Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua
We have been examining Yeshua’s instruction regarding being judgmental. In this post, we finish His instructions from Matthew 7 concerning God’s judgment of us.
God’s Judgment of Us (Matthew 7:21-29)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, ! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ So, everyone who hears these works of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock. The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the winds blew, and beat against that house, but it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the wind blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed – and its collapse was horrendous!” When Yeshua had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way He taught, for He was not instructing them like their Torah-teachers but as one who had authority himself.” (Mathew 7:21-29)
From picturing two gates and two types of prophets, our Lord closed His message by picturing two builders and their houses. The two gates illustrate the start of the life of faith; the two prophets illustrate the growth and results of the life of faith here and now; and the two houses illustrate the end of this life of faith, when God shall call everything to judgment. There are false prophets at the gate that leads to the broad way, making it easy for people to enter. But at the end of the way, there is destruction. The final test is not what we think of ourselves, or what others may think. The final test is: What will God say?
How can we prepare for this judgment? By doing God’s will. Obedience to His will is the test of true faith in the Messiah. The test is not words, not saying “Lord, Lord,” and then not obeying His commands. How easy it is to learn a religious vocabulary, and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs, and yet not obey God’s will. When a person is truly born again, he has the Spirit of God living within (Romans 8:9); and the Spirit enables him to know and do the Father’s will. God’s love in his heart (Romans 5:5) motivates him to obey God and serve others.
Words are not a substitute for obedience, and neither are religious works. Preaching, casting out demons, and performing miracles can be divinely inspired, but they give no assurance of salvation. We are warned in 2 Thessalonians that in the last days, Satan will use “false miracles” to deceive people (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12).
We are to hear God’s words and then do them (see James 1:22-25). We must not stop with only hearing (or studying) His words. Our hearing must result in doing. This is what it means to build on the rock foundation.
The foundation in this parable is obedience to God’s Word – obedience that is an evidence of true faith (James 2:14ff). The two men in this story had much in common. Both had desires to build a house. Both built houses that looked good and sturdy. But when the judgment came, when the storm rose up, one of the houses collapsed. What was the difference? Not the mere external looks, to be sure. The difference was in the foundation: The successful builder “dug deep” (Luke 6:48) and set his house on a solid foundation.
A false profession will last until judgment comes. Sometimes this judgment is in the form of the trials of life. Like the person who received the seed of God’s Word into a shallow heart (Matthew 13:4-9), the commitment fails when the testing comes. Many people have professed faith in Messiah, only to deny their faith when life becomes spiritually costly and difficult.
But the judgment illustrated here probably refers to the final judgment before God. We must not read into this parable all the doctrine that we are taught in the Epistles; for the Lord was illustrating one main point: profession will ultimately be tested before God. Those who have trusted Messiah, and have proved their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Their house is founded on the Rock, and it will stand. But those who have professed to trust Messiah, yet who have not obeyed God’s will, will be condemned.
How shall we test our profession of faith? The two gates tell us to examine the cost of our profession. Have we paid a price to profess faith in Messiah? The two prophets tell us to investigate whether our lives have really changed. Are there godly fruits from our lives? And the two houses remind us that true faith in Messiah will last, not only in the storms of life, but also in the final judgment.
We see in verse 28 that the crowds were amazed at this sermon of Yeshua. Why? Because Yeshua spoke with divine authority. The Torah teachers and P’rushim spoke “from authorities,” always quoting the various rabbis and experts of the Law. Yeshua needed no human teacher to add authority to His words; for He spoke as the Son of God. We cannot lightly dismiss this sermon, for it is God who gave it to us! We must either bow before Him and submit to His authority, or we will be condemned. No one will enter the Kingdom who doesn’t acknowledge Yeshua as Lord, but not all those who call Him “Lord” will enter heaven either.
There is only one way in which a man’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by his practice. Fine words can never be a substitute for fine deeds. There is only one proof of love, and that proof is obedience. There is no point in saying that we love a person, and then doing things, which break that person’s heart. When we were young maybe we would say to our mothers, “Mother, I love you.” And maybe mother sometimes smiled a little wistfully and said, “I wish you would show it a little more in the way you behave.” So often we confess God with our lips and deny him with our lives. It is not difficult to recite a creed, but it is difficult to live the Believer’s life. Faith without practice is a contradiction in terms, and love without obedience is an impossibility.
Only a house whose foundations are firm can withstand the storm; and only a life whose foundations are sure can stand the test. Yeshua demanded two things:
- He demanded that men should listen. One of the great difficulties which face us today is the simple fact that men often do not know what Yeshua said or what the Messianic community teaches. In fact the matter is worse. They have often a quite mistaken notion of what Yeshua said and of what the community teaches. The first step of the Believer is simply to give Yeshua a chance to be heard.
- He demanded that men should do. Knowledge only becomes relevant when it is translated into action. It would be perfectly possible for a man to pass an examination in Christian Ethics with the highest distinction, and yet not to be a Believer. Knowledge must become action; theory must become practice; theology must become life. 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 Yeshua every Shabbat, and who have a very good knowledge of what Yeshua 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 Yeshua we must hear and do.
Yeshua demands our implicit obedience. To learn to obey is the most important thing in life. It is Yeshua’s claim that obedience to him is the only sure foundation for life; and it is his promise that the life which is founded on obedience to Him is safe, no matter what storms may come.
Of all the gospel writers Matthew is the most orderly. He never sets out his material haphazardly. If in Matthew one thing follows another in a certain sequence, there is always a reason for that sequence; and it is so here. In Chapters 5-7, Matthew has given us the Sermon on the Mount. That is to say, in these chapters he has given us his account of the words of Yeshua.
Have you heard? Have you passed the test? Are you prepared to be a doer of the WORD?
In my next post, we will continue our journey through the Christian Torah by turning to Matthew 8.