you do what He says.  

    In James 2, James tells us essentially the same thing but with a different slant: he talks about having faith without works, belief that does nothing.  

James 2:14–26 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

That is a rhetorical question; the answer is no.  Faith without works can’t save you.  Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”  James goes on to say,

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?

Faith without deeds is dead and useless.  James is saying the same thing as Jesus: Don’t just say it, do it!  It is possible to confess Christ with our words and deny Him with our lives.  The Christian life is more than saying the right words; it is living with Jesus and doing the right things.  Real faith, real relationship with Jesus, is transforming.  It changes you!  

    If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk!  Don’t just say it, do it.

 

2. Don’t just hear it; do it! 24-27

Matthew 7:24-27 “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.”

    First, Jesus says that it’s not enough to just say the right words, you’ve got to do what God says.  If you are going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.  Here He says that it’s not enough to hear Jesus’ words, you’ve got to do what He says.  Don’t just hear it; do it.  

    Jesus uses a well-known illustration.  People in Palestine might build their houses in a flat sandy valley floor; it was easy to build there.  But in winter, rainstorms turned the valleys into flooding torrents that swept away their houses.  You must build a house on a solid foundation.  

    ILL: Recognize this?  The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.  And there are a million photos like this of a tourist holding it up.  I like this guy (kicking it)—this is how guys think!  Prior to restoration work that began in 1990, the 182 foot tower was 17 feet out of plumb. At that time, they estimated that by the year 2007 the tower would have leaned too far and collapsed onto the nearby restaurant, where scientists now gather to discuss their findings. So they started the restoration work and now it is only 12 feet out of plumb!  They left it leaning to keep tourists coming to Pisa!  Why does the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean?  Well, the word “pisa” means “marshy land,” which gives some clue as to why the tower began to lean even before it was completed.

You need a good foundation!  You don’t want to build on the sand…or a marsh.

    ILL: Anyone remember what this property was?  A gravel pit.  We’re sitting on tons of fill dirt!  Does that make you nervous?  Before we could build, we did compaction tests, and discovered that the soil wasn’t compacted enough—if we built on it, we’d have the Leaning Life Center of Spokane.  So we brought in compactors and they pounded the snot out this site.  They raised 10 ton weights and dropped them 100 feet.  The ground shook!  It was awesome!  And I think they compacted it about 6 feet!

You need a good foundation!  You don’t want to build on the sand…or an uncompacted gravel pit!  You want to build on a rock, on something strong and stable.  Then when the storms come, your house will stand.  And the storms will come.  Some scholars believe that these storms refer to the troubles of life; others to the final judgment.  But either way, in this life or at the judgment, the storms will come.  Is your life built on a good foundation?  Are you built on the Rock?

    What happens to you in the storm tells how you built.  Have you been through a storm lately?

  • It might have been a financial storm: you lost your job and you’re staring bankruptcy in the face.  

  • It might have been a relational storm: you and your spouse are having a civil war and it’s escalating; or you loved someone and it ended in heartbreak.  

  • It might have been a tragic storm: an unexpected death in the family, personal illness that might be terminal, an accident that crippled or killed someone.  

Storms will come; they do for everyone; no one escapes the storms.  How you survive the storm depends on how you built.

    I know people on both sides of this divide.  I know one man whose failed business cost him his faith.  He got mad at God and walked away from him.  He built his house on the sand.  I know another man who lost a child, and still loves God and is going on.  He built his house on the rock.  Both of those men had terrible storms; but I’d gladly lose 100 businesses rather than one of my kids.  The man with the worse storm weathered it the best because he was built on the rock.  Both their houses looked pretty solid before the storm, but the storm revealed the true character of their faith.  The storms will come.

    How can you build on the rock, so that you survive the storms? Jesus says you build on the rock by doing what he says.  “Everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  The foolish, who build on the sand, are those who hear Jesus’ words but don’t do them.  

    Notice that both the wise and the foolish hear Jesus words; but it is not enough to hear them; you must put them into practice.  Don’t just hear, do it.  Most of us are educated beyond our experience; we know far more than we put into practice.  It’s not just knowing the truth, but obeying it that makes us strong.

  • Knowing that you should change your oil won’t protect the life of your engine.  But changing your oil will.

  • Knowing that you should exercise won’t help you shed those extra pounds and get in shape, but exercising will.  In 2006, they did a study of heart bypass patients.  All of them were told that their bypass surgery was a temporary fix, that they needed to change their lifestyles: eat less and eat better, exercise more, reduce stress, quit smoking and drinking.  In effect, they were told, “change or die.”  90% of them don’t change.  They know what to do to live longer, and won’t do it.  They all know it; 10% do it.

  • Knowing that you should love your wife like Christ loves us won’t change your marriage, men.  But loving your wife like that will!

  • Knowing that you should pray won’t give you peace, but praying will.

  • Knowing that you should trust God won’t take away your worries, but trusting Him will.

Don’t just hear it; do it!

    True confession: this is one of the most frustrating things about my job.  I know that hundreds of you will hear what I say each week, nod your heads in agreement, and do nothing.  Some of you will do it, and my hat is off to you—thank you!  But many of you sit and listen each week and do nothing.  

    For example, I often encourage you to read the Bible every day, ask God for one thing and do it.  We talk about it a lot.  Do you do it?  Do you even try?  I know that some of you do.  But hundreds of you have heard that over and over, and you don’t even try.  Listen friends: sitting here and hearing God’s word won’t change you; doing it will.  Here is what William Barclay, a British Bible scholar wrote:  

There is little point in going to a doctor, unless we are prepared to do the things we hear him say to us. There is little point in going to an expert, unless we are prepared to act upon his advice. And yet there are thousands of people who listen to the teaching of Jesus Christ every Sunday, and who have a very good knowledge of what Jesus taught, and who yet make little or no deliberate attempt to put it into practice. If we are to be in any sense followers of Jesus we must hear and do.#

It not enough just to hear; Jesus said the foolish hear and don’t do, and are swept away by the storm.  We must hear and do.  James put it this way:

James 1:22–25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

If you just listen and don’t do, you are deceiving yourself.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are building on the rock just because you know a lot.  You’ve got to put it into practice.  Don’t just be a hearer of the word; be a doer of the word.  Build on the rock, not the sand.

    Let me finish by reminding you that it all comes back to our relationship with Jesus.  Jesus isn’t giving us a new ethic; He is calling us to a new relationship.  “Follow me, and I will change you.”  Being a Christian isn’t primarily about keeping the rules, or obeying commandments; it is about loving God.  It is a relationship.  Obedience is the fruit and proof of love.  Jesus said:

John 14:15  If you love me, keep my commands.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.

Love for Jesus isn’t a warm fuzzy feeling.  Love for Jesus is doing what He wants.  There is no point telling Jesus you love Him and then doing what breaks his heart!  The proof of love is obedience.  Love for Jesus is doing what He says.  “If you love me, keep my commands.”

   

Conclusion:

    So we are done with the Sermon on the Mount, but we’ve just begun.  We’ve heard it, now we have to do it.  

    When you came in, you were given a rock.  This rock represents the Rock, the foundation of building your life on Jesus, and doing what He says.  At the end of each row is a bucket of Sharpies.  You’ll have to share the Sharpies.  We want you to write something on your rock to signify your decision to obey Jesus.  

  • It could be the date.

  • It could be a word or a phrase: Do it; Obey; Love; Walk the walk.

  • It could be a verse: Matthew 7:24-27, John 14:15.

  • It could be whatever is a meaningful reminder to you.

We are going to give you some time to pray.  Ask God to help you follow Jesus, to help you be a doer of the Word.  Take some time and do business with God.  Then we’ll worship and take communion.