The first time I preach a sermon, I always wish I could preach it second time. The second time I preach a sermon, I always wish I could preach a third time. I always feel there is more or less to be said, or much to be changed. Such is the case with my last sermon titled JESUS IS
SCARY GENEROUS from Matthew 7.15-23. “Scary” is probably not the most popular adjective to describe Jesus. The truth is, Jesus said some scary things.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’(Mt 7:21–23).
Below is an excerpt taken from my most recent sermon. In essence, passages like this challenge us to consider what we are looking to for the true basis for our salvation. In other words, what are we really putting our faith in? Consider:
Intellectual understanding is not enough (LORD). There are certainly things we must believe. We must believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God—fully God and fully man, perfect representative and perfect sacrifice. We must believe that Jesus was sent to save the world. We must must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, in my place for my sins. We must believe that He died because it was the only way to remove our guilty and satisfy God’s wrath. We must believe that he was raised the third day and is seated and has been exalted as Lord of all. There are certainly things we must believe, but even the demons are orthodox.In Matthew 8, we’ll see that the demons acknowledge Jesus’ authority. James 2.1919 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Suffice to say, everyone who believes will declare Jesus as Lord, but not all who declare Jesus as LORD will actually believe.
Emotional feeling is not enough (LORD, LORD): These people whom Jesus ultimately casts out, not only have a set of beliefs (many orthodox) but they also have a zeal for God. They not only say Lord, they declare LORD LORD! They have feelings and emotions involved. Despite all of their excitement for the things of God, Jesus says they are outside of the kingdom. How do we explain this? Our feelings cannot always be trusted. Often, our enthusiasm is entirely of the flesh. All tears, tickles, and tingles do not necessarily come from God. Contrary to popular belief, more emotion does not necessarily mean more spirituality (though some of us could go with a little more). It might mean you are just an emotional person.
Words and works are not enough (DID WE NOT DO): Finally, these people present the evidence for their devotion—the works that they have done. And what is frightening is that these false converts, non-Christians, unbelievers are able to accomplish things in the name of Jesus! They are able to prophesy and deliver some sort of spiritual message. They are able to preach right doctrine, even lead others to salvation, and yet himself remain outside of Christ. Scary. More than that, they are able to cast out demons in the name of Jesus—as a member of the 12, Judas had this power. Finally, they say we were able to do many wonderful deeds in Jesus’ name. These are legitimate mighty works of building ministries, of serving the poor, even of miraculous healing.
This passage is so “scary” because it forces us to identify the true basis for our salvation. For some of us, we rely on what we know, others what we feel, and still others what we’ve done. Jesus seems to say that eternal life has nothing to do with what we understand, what we feel, or what we do. When these men come before Jesus, He doesn’t say – you don’t understand me enough, you’re not excited about me enough, or you didn’t work for me enough. Jesus simply says, “I NEVER KNEW YOU.”
I continued in this sermon to direct us toward the only basis for our salvation, namely, GRACE. If I were going to preach it again in a way that is more clearly organized (but perhaps less spirit-filled admittedly), then I would probably state is this way:
We are not saved by what we know about Jesus, what we feel about Jesus, or what we do for Jesus. By grace, we are saved by what Jesus knows about us, by what Jesus feels toward us, and by what Jesus has done for us.