False Disciples

21"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, d id we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will till them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"

In the previous section, Jesus warned His disciples against heeding false prophets. In this section, Jesus speaks about false disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but on ly he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (vs. 21). Just as false prophets are recognized "by their fruit" (see Matt. 7:15–16), so also, those who do not do the will of the Father are not true disciples of Jesu s. Our words are not sufficient to make us disciples of Christ. Though we say, "Lord, Lord", repeating the word "Lord" to demonstrate our fervency, yet such a profession does not, in itself, make us a disciple of C hrist. The life of a true disciple of Christ will reflect that Christ is truly his "Lord", not merely by calling Him "Lord", but also by doing the will of God in his life.

Jesus goes on to say: "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 perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away f rom me, you evildoers!’" (vss. 22–23). The false disciples in this example try to convince Jesus that they are true disciples. They boast of ways that they think they have done the will of the Father: "prophesy... drive out demons ... perform many miracles..." Many of us, seeing these things, would be deceived by these false disciples. They would probably be made leaders in the church, after people see them boldly "prophesying" in the name of Jesus , "driving out demons" in the name of Jesus, "performing many miracles" in the name of Jesus. We would think that these things are the fruit of a valid profession of belief in Christ. In this case, we would be mist aken.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, teaches His disciples how they should live, and not once does He state that His disciples must "prophesy" in His name, "drive out demons" in His name, or " ;perform many miracles" in His name. Men consider these things great; not so Jesus. Men are awed when a person "performs many miracles"; not so Jesus. Rather than concentrating on "prophesying", " ;driving out demons", and "many miracles", the false professors should have strived to truly act as a disciple of Christ is taught to act in the Sermon on the Mount: being a light of the world (Matt. 5:14), keeping the comm andments in the Word of God (Matt. 5:19), not being angry with others (Matt. 5:22), reconciling with others who are angry with them (Matt. 5:25), not looking lustfully upon women (Matt. 5:28), not divorcing (Matt. 5:32), speaking truthfully (Matt. 5: 37), turning the other cheek (Matt. 5:39), loving and praying for their enemies (Matt. 5:44), not doing acts of righteousness to be seen by others (Matt. 6:1), forgiving others (Matt. 6:15), storing up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20), trusting in Go d’s providence (Matt. 6:25ff), not having a judgmental attitude (Matt. 7:1ff), seeking the Lord (Matt. 7:7), doing to others as they would have others do to them (Matt. 7:12). These are the things they should have been proud of when speaking to Chri st "on that day".

Instead, these false disciples boasted about the more flamboyant, more showy aspects of religion, as if to impress, as if wanting people to look at them and say: "Ooh, aah... look at them... they prophesy, they drive out de mons, they perform miracles." The false disciples erred in concentrating on these showy aspects of religion, to the exclusion of truly doing "the will of the Father." "We may be baptized in the name of Christ, and boast c onfidently of our ecclesiastical privileges; we may possess head knowledge, and be quite satisfied with our own state; we may even be preachers, and teachers of others, and do ‘many wonderful works’ in connection with our Church: but all this time are we practically doing the will of our Father in heaven? Do we truly repent, truly believe on Christ, and live holy and humble lives? If not, in spite of all our privileges and profession, we shall miss heaven at last, and be forever cast a way. We shall hear those awful words, ‘I never knew you: depart from me’" [Ryle, 70]. "While most persons within the pale of the Christian Church are ready to admit that, not professed, but proved subjection to the Father of our L ord Jesus Christ––not lip, but life service––will avail ‘in that day,’ it is not so readily admitted and felt that services such as ‘prophesying in Christ’s name, and in His name casting out devils, and in His doing many miracles’––or, what in later ages correspond to these, [such as], eloquent and successful preaching (even to the deliverance of souls from the thraldom of sin and Satan); learned contributions to theological literature; great exertions for the diffusion of Christianity an d the vindication of religious liberty; and princely donations for either or both of these––may all be rendered in honour of Christ, while the heart is not subjected to Him, and the life is a contradiction to His precepts" [JFB, 50].

The false disciples, who cried "Lord, Lord", thought that their flamboyant works for Christ were enough. They thought that, since Christ was working through them (for they did their flamboyant works "in [H is] Name"), that that was enough to be a true disciple of Christ. They were self-deceived. They felt that they didn’t need to dedicate their life to Christ, to truly act as though Christ were their "Lord". They felt they didn’t need a pure heart that seeks God’s will. Yet in the end, Jesus tore off their mask of false discipleship, and said, "I never knew you" (vs. 23). And take note, dear reader, if He "never knew" these who proph esied, drove out demons, and performed many miracles, how much less does He know those who give even less evidence of being His disciple! Look at your own life. Examine yourselves. Seek first to do the will of the Father. Don’t look for religion to bring you something: to bring you fame through doing flamboyant works for God, or to bring you accolades as others see how ‘holy’ you are. Rather, seek first to know and to carry out the true will of the Father. Get on your knees. Turn your li fe over to Him. Make the decision that Jesus is your Lord and Master, and live your life so as to reflect His true Lordship in your life.

There is one more thing that we must note concerning this section. Jesus speaks here with great boldness. This passage is a claim by Jesus Himself that He is the Messiah, and more. This passage is a claim by Jesus Himself that t he destiny of men after death ("on that day") is in His hands: their entrance into the "kingdom of heaven" is based upon whether Jesus Himself acknowledges knowing them. There are some who would claim that Jesus wa s a great moral teacher, but nothing more than that. Jesus Himself in this passage makes the claim that He is much more than a great moral teacher: He is the One who holds the destiny of men in His hands.

 

A Sure Foundation

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. 25The 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. 26But 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. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

To sum up, Jesus gives an illustration of the advantages of putting into practice His teachings: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the r ock. 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. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a fooli sh man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (vss. 24–27). To "hear" the words of Christ, and to " put them into practice" is to build one’s life upon a firm foundation. There are many who "hear" the teachings of Christ––they make sure they never miss church on Sunday morning, they sit near the front, they heed each word that is said by the preacher, they read their Bibles every morning––and yet, they do not "put into practice" what they hear. Why waste your time "hearing" if you are not going to "put into practice" what you hear? James tells us: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22).

Note that in Jesus’ illustration concerning these two houses, the difference between the houses is discovered when affliction comes. Both houses looked fine when the sun was shining. The flaw in the foundation of the house built on sand was discovered during the storm. So also, one sure way to tell the difference between the foundation of true discipleship of Christ––subjection to Him and obedience to His Word––versus the loose foundation of empty profession, is through the reaction to affliction. The false believer flounders in times of trouble, because his religion is all outward adornment. He has not gained the strength and faith that results from obedience to God’s Word. On the other hand, the true believer will not be demolished by trials, but he will cling to his faithful God, knowing from his consistent walk with God that the Lord is working all out for good. "In the time of trial his religion does not fail him; the floods of sickness, sorrow, pove rty, disappointments, bereavements beat upon him in vain. His soul stands unmoved; his faith does not give way; his comforts do not utterly forsake him. His religion may have cost him trouble in time past; his foundation may have been obtained wit h much labour and many tears; to discover his own interest in Christ may have required many a day of earnest seeking, and many an hour of wrestling in prayer. But his labour has not been thrown away; he now reaps a rich reward. The religion that ca n stand trial is the true religion" [Ryle, 71].

 

The Reaction of the Crowd

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, 29because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

So ends the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ listeners were appropriately in awe. Oh to have been there! To have heard the words of the Master in person! Throughout this sermon, Jesus speaks, not as a mere teacher of the Law, but as the fulfillment of the Law (5:17), who, as such, is the right and final interpreter of the Law of God. He also presents Himself as the One who has the power over our destiny after death. Separation from Him––for Him, on judgment day, to say to us "Away from me" (7:23)––is to be barred from entrance into the kingdom of heaven. "If the Speaker were a mere creature, no language can express the mingled absurdity and profanity of such assumptions; but if He was the Word, w ho at the beginning was with God and was God,... then all that He says here is worthy of Himself, and shines in its own lustre" [JFB, 51].

Home | Previous Article | Next Article | Back Issues | Contents | Complete Index | Mailing List

To contact us:

ssper@aol.com