Dr. John Hoole – April 8, 2018



In concluding this sermon, Jesus gives some instructions to those who have heard the sermon.  You are probably familiar with all four.


First He says that we must make a choice between two roads.  These roads represent the paths – the two possible alternatives – one of which we must choose to follow its course.  One road is a straight path, with a narrow gate, or entrance and few find this road – though it leads to eternal life.  The other is a broad path and has a wide entrance…and many people are on this road even though we are told it leads to destruction.


Then Jesus warns us of those who seem to speak for God, but do great destruction to His flock.  These are people that call themselves “Christian,” but are not.  He compares people with trees, telling us that we can know a person by looking at the fruit coming from a person’s life.  We studied this in our last lesson on the Sermon on the Mount.


Then, today we look at where He speaks of some who say “Lord, Lord,” but don’t really know Him as Lord.  And, supremely more terrible, the Lord doesn’t know them.  I suppose these could be the same as the false prophets in the preceding illustration.


He finishes the Sermon on the Mount with the illustration of the “Wise man and the Foolish man.”  The wise builder built his house upon the solid rock while the foolish one used sand as his foundation.  We will study this story in a future lesson.


Matthew 7:21-29  (NIV)


21     "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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 perform many miracles?'

23     Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

24     "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

25     The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

26     But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

27     The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

28     When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,

29     because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.


For a moment, notice that last verse.  I mentioned in an earlier lesson that one of the things that irked the Scribes was that Jesus spoke as one who had authority and they felt such recognition should only go to those schooled in the Law, like themselves.


As we have begun to see, and we will continue to see, that with authority Jesus declares who will enter the Kingdom of God and who will not -- with authority he interprets the essence of the Ten Commandments; He establishes himself as the Judge of the world; He said, “You have heard it said by those of old,” “But I say to you…”.  And now with authority he concludes the greatest sermon ever preached.


We have already given considerable attention to the first two of these four illustrations Jesus uses to close this sermon.  Saying we have given “considerable attention” does not, by any means, indicate we have exhausted the truths found there.  You can spend a whole lifetime being a serious student of God’s Word, yet never plumb the full depths of its wisdom.


He has said that few enter the narrow gate of salvation because first of all it must be found (vs.14).  This implies that it must be sought and searched for.  No one stumbles into the kingdom inadvertently.


Second, the narrow and demanding way of salvation is the complete opposite of the way of the world.


Third, the narrow gate into the kingdom requires going through alone and naked.  You take no possessions, no works, no pride, no self-righteousness.


Fourth, false prophets must be avoided because they lead people to their own destruction (vss. 15-20).


Today we turn our attention to the third illustration given by Jesus.  It is found in verse 21 – 23.  Look again at them with me.


Matthew 7:21-23  (NIV)


21     "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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 perform many miracles?'

23     Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'


In these verses we find one of the most dreadful and terrifying statements to ever come from the lips of Jesus.  It is a pronouncement of a curse.  But the amazing thing about this passage is that it is not a pronouncement of a curse upon the pagans, who we know will be judged.  He is not speaking to atheists or agnostics or the irreligious.  Rather, Jesus is speaking about people who are devotedly religious – who profess Christianity.  They present themselves as followers of Christ.


You will remember that Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with a series of blessings.  WHAT DO WE CALL THESE BLESSINGS?  The Beatitudes.  (Matthew 5:3-10)


But here in Matthew 7:21-23, the Lord pronounces a sentence of final doom upon people who were deceived all their lives in thinking they had a relationship with Him, but did not.




How about the parable of the 10 virgins.


Matthew 25:10-12  (NAS)


10     "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

11     "And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.'

12     "But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'


In both our Text in Matthew 7 and the Parable of the 10 virgins, there were people who considered themselves as part of the in-crowd.  They thought they were part of the family of God.  They used God’s name.  They had done miracles, they say, by God’s power.  They had driven out demons.  But the final answer from Christ was, “I never knew you.”


I am going to pose to you a number of questions for you to ponder.  I am not going to answer them during this lesson.  While I pose them to you to think about, this lesson will actually go down a different path.










Most definitely they are not saved.  John 10:14 tells us that Jesus knows His own, and John 10:3 says He calls them by name.  So, He would never say to any Christian, “I don’t know you.”  Yes, He knows you and me, and everyone who is a part of His family.










Look once again at the first verse of our text today.


Matthew 7:21 (NIV)


21     "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.


 “What is the criteria for entrance into Heaven?”  Do you see it?  Entrance into the kingdom of heaven will not be by everyone who says “Lord, Lord,” but “only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”


The interpretation of this passage hinges not on the expression, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’” but on the expression, “He who does the will of My Father.”  Jesus did not say that no one who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom.  He said, rather, that not all who say that will enter.  So, who among those who say, “Lord, Lord,” will enter?  The answer:  Those who do the will of the Father.”




        Obedience !!


Those who enter heaven will do so not because of what they said or did, but because they were obedient to the will of God.  Again, in both the Sermon on the Mount and in the parable of the 10 virgins, you see those who are self-deceived.  They perceive themselves to be true followers, but they are not really.


This is a real danger for those, like myself, who have grown up in the Church.  I have heard – and delivered – thousands of lessons.  I have seen and been involved in miracles – but so had Judas.  I have taught and prayed in Jesus’ name.  I have read the Bible through dozens of times.


Many of us are very familiar with the Word of God.  But do I practice it?  Do I do what it says?  That’s the chief question.


For the rest of our time today, I want to look more closely at this subject of obedience.  This is a theme that runs through all four of the illustrations Jesus uses to close this sermon.  In the first two illustrations, it came in the form of a command, which He expects us to obey.  The first command was:  “Enter through the narrow gate….”  And then He promises that if we obey, that road will lead to life.  The second command was: “Watch out for false prophets….” by examining their fruit.


The fourth illustration begins with these words in verse 24Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: This is also speaking of obedience to His words.


In the Sermon on the Mount, it wasn’t a question of confessing Christ as Lord, or of doing good works.  The question was one of obedience. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  It all boils down to this: Do I do what Christ shows me to do – or do I just think about it?


When a person sets out to study a Bible word, or a truth of Christian life, or a doctrine, it helps to examine the place it has in the entirety of the Bible.  As we look at its use throughout the entire Word of God, we can see where, or how often, and in what connection the topic might be found.  We can glean its relative importance as well as its relevance to the whole of Scripture.


First, viewing obedience with the Scripture as a whole, we begin in the Garden of Eden.


         Genesis 2:16 says,


               And the Lord God commanded the man, saying…..


And later in Genesis 3:11, God asks,……


         Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?


Then Genesis 3:24  (NIV) adds:


24      After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.


Turn now from the beginning of the Bible to the close of it.  In the last chapter (Revelation 22:14), you read.  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.




There are actually two connections between these two passages.  Firstly, they both speak of the Tree of Life.




Every verse I read spoke of the commandments of God, and the need to keep those commandments.  Obedience was the one thing in which Adam and Eve would continue living in the Garden of Eden.  It was the one thing that was asked by their Creator.  Nothing is said of faith or humility, not even love -- for obedience includes them all.  Obedience is the one thing that is required of each of us.


In the beginning, it was disobedience that severed Adam and Eve’s access to the Tree of Life.  And in the end, it is only obedience that gains entrance once again to the Tree of Life.  Again, Revelation 22:14 says:


         Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.


From the beginning to the end -- from Paradise lost to Paradise regained, -- the law is unchangeable.  It is obedience alone that gives access to the tree of life,…….and favor with God.


Now let’s turn to a tree that stands midway between the beginning and the end.  TO WHAT TREE AM I REFERRING?  The cross of Christ


Romans 5:19 states:


          By the OBEDIENCE OF ONE shall many be made righteous.




It is speaking of Christ.  By His obedience, many are brought nigh to God again.


Philippians 2:8 adds:


         He…..became obedient unto death, wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him.


And Hebrews 5:8-9 says,


         Yet learned He obedience….and….became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.


Here we have a definite tie between eternal life and Christ’s obedience.  This verse also links our salvation to our own obedience.


I hope you are beginning to see that the whole redemption of Christ consists in restoring obedience to its proper place.  The beauty of his salvation is that it brings us back to the life of obedience because it is only through obedience that we the creature can give the Creator the glory due to Him.


Whether we are talking about the Garden of Eden, or pointing to the future restoration, or looking at Calvary, they all proclaim with the one voice:  “The first and the last thing your God asks of you is simple, universal, unchanging obedience.”


We have looked at the importance of obedience but we have not really defined it.




                   1.      The fulfillment of God’s claims or commands

                   2.      Submissive compliance

                   3.      Conformity to a rule or an authority

                   4.      Yielding, deferential, respectful.


According to the Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a succinct definition of biblical obedience is “To hear God’s Word and act accordingly.”


Obedience involves, or at least suggests, a conduct that can be observed.  Obedience with regard to our Christian faith is the outward expression by which our hidden, invisible, love for God manifests itself.


The word ‘Obey,” both in the Old and New Testaments, is a rendering of the verb “to hear.”  That means that “obedience” in the Bible signifies an active response to something one hears, rather than passive listening.


Eerdman's Bible Dictionary says,…


"True 'hearing,' or obedience, involves the physical hearing that inspires the hearer, and a belief or trust that in turn motivates the hearer to act in accordance with the speaker's desires."


One Greek word translated “obey” is Hupakouo.  It comes from HUPO, which means under and from AKOUO, which means I Hear.  To put that together, it means to listen to, and carry out, the instructions of a person who has authority over them.


To say it another way, the obedient person is¨


         1.  Under authority,


         2.  Listens to what their superior says, and…


         3.  Carries out the orders that have been given to them.


                   This is what obedience means for you and me.


This is particularly true in respect to the voice or commandments of God.  To really hear God’s word means to obey that word.  Obedience as opposed to disobedience is a life-and-death issue.  God has given humankind the innate power of choice.  The choice of obedience leads to Gods promised blessing of life.  The choice of disobedience leads to curse, judgment and death.


From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible has a lot to say about obedience.,  In the story of the Ten Commandments, we see just how important the concept of obedience is to God.


Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NKJV


26     Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse:

27     the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today;

28     and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.


To paraphrase this into a simple but true statement, these verses say; “Obey and you will be blessed.  Disobey and you will be cursed.”


Remember what Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NKJV)says.


13     Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.


How very unspeakably pleasing is obedience in God’s sight.  And great is the reward He bestows upon such obedience.  The way to be a blessing to the world is to be men and women of obedience.


At Sinai, God gave Moses the message to the people.


Exodus 19:5 NKJV


5       Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.


Obedience is the one condition without which there can be no right relationship with God.  This is most clearly stated in the relation between Abraham and Jehovah, when he is given the assurance in Genesis 22:18.


Genesis 22:18 NKJV


18     In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Beware of praying only for a blessing.  Rather, we should seek for obedience.  That is because with the obedience, God will supply the blessing.


I have given you several Scriptures on Obedience in the Old Testament.  Let’s see some of what the New Testament tells us.  I believe my constant question as a Christian should be “How can I obey and please my God perfectly?”


It is one thing to say you believe in Jesus Christ.  It is another thing entirely to obey Him.  Even the demons believe in God (James 2:19), but they don’t obey Him.


James 1:22-25  (NIV) also adds in the first chapter.


22     Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

23     Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror

24     and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

25     But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-- he will be blessed in what he does.


Let’s look at a few verses that tell us how important Jesus considered obedience.  In John 5, we find the account where Jesus healed the man who had been an invalid for 38 years.  But Jesus knew that the man’s healing, as much a blessing as it was, would matter only in this earthly life.  The man’s bigger need was answered in Verse 14.


John 5:14 NKJV


14     Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."


In a similar fashion, Jesus forgave a woman’s act of adultery in John 8.  As He did with the lame man, He went a step farther and issued a command in verse 11“Neither do I condemn you.  Go now and leave your life of sin.”  Jesus expected faith in Him, yes, but He also required obedience.


John 14:15 NKJV


15     If you love Me, keep My commandments.


1 John 5:3 NKJV


3       For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.


John 14:23-24 NKJV


23     Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

24     He who does not love Me does not keep My words…


In summary, Jesus says in the verses we have just read that obeying His teachings versus not obeying His teaching will indicate if we truly love Him or not.  It is not our words, not our emotions, but our obedience.


What did Jesus say in what we call the Great Commission, which He spoke to the disciples and through them to us.


Matthew 28:19-20a NIV


19     Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20     and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.


I have heard many sermons and have read various Bible studies on the Great Commission.  They often, and rightly so, emphasize going forth and preaching the Gospel.  They speak of baptizing converts, and making disciples.  But far less often do we heart the final thing Jesus mentioned in His Commisson; “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”


And that brings us right back to the Sermon on the Mount.  As we continue, remember what we said at the very beginning of our study of this Sermon.  The apostle Matthew portrays Jesus as the rightful heir to the throne of David.  He is the King.  And the Sermon on the Mount is a manifesto of how the King wants those in His kingdom to act.


Who will enter the kingdom of heaven?  According to our Text today, saying “Lord, Lord” does not mean a person is in the kingdom.  Jesus says that those in the Kingdom of Heaven are those who do the will of His Father.


How can we talk about lordship if our lives fly in the face of what our Lord demands?  Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not what I say.”  What Jesus is stating is this:  “Don’t confess me as Lord unless you are willing to do what I say.”  The inescapable evidence of a relationship with Jesus is obedience.

 Our text teaches us that our obedience gives validity to what we profess.  No matter how spectacular our service, it is no substitute for obedience.  Obedience may not be the most popular of subjects, but if Jesus is to be acknowledged as Lord, obedience is crucial.  It is at the core of what the Christian life really means.


Our modern culture seems to say, “If I want to, I will.  And if I don’t want to, I won’t.”  Humans too often believe they are self-sufficient and self-satisfied.  But, as Christians, we are the servants of the Most-High God.  And the servant is never greater than the Master.  Therefore, we do what the Master commands.  And that obedience becomes our motivation for service.


Obedience is also our motivation for suffering.  If we are not inclined to be obedient, we will always take the road of least discomfort.  And yet, the road Christ wants us to travel will at times be very difficult.


1 Peter 4:12 says:


         Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.


If we are not driven by obedience to God’s instruction, we will never be inclined to suffer for Him.  We are saved by grace, but the evidence of our salvation, our faith, is found in works – in our obedience to the Lord’s demands and commands.




I know that it is possible to have a Sunday-Go-To-Meeting acquaintance with God.  It is possible to work in the church, doing many “good” things, without ever having obeyed the Lord in repenting of our sins.


In fact, it is possible for Christians to work for God….and even think they are doing things in His name, and yet they might be things that God has not authorized them to do.  They may even work hard and sacrifice but 1 Samuel 15:22 says “to obey is better than sacrifice.”


The question is not what church work we do.  The question is whether we are personally obedient to Christ Himself.  The question is NOT whether you do Christian things and say Christian words.  It is not whether you have had some Christian “experience,” as wonderful as that is.


Jesus says, “those who enter the kingdom of heaven are not the ones who just say, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  The evidence that we are truly born again is that our lives reflect His life.  Obedience is allowing the Lord to rule in our lives.  Obedience is surrender to Him.  Obedience flows from a relationship with God.  It comes from knowing Christ intimately.