Father, we’re grateful for a new month, grateful for Labor Day Weekend, and I just pray You’ll be with us both during our Sunday School hour, for all of our teachers and also during the worship service, please be with us as we celebrate communion today and fellowship afterwards. And I just asks that You would use this time to edify Your saints and to glorify Your name. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said Amen.
If I could direct your attention to Matthew 6:14-15, we are, as you probably remember, studying the doctrine of eternal security which is the idea that the grace of God that saves us is the grace of God that keeps us or sustains us. And we’ve already gone through the arguments for eternal security, about thirteen of them. And now we’re in the part of the study that separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, which is learning how to interact with the opposition, because most people when they get into these theological disputes in Christendom today they’re really good at giving their own talking points, their own verses, but the problem is can you answer the verses that the other side has. Most people haven’t gone that deep in their study where they’re able to do that and where I’m trying to take us is show you that not only does the Bible lay out a very clear case for eternal security, but the Bible, all of the other passages that people use to deny eternal security can be harmonized or explained in light of the clearer verses that teach eternal security. So really the Bible doesn’t deny eternal security at all; it allegedly denies eternal security at first glance but not when you do your homework and learn this process of harmonization.
You might recall that we have worked through a series of Old Testament passages that at first glance seem to deny eternal security. If I remember right we finished that discussion last week and now we’ve moving into the New Testament and we’re going to start with the first book of the New Testament, Matthew, and there are several verses in the Gospel of Matthew that make it look like (at first glance) you can lose salvation. And I want to show you that none of the passages in Matthew teach that you can lose your salvation. The big one in Matthew, which we won’t be getting to today, we’ll probably start it next week, is the unpardonable sin in Matthew 12. But even before we get to the unpardonable sin you’ll notice that there are several that at first glance make it look like you can lose your salvation.
So notice Matthew 6:14-15, which says, this is the Lord teaching the disciples to pray, He just finished that model prayer in verses 9-13, then Jesus says, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” So people look at that and say oh my goodness, if I am unforgiving then (A) maybe I was never saved to begin with, or if I am unforgiving as a Christian maybe I’m going to lose my salvation because it says right there in the Bible that if I don’t forgive others God’s not going to forgive me. Do you see that?
The key to the whole verse, these verses, to understand them right is verse 9 which says, “Our” what? “Father.” So the short answer to that is when Jesus made this statement He wasn’t talking to unbelievers, He was talking to believers because the only person that has God as their Father is a believer. Right? If you’re an unbeliever God is not your Father, He’s your creator but more frightening than that He’s your judge. So what shifts your relationship with God from Him acting as your judge to Him being your Father is personal faith in the provision of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone. Now He’s your Father and just like with our earthly fathers we can fall in and out of fellowship with them, can’t we? I can do things that irritate my earthly father but he’s still my father at the end of the day biologically. Right? But if I do things to irritate my father I don’t lose my status before him as my father, positionally what I’ve lost is fellowship with him or moment by moment walk with him.
And it’s the same way in our relationship with God. The only thing that changes your destiny with God as your judge is faith alone in Christ alone but staying in fellowship with your Father involves, as a Christian, involves multiple commands to follow under God’s power. So if you, as a Christian, are unforgiving towards other people, which is easy to get like that, sadly, because of our old nature, then God doesn’t stay in fellowship with us. You can exercise1 John 1:9 and confess your sins all you want but as long as we’re maintaining a bitter spirit, an angry spirit towards other people you’re still a Christian, you’re still going to heaven, but the fact of the matter is you’ve fallen out of fellowship with your Father. He’s still your Father, you’re just not walking in fellowship with Him. So that’s what Jesus is getting at here, He’s not getting at the whole issue of whether a person is saved or unsaved, He’s talking about staying in fellowship with your Father.
There are many passages that teach sin in our personal lives damages our vertical fellowship with God. Psalm 66:18, says, “If I harbor iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not” what? “hear,” written to believers. I think David was in that condition for about six months to a year after he committed adultery and murder and he talks in the Psalms about when he was in that condition the heavens became like brass, the Lord didn’t hear him. There was a barrier between him and God even though he was still positionally right with God, had he died he would have gone to heaven right then and there.
1 Peter 3:7 says if a man mistreats his wife and doesn’t respect her as the more fragile vessel and just runs roughshod over her then it says your prayers are hindered, 1 Peter 3:7, written to believers. [1 Peter 3:7, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”]
That’s how I think to understand Matthew 6, it’s not so much a justification verse, it couldn’t be a justification verse because how it begins; it’s rather a series of verses related to how to stay in fellowship with God. It certainly isn’t teaching you can lose your salvation; you can’t lose your salvation as a Christian but you can fall out of fellowship with your Father. So that’s why coming to church with kind of an angry spirit, grudging spirit or you’re mad about something or there’s some kind of unconfessed sin in your life in another area, you know Jesus, when He was giving the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and Matthew 6 talks about how they should, the Jews in that day should just leave their sacrifice and get reconciled with their brother first, and then come to the temple and give the sacrifice. So worship of God is not going to do you a lot of good if the barriers are blocked because of unconfessed sin.
So nothing short-circuits our fellowship with God more than unforgiveness towards others. Why is that? Because God has treated us with what? Grace, not justice. Right? And yet we want to turn around and treat other people… I think I said that wrong. God has treated us not with justice but with grace, that’s what I meant to say. And we want to turn around when people wrong us and we want to treat them not with grace but with what? Justice. And that’s where unforgiveness comes from.
So how do you get over an unforgiving spirit? You get over it by forgiving, Ephesians 4 tells us, “as God has forgiven you.” [Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”] And as that happens you’ll notice that your fellowship with God is enhanced. Hanging on to that unforgiving spirit damages that fellowship.
So it’s a fellowship verse, as I’ll be showing you a lot of these are fellowship verses, in other words, they’re… remember we went through the three tenses of salvation, justification, sanctification, glorification, this is middle tense salvation stuff. It’s not first tense salvation stuff, which is the mistake people make.
All right, here we go. Matthew 7:21-23, people have been asking me about this; I keep saying don’t worry we’re going to get there. And all the people that have been asking me aren’t here this morning so that’s Murphy’s law at work, right? That’s how it works. But praise God for modern technology, they can go back and listen if they desire. Probably of all of the verses in the Bible that are misquoted I find this to be probably the top of my list. People quote this all the time and very few people explain what it means. So here is Matthew 7:21-23; it’s still in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, “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 will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”
Has anybody ever heard this verse quoted by people? On one end of the stick you have Arminians quoting it; or course, Arminian (as we’ve explained) is someone who thinks you can have salvation and lose salvation. So when it says, “Lord, Lord,” “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’” they believe it’s talking about people who once had a relationship with God but lost it. That’s kind of hard to maintain because Jesus, at the end, what does He say there? “I never” what? “I never knew you;” He doesn’t say I once knew you but now I don’t, He says “I never knew you.”
The other alleged side of the ledger is Calvinism which basically is the idea that if you’re really a Christian then you really need to be bearing fruit. They don’t tell you how much and how fast the fruit has to come but if you are not bearing fruit then you probably were never one of the elect and if you’re not one of the elect you probably were never given the gift of faith. Now in prior sessions I’ve tried to explain how faith is not a gift from God, it’s lexically impossible to maintain. The only verse they have is Ephesians 2 and I’ve gone through that passage with you and told you that that’s not what it means. There is no such thing as a gift of faith. Faith is something that human beings exercise in God; it’s the only thing that God will accept to usher us into a right relationship with God. Romans 4:4-5 says anything that’s not of faith is a work. [Romans 4:4-5, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,”]
So it says to him who believes but does not work, God is not interested in giving us relationship with Him by works so the only thing He’ll accept is faith. That’s why Hebrews 11:6 says “without” what? “faith it’s” what? “impossible to please God.” So faith is within the ability of the lost man to exercise, contrary to what you get from hyper-Calvinism, what they say is you’re so depraved you can’t even exercise faith so God has to give you faith. So who gets the faith? Well, it determines if God has made you one of the elect or not; that’s how they think. And we don’t accept that as a biblical teaching. But what they say with this verse is this is really talking about people who have not the right kind of faith. And I want you to see this very carefully because in hyper-Calvinism there are two kinds of faith; there is the faith that saves and the faith that doesn’t save. The faith that doesn’t save they call a spurious faith, or an illusionary faith.
So this is William Hendrickson, not to be confused with Howard Hendricks, because he kind of looks like Howard Hendricks, I’m not talking here about Howard Hendricks of Dallas Seminary, I’m talking about a commentator named William Hendrickson and he lays out very clearly this doctrine of the two faiths; he’s making some comments there on John 2, and he says, “Many trusted in His name; i.e., because of the manner in which His power was displayed” Christ’s power “they accepted Him as a great prophet and perhaps even as the Messiah.” Now watch this, “This, however, is not the same as saying that they surrendered their hearts to him.” And look at this last line, “Not all faith is saving faith…” That’s how they think.
Let me say that last line again: “Not all faith is saving faith…” There is the faith that saves and the faith that doesn’t save; there is the faith that’s spurious and the faith that’s real that God gives as a gift. So the faith, according to Calvinism, that God gives as a gift, which is the real faith is always accompanied by contrition, that’s sorrow, surrender, brokenness, yieldedness and fruit. So if you have trusted in Christ but they don’t see enough contrition, fruit, brokenness, faithfulness in your life then what they’ll say is you don’t have the real faith, you have the fake faith and therefore you probably are not one of the elect; you don’t have the gift of faith.
And from a pastoral point of view this doctrine that I’m explaining here has wreaked more havoc on Christians than perhaps any other doctrine because the categories of contrition, fruit, faithfulness, they’re these subjective categories that are never objectively defined. How much contrition is necessary? How much faithfulness… I notice a lot of people that are normally here are missing on Labor Day weekend, so if you miss church, if you miss Sunday School on Labor Day weekend does that mean you don’t have the proper amount of works? And so people literally spend their whole lives wondering, do I have the right kind of faith or the wrong kind of faith.
Now we have spent, in this church, three years in the Gospel of John. We were in John’s Gospel as long as Christ’s earthly ministry and you guys know the Gospel of John, probably better than most churches in the world I would think, because of the time we spent in it. And what it says over and over again in the Gospel of John is faith, it never defines two kinds of faith. What is faith? All it is, is confidence, or trust, or reliance, or dependence. That’s all John says; if you don’t want to build your house on anything other than John 3:16 build your house on John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have life everlasting.” It doesn’t define what the right kind of belief is, what the wrong kind of belief is, it just tells you believe.
So what you have in hyper-Calvinism is these people that are going to come to the Lord at the end and they’re going to stand before Him at the judgment, these are people with the wrong kind of faith. Even though they’ve done a bunch of stuff they don’t have the right kind of faith and so Jesus is going to tell them plainly, “I never knew you.” This is how John MacArthur uses the verse, ad nauseam, this is how John Piper uses the verse, ad nauseam, this is how R. C. Sproul uses the verse, ad nauseam, this is what most people think the verse says. And the fact of the matter is this is not what Jesus is talking about. Now how do I know that? Because what are the three rules of Bible study? Context, context, context!
So what is the context of Matthew 7? Go back to verse 15, which is just a few verses before verses 21-23, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are” what? “ravenous wolves.” Contextually this verse is not talking about believers; contextually this verse is not even talking about people that are professing believers. Contextually this verse is not even talking about the body of Christ; the body of Christ is not something that gets its start in biblical history to early Acts, Acts chapter 2.
So when Jesus is saying here, let me re-read it, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” what he’s talking about is false teachers and the specific group of false teachers that He is constantly interacting with in his ministry and particularly in the Sermon on the Mount is which group? The Pharisees. Well, who were the Pharisees? The Pharisees were a bunch of people who were the religious leaders of Israel, who did a bunch of good things in the eyes of man but they never had the righteousness of God because they did not approach God the way He said to approach Him, which is by faith; they came to God through their own works system. That is what Jesus is talking about here. And they look like sheep because after all, they are the religious leaders of the nation.
So what you have in Matthew 7:21-23 is not a passage about believers, it’s not even a passage about professing believers but the whole thing is about unbelievers, unbelieving false teachers who to the eyes of the natural man looks like they were on the right side of the issue because of their religiosity.
Now how do you determine a false teacher? This is what He’s getting at in verses 16-20, you know them by their what? You guys know the verse, what does it say? You know them by their what? Their fruit, verse 16, “you will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the “what? “fire.” What would fire be? It would be hell, wouldn’t it.  “So then, you will know them by their fruits.” And then He goes on and says,  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter…”  “…did we not prophesy,” did we not do such and such.
So you determine a true teacher and a false teacher by their fruit; their fruit is the content of their teaching, that’s how you look at a false teacher; that’s how you can figure out if a false teacher is a false teacher or not a false teacher. You always can figure out who is a false teacher by what they teach, by what they say. That is the fruit that Jesus says the disciples ought to look at and inspect.
Now hold your place here in Matthew 7 and go over to Matthew 12 for a minute. I want to show you a parallel passage where Jesus uses the exact same metaphor. And very clearly in Matthew 12 He’s talking about unbelievers. And this is a very important principle of biblical interpretation; the way to figure out what a biblical writer means by a certain metaphor or idea is you ask yourself how has that same biblical writer used the same motif of metaphor elsewhere in his book. That’s how to unravel the book of Hebrews, as I’ll be teaching you later on in this course, the problem passages in the book of Hebrews; that’s how to unravel some of these mystery passages. And here’s the mistake everybody makes, they run off to every part of the Bible except Matthew, who was the author of Matthew 7 and Matthew 12.
So notice Matthew 12 and take a look at verses 33-34, see if this rings a bell. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” Does that sound familiar? I mean, it’s the exact same metaphor Matthew recorded Jesus using back in Matthew 7:21-23. Well, who is he talking about here in Matthew 12 as Matthew uses the exact same metaphor? Verse 34, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of the abundance that fills the heart.” Jesus is saying even though you have the appearance of religiosity, you Pharisees, I know you’re false teachers and the reason I know you’re false teachers and the reason everybody should know that you’re false teachers is because of the content of your teaching. You’re not teaching biblical truth; you’re wrapped up in your traditions.
In fact, Jesus, in Mark 7:13, we don’t have to turn there, said of the Pharisees, you have made null the word of God by your traditions. [Mark 7:13, “thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”] What became important to the Pharisees over time is traditions. Now there’s nothing wrong with traditions when they align with Scripture but the problem with the whole legalistic maize that began to develop in the intertestamental period through myriads of extra-biblical writings, like the Mishnah, I had to read the Mishnah in seminary; it is the most exhausting thing to read because it places people under burden after burden after burden.
The Pharisees arose in the intertestamental period because the nation of Israel had gone into Babylonian captivity. What sent them into Babylonian captivity? Idolatry and rejection of the Sabbath. When you study the pre-exilic prophets that’s what they’re always harping on. So they came out of Babylonian captivity, which lasted 70 years, and there arose a group of religious men that said we’re never going to let that happen again. We’re never going to let our nation go into captivity again and here’s how we’re going to solve the problem, we’re going to pass so many rules and regulations that people won’t get near an idol again, nor will they get near violating the Sabbath.
So technically what the Pharisees did is they built what is called a fence around the Law; a fence is a manmade tradition that keeps you from violating the Law. If you want an example of a fence around the Law it starts as early as Eden, because remember what Eve said when tempted by the serpent? Remember the original command in Genesis 2, you may freely eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of what? Knowledge. [Genesis 2:16-17, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you swill surely die.”]
So Eve, when challenged on her knowledge of that command by the devil, and by the way, Adam should have counselled his wife better and taught her the Word of God, because she wasn’t around when the command was given. Adam is created, God gives the command, you see all this in Genesis 2, and then Eve comes forth from man’s side. So Eve had sort of a foggy understanding of the command an in Genesis 3:2-3 she says oh, we must not eat from it or what? Anybody remember? “or touch it,” well, God never said you can’t touch it; He said you can’t eat from it. [Genesis 3:2-3, “The woman said to the serpent; ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”]
So what happened to Eve? She built, and Adam probably also, a fence around the law, they added a bunch of things that God never said. God said that tree’s bad so you know what, we’re going to pass a bunch of rules so we never violate that command. So the tradition starts off well intentioned. The problem is over time the tradition eclipses the Word of God and when you understand this you understand the whole conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees; there’s always a conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees over which issue? Anybody know? The Sabbath. Jesus heals people on the Sabbath; what do the Pharisees say? That’s a no-no, you can’t work on the Sabbath in any way.
So what happened over the centuries of time is these rules related to the Sabbath and what you could do or not do on the Sabbath started off well-intentioned but eventually the rules eclipsed God’s purpose of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was to be a blessing to who? For man. So Jesus gets back to the original intent of the Sabbath and He basically says why can’t I heal a man on the Sabbath? Wasn’t the Sabbath originally designed for man?
So what you have with the Pharisees is a group of people that promulgated all of these regulations. It started off well-intentioned, but eventually what happened is the tradition eclipsed the Word of God and that’s the whole conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. And so the Pharisees are a group of people that pled their righteousness before God by their ability (so-called) to keep not only God’s Law, which is a joke because they’re about ready to murder Christ, isn’t one of the commands “Thou shalt not murder”? And they prided themselves on the fact that they kept all of God’s Law and His traditions. And that’s why Paul, who was once Saul, in Philippians 3 says when I was a Pharisee and I tried to stand before God in self-righteousness I not only kept the Law, now that’s a joke because he murdered who? Stephen, at least he held the coats while people were throwing rocks at Stephen. And I’ve also kept all of the traditions of Judaism. Well, what traditions of Judaism? Mishnah and Talmud and all of these other things.
So the Pharisees had no right standing before God because they thought they were right with God through their own religiosity. That’s the crowd that Jesus is talking to in Matthew 7 and Matthew 12. It has nothing to do with someone that has professed faith in Christ but isn’t growing correctly. Do you follow me?
So notice what he says in Matthew 12:33-34, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” You know these Pharisees are unbelieving false teachers because of what they teach concerning the righteousness of God, their hearts are not for God’s Word, they’re for the extra-biblical traditions. Verse 34, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak…” how do you evaluate a false teacher? By what they say. “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Look at verse 37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
In other words, He’s teaching the same doctrine that He taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, you can tell someone who, although they look religious they’re not of God based on their doctrine. In this case the particular doctrine he’s critiquing is works righteousness; righteousness wrapped up in tradition, not faith alone. This is why Paul, when he builds his case of justification by faith alone anchors his case where in the Old Testament? Anybody know? Abraham! Abraham, Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God and it was” what? “credited to him for righteousness.” Paul’s point is people are saved always the same way in God, by faith alone. So what Paul and what Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are doing is saying dump the tradition that’s contrary to the Word of God and go back to God’s pattern, the very first Hebrew, Abraham, from the beginning.
Now look at verse 24, it’s very clear that Jesus here is speaking to unbelieving Pharisees. He says, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of demons.” So this whole teaching that Jesus is giving here in Matthew 12, which is the exact same one He’s giving in Matthew 7, contextually is not aimed at the professing Christians, so-called. It’s not an analysis of two kinds of faith, faith that saves and faith that doesn’t save. It’s not an analysis of if you’re saved and some of you can lose your salvation. I mean, all of that stuff that people drag into this is totally foreign to the context. It has nothing to do with it. What he’s dealing with is unbelieving false teachers who looked like sheep or righteous to man because they were religious but they were not right with God because God always justifies people by way of faith.
So what people do is they throw this verse at you, they don’t give you any of this background that I’m giving you and you look at a verse like this and maybe you don’t have a lot of training or study in the Bible and you’re filled with fear because you think maybe you don’t have the right kind of faith, or maybe you can lose your salvation. And we have gotten, if I could get on my high horse just for a minute here, we’ve gotten so lazy with the Bible, you know, we are treating the Bible like you would never treat any other work of antiquity. You would never treat Shakespeare this way. I mean, the Shakespearian scholars would just scream and yell if you were to just pluck something out of Shakespeare, rip it out of context. And here we are, as evangelicals in the year 2016 with our topical approach to the Bible, where we’re just ripping these verses out here and there and it’s short-circuiting our spiritual growth, and it’s putting God’s people into a state of fear that God never intended.
So going back to Matthew 7, same author, same book, Jesus is using the exact same analogy here and He’s speaking to unbelieving Pharisees, primarily. So what are these unbelieving Pharisees going to do? Well, they’re going to stand before the Lord on the day of judgment and they’re going to hear this, “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 did we not prophesy in Your name, did we not cast out demons. Now the casting out demons is very interesting because I’ll be showing you, maybe next week or the week after, that there were Pharisaical exorcisms of demons going on. Jesus makes a reference to that in Matthew 12, I can’t remember the exact verse off the top of my head, I think it’s around verse 31. Spirit shall not be forgiven.
So you have these Pharisees doing religiosity, even casting out demons and they didn’t have any relationship with God and they were even performing miracles. Well, if they didn’t have a relationship with God how are they performing miracles? News flash! Not every miracle that happens in the Bible is from God. God is not the only author of miracles in the Bible. In our Christian worldview we believe God is the ultimate author of miracles but at the same time there’s someone called Lucifer, is there not, who fell? Does he not have miracle working abilities? Well of course he does, that’s why Aaron and Moses worked miracles in the book of Exodus for God and Pharaoh’s magicians, up to a certain point, came along and worked the exact same miracle or a similar miracle. How did Pharaoh’s magicians do it? They didn’t do it through God’s power, they had no relationship with God; they did it through Satanic power.
So these Pharisees who are clothed in self-righteousness, they’re going to stand before the Lord and you see what they’re doing? What are they pleading here? What they’ve done. What are they pleading? They are pleading not transferred righteousness but what? Self-righteousness. And that’s what they mean when they say didn’t we prophesy, didn’t we cast out demons, didn’t we perform many miracles. Verse 23, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;” I never had a relationship with you, “depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.”
So verse 22 they’re pleading self-righteousness, verse 23 indicates that they had no relationship with God Now do you see the word “believe” anywhere in this passage? It’s not there is it? Do you see anywhere here a discussion of the two kinds of faith? It’s not here in the passage. This isn’t a passage about that is my point; it’s about a group of people who looked like sheep because of self-righteousness and religious activity, yet never had faith alone in Christ alone.
This is why Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, same sermon, look back at Matthew 5:20, look at what He says here, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness” what? “surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now why does He talk about a righteousness that surpasses the scribes and the Pharisees? Because what did the scribes and the Pharisees have as they were anchoring everything in tradition. They had self-righteousness, it’s the same kind of righteousness that Adam and Eve tried to exhibit before God in Genesis 3:7 where they clothed themselves. [Genesis 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”] God we really messed things up but we’re going to fix it. So I’m going to get involved in the church and I’m going to get involved in some religious activity, I’m going to pull out my do’s and don’ts list and I’m going to work real hard and I’m going to earn my way back into Your presence.
That’s Adam and Eve, that’s what the Pharisees were doing. And this is the whole significance of God killing the animal sacrifice at the end of Genesis 3, verse 21, it doesn’t say he killed an animal, it says, he took “garments of skin” animal skins, and clothed Adam and Eve. [Genesis 3:21, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”] The implication is very clear, where did these garments of skin come from? Through a dead animal that was innocent that God killed and made it dead right there on the spot. Instead of Adam and Eve clothing themselves, Genesis 3:21 indicates that God clothed them. And how did He do it? Through the skin of an innocent animal that was killed. What did the animal do wrong? Nothing. So what is God showing there at the dawn of human history? Basically what He’s showing is the way this is going to work is you guys are not going to earn your way into My presence because of sin. What I’m going to do is I’m going to clothe you through the blood of an innocent sacrifice and all of that ultimately points to who? Jesus Christ.
So what were the Pharisees doing? They were going the Genesis 3:7 route, self-righteousness. And that’s why Jesus said if you’re going to get in your righteousness has got to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Self-righteousness is not going to get the job done. What you need is not self-righteousness but what? Transferred righteousness, a righteousness that you do not deserve that you did not earn, that is transferred to you at the point of faith by who? Christ, or God. And this is the great revelation to Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, because in Philippians 3, when he was unsaved he talks about all these traditions that he kept, the law of God that he kept, and then he has a revelation and in Philippians 3:9 he says, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from” who? “God on the basis of faith.” The great revelation in Saul of Tarsus’ life when he converted to Christianity and became Paul is he moves from self-righteousness to an understanding of transferred righteousness. The great lesson in Genesis 3 is Adam and Eve were originally operating in self-righteousness and God shows them you have to be transferred righteousness, Genesis 3:21.
The problem with the Pharisees is they’re still operating in self-righteousness, looking at tradition, and not transferred righteousness, looking at who? Abraham. “Abraham believed God,” Genesis 15:6, “and it was credited to him for righteousness.” I think it’s called “credited” there because what is credit; you all know what credit is, right? Those little plastic things that are fun until the payments come. See, running up debt is kind of like jumping off a ten story building; I mean, it’s a lot of fun flying down until you hit the pavement then it’s not fun anymore. So procrastination and running up debt is a lot of fun until payday comes. Right?
So Abraham received the righteousness of God on credit because it hadn’t been what? Paid for yet; it would be paid for 2,000 years later by Jesus Christ. But God knew payday was coming and so He gave Abraham the righteousness of God on credit, even though it wouldn’t be paid for 2,000 years. So these Pharisees aren’t coming to God that way, through transferred righteousness; they’re coming to God through self-righteousness. This is what Jesus is condemning. This is why He said your righteousness has to surpass that of the righteousness of the Pharisees. And last time I checked Isaiah 64:6 is still in our Bible, isn’t it, which says all of our works of righteousness are as what? “filthy rags.” [Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”] If you won’t come to God His way you’re not coming is what the Bible is teaching.
Take a look at Romans 9:30, it’s an explanation of where first century Israel was at with self-righteousness and why so many of them, the crux of them missed Jesus as their Messiah; they tripped over Him. Romans 9:30 Paul says, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by” what? “faith.” Paul is condemning the Jews because Gentiles, non-Jews are coming into the church in droves because they are coming by faith, transferred righteousness; “but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.  Why? Because they did not pursue it by” what? “faith, but as though it were by works.” This is one of the problems that they had with Jesus. Jesus would say things like John 3:16, [“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.] They didn’t want to hear that. Why is that? Because what was important to them was Mishnah and Talmud, and works righteousness. So they rejected the message of Christ, in fact, they stumbled right over it.
And it’s really the same today. What you have to understand about works righteousness and what makes it so lethal is we like works righteousness. Why is that? Because it appeals to my what? My pride. If I can boast like Frank Sinatra did, “I Did it My Way,” then who gets the bragging rights? I get the bragging rights. But God has set everything up in such a way that no man shall what? boast. Ephesians 2:8-9. [Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”] No one is going to be in heaven proud as a peacock because the only reason they are there is not through self-righteousness but rather through transferred righteousness. God set it up this way. And a lot of people, when you tell them this, they don’t want to hear it because they say well, look at my do’s and don’ts list, from the beginning of my youth, look at all the things that I’ve done. And so even today people have their own private Mishnah, and when confronted with the gospel of grace they trip right over it, just like the ancient Jews did.
Paul goes on in Romans 9:32 and he says , “They stumbled over the stumbling stone, [33, just as is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” What leads to a lack of disappointment with God is believing in God. Chapter 10, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” That’s the Jews.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God,” I mean these folks were zealous about the Law and they were zealous about the Mishnah and they were zealous about the Talmud to the point where they were killing people who disagreed with them.
Talk about zeal! But just because your zealous about something. And the reason they’re zealous is it’s appealing to pride, but just because you’re zealous about something doesn’t make it right. Remember what the prophets of Baal were doing? I Kings 18, they were cutting themselves; that’s pretty zealous. [1 Kings 18:28, “So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them.”] I mean, that’s pretty zealous, isn’t it, as they were calling for their god, but at the end of the day they were wrong. So zeal, religious fervor doesn’t get the job done. The only thing that gets the job done is transferred righteousness which comes by faith.
“For not knowing about God’s righteousness,” watch this, “and seeking to establish their own” righteousness, through a works based system, “they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who” what? “believes” That’s what gets you in the door; that’s what gets you the transferred righteousness of God where He clothes you based on what He has done and you’re no longer standing before God pleading self-righteousness.
Again I’ll point out verse 23, Jesus doesn’t say in verse 23 of Matthew 7, I once knew you. [Matthew 23:7, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”] Does He say that, I once knew you? No, he says “I never knew you.” I never knew you! And the reason I never knew you is you never came to me through the method that’s as old as the Garden of Eden, it’s as old as Abraham and Adam and Eve. So that’s why at the judgment they’re hearing these words, “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness,” because your works are as what? Filthy rags.
So this verse, Matthew 7:21-23, what’s the bottom line? [Matthew 7:21, “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 will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”]
BLT, Bottom Line Time, what’s the bottom line. Here’s the bottom line. This verse is not about a loss of salvation. What this verse is about is how to not attain salvation; that’s what it’s about. It’s not talking about a two kinds of faith person that believes and maybe he doesn’t have the right kind of faith, that’s just foreign to the context. It’s how to not attain salvation. You do not attain salvation through works righteousness but only by transferred righteousness. Now given that background I would say probably 99% of the body of Christ does not understand what I just said. They have a false view of it because if you repeat a lie long enough people will what? Eventually believe it.
Anne and I were in a church in Dallas where we had a friend of ours who was a very rigid Calvinist and he one time got on his high horse and started saying you know, there’s people at our church that aren’t saved. And I was sort of baffled by that, I said well how do you know who’s saved and who’s not? I mean, who made you judge, jury and executioner? And then lo and behold he starts quoting Matthew 7:21-23, many are going to say Lord, Lord, did we not do this and that and he’s applying the verse to people that miss Wednesday night prayer meeting or something. He’s applying the verse to support his two kinds of faith doctrine even though faith is not even in the passage at all. And he’s applying the verse against believers and professing believers. And he’s applying the verse to the age of the church. And yet I hope what I’ve tried to convince you of is these verses have zilch to do with that.
So it’s not a justification passage, it’s really a passage about how not to get saved; you’re not going to get saved through works righteousness. The whole thing is aimed at unbelievers.
All right, I’ve talked a little bit too much so any questions on that.