15, 2003: “We Make Our Answer
Now” – Matthew
7 (Bro. Dave Noble)
Good morning brethren and
sisters. My family and I are pleased to be meeting with you this morning, and
we bring with us the love and greetings of the North Industry Ecclesia.
- The seventh chapter of
Matthew ends with the words, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had
ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught
them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matt. 7:28-29)."
The people were struck with amazement at his teaching because he taught
with authority, or as the word is more often translated, "power". A
power that is associated with rule or government; the power of him whose
will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed. In Luke
4:32 it says, "And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his
word was with power." In the gospel of john it says, "Never a
man spake like this man (Jo. 7:46)."
- We know that Jesus was no
ordinary man … he was the Messiah … the Son of the Highest. The people
were astonished at his doctrine…those sayings which come to an end in these
closing verses of chapter 7. At this point in the gospel of Matthew, we come
to an end of one of the most compelling sections of scripture, one which is
typically referred to as "the sermon on the mount." It is a most
extraordinary passage that begins in Matthew 5 and goes through this
seventh chapter. What is so compelling about these three chapters is that
Jesus sets before his disciples a portrait of a character: a character that in
every way is his very own. His own character that had not long before been
tried through the trials he faced in the wilderness of Matthew 4. He
emerges from that test with the absorption in and dependence on the
will of God.
- He sets out and defines
that character with the Beatitudes at the start of Matthew 5. The remainder of
the discourse is used to illustrate examples of how such a character should
behave. As we look at the Beatitudes, we see a continual emphasis on the
plural pronouns such as "they shall inherit", and "they
shall see God," and as such, it teaches us that while the perfect
example of this character is to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, it also
describes the character of each member of the class of people who are to find
their true home in his Kingdom. They and they alone, can be its citizens.
If such attributes are not developed in an individual, that person will not be
fit to be a citizen in God's Kingdom.
- After the character is
defined by the Beatitudes, Jesus proceeds with illustrating for his disciples
the manifestations of such a character. Such a character, which is defined by
the inner qualities of the heart, has an outward conduct that he describes in
the balance of Matthew 5. In Matthew 6, Jesus goes on to
describe the things that the Servant of God should do and the things the
Servant of God should avoid. He concludes in Matthew 7 with practical
exhortations and gives a final warning as to what they should do with
his teachings. They need to go beyond the amazement … they need to be
applied and put into action!
- It is a section of
scripture we find ourselves reading in amazement, and reflecting on it as a
wonderful collection of sayings and teachings of our Lord. We find ourselves
saying "aren't these sayings wonderful." Yet we shrink back
from the responsibility of their application to our lives. You know brethren
and sisters, we would be hard pressed to find any situation or circumstance we
face in today's world that is not addressed in some fashion in these three
chapters. If we say we are facing an individual trial that we cannot find the
answer or have no idea what God's will might be concerning it, then we have
not given much thought as to the content of these three chapters.
- Bro. Anthony Oosthuisen, at
the Shippensburg Bible School in the early 90's, described these chapters as
those that epitomize Christianity and the doctrines of our Lord. He titled the
Sermon on the Mount "The King's Manifesto," because in it,
Christ laid the foundation of all his future teachings, and laid the
foundation of what the Kingdom of God was truly to be like. In the course of
his talks he said, "Christianity has not bee tried and found wanting.
It has been found hard and not tried!"
- These sayings are indeed
wonderful and beautifully put forth by our Master, but if that's where we draw
the line, then it's no good. We must put them into practice and do them. And,
they are hard sayings too, difficult for us to apply to ourselves, but yet,
those who will be citizens of the Kingdom, will manifest the teachings
of the Lord in their lives and in their actions.
- It is that exhortation that
we can glean from this seventh chapter of Matthew. Though there are many
lessons to be gained from a careful study of this chapter, we will develop
this theme with a look at three sections of the chapter, namely the verses
dealing with the two ways, the two trees and the two builders.
From those, we will focus ourselves on the emblems before us as we prepare to
partake of them. They are simple principles, but large in scope when we
meditate upon them in light of the life of our Lord and in consideration to
- The first point for
consideration is the parable of the two ways contained in verses 13 &
14. There it says,
- "Enter ye in at the
strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to
destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the
gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that
"Enter ye in at the
strait gate" is a call to make a choice, to separate oneself from the
crowd that drifts along the broad way that leads to destruction. The choice of
the way determines the outcome, either life or death. Such a choice is found
throughout the scriptures. Moses often exhorted the people regarding their
life and conduct, and we know how in the days before his death he said:
- "I call heaven and
earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and
death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy
seed may live (Deut. 30:19)."
The thoughts put forth by
Christ in this parable can also be found in the last verse of Psalm 1.
- "For Yahweh knoweth
the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Ps.
Here are the two ways…the
one ending in destruction, and, though David does not say the way of
righteousness ends in life, he says something more than that. He says
they will be known of God. Being known by God includes all other blessings,
including life eternal.
- In Luke 13:24 the
same parable is recorded, but with these words:
- "Strive to enter in
at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall
not be able."
- The word for
"Strive" is indicative of an athletic contest … a fight …
contending with adversaries. It comes from a Greek word from which we get our
English word "agonize". It is a metaphor that not only indicates the
struggle of the contest, but the period of rigorous training involving
self-disciple and attention to everything that makes for fitness. Only through
such striving can the goal of entering in at the strait gate be obtained. The
crowd drifting on the broad way to destruction wants to follow the way that
calls for NO self-discipline and the way that offers everything freely
- Brethren and sisters, we
made our choice when we entered the waters of baptism, but we must strive to
remain on the correct path if we are going to reach the goal of entering in at
the correct gate. These emblems before us remind us of the one man who
was able to reach that gate and pass through it and is now become our example.
The second passage to be
examined is found in verses 16-20 of Matthew 7. We read there,
- "Ye shall know them
by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so
every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth
evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt
tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is
hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know
The account of this parable
in Luke is much the same, but it adds this verse on the end:
- "A good man out of
the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil
man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for
of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Lk. 6:45)."
These words come in the
context of false teachers described in verse 15. Jesus tells his
disciples that they can judge them by their works, since a false teacher, one
who is directing the people in the ways of unrighteousness, no matter how
subtle, cannot bear good fruit … only that which is evil.
- An important point that can
be lost in this passage is that it not only describes how we can detect false
teachers, but it also describes how the disciples of Christ can be judged.
Those who are seeking after a place in God's Kingdom, can also be judged by
their fruits. God is preparing a people who are to manifest the
characteristics outlined in these passages. We are to be developing the fruits
of the spirit in our lives that are centered on the aspect of love, and it is
by those fruits that we will be judged.
- We see in verses 21-23 of
Matthew 7 that the Lord Jesus Christ is himself revealed as judge, and
those that are turned away are those that are classified as believers. Much
like the foolish virgins who were lax in their preparations as they awaited
the coming of their bridegroom, they will be turned away at the door when the
Lord tells them "I know you not (Matt. 25:12)." "Depart
from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:23)."
- It is a frightening thought
to be told that people can think they are all right, but they are hopelessly
wide of the mark. People cannot be talking about what they are doing,
exhibiting pride and self-examination, but rather, should be exhibiting
meekness and humility in doing the work of the Heavenly Father. For as it says
at the end of verse 21, "but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven" is he who will enter the Kingdom. That is
how Christ himself wanted all to judge him, for he did the works of the Father
who had sent him.
This brings us to the
parable of the two builders. Beginning in verse 24, we read:
whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto
a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the
floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:
for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of
mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his
house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the
winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of
The close resemblance of
these words to several proverbs is easy to see. Proverbs 10:25 says,
- "As the whirlwind
passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting
Proverb 12 verse 7
- "The wicked are
overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand."
And lastly, in Proverbs
- "The house of the
wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall
The righteous is the man
who builds well and truly on the foundation provided by Christ, "rooted
and built up in him, and established in the truth as he has been taught (Col.
2:7)." For Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "for other
foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1
In the parable we see two
men set out to build a home (which interestingly implies they had given up a
previous home) near a stream. The wise one of the two proceeds to dig deep in
order to find the solid rock as foundation. The other, considering it hardly
practical to spend all that time and energy on excavation, goes to building
his house without delay. He would be seen to make very spectacular progress by
comparison with his more thorough neighbor. And while weather conditions were
good it would seem to everybody that he was every bit as well off as the other
who had chosen to add so much apparently unnecessary labor to his task.
But at the first serious
test, there came disaster for the one … and vindication of the other. Heavy
rain, fierce winds, and rising waters all combined in an onslaught of the
elements. The storm brought down a sudden rush of floodwater, and very quickly
the unstable foundations of the one house were eroded away. It caused
instability that made it unable to stand the blast of the storm and the whole
place fell in, and "great was the fall of it."
The main point that Jesus
sought to make here is, very simply, that the closer a man comes to Christ in
the life he lives, the more secure he is in present trials and ultimately in
the day of judgment. And the opposite is true; the less close he is to Christ,
the greater his danger. To any superficial scrutiny, such an individual may
appear to be well equipped and safe, but the trials of life will differentiate
between the genuine and the sham. Such a person does not hear and do the
sayings of the Lord because of either spiritual laziness and an unwillingness
to labor to build upon rock, or because of a desire to put on a show of
religion without the inner transformation and personal dedication to Christ
that is required.
It is with this parable
that Jesus is bringing to a close his sayings of the last three chapters. He
is exhorting and warning the people to hear his words and to do them…to
put his sayings into action. The contrast between hearing and doing … and
… hearing and not doing is the real point of this whole parable. In
addition brethren and sisters, we must not leave this parable without noting
that the knowledge of the two builders is the same. They both knew the sayings
… they had heard them. The difference between the two is what they did with
- We too have that knowledge
brethren and sisters. We have heard the sayings of the Lord. We know the
gospel and have entered into a covenant relationship with God through the
waters of baptism, but what are we doing with that knowledge? As we
contemplate the emblems before us and the sacrifice made by our Lord, we
recognize that he manifested all the characteristics portrayed here in
Matthew. These principles of righteousness, godliness, and holiness
were manifested perfectly in his life, and we need to also apply them to our
own, for these are the principles of eternal life.
Bro. Oosthuisen said in his
class that "lip service is no substitute for loyalty. It is not enough
to say we have enlisted in the king's army, as we have through entering into
the waters of baptism, but it is also being a good soldier of Christ
and waging a good warfare which matters."
Brethren and sisters,
unless that knowledge we have brings forth a kingdom character in us, it has
failed its purpose, and it is just an utter waste of time. This is the object
of it all. God is seeking to create a certain kind of people for His Kingdom.
The citizens and administrators of that Kingdom are being prepared NOW. We
have to start living the life of the Kingdom NOW, reflecting those external
qualities of character so that when our Master returns, he recognizes some
part of himself in us.
Brethren and sisters, shall
we be with him in that day? One thing is absolutely certain, we make the
Dave Noble, North Industry, Ohio
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS | DIRECTORY
| EXHORTATIONS | BIBLE STUDIES |
SCHEDULE | LINKS |