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Matthew 7

Building on the Firm Foundation

Sermon Notes + Quotes

We study through books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel. We have extra copies if you didn’t bring one and you’d like a paper copy to follow along. I think we’ve got copies that can be distributed in the back and the front here so just raise up your hand if you don’t have a copy and you’d like one to follow along. You can also, I believe, hook into the network online here at the church. Anybody need a copy at all? We’re gonna finish up the Sermon on the Mount today so you wanna be able to read the text yourself as we go along.

Since we’re closing out the Sermon on the Mount, and I’ve been asked this a lot so what are some of the sources that you go to when you’re studying the Sermon on the Mount that are helpful? Of course:

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones would probably be the first one I would mention off the top of my head and John Stott. “Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing” by Jonathan Pennington is great as well. These will be up on the website if I’m going too fast for you. “Sermon on the Mount” by Sinclair Ferguson is a shorter, small book, but man, it is chocked full -really, really good as well! Really enjoyed reading that one this week. “Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount” by Martin Luther, “Sermon on the Mount” by R. Kent Hughes. So you have lots of choices there today.

If you’ll join with me, we’ll be looking at Matthew 7. Before we do, join me in this prayer for illumination. Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness to us. Jesus, we thank You for Your sacrifice for us. And Holy Spirit, we thank You for Your transforming power at work in us. What we know not, we ask You to teach us. What we have not, we ask You to give us. And what we are not, we ask You to make us. As we seek You through the study of Your Word today, pray, Lord that You would grant to Your people a clearer vision of  Your truth, a greater faith in Your power, and a more confident assurance of Your love for us. In Jesus’ name, amen and amen.

So let’s take a look then at Matthew 7 together. We’ll read through and then I’m gonna come back and we’ll take some of these sections and make a few comments about them. He begins this way:

“Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves. For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure it shall be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs. Do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who knocks finds, to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in Heaven give what is good to those who ask Him? Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it for the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but the rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Now, not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, in Your name cast out demons, in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. The rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act upon them will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house, and it fell, and great was its fall.” “The result,” says Matthew, “was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching. He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

And that’s the end of what we call chapter seven. Most of you know the chapter breaks and verse breaks were added much later. So Matthew didn’t stop then and say, “Tomorrow I’ll write chapter eight.” He wasn’t thinking that way at all. But as we study this, it helps us, I think, to put it in bite-sized chunks like this.

What began as a description of Christian character in the Beatitudes in chapter five now comes to a climactic ending with a description of the firm foundation of faith in Christ. On its surface, Matthew 7 may read like a patchwork quilt of aphoristic statements about unconnected subjects, but taken as a whole, I think we begin to see the artfulness of Jesus’ teaching style. As rich as the moral, ethical, and spiritual lessons of the Sermon on the Mount may be, Jesus has been leading up to this right here. And it’s all about coming to Him and finding in Him our firm foundation. And along the way, He changes virtually everything about us. And we learned that from the beginning, didn’t we? Sermon on the Mount, I’m gonna post this little outline up here that basically takes chapters five, six, and seven, what we call the Sermon on the Mount and breaks it down for you so that you can have a really nice little, a neat little outline here. This is adapted from John Stott’s outline in his book, “The Message of the Sermon on the Mount.” I changed it up just a little bit for our purposes.

So the Christian’s character, the Beatitudes in Matthew 1-12, Christian’s influence, Christian’s righteousness, a Christian’s religious practices. We learned about alms giving and fasting and prayer there in Matthew 6. Pastor Tommy led us through that Christian’s prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, which we study. Pastor Matt led us through a Christian’s ambitions, verses 19 through 34 of chapter six.

Today we’ll be looking at a Christian’s perspective on others, a Christian’s perspective on God, a Christian’s perspective on a lot of things in verses 1 – 23, but it will lead up to the Christian’s foundation for faith. And that we will see in verses 24-29. So I’ve already given you the suggestion on the commentaries. I will quote once from Martyn Lloyd-Jones before I do just bring up a few of my sermon points I like to talk about today. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “We are reminded all along that our life here is a journey and a pilgrimage, and that it is leading to a final judgment, an ultimate assessment, and the determination and proclamation of our final and eternal destiny.”

We actually see this all the way through the Sermon on the Mount, especially here in chapter seven. So it’s important for us, if Jesus said it, if it’s the most famous sermon in the entire world, it’s important for us to take note of what it actually says because of who actually said it. That’s what makes it important is that Jesus is the one that said all of this. So what do we have in chapter seven? We’re calling it building on the firm foundation because that’s where it sort of climaxes and ends there with that that parable of the two builders and the two different kinds of foundations.

He begins in verses 1-6 with this kind of instruction. He talks about judgmentalism. And I think it’s important when you look at verse one there, you might think to yourself, I think that might have usurped John 3:16 as the most famous verse in the world because people often misquote Matthew 7:1. And the way the way they misquote it is they’ll say this, “Don’t judge me.” And it’s this idea that nobody should tell, especially me, nobody should tell me anything about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and make some assessment or appraisal of me because I’m out of bounds. I’m an authority unto myself. I’ll have the last word myself. I’ll be my own God, my own whoever, you know, the one that determines what is right and wrong.

Well, Matthew 7 is awesome and it’s amazing. I love this chapter because it really presents God as both our final judge and He hearkens back to what we saw in chapter six, that God is our Father. He wants to know us as Father. And it’s not either or; it’s both and. And that’s what makes it so unbelievably beautiful. In other words, the one who one day will make everything that one day will set everything right, the final Judge is the one that wants you to approach Him as your Heavenly Father. In chapter six, Jesus refers to God the Father and teaches His disciples to do that as well. He does it 12 times in chapter six alone, 17 times in the Sermon on the Mount, and 44 times in the entire Gospel of Matthew.

This would’ve been a radical new view of who God is in His day and time, to think of God as Abba, Father. And so we continue to carry that good news forward that the one to whom you will give an answer one day for everything you’ve ever done, thought, for everything that has ever gone through your life as a trespass or a sin, the one that you will give an answer who will be the last and final judge wants you to know Him as Father, your Father. And so Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Now, that’s really beautiful when you think about this.

God is the Father who’s better to us than we could ever have hoped. God gives Himself to us and for us in the person of Christ, and God is better than anything that life can ever give us, anything that death can ever take away from us. And that’s powerful, people. When we recognize Him as the one who will be the final Judge, what I’m excited about is that righteous judgment will be meted out. You know, when we talk about judgment, a lot of times we think of God as sort of the angry troll under the bridge or the angry God up in the sky waiting for Him to see the human beings having a little bit of a good time. You know, that sorta, so He can smash us. And that’s not righteous judgment. Here’s the righteous judge. Everything that works at odds with your highest good and my highest good and His greatest glory, He will put an end to all of that one day. In other words, He can be trusted with judgment because He’s righteous, and further, this is even better news, He’s your Father and wants you to come to Him as His son or daughter. And that’s why this beautiful doctrine of adoption as the children of God, that we become sons and daughters, not just His property, but His sons and daughters. That’s such great news in the Christian Gospel, in the Christian faith.

So teaching about a Christian’s perspective on others, on God, on the way to salvation, on authenticity, on the truth itself, all by way of contrast, we see here in verses 1-6 Jesus saying, “Judge not.” He’s not telling you or I to say, “Don’t judge me.” He’s telling you or I not to judge anybody else. See, it’s really different, isn’t it when you think of it this way? Jesus doesn’t say to those who would be His followers, “I want you to go out there and be the moral policeman of the world.” No, He doesn’t say that. He wants us to go out and be the Gospel paramedics at work in the world, carrying what we can to those who need it and are desperate to hear it. I would say this, though, while if you took a poll, I bet most outsiders, people who aren’t believers, people who aren’t in church, they might look at the church and say, “Oh, those people are really judgmental.” I bet you 80, 90% of the people you ask would say, “Yes, Christians are judgmental.” And that’s sad to me in a way. And even more sad is I think it’s actually true of a lot of us, but that’s because I would argue everybody on the planet is actually a hypocrite and judgmental like this. And you’d say, “Well, where’s the evidence of that?” And I’d say, turn on your social media feed. Watch everybody judge everybody else. Whether they’ve got full knowledge or not, man, they’re trigger happy to cast judgment and condemnation. And we’re very quick to do that. We’re self-righteous, we’re judgmental. We act like, as I say, these sort of moral policemen handing out tickets to everybody. We get angry. We’re curmudgeon-like. We are hypocritical, holier-than-thou super-spiritual religious zealots sometimes and we need to take stock of how well we’re representing the gospel of grace as believers.

Then those who aren’t believers, I can’t expect them to behave like believers. I shouldn’t be shocked about the river of rancor in the world in which we live. It is worth asking what Jesus means by, “Judge not” here. And I promise I won’t spend as much time on every two words as I am on “Judge not,” but I think this is important because so many people throw it up and it’s become a mantra of so many people. I think there are two senses at least, and maybe there’s more, in which Jesus might be talking about judgment here in this chapter. It’s a judgment, a view towards condemnation, having a critical spirit that is censorious, that’s hyper critical as if from a place of fully-informed authority, which is rarely the case with any of us, to be honest. We don’t really have full knowledge and authority. I think it does run rampant through our culture where often we lack nuance. We lack the patience to listen and hear. We get riled up before we’ve actually understood the other person’s view. And we just see this everywhere. We’re given to simplistic misinterpretations of views of others, and our responses to their viewpoints are often marked by disdaining glibness and flippancy. Hmm.

So we pass judgment all the time and pronounce condemnation. And I think that’s what Jesus is saying, “Don’t do that.” I think there’s another kind of judgment that’s actually being talked about here in chapter seven and elsewhere as well in the Scriptures. And that’s the kind that you might call spiritual appraisal or evaluation, if you will.

Discernment is another way to talk about it. Look at verse 6, for instance. “Do not give what is holy to” what?  Dogs. “Do not throw your pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces.” Well, that calls for some kind of judgment. How do I know who a dog is or what’s swine? How do I know what is holy unless I’m discerning, unless I’m able to figure that kind of stuff out? So when Jesus says, “Judge not,” He does not mean stop all thinking, stop any appraising, stop evaluating, stop discerning. Jesus commends critical thinking, actually, throughout this chapter, as He here tells you to notice the difference between dogs and swine and pearls, things that are holy, and things that aren’t holy. But Jesus commends critical thinking. He forbids having a critical spirit. Jesus does not mean there’s no such thing as good and evil or that moral distinctions should be matters of indifference to His followers. Just a few verses later, as I say in verse six, He will say, “Don’t give what is holy to dogs.”  In chapter seven, He’ll say, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing.” That’s a little bit later, verse 15.  Verse 24: Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment,in John chapter 7, verse 24.

And then it’s interesting. The apostle Paul picks up on this:  You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written, ‘As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

So there’s a right way and a wrong way to exercise judgment. And I believe Jesus would teach us that the heart that has received God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness will always be restrained in meting out some kind of condemnation. We must always leave the final judgment to Jesus. What do you think Jesus and the apostles felt? Why do you think they felt the need to instruct us on this? Do you think that for the 12 disciples, it was just a problem for them? Do you think it was just a problem for the believers in Rome? The Christians who had had been Jews, became Christians, the Christians who had been full-on Gentiles and then become Christians and they were trying to get along together. And there was indeed a problem there in Rome. Is it just unique to them or do we also have this tendency, this proclivity to be judgmental? And I think you know the answer. Jared C. Wilson said it this way:  You cannot grow in holiness and holier-than-thou-ness at the same time.  That’s worth a Presbyterian amen. Come on somebody. You can at least see it in somebody else, but you’re supposed to see it in yourself, okay. So when you say amen, yes, I see that in myself, Jesus also here in verses 7-11 presents us with a couple of kinds of prayer.

The expectant prayer: ask, seek, knock versus the hopeless that I think is kind of implied here. There’s a sense in which ask, seek, knock describes a progressive interest-free interaction. If you’re in the presence of your Father, you can ask, but if you’re not, you ought to seek Him out. And if you really feel distant from Him, you ought to knock on the door, why? Because He’s thrown open the door to His throne room of grace in the person and work of Jesus. So ask, and actually these verbs are all, they’re called imperatives, but they’re actually in the present tense, and they could be translated this way. Ask and KEEP ON asking. Yeah, seek and KEEP ON seeking, knock and KEEP ON knocking.

So this persistence in prayer is a really good idea. Now, I was the little toddler that was quite persistent. Whenever Mom wanted to get (Mom, I love you. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom) that was very, you know, I would arch my back and do the whole, you know, throw myself in a temper tantrum all over a cookie or something. You know, something that I just, my brother took the toy soldier, whatever it is. And I’m just angry and want my way, want it now, right? And I thought could cajoling, I thought nagging would wear her down, it would wear her down to the point where she would give me what I want. That’s not what this is. God doesn’t need to be nagged. He doesn’t need you to cajole Him. Here’s what I need though. I need to be in His presence asking, seeking, and knocking because there’s a really good thing that happens in persistent prayer, persevering prayer. And that really good thing that happens isn’t just changing my external circumstances, the subject matter that I might be praying about, the thing I want Him to do or stop doing or whatever. There’s something really good that happens in prayer right in  here (motion to heart) and right up in here (motion to head). And it’s that I’m in His presence and I’m experiencing what it means to be His son.

And as I was talking with Lewis earlier, we were talking about this whole thing. We were talking about whether the most important love in the world is self-love. And I said, “No, it’s not. It’s being loved by God first.” That’s the most important thing, receiving the love of God, because now once I receive the love of God, God my Judge, God my Father, once I receive His love, now I see myself and others in proper perspective. And so we’re calling this the Christian’s perspective, Jesus is teaching us that our Father God is simply more eager to hear from us, to give to us, and to be generous with us than we are to approach Him so very often. Why else would He have to tell us this as part of our firm foundation? Don’t make the mistake of thinking God is only interested in your outer circumstances, surrounding your prayer requests – for instance, your money, your job situation, the issues with your health, your dreams, or aspirations. Those are important. Bring them to Him, of course. He’s not, though, a cosmic vending machine. He’s not just a function. He’s God your Father. Approach Him that way. He’s promised to meet your needs. There’s so much can happen in our hearts when we ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, and knock and keep knocking.

Next He says in verses 12-14, He talks about these two different kinds of gates and these two different destinations if you will –  the narrow gate that leads to life, a wide gate that leads to destruction. 

Many people object to the Christian faith asking, why is there only one way? And as we point out around here all the time, our question is actually beyond that. It’s why is there even one way? Why should there be one way? What does God owe? How is it we have God in our debt? What does He owe us that we should demand from Him? And it’s interesting to me that in the world in which we live, nobody ever complains about there being only one way. If you’re in New York and you want to get to Florida, the best way to go is south. Now you can go north if you would like to. The way this globe works, you can go north and go all the way around and then come back up to Florida. If you would like to, you can do that. I don’t recommend it. You’ll have to take a couple extra weeks off work. You’ll get very tired. You’ll probably run out of gas a few times, but the very best way is this one way. And yet we don’t complain. If there were a cure, a one pill that would cure the common cold, raise your hand if you would take that pill without question. If it definitely had no side effects and would cure the common cold. All right, you don’t have to raise your hands. All right, that’s fine. But I can tell you, after two weeks with my cold, I’m not gonna complain that it’s unfair there’s only one pill. So why do we do that with God, especially when there’s no requirement for God to offer a way? So why wouldn’t we just say “thank you” instead of, “I want it my way”?  Because if there were 10 ways, we’d want 11. If there were 100, we’d want 101. The point is, we’d want it always on our terms. And God comes and says, “Look, it’s a narrow gate, but you can walk through it if you’d like to. Just repent and believe in Me.”

So why wouldn’t you? What’s holding you back? What’s keeping you from that?  It’s not more narrow,” as Keller says, “to claim that one religion is right than to claim that one way to think about all religions, namely they’re all equal, is right. We are all exclusive in our beliefs about religion, but in different ways.

And I think he’s right there about that. I think this God that we’re seeing and reading about here in Matthew 7 is eager to be generous with you and with me. The question is, how will you respond to His generosity?

He also is careful to tell us, Jesus is, that there’s two kinds of prophets, two kinds of trees, fruit, and these metaphors, here He is the master teacher. Great illustrations, analogies, and metaphors, right? False profits that are like ravenous wolves. It leads to sick trees, which yield rotten fruit. This is all in verses 15-20. And then there are, implied here, true prophets. People that would teach the truth leads to healthy trees which yield good fruit. So let me ask this, what kind of intellectual confusion, what kind of moral bankruptcy and social disorder might emerge in a society or culture with no consensus regarding right and wrong, regarding truth and reality?

 Let me ask that again. What kind of intellectual confusion, moral bankruptcy and social disorder might emerge in a society or a culture with no consensus regarding right and wrong, truth or even reality itself ( which I would say is on the chopping block right now)?  That’s a good question. So now may I make it more personal…if you don’t mind me meddling in your life? What’s your basis for, what is your standard for belief and behavior? We just read it a minute ago from the Westminster Catechism. Our standard for belief, our standard for belief and behavior is the Scripture, okay. And that’s why we study through books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel. I don’t believe that I’m the last word. I don’t believe that I’m the final say. I don’t believe you are either, but I do turn to God’s Word to hear from God. And He’s still speaking through this ancient text. I know it doesn’t say anything about air conditioning or electric cars. I get that, but there’s so much here if I would simply pay attention to what it says would transform and radically change me as a person in my life. And so I have to be able to judge not others in terms of condemnation and contentiousness, but discern when truth is being spoken. And how do I do that?

I go to the Scriptures and align whatever is being said with what the Scripture says and teaches. Rico Tice is a pastor at All Souls over in London, a church that John Stott was a pastor of for so many years. And he distinguishes between false and true teaching. He says, False teaching dazzles, then distorts, it diverts, and finally it destroys. Those are the four stages, time and again.

 Of course I was drawn to it because of the alliteration. You know that I love alliteration, but it actually really works. The device has not, oh, did you get that? The device has not taken the place or usurped the reality or the truth of what he’s saying. Dazzles, and that’s a shiny new way of saying things. That’s a shiny new, ooh, look at that. Here’s a new way of looking at Jesus. Look, we can dress Him up in our, you know, whatever. Or look, it distorts the truth. When it starts to do that, when it starts to undermine the truth, to suggest for instance that there aren’t two foundations or that you should have it your way, you know, those kinds of things. It’s not about Christ. It’s about you, you know? Then it diverts, which means it takes us off the path, and finally it destroys our faith. This is the way that people fall into what so often in these days is called deconstruction. It’s not, they’re not really deconstructing the part of it that needs deconstruction. They’re just destroying it all is what they’re trying to do. So I think Rico’s right there, and I think we’d do well to distinguish between true and false teaching.

Then there’s this verses 21-23, which I really like, too. They talk about lip service versus loving obedience.  Look at that with me. “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Oh, you feel, that’s a little harsh. What’s going on there? Well, what He’s trying to point out is that some people don’t mean it. Some people wear the jersey or bought the jersey, but they’re not actually on the team, you know? They like to sit in the stands. They don’t wanna participate; they just like being around religious people ’cause it makes ’em feel warm and fuzzy spiritually. And it’s not real to them at all. Lewis said, “Only two kinds of people in the end, those who say to God, “Thy will be done.’ Those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'” You wanna be your own God? Let’s see how that goes for you. You wanna be the final word? Let’s see how that goes for you. You know, you can’t really receive grace and forgiveness if you think it’s all about you. It’ll block you from that. You have to actually, as Lewis says, you have to actually take the inexcusable part to God and say you confess your sins. You actually say, “I agree with you, God, that what I did was wrong.” And then, see, the door is thrown open for you to receive His kindness, His forgiveness. And then this last parable, which I love so much, the two builders, two foundations, two kinds of response, and two kinds of results that we see in verses 24-27.

 How many of you sang the song when you were a kid, anybody? Come on, somebody did, right? Let’s do it together, all right.

 ♪ The wise man built his house upon the Rock ♪ Anybody know the hand motions?
 ♪ The wise man built his house upon the Rock ♪ That’s right.
 ♪ The wise man built his house upon the Rock ♪
♪ And the rains came tumbling down ♪ Yeah, that’s good. And I like it, it goes on.
♪ The rains came down and the sludge came up ♪ Or was it floods? I can’t remember what it was.
♪ And then at the end with the foolish man. ♪ And the house on the sand went splat ♪ Splat.

Yeah, I love that. I used to, man, I could yell splat bigger than anybody else when I was a kid. I love that way to go. But – what a great bit of wisdom this is, right? Both builders here, both builders choose foundation location. Both of their houses encounter rain from above floods from beneath and wind all around. The Christian faith is not some kind of Pollyanna, accept Jesus and you never face storms. That’s not the Christian faith.

The Christian faith is, you’re gonna get rained on, you’re gonna get flooded, and you’re gonna have to face the wind, too. And if those metaphors don’t work for you, okay. You’re gonna face giants. You’re gonna get knocked down. You’re gonna get beat up. I mean, it’s throughout the Scripture. The teaching is there and it’s very, very, it aligns with reality as we know it and experience it in our own lives. Proverbs says, “When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more. But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.” I love this. Jesus says we’re all builders. We’ll all experience rain, floods – winds. What will become important then is what foundation you have built upon. And so, here, in the Sermon on the Mount, as He brings it to a climax, Jesus presses us into a position of having to make choices.

Will I choose to not judge others and to see them as God sees them, longing for them to become His sons and daughters? Will I choose with God to place Him first and give Him the final word and ask, seek, and knock and keep on asking, seeking, and knocking and live my life in His presence? Will I choose the narrow way, the gate that leads to life walking with the people who are walking toward life?

Or will I just go with the flow of the broad, wide gate of culture? The way the most popular way of thinking at the moment happens to be. In other words, we’re gonna feel the pressure of minority thinking if you’re a believer. You’re not gonna be thinking like everybody else thinks about this subject, that subject, whatever it might be. And the way to tell whether you’re thinking correctly and properly is to not buy into false teaching, but to keep yourself in the Scriptures. And that is all about leading us to the person of Jesus, who is the Rock. He’s the firm foundation upon which He wants us to build our houses, if you will, our spiritual houses. And that principle goes all the way back to the Proverbs. Look at that, isn’t that amazing up there on the screen? That’s so beautiful. J.C. Ryle said, Christianity is eminently a practical religion. Sound doctrine is its root and foundation, but holy living should always be its fruit. And if we want to know what holy living is, let us often think about who Jesus called ‘blessed.’

 So now we go back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, don’t we? “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek,” the gentle in spirit. Isn’t that beautiful, too? They shall see God. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” So if you’re chronically dissatisfied, ask yourself what you’re hungering for and thirsting for. Is it righteousness that you’re actually hungering and thirst for? “Blessed are merciful. They shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart. They shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers,” Just like Jesus, peacemakers, ’cause peace has to be made. It doesn’t just happen. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake and suffer because of the name of Jesus.” These people listening that day and the crowd grows at the end. We saw it at the beginning, it opened up the end of chapter four, right? The news about Jesus had gone all throughout the whole region, “And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis,” that’s the 10 Greek cities, “and Jerusalem,” that’d be in the South, “and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”

 In other words, people were coming from everywhere following Jesus. The crowds were pressing in, but when He went up on the mountain to give what we call the Sermon on the Mount, it was His disciples that came up first. But then all along as He’s giving this talk, and by the way, it only takes about 20 minutes to read through the entire Sermon on the Mount. But I got a feeling that Matthew is actually just writing as furious and fast as he can and that Jesus probably talked for hours and hours and hours, why? Because often Jesus would say to the disciples as He’s preaching and teaching. He’d go, “Hey, you guys got any food? We need to feed these people ’cause there’s, you know, they’ve been here so long. They’re gonna need something to eat and their blood sugar’s low and they’re nodding off, you know, that kind of thing. And so He could have been hours and hours teaching this stuff. And this is the summation or the sort of summary of what it was He said.

So what we have here with Jesus is a teacher who is original and authoritative versus derivative and mechanical. And these crowds, they would’ve been in proximity to some of the best rabbis on the ground in that day and time. They could have heard the most brilliant minds speak on Old Testament passages and all that sort of thing. And yet they recognize in Jesus somebody who’s original and authoritative in a way that none of the scribes had ever been. Behind every message is the messenger, the speaker, their knowledge, their character, their passion, their integrity. And when I look at Jesus, man, I see all of that in place with this Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus, the Son of God spoke, He spoke God’s Word with God’s authority because He was the Son of God. It’s because of who Christ is that we should believe and obey what Christ has said. Then and only then will our hearts be renewed, refreshed. Then and only then will we find what it means to have a flourishing life in a fallen world.

It’s not just your best life now. It’s your best life in the middle of a rotten world, okay? So it’s very aligned with reality in that it recognizes the brokenness and the struggle of the world that we live in, but it’s rich. And it’s great news because in the midst of that darkness, in the midst of those storms and floods and winds, here comes Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life.

The old Scottish preacher Barclay said, Just as a great tree is deep-rooted in the soil, draws its nourishment from it, so the Christian is rooted in Christ, the source of his life and strength. Just as the house stands fast because it’s built on strong foundations, so the Christian life is resistant to any storm because it’s founded on the strength of Christ. Christ is alike the source of the Christian’s life and the foundation of his stability.

And Spurgeon:  “The faith that saves is not believing certain truths, not even believing that Jesus is a Savior, but resting on Him, depending on Him, lying with all your weight on Christ as the foundation of your hope. Believe that He can save you. Believe that He will save you. At any rate, leave the whole matter of your salvation with Him in unquestioning confidence. Depend upon Him without fear as to your present and eternal salvation. That is the faith which saves the soul.”

So at the end of the sermon, everyone there, verses 28 and 29, they’re all blown away. Matthew takes note that they are overwhelmed and amazed and astonished at His teaching. He is the truth. He didn’t just tell us the way to live; He is the source of life itself. Mm, He is our firm foundation. Let’s pray, Lord, may the good seed of Your Word find fertile soil in our hearts. May the Holy Spirit cause it to take root, to bear fruit, and may our study of the Scriptures transform our minds and hearts, make us more like Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen and amen.

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