True and False Disciples

Sermon for Sunday, December 3, 2017

True and False Disciples

Matthew 7:

[21] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

[22] 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 in your name perform many miracles?”

[23] Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!”

A lot of people pretend to be something they are not.

Many people like to pretend to be doctors and some get away with it for a long time.  Imagine that!  Just playing the part!

Some people pretend to be counselors, police officers, etc.

I saw a man one time at a restaurant who looked who looked just like Magic Johnson.  Later I was told this man was an imposter.  Actually, he never claimed to be Magic Johnson but he tried to look like him in the way he dressed and acted.  I just assumed it must be him.

In the same way, a lot of people actually believe they are something they are not.

Some people say, “I believe I am saved because God knows what is in my heart.”

Yes, but what God knows about your heart may not be what you think.  For example, God may know that you have:

1) a deluded heart:

2 Thessalonians 2:

[11] For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [12] and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

2) an unbelieving heart:

Hebrews 3:

[12] See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

3) an unexamined heart:

2 Corinthians 13:

[5] Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Remember, the Bible warns us there is a way that seems right to people but it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

Note verse 21 of our text:

[21] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

What do people think when they say, “Lord, Lord”?  Do they really believe it or do they pretend to believe it?  Jesus does not say, but I would think it is both.  That is, some really believe they are saved when they are not and some just pretend.

Several years ago, a survey of Americans revealed 86% believed in God or a supreme being of some kind.

Seventy-seven percent believe in life after death.  Fifty-one percent do not believe that humans evolved from lower life forms.

On the surface, this seems encouraging in that people say they believe in heaven and hell and God.  However, the poll also revealed that 10% still believe that Elvis is still alive!

Polls are not always accurate because some questions encourage people to say what they think you want to hear, or what they would like to believe about themselves.

US News & World Report also did an article on religion in America.  They said 60% of Americans attend some kind of religious service on a regular basis.

Only 9% of Americans profess no religion at all.  Nine out of 10 Americans still pray.  More than 80% believed the Bible to be from God.

We look at statistics like this and it sounds like some kind of religious revival in America is happening.  This sounds encouraging but there is something wrong.  We must beware of the ambivalence of people.

Ambivalence: The coexistence of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, drawing a person in opposite directions.

What this means is that people will answer a survey one way but they really do not believe or practice what they say.

Likewise, people often have conflicting desires when it comes to sin:

Romans 7:

[15] For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

What is ambivalence to sin?  Ambivalence is the simultaneous and contradictory desire to do something and not do something.  It is being attracted and repulsed at the same time.

Romans 7:

[21] So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

[22] For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; [23] but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

What this suggests is that the Christian is destined to struggle with sin.  This is what I believe Romans 7:7-24 is all about.

In some of our translations there is a heading for these verses that says “Struggling With Sin,” which fits nicely with the point now being made on these verses.

The language of Paul in these verses can be difficult to understand, especially the “sold as a slave to sin” comment in verse 14, but I agree with those who interpret his words as a struggle against sin in general, or the sin principle, and not a specific act.

Note, for example, that he says earlier,

Romans 5:

[12] Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

The use of sin in this verse is something more than the act committed by Adam.  It refers to the sin principle that exposes us to temptation and the vulnerability to sin.  Jesus delivers us from the sin principle which requires his sacrifice.

Sin takes advantage of my knowledge of righteousness:

Romans 7:

[10] I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  [11] For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

This is why self-examination is always in order for every Christian:

2 Corinthians 13:

[5] Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Note again verse 22 of our text:

Matthew 7:

[22] 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 in your name perform many miracles?”

I have wondered if the people Jesus refers to actually did these things or had they deceived themselves into believing they had done these things.

Sometimes people claim to do things they did not do.

Sometimes people who were once very faithful and useful to the kingdom become unfaithful.

What this means is that there are a lot of folks today who think they are Christians and are not!

Luke 6:

[46] Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

[47] As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.

So, how can we tell if we are Christians?

Matthew 7:

[15] Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

[16] By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Am I a Christian because I am preaching this sermon this morning?  This might be a good indicator but you have to look at more than just the preaching of a sermon.

A lot of crazy people preach sermons.  Some become preachers because they think it provides them an opportunity to control others.

What kind of evidence?  The evidence should be
1) what we believe about Christ (theological)
2) and the application of the gospel to our lives (practical).

To be a Christian you need to follow Christ in your beliefs and practice.  If we took a survey in this city about who is a Christian, what kind of answers would we get?  Is a Christian one who goes to church?  Is a Christian one who prays?  Most people pray when they are in trouble and need God.  Many pray even though they are not religious.

If you asked members of this church who is a Christian, most would probably say that those who are baptized are Christians.  This is because we rightly preach the necessity of biblical baptism.  However, it is possible to be baptized and not be saved.  Note that it is possible to be baptized and not repent.

Notice what John said to those who wanted to be baptized without repentance:

Luke 3:

[7] John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  [8] Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

The point: Salvation involves knowledge of God’s word, internal commitment, and change reflected in one’s life.

Although polls reveal the majority of Americans are religious, Christianity is having less and less impact on our culture today.