The object then will be to make our independence a blessing. To do this we must secure our union on solid foundations; an herculean task and to effect which mountains of prejudice must be leveled! It requires all the virtue and all the abilities of the Country. ... We know each others sentiments, our views are the same: we have fought side by side to make America free, let us hand in hand struggle to make her happy.
~~Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, August 15, 1782

Word For Wednesday: Matthew 7:13-27

Today, my friend Jean over at Yeah, Right ... has announced that she has started a great Bible meme today, called "Word for Wednesday." Instead of a meme that has only a picture for a post and no words, she has decided to replace the Word of God with images -- a good policy :).

So, I have decided to participate. Any Christian blogger can participate. Simply select a text of Scripture, and post it on your blog. And be sure to check back with jean at her great blog Mohawk Valley Christians, and leave a comment on her meme post for Wednesday, with a link to your post.

The verse I would like to share today is one that has never ceased to amaze me. These are the words of Jesus, from Matthew 7:13-27:

(13-14) Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Many of us are familiar with this verse; many of us, no doubt, have used this verse, reciting it from memory, for evangelism. However, I think that many of our distinguished evangelists today have forgotten it.

I am amazed that some of the most acclaimed ministers in the Christian evangelical community, when challenged about their views on Jesus, heaven, hell, and who will end up where, out of one side of their mouth they say they whole-heartedly agree with the scripture where Jesus declares that "no one comes to the Father except through Me," but out of the other side of their mouth, they openly assert that God may allow those who do not repent and believe the Gospel (it is Jews and Muslims who are usually named) may very well be admitted into heaven! Their explanation? "I cannot judge their heart, only God can; therefore, I cannot decide who will and who won't enter heaven, because only God knows their heart."

What?!?!?!? Just because you can't judge their heart means that God might make some exceptions to His sacred word?? Is it not impossible for Him to lie? God does not judge people by their intentions (it seems that "heart" in our modern vocabulary is synonymous with "good intentions" -- that definition is grossly contrary to Scripture). He judges us by our fruits.

Grand coincidence! Guess what Jesus says next?
(15-19) Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
No, we are not just poor ol' sinners saved by grace, who go to heaven because God knows that we had good intentions. Good intentions were not an issue to Jesus when He said that "every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

This raises the question, "What exactly are the fruits that are evidence of being a 'good tree'?" If Jesus asks us to judge the good from the bad (good and false teachers in this case), what kind of fruits is Jesus pleased with?

I think it has become popular in the mainstream American Christian community to judge ministers and teachers by their "success" rate (i. e., how many people attend their church, etc.), or by the wonders and supernatural manifestations that are evident in their minstry. While these things are important in their proper place, this is not the method by which we are to judge others or ourselves, according to Jesus. And if we think about it, it is a dangerous way to judge, misleading people into heresy, and possibly, eternal damnation. Harken to the next statement by Jesus:
Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord," have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"
Youch. Scary.

There is a general cry among Christians in America for revival. When we picture revival, we picture one or two things: large crowds on their knees asking Jesus into their hearts, and/or supernatural manifestations of power and healing. To us, this is our picture of revival, and it seems that we have put every means in our power to generate these kinds of outcomes.

But if we are really honest with ourselves, we realize that all of our attempts to work up revival have done very little to change the face of our nation. The Church in America still wallows in the mire of immorality and of the humanism that produced it, and the rest of us can't seem to find the emotional booster to get us excited about the things of God.

And then we look at the passage above, and realize that not even the wonder-workers can get into Heaven on account of their miraculous works. Heck, these people prophesied! They cast out demons, et cetera, et cetera! Isn't that the common perception of the highest degree of spirituality among so many Christians today?

Many preachers whose ministries have revolved around signs and wonders have come and gone, without leaving revival in their wake. Many of these ministers, I am regretful to say, did not lead holy lives, and when their depravity was made known to the world, their so-called "revivals" came to a screeching halt, and once again, the name of Christ was blasphemed among the ungodly. Signs and wonders do not bring revival. Signs and wonders are not always a sure proof that God is working, because the Scriptures speak of a time when there will be a great apostasy, that is, a falling away, in which even God's elect will be in danger of being deceived, by the false signs and wonders which "the beast of Revelation" will perform in the eyes of the world (2 Thessalonians 2).

You want to know what God is looking for? Do you want to know what His will is? Here is a big part of it, that the Christian Church in our country would do well to heed:
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. ... For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
1 Peter 2:11-12, 15-16
Why has the American Churh miserably failed to do this? A big part of it is that we have believed and preached a false Gospel, and many who call themselves Christians are not genuine Christians. I will not expound on the particulars here, but I will recommend a sermon by Paul Washer from seven years back, in 2002, preached on this very selection from Matthew. Using Scirpture and plain common sense, he makes havock of the modern method of evangelism, saying that all it involves is a little prayer, but no repentance, no change of heart.

It is not enough to "believe" in Jesus. In fact, I think that we have the wrong definition of "believe" to begin with. The Bible commands us to believe, but it's definition of believe is much different than ours. According to the Bible, real belief (James would call it "living faith," as opposed to dead faith, which is no more faith than a dead body is a human being) produces action. The modern concept of "belief" and "faith" is simply mental assent. To agree that Jesus is God, died for sin, rose from the dead, etc., is not enough to make one a Christian. Heck, the devil knows all those things for a sure fact! But he is not saved anymore than the person who refuses to repent from sin, and seek to know God.

That was the complaint of Christ on the last day, against those who thought they were saved: "I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity."

If we do not know Christ (and if we know Christ, we will not practice iniquity), than we are not fit to be in the place where He is. Knowing Him is what Jesus says constitutes eternal life. "And this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." John 17:3

If we truly believe in Jesus, we will do what He says. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments.
(24-27) Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that hous; and it fell. And great was its fall.

Do you know Him? Are you seeking to know Him more? Do you love his holiness? Do you walk in His ways?

"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity ..." Jeremiah 29:12-14


  1. Anonymous said...

    No surprise that this is a long one, Herky. You've obviously been bottling this up for a while. And I don't think I've ever read anything by you that was ... short! :)

    That said, it's a hard, but honest, post. One thing I realized some time ago is how Jesus has the right words for everyone.

    When I was in a pentecostal/charismatic type church, and saw some of the major problems there, your passage from Matt 25 was the one that would come to mind. There was lots of prophesying, and casting out demons, and doing many wonders, but few who really knew Jesus.

    Now that I'm in a more traditional church, at least for now, I find myself reading the other version of that same passage in Luke 13:24-27: "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'

    These folks, like the charismatics, truly believe they're serving the Lord because of different things they're doing: they're "taking communion" and maybe going to Bible studies? In any event, their works obviously didn't impress the Lord anymore than those in Matt 25.

    I'll be on related topics next week, and look forward to yours! Thanks for joining the meme, Herky.

  2. Hercules Mulligan said...

    Thanks for your comment, Jean. And interesting about the similar error between the traditional and the charismatic. How true.

    As for joining the meme, my pleasure. I look forward to your next posts. When two or more share the discussion of a particular subject, there is much more to gain from its study.

    Have a blessed weekend.

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