Sermon Notes: Matthew 7:13-23

First Sunday of Advent 2022

It is Advent season, and it’s a reminder to make sure we know the metanarrative of the Bible that frames for us the story of the gospel of the kingdom. 

Creation: There is one God, and that one God is Trinitarian in nature. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God. Three distinct persons make up the one God. 

This God, the only God, created all things, and as the apex of his creative genius, made mankind in his image. Male and female he made us and we reflect his Trinitarian glory. 

God set mankind over his creation to steward it and multiply image bearers to help steward it for God’s glory and our fulfillment in doing his work. 

Fall: Satan, at some point, has rebelled against God and intends to draw God’s image bearers into his ruinous rebellion against God with lies and deceit. He succeeds in tempting Eve to rebel, and Adam follows suit in his passivity and all creation “falls” into a state of conflict as the virus of “sin” is injected into it and death begins to reign over all of creation. 

Redemption: God preaches the first gospel sermon in Genesis 3:15 with the promise that a descendant of Eve will come who will crush the serpent and his curse even though the serpent would wound the one who crushes him. In the meantime, there is the conflict between the serpent and the people of God. 

In the fullness of time, God sends the Son, born of a woman as a descendant of Eve, born under the law to redeem those who are under the law. Jesus, the promised One, enters history taking on the flesh of his creatures. Jesus is without sin and yet still fully man while being fully God. The mash-up of the Son of God as fully God and fully man is one of God’s great mysteries (hypostatic union – Hebrews 1:3). 

Jesus lives perfectly obeying the will of the Father, he gives himself up to be crucified on a Roman cross to take on the whole fury of God the Father’s wrath for all of sin’s curse past, present, and future, and he is killed by God the Father as the sacrifice for sin to crush the serpent and provide the narrow and difficult way to life. 

There are not many ways to redemption. There is one way, and it is the way of Jesus. Repentance and faith (one thing made up of two glorious realities) bring about the glorious transformation of humans leading to a life of what it looks like to live in God’s kingdom while being opposed by the potent yet dying force of darkness in the world. 

Restoration: While God is saving rebels through this gospel metanarrative, God is also bringing about the restoration of creation by the gospel through the new people of God called the church. The church preaches this gospel and makes disciples of all nations and lives as the people of God who are stewarding his renewing creation toward the time when the Lord Jesus will return and wrap up history as we know it. Then he will judge the living and the dead and fully and finally bring about the new heavens and the new earth. 

That’s the metanarrative of the gospel of the kingdom that Advent celebrates as best as I can understand it. 

Jesus instructs us about entering this kingdom and what to be on guard for in the remaining of the Sermon on the Mount, so let’s look at it as we celebrate Advent today. 

  1. The way of the kingdom is narrow and knowable. 7:13-14
    1. Narrow and difficult is the way that leads to life, and few find it.
      1. The narrowness is not because God is hiding it.
        1. God has broken into time and space taking on flesh and saving a people and sending them to all people everywhere to tell them of the good news that his path is available to them!
        2. This is not the first time he did that either.
          1. God’s framework for this gospel work is set in Genesis 12:1-3 with Abraham sent to all the families of the earth who were scattered at Babel. 
      2. The difficulty is not because God is preventing people from getting on it.
        1. The narrowness is because there is only one God and thus one way.
          1. There is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus. 
        2. The difficulty is because the forces of darkness actively seek to keep rebels blind to the way God offers.
          1. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
            1. The very current of cultural influence and branding are against the kingdom of God and will seek the hurt or demise of people who challenge the cultural flow.
              1. This is why it is hard. 
    2. Broad and easy is the way that leads to destruction, and many go through it.
      1. The reason for this is the enemy inserted the lie at the beginning that God was holding out on us and there was more we could have if we’d only come after his way. 
      2. The truth is that broad entry leads to the most restrictive demise there is.
        1. Broad acceptance that anything goes leads to a devastatingly narrow and painful road of death and destruction. There is no broad road that gets to life. 
  2. Because of the curse of sin, Satan has false prophets who look like real prophets. 7:15-16
    1. False prophets look like they are part of the people of God, yet they are not real.
      1. The world is full of sages and answers that speak to the soul of man, and just like the serpent in the garden, they seduce and win souls. 
    2. Perhaps there are false prophets who have been convinced by false teaching and with sincere motives propagate a false gospel.
      1. This is a sad reality and why biblical literacy is vital. 
      2. The willing person who has been deceived into believing a lie is most sad. 
  3. False prophets are recognized by the fruit they produce. 7:17-20
    1. The Lord chooses the agricultural illustration of vines and branches in John 15 and trees and fruit in other places to teach us about the actions and production of people.
      1. A branch only produces what the life of the trunk supplies, and it’s either good or bad.
    2. The fruit of false prophets will end up producing the fruit of what the Bible calls the “flesh” because the trunk of the curse of sin will only produce vile fruit.
      1. Galatians 5:19-21 (CSB) 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
      2. False prophets either teach completely anti-truth things OR truths twisted into non-truths, and these are more sneaky and deadly.
        1. It’s one thing to say Jesus is not God and reject Jesus. 
        2. It’s another thing to affirm all the right truths about Jesus, and yet deny those truths in living from the truck of the flesh, producing the fruit of the flesh as acceptable under a multitude of pretenses.
          1. One such pretense is the deceit of allowing the flesh because of “grace”.
            1. “What about grace?”
              1. Grace crawled onto a cross so that I could crucify my flesh not sow to it and then use God’s language to justify my actions.  
          2. That’s the dark deception of false prophets. 
    3. The fruit of the prophets of God’s kingdom will look like the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
      1. Galatians 5:22-26 (CSB) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
  4. Genuine citizens of God’s kingdom do God’s will. V. 21b 
    1. Matthew 7:21 (CSB) 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 in heaven.
      1. There will be people who have believed a false prophet’s lies and will stand before the Lord on that day and make a case based on mere words they spoke with no Holy Spirit fruit.
        1. Only those did the will of God will stand.
      2. What is God’s will?
        1. Jesus has unpacked God’s will throughout the Sermon on the Mount.
          1. Poor in spirit; those who mourn in hope; humility; hunger and thirst for righteousness; merciful; pure in heart; peacemakers; persecuted for righteousness; insulted because of holding onto the way of Jesus; holy, salty light to the world; put to death unrighteous anger; put to death adultery in the heart; fight for marriage God’s way; keep their word; serve when persecuted; love their enemies; give; pray; fast; store up treasures in heaven; careful about what they set their eyes on; don’t worry but trust the Lord; judge properly; treat folks the way they need to be treated.
            1. This is the fruit that pleases God and comes from abiding in Jesus the Vine that produces the fruit in us and through us.
  5. False citizens of God’s kingdom can prophesy and cast out demons and work miracles, yet they don’t actually do the hard work of God’s will. V. 22-23
    1. Matthew 7:22-23 (CSB) 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’
      1. Yes, there are false citizens of God’s kingdom. 
      2. Matthew 13:24-30 – Parable of the wheat and weeds.
        1. Balaam prophesied (Numbers 22-25). 
        2. The world is full of demon tamers and miracle workers from multiple spiritual frameworks.
          1. There is nothing innately Christian about prophesying or working miracles. 
          2. The world is a magical and spiritual place that any unredeemed image bearer can tap into if they try. 
          3. There is nothing Christian about getting the chills and summoning spiritual feelings or having spiritual experiences. 
        3. Christianity has had its share of false citizens who used Jesus for their own ends and are so self-deceived that they believed their lies and actually believe their prophetic deceptions.
          1. Acts 19:11-20 – Sons of Sceva, itinerant Jewish exorcists who were pronouncing the name of Jesus over people with success until they ran up on a demon that could master them because they were not sons of God.
            1. The name of Jesus is powerful. 
          2. False citizens of the kingdom of God have done and can do flashy “things” and do them in Jesus’ name.
            1. God is not interested in the big and flashy.
            2. God is interested in faithful and quiet obedience that flows from Jesus being the life-giving trunk of the tree. 
          3. LOOK FOR THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT AS EVIDENCE OF GOOD FRUIT!
      3. Jesus has no saving knowledge of those who don’t do God’s will.
        1. Matthew 7:23 (CSB) 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’
          1. When we come to Jesus by faith, we get transformed and we desire the kingdom of God and the things of the kingdom of God.
      4. Advent is not just to prop up an economic season.
        1. Jesus’ Advent was to mark the narrow and difficult and available way.
          1. This is incredibly good news and must be received by God’s people as the best news around because we have heard, believed, and know the way to life.

Application

  1. Make sure you are a herald of this good news this Advent season! Make sure all know!
  2. Know the gospel metanarrative so thoroughly that counter-narratives are exposed in your own thinking and then expose those narratives to the world. 
  3. Make sure you have believed and followed Jesus. 
  4. Test the fruit of your life.
    1. Is it of the Spirit or flesh?
  5. Sow to the Spirit, not the flesh.
    1. Do this by practicing the will of God in the Sermon on the Mount. 

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