In this week of “The Kingdom: What It Means” Pastor David completes his exegesis of Matthew 7 with a final call to place one’s moral framework in line with the thinking of Christ. This week’s sermon is found in Matthew 7:24-29.
New Covenant Fellowship is a Georgetown Tx Church
part 19 doers of the Word
I hate to say “I told you so…but I did. Didn’t I?” You have probably never said that to someone because you’re all way too mature for that. But you almost certainly had an occasion in which you could have been fully justified in saing that.
Maybe you gave a friend some sound advice: “You really should not be dating him. He is a womanizer and he is only going to use you. He is just with you for what he can get out of it. I don’t want you to get hurt.” Your friend said, “You don’t know him. It’s not like that. He really loves me.” And what happened? Your friend ignored your advice and stayed with that dirtbag and sure enough, the relationship ended in heartbreak. Your friend came to you in tears. Not the best time to say, “I told you so.” But you did, didn’t you. You gave excellent advice and your friend scorned your words, ignored them. You had experience with people like that guy, you saw the signs, you were looking out for her best interest and wanted her to excel, to succeed, to prosper, but instead of heeding your words, she opted to ignore them, and to do the opposite, to her detriment; she experienced pain, loss, frustration.
Or perhaps as a parent, you told your child, “That friend is bad news and I don’t think you should spend time with him because he is only going to get you into trouble, drag you down; he is a bad influence on you.” Sure enough, your child’s grades started dropping in school, he ended up in the principal’s office over and over. Wise counsel, sound advice…neglected to his detriment. You told him.
Now consider those to whom you offer wise counsel, to whom you give sound advice. You don’t go and find your arch nemesis or your worst enemy and say, I’m going to give him some words of wisdom. No, you offer wise counsel and sound advice to the people you love, to your friends, and family because you want what is best for them, want them to excel, to succeed, to benefit, to prosper, to be blessed.
- What qualifies us to give sound advice or wise counsel?
- Experience; Because we have been there, we know what they’re going through, so we can speak from experience
- We have insight, knowledge, wisdom; they are going through something that we have studied up on or taken a course in.
- better perspective, better vantage point where we can be more objective, their judgment is obscured because they are emotionally involved and they are being subjective
- The options & results
- If they follow your advice, the will do well, be blessed, they will prosper, they will excel. In short, to heed is to succeed.
- If they ignore your words and neglect your advice, turn a deaf ear to your wise counsel, they will almost certainly experience pain, loss, frustration, and failure.
- Transition Jesus
- Now imagine with me someone with unparalleled love, infinitely more wisdom, insight, and experience than you, someone with an infinitely greater vantage point that transcends space, and time.
- See him? Do you see Jesus?
- Now imagine that this infinitely wise one with an infinitely greater vantage point, imagine that he preached a sermon, the sermon of sermons, for the ultimate benefit of those he loves.
- As you know by now, that is not something that exists only in your imagination, for Jesus did preach such a sermon, the sermon on the mount, for we have been hanging on his every word. Turn with me in your bible to Matt 7.
IF YOU, HOW MUCH MORE JESUS?
If people would benefit from listening to your words because you love them and want what is best for them, how much more should we listen to the words of Jesus, whose capacity to love and demonstration of love toward us goes beyond our comprehension.
If people would benefit from listening to your advice because you have wisdom, knowledge and insight, how much more should we listen to the words of Jesus who has infinitely more wisdom, knowledge and insight?
If people would benefit from listening to your words because you have a better perspective or vantage point, how much more should we listen to the words of Jesus who has an infinitely greater vantage point that transcends time and space?
Jesus brings his famous sermon on the mount to a close by making this very point.
Matt 7:24-29 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.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
LISTEN TO JESUS; HE IS THE NEW MOSES
- We have been saying that Jesus is the new Moses; as Moses prepared Israel for life in the new land, so Jesus prepares a new covenant community for life in the New Land, the Heavenly Kingdom
- In giving of the Law of Moses we see a pattern: blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience
- Very real, physical, tangible benefits or blessings & curses
- What did Israel do with what they knew? They said yes with their lips but not with their lives
- If Moses lived through the period of Judges and Kings, would he not look upon Israel and say, “I hate to say I told ya so, but I did…didn’t I?”
- Crops fail
- Destroyed by foreigners
- taken into captivity
- Israel would have experienced blessings for putting the words of Moses into practice, for it would have been to their benefit; it was in their best interest to not just listen to the words of Moses but to put them into practice; but they said “not your will be done, God, my will be done.” And everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
- In Jesus’ words we see a similar pattern:
- While the NC is not a conditional covenant focused on dos and don’ts, there is still a very real reap what you sow precept at work
- To not only listen to his words but to practice them would be wise, one would be blessed
- To fail to put Jesus words into practice is foolish and there is an inherent result of pain, frustration, and failure
- As James says:
James 1:22-25 22 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 mirror24 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.
He will be blessed. THERE IS AN INHERENT BLESSING in putting Jesus words into practice. That word translated as blessed means fortunate or happy. Happiness comes with not only being a hearer of the word but a doer of the word.
It is tempting to think that the most unhappy people are those outside the kingdom. I have heard it said, and I agree that the most unhappy people are not those who don’t know Jesus, but those who know Jesus but don’t put his words into practice, those who walk in disobedience.
The unbeliever isn’t as unhappy because he is in his element. If he doesn’t believe in Jesus and doesn’t care what Jesus said then it doesn’t violate his conscience to walk contrary to Jesus’ words.
But for the believer, who knows Jesus, to know the words of Jesus but to fail to put them into practice is to violate his own conscience, to place himself outside of his element, like a fish out of water.
I read a book recently in which the author said that when one violates his own principles it puts more stress on him than the stressful demands of work or family.
So while the most unhappy people are not those who don’t know Jesus but those who know him but don’t put his words into practice, the happiest people, the most blessed people are those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it. He will be blessed, he will be happy.
He will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock because when the rains come down and the streams rise and the wind blows and beats against that house it will stand because it has its foundation upon the rock.
But the one who hears Jesus’ words and does not put them into practice is like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the storms of life come his house will come crashing down because it had a faulty foundation.
As James says, do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says. For inherent in that is a blessing.
IN THE KINGDOM, IT IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT WHAT YOU DO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW
- We tend to commend ourselves when we achieve certain levels of knowledge as if we have arrived, as if knowledge equals maturity, or as if knowledge is the key or the goal, we esteem highly those who have knowledge
- But what good is knowledge alone? What good is it just to know?
- GI JOE: when I was a child I used to watch cartoons after school. One of those shows was GI JOE. At the end of every episode one of the GI Joe guys would teach a little lesson to a kid and the kid would say, “Now I know.” Then the army guy would say, “And knowing is half the battle.” The other half is what you do with what you know.
- We can KNOW the mechanics of Hermeneutics
- We can be masters of rightly dividing the word of truth
- We can point out when someone takes a verse out of context
- We can share what a particular text says in the Greek
- We can draw out a timeless precept from the text
- But if we aren’t practicing that precept, what good is all of that?
- Not what you know but what you do with what you know
- We can have the entire SOM memorized, we can really KNOW the words of Jesus
- But knowing is half the battle
- But if we KNOW these words and don’t put them into practice we are like the foolish man who built on the sand
- Not what you know but what you do with what you know
- Just because we know doesn’t mean we have arrived
- Spiritual maturity is not measured by knowledge alone
- If I had to choose between having the entire NT memorized but not necessarily putting it into practice and having only one or two verses not only memorized but mastered in the sense that I practice them, I would pick love the lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself and mastering that being one who not only knows that with cognizance, but practices that with consistency.
- Jesus didn’t come to simply inform, but to transform, didn’t come to simply convey information but to bring about transformation
- Jesus didn’t come to create a kingdom full of people who draw near to him with their lips but whose hearts are far from him but a people who love deeply from the core of their being
- In the kingdom the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart
- The fruit of obedience tends to flow from the root of a heart made right
- Right conduct flows forth from right character and that begins in the heart
- The best way to align our conduct with the words of Jesus is to align our character with that of Christ.
- But even with a transformation of character, even with a heart made new, obedience is not automatic, we don’t simply say, “I believe. I prayed the prayer” and voila, I magically do all of the right things all of the time now.
- There is still an act of the will, moment by moment in which we decide whether we will walk according to the decree of the King and say, “yes, lord, your will be done, or say mmm…not right now because this sounds more rewarding in the moment so my will be done.”
- When temptation comes, we must still take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ
THE STORMS OF LIFE WILL COME; WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN THE STORM COMES?
- When you have a conflict with a brother, will you see that relationship as so important that you would do what it takes to reconcile that relationship even if it occurs to you when you’re in the middle of worship? Will you humble yourself and seek reconciliation and conflict resolution even when you are not at fault? Because according to Jesus, for citizens of the Kingdom relationships are of utmost importance; they are paramount. Will you put Jesus’ words into practice? They are in your best interest; yielding the fruit of healthy relationships. But to neglect Jesus’ words is a fast track to pain, loss, frustration and failure, namely, broken relationships and burned bridges.
- When summer comes and girls wear less, and the temptation is there, will your eyes wander, will you look lustfully upon someone to whom you are not married? When you sign onto Pandora radio and provocative advertisements pop up will you click on that link or will your heart remain faithful and pure? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be faithful ones? If you do, you will be blessed. It is in your best interest to do so; for blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
- When your marriage experiences turbulence and the temptation is there to separate what God has joined together as one, Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and work to remain united till death do you part? If you do, you will be blessed in illustrating the magnificent relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. To neglect his words is to invite pain, loss, frustration, and failure, broken hearts and broken homes.
- When it seems in your best interest to be dishonest, will you be entirely trustworthy, a person whose yes is yes and whose no is no? Will you honor your commitments and be a person of your word? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be truth tellers? It is in your best interest to do so; you will be blessed if you do. People will trust you and take you at your word. But to neglect these words is to become the boy who cried wolf; nobody will ever know if they can trust you.
- When somebody wrongs you and does you harm, will you retaliate, will you seek revenge? Or will you be willing to go the extra mile even for someone you aren’t necessarily fond of? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be people of pardon? You will be blessed if you do. It is in your best interest because in that moment you are embodying the way of Christ.
- In those moments when it is tempting to serve self to the neglect of others, will you love your neighbor as yourself? What about someone who has postured himself as your enemy, will you choose to love even him? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be a people who love others? It is in your best interest; in doing so you will be blessed, you will be fulfilling the one rule that sums up all of the others.
- When the temptation arises to say or do something before others in order to be seen by them, that others may think more highly of you than they ought, what will you do? Will you be a hypocrite hiding behind a mask or will you serve in secret so that only your father in heaven sees you? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be secret service agents? If you do you will be blessed. For those who get their approval from men already got their reward, but you will receive your praise from God; to you it will be said, “Well done my good and faithful servant” and knowing that God is pleased with you is far more rewarding, a far greater blessing than the approval of men.
- Where will you make your investments? Will you serve God or money? When everyone else is taking vacations and buying newer bigger better things, will you confuse quality of life with standard of living and store treasures on earth or will you recognize the difference between quality of life and standard of living and store treasure in heaven, making eternal investments which yield far greater dividends? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be generous givers? To neglect Jesus’ words is to suffer loss, pain, frustration, and failure, because treasure stored on earth is subject to the destruction of moth and rust and theft.
- When the storms of life come, will you worry, will you be anxious about your life? Or will you trust the words of Jesus who ensures that your father in heaven who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies of the field will take far better care of you who are far more important? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be a people without worry? You will be blessed if you do. Can a man add a single hour to his life by worrying? No. But he can add ulcers, heart problems, unnecessary stress and he can lose sleep.
- When you see another person saying or doing something that seems out of place will you be quick to judge your neighbor or will you, in humility, examine first your own heart? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice? You will be blessed if you do.
- When the storms of life come will you first employ your own devices, looking to the left and to the right or will prayer be your first response? Will you ask, seek, and knock, or will prayer be a last resort? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice and be a people of prayer? You will be blessed if you do. It is in your best interest because you are cultivating a relationship with God and this is the reason for which you have been created and you will find ultimate fulfillment and live out your life’s purpose.
- In the midst of competing voices, to which prophetic voice will you lend your ear? Will you put Jesus’ words into practice listening to his voice and the voice of the God-inspired apostles as recorded in the holy scriptures? You will be blessed if you do. If you listen to the competing and contrary voice, you will be tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming, suffering pain, loss, frustration, and failure.
It does no good to simply hear these words of Jesus and yet not put them into practice.
It is foolish, it is a waste. It’s like hiring an architect, paying him a large sum of money to draw up blueprints, hiring out contractors to do plumbing and electrical and structural work, paying them good money, paying good money for lumber and other materials and then saying, “Right there; build it right there on that SAND dune.”
Then when the rains come down and the streams rise and the wind blows and beats against that house it will come down with a great crash because it was built on sand.
All of that money, time, energy and effort wasted. It all could have been put to good use, but it was all a waste. Foolishness, resulting in pain, loss, frustration and failure.
It’s like looking in a mirror and then forgetting what you look like. Waste. Pointless.
We give sound advice and wise counsel to those we love, for their benefit, because we want what is best for them, for them to succeed, to prosper, to be blessed. If those are our intentions, how much more can we can trust that the words of Jesus are not simply a list of do’s and don’ts intended to restrict us and keep us from the joys of life, but words coming from one who loves us more than we can imagine, one who wants what is best for us, one who wants to see us prosperous and successful, not in terms of the world’s definition of success, but in terms of the Kingdom which is not of this world.
We give wise counsel because we have wisdom, knowledge, insight or perspective. But Jesus is qualified to speak with authority and not as the teachers of the law because he has infinite wisdom, insight, knowledge, and a far greater perspective, better vantage point than we do limited by our humanity.
These words of Jesus are not simply wise counsel from a friend. These words are the decree of the King of Kings, better than the best advice that anyone has ever given to anyone ever.
Let us not simply be hearers of the word and so deceive ourselves, but doers of the word. In the Kingdom it’s not simply about what you know but what you do with what you know. We have spent several weeks hanging on every word of Jesus. (GI JOE) Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. What will you do with what you know?