Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

I was sweeping the floor in the lobby of the Harrison Post Office one day when a very kind gentleman began chatting with me. He said that he had noticed how hard I worked and wanted me to come out and wash the windows at his business. He said he would pay me well and that was all I needed to know. I gave him my phone number and off he went. I finished up the lobby and then went to the back to go clean the rest of the Post Office thinking I’d make some extra spending money when this guy called me.

That evening, when I was sitting down to eat with my parents the phone rang. My Mom answered the phone. The voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello, this is Thom Robb, I am calling to talk with Dwain. He gave me this phone number and said I could reach him here.” My Mom started yelling at the guy about how he was never to call this phone number again. And then she turned to me and started quizzing me, rather heatedly, if I remember correctly, concerning why in the world I was talking with such a racist organization. Thomas Robb was and still is the head of the KKK and my talking with this guy, even a little, lit my Mom on fire. I figured out who my Mom was talking about rather quickly and set to explain my predicament to her. I had no idea.

The entire experience is one that is funny because I was silly and didn’t ask any more questions. I didn’t feel, at the time, that I needed to do so. He seemed like a very kind gentleman and he was going to give me money for labor. This guy that I thought was kind was the head of one of the most hate-filled organizations in America. In the past this organization has done an immense amount of harm, even murdering African Americans in the name of racism. He took over this position in the 1980s when he replaced David Duke. He was not what he seemed. In fact, if I would have discussed things with him further he would have told me what a mighty Christian he was. Christian, he is not.

Now, why can I say that? Why can I contest his claim to be a Christian? He is a preacher, or at least claims to be. How can I contest any of this?

I am sure that you have friends at school who claim to be Christians, yet they live like the world most of the time. I bet some of them claim to read their Bibles, pray, and attend church. There may be someone in this room right now that claims to follow Christ, seems to by most everyone’s accounting but does not really follow Him.

There are a few things for us to think about here. One, many of the people who stain Christ’s name by saying they are one of His and behave poorly are not really His. The Church then is less hypocritical than many people see it to be. Second, Christianity is about more than a profession of the lips.

Christ here tells us that those people who know Him follow His Word.

To have faith in Christ is more than reciting a prayer. True faith in Christ produces good works. Where there is no true faith, there is a rebellion against God’s Word. The person who really goes through The Narrow Gate (Christ) also walks in The Narrow Way (follows Christ’s commands). Those that claim faith in Christ without following Christ will find, in the end, that they are not really one of Christ’s people.

Those people who actually know Christ, those whom Christ knows, follow His commands.

Read Matthew 7:21-23

A Genuine Relationship With God Is Not Based On Words Alone

Jesus is winding down the Sermon on the Mount. He has given the Kingdom Ethic and is now warning those who hear Him to heed His words. What we find here is that the people confess Christ as Lord. In fact, they say it two times which means they are emphatic about it and probably feel what they are saying with great emotion. But, simply confessing that Jesus is Lord is not enough to get someone into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Being a Christian is more than just words. One does not simply claim to be a believer. Christ came to Earth and accomplished salvation for His people by living a perfect life and dying on the cross for their sins. He rose from the dead three days later and all those who trust in Him have their sins forgiven and are granted entrance into God’s Kingdom. Those who truly Christ’s people, those who will be allowed entrance into God’s Kingdom, are those who enter through the narrow gate and walk in The Narrow Way.

I once heard an illustration of this idea from a great and very well-known sermon on this text by Paul Washer. If a guy showed up 30 minutes late to a meeting looking well dressed and clean saying that he was late because he was changing a flat tire on his car and he got hit by a logging truck moving at about 50 miles per hour, would you believe him? No, probably not. Why? Because impact from a truck that size and moving that fast would physically change you. It would break bones, cause bruising, and surely tear up your clothes. It would probably kill you. Why then would we believe a person who is simply confessing that Jesus is Lord while they lived in rebellion against Jesus’s Word?

Simply saying that Jesus is your Lord does not make you a Christian. There are loads of people in America today that claim to be Christian and don’t give a single thought to Christ and His ways. But it is the nature of saving faith to trust and obey Christ. Last week we said that one trusts in Christ, not just part of Him, but the whole Christ. He is our Savior and our Lord. There is no faith where there is no obedience and here, we see that a relationship with Christ is not based on words alone. Remember, there is no faith where there is no obedience. Why can I look at Thomas Robb’s life and say that he is not a Christian? Because he runs an organization fueled by hatred and animosity. No matter how loudly he blurts out what he believes about himself, he is not following Christ’s ways. Christianity is more than just words. It results in a life that is devoted to Christ.  Now, what about you?

There is a name for this that is used today. Do you know what it is? It’s called a nominal Christian. The word “nominal” means “in name only”. If something is “nominal” that means that it exists in name only. It’s not real. And a nominal Christian is a person who is not really a Christian, but is only one in name only. This moves us to examine our own lives and think deeply about ourselves. Are we really Christians or are we nominal?

A Genuine Relationship With God Is Not Based On Feelings Alone

As we examine this passage more closely, the fact that the person approaches Christ saying, “Lord, Lord” is rather significant. There is a lot of emotion tied to this declaration. These are not just people that casually believe they were Christians, but people who really believed it. Yet, they are cast out of the presence of Christ and are not allowed entrance into His Kingdom.

There are many people who will fight you tooth and nail while claiming to be a Christian even though they are not. I think that much of it is tied to our identity here in America, especially in the South. A horrible statistic that bears this out from The Pew Research Forum. 70.6% of all Americans claim to be Christian, but only 36% go to church weekly. I can guarantee that there are a lot of social media warriors in that group claiming to be Christian but not going to church. I can also guarantee you that they don’t adhere or practice the faith as they ought. And, I’m not saying that everyone who does not go to church weekly is not a believer, but the point is plain. For the most part, these are not people who are practicing their faith or taking it seriously. If questioned about this inconsistency they would likely get really upset because they feel so strongly in their bones that they are believers. There is a strong feeling, a feeling so strong that it would evoke a strong reaction, but a feeling that is opposed to the path that they are walking.

Strong feelings are not an indicator as to truth. I have heard of a lot of people that feel strongly that the Earth is flat and that the Holocaust didn’t happen but that doesn’t mean that they are correct. Christ is here saying what He says in other places. The person who has true faith is obedient to Him (John 14:15, 21-23). Don’t think that you make a simple profession of faith and that’s that. You are on a journey to Heaven. Are you on the Narrow Way?

A Genuine Relationship With God Is Not Based On Religious Works Alone

The part of this that is the most confusing is that the people talking to Jesus claim to have done a lot of mighty works in the name of Christ. They prophesied, or spoke God’s Word, they cast out demons and did mighty works in Christ’s name. Yet, Christ casts them out and says that He never knew them.

This is a hard truth to bear. Some of the people that seem to have done the most for God in this life are actually unbelievers. I have run into a good number of people that claim to have done wonderful things for the Lord earlier in their lives and are absolutely horrible people today. Even in the news there have been a lot of pastors who were found to have been living lives in rebellion against God all along. To everyone looking at them it seems that they have done wonderful things for the Lord, when in fact they were living in rebellion against Him. Notice what Jesus says to them. He calls them “workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7: 23 ESV). They may have done many things in the Lord’s name but their lives were characterized by walking in the path that leads to destruction.

A simple profession of faith, strong feelings, or even some religious activity does not mean that someone is right with God. Are they obedient to Him?

I can’t count the number of times that I have found myself disappointed by the behavior of a person that I once thought were strong in the faith. Sometimes they preached amazing truth only to later be seen on the path to destruction. Sometimes they brought a lot of people to church, only to later be seen on the path to destruction. Sometimes they had done a lot of amazing work helping people, only to later be seen on the path to destruction. I have been deceived, but Christ will not.

Christ is shown here to be the Great Judge. He knows the true condition of the heart. Though no one else in the world may know the true condition of the heart, Christ does. And it is He who is the Judge.

Christians will walk in the narrow way and be found obeying God’s Word. Christ will not be deceived on that Great and Fateful Day. You may have done a lot of really good things for Christ but lived like a wretch when others were not looking. You may have done some good things, but on that day what will Christ say to you?

A Genuine Relationship With God Manifests Itself in Obedience to God

This is the end of the Sermon on the Mount. It seems that Jesus was not giving the people here the Ethic of the Kingdom for no reason. He intended that they live their life by His words. He is ending this sermon by saying that Christians will be obedient. Those who claim the name of Christ without obedience to Him will be cast out of His presence.

For you, this is a message of what it means to trust in Christ. It is not about simply spouting off a prayer. Nor is it as simple as doing good works. You can never do enough of those and that is also taught in this sermon. Christians are transformed and place their faith in Christ. He causes them to follow His ways. This means that the person who has true faith exhibits good works in their lives. They actually follow Christ. Those who claim to know Christ, yet do not follow His Word are cast away from Him as “workers of lawlessness”.

If I were to stand at the gates of the White House and yell that I knew Donald Trump and wanted to talk to him they wouldn’t let me in. But, if Donald Trump were to say that he knew me then I would be allowed to talk with him. You may think that you know Jesus, but does Jesus know you?

If you are His then you will keep His commands?

R. Dwain Minor