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Obedience: Evidence of a Strong Foundation (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 2, 2022 4:00 am

Obedience: Evidence of a Strong Foundation (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 2, 2022 4:00 am

Movie set artists fabricate impressive scenes—but one look behind the facade reveals a totally different story. It’s similarly possible to profess faith that appears admirable but is actually foundationless. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Music Playing With an artistic touch, a dusty trail can be turned into a whistle stop in the Wild West, but when you look behind the facade, what you find is a totally different story. Today on Truth for Life Weekend, we'll discover that it's similarly possible for someone to appear to possess faith that is admirable, but that actually lacks a real foundation. Alistair Begg is teaching from Luke Chapter 6 verses 46 through 49. Music Playing Let me summarize the instruction of these few verses in just a sentence. It is as foolish and dangerous to hear the teaching of Jesus without obeying it as it is to build a house minus foundations. For a number of weeks now, we have been searched by the instruction of Jesus contained for us in this sermon, which Luke records for us from the beginning of the twentieth verse of the chapter. In the few verses preceding the twentieth verse, Luke has identified for us the nature of Jesus' congregation in the delivering of this message. And I want to remind you of the fact that those who were listening to Jesus comprised, according to verse 17 of the chapter, first of all, a large crowd of his disciples, and then accompanying them, a great number of people who had come to hear him, and with the expectation that they would be healed of their diseases. And what was it then that Jesus did when he had these followers before him? Well, he essentially explained to them the basis upon which men and women might justifiably refer to Jesus as their Lord and Master. He wanted them to be in no doubt whatsoever what it meant not simply to say that Jesus is Lord, but also to make much of that in their lifestyle too. And so, in the course of the sermon, he has provided a number of characteristics that will be emblematic of those who are able with integrity to declare the lordship of Jesus Christ. Let me remind you of them again, purposefully, for emphasis. To bow beneath his lordship is, as we have seen, to embrace the reversal of values which are prominent in our culture. It is to prize what the world thinks pitiable and to question what the world deems desirable. In other words, there will be a sense of dissonance in the child of God with so much that flushes over that individual out of the culture of our day.

Whether it is in terms of a worldview, or in terms of language, or in terms of emphasis, or in terms of the degeneration of moral values and absolutes, the child of God who is able to say with clarity and conviction, Jesus Christ is Lord to me, will know in their lives not a hundred percent success, but a growing awareness of the fact, I am different from this. I used to be happy to go along with this. I used to be able to speak in this way. I used to be able to laugh at these jokes.

I used to be able to listen to this filth. But now something has happened, and I believe that Jesus is Lord of my life, a reversal of values. Those who are able to justifiably declare the lordship of Jesus will also display a love that is quite exceptional. Not the kind of love relationship that is found in the average PTA meeting, a kind of I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine, the common courtesies of interaction. Not the kind of relationships that can be found at the local bar or pub.

Not the kind of thing that you find in the fraternal relationships of people who enjoy sporting events together. If that is all you know, said Jesus, then there is no credit whatsoever in that. Pagans are able to relate to one another in that way. But no, he says, the love that you will manifest is the love of my Father who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. And therefore, those who declare my lordship and know it to be true will be those who are the very embodiment of an increased understanding of kindness and forgiveness.

At the same time, it will be marked by an integrity which recognizes that only good fruit comes from good trees, and bad trees produce bad fruit, and which is prepared to face up to the challenge that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And it will, as we see now in these concluding verses of the chapter, be made perfectly plain in a life of genuine obedience. Now, I want also to remind you of one other thing in leading into this, and that is of what we've seen of Jesus in the early studies in the earlier chapters. And I'm referring particularly to what was said and recorded in the thirty-fourth verse of chapter 2 in the blessing of Simeon. You remember when Mary and Joseph take Jesus into the temple, as Luke records it in the second chapter. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

In other words, this little boy, says Simeon, is going to grow up to represent a crossroads in the lives of men and women. There will be those who, in responding to him, will rise to all that eternal life may mean, and there will be others who, in rejecting him, will fall into the awful emptiness of eternity without God. When John the Baptist stands on the stage and points the way to Jesus, you find in the seventeenth verse of chapter 3 that he makes essentially the same point, speaking of the one who will come and baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He says of Jesus, His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Now, these are the great absolutes of heaven and hell that are being referred to. And Jesus, says John and says Simeon and says the Bible, stands, as it were, as a crossroads in the face of eternity, and in a moment in time commends himself to the minds of his listeners and says to them, If you will bow beneath my lordship, then I will gather you up as the very wheat, and you will live in eternity with me. If you refuse to bow to my lordship, then I will cast you aside as the chaff, and you will spend eternity without me. And indeed, all of the message of this sermon is cast within the immensity of that eternal perspective. Gathering with the Jesus crowd, being able to say all the Jesus words, singing all the Jesus songs, is no ticket of admission into heaven.

That's what we're going to see. And it is that fact which gives this closing paragraph its most chilling impact. Now, what I want to do is notice the question, and then the illustration, and then a word of application. First of all, you will notice the question which Jesus asks is concise. Verse 46. Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? Now, which part of that is difficult to understand? Luke chapter 6, verse 46.

Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? What a warning this contains. What an investigation it conducts. What an examination it demands.

This is like going through a biblical CAT scan. And the contrast, you will notice, is between our lips and our lives. It is between saying and doing. It has been between the individual who is able to call him Lord, and yet at the same time does not do what a profession of lordship demands.

It is whether a verbal profession is accompanied by moral obedience. Now, the striking nature of this contrast is borne out in another section of the New Testament in Matthew's gospel and in chapter 7, when Jesus preaching a sermon there actually used more than the language that he employs on this occasion in delivering this sermon. And it is correlative and helpful to turn to, and so turn back a couple of books to Matthew chapter 7 and verse 21.

And notice how Jesus applies the notion on this occasion that Matthew records for us. Not everyone, he says, who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven. Well, then the people would have said, well, who is going to enter the kingdom of heaven if it's not the people who say Lord, Lord?

Because we thought it was important to say Lord, Lord, and we've been saying Lord, Lord. If it's not the Lord, Lord group that goes into heaven, who goes into heaven? Well, says Jesus, the only people who go into heaven are the ones who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. In fact, he says, I want you to understand that on that day, that is the day when we stand before the bar of his judgment, many people, many people will say, Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? And then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.

Away from me, you evil doers. Now, let's lay down as foundational what we, I think, understand as a congregation, namely the importance of making a verbal profession of faith. Clearly, the Bible teaches that. For example, if we had nothing other than Romans chapter 10 and verse 9, we would know that Paul says to the church at Rome, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. In other words, if you give a verbal profession of the lordship of Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. When he writes to the Corinthian believers, he points out that it is impossible to say Jesus is Lord with any sense of reality and integrity, except by the enabling of the Spirit of God. No one, he says, can say Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. So, the words of Jesus here are not setting aside in any aspect the importance, indeed the necessity, of our being able to make a verbal profession of our faith and trust in Jesus and to declare with our lips that Jesus is Lord. However, what Jesus is saying is this.

It is distinctly possible to make a verbal profession which is unreal, even a particularly striking verbal profession. Notice here in Matthew 7 that these individuals were declaring the lordship of Jesus Christ in a way that was, first of all, gracious. Gracious. The word Lord itself was an expression of grace and of courtesy. It was also an expression that was orthodox, because they referred to him as Lord, at least in a fledgling awareness of the fact that this Jesus was more than a man, that he was actually the Messiah come. Also, they expressed his lordship in a way that was enthusiastic. In fact, Jesus says there will be plenty of people who would say in that day, Lord, Lord. In other words, they didn't just say it once, they said it twice, and they said it for emphasis, because they were enthusiastic in saying, you're Lord, you're Lord.

Also, you will notice that their statements were public, because they were able to make it in a way that people understood what they were saying. And furthermore, it is clear that their declaration of the lordship of Christ was not only public, but it was dramatic. We prophesied in your name. We drove out demons in your name. We performed miracles. Now here, is it possible for somebody to perform miracles and drive out demons and do all these things?

And then to hear Jesus say, depart from me. I don't have a clue who you are. You come from the department of evildoers.

Yes. This is the answer to much that we see around us. The people coming and saying, you know, these people must be orthodox, because look at the dramatic things they're doing. Look at the incredible claims they're making. Should we be unsettled by this? Should we be surprised by this?

Should we seek to overturn it? No, because Jesus made it perfectly clear that the signs and wonders would be done by false Christs. If you question that, you can read Jesus' words himself in Matthew 24, 24.

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. He says, see, I told you ahead of time. Don't be dim-witted, he said. Don't think that giftedness equals an understanding of lordship. Don't think that because a man is a tremendous preacher, that he is necessarily living under the lordship of Christ.

That's what he's saying. Don't you, if God has apparently gifted you, although the source of the gift may be somewhere else completely, don't you try and adjudicate on yourself on the strength of the dramatic things you're able to do, because, says Jesus, on the day of judgment, there will be people who stand up and say, Oh, Jesus, I know I'm coming into your kingdom, because after all, I said, Lord, Lord, and I did this and this. I was in my profession absolutely clear.

I was orthodox. And Paul, when he concerns himself with it in writing to the Thessalonians, he makes the same thing absolutely clear in 2 Thessalonians 2, 9, and 10. The same emphasis, an overlooked emphasis in our day, I warrant you, but nevertheless, a biblical emphasis. The coming of the lawless one, he says, will be in reference to the Antichrist, in accord with the work of Satan. And how will the work of Satan be displayed? Answer, in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. That's why the emphasis on the Bible, both for the individual in examining our lives before God, and in assessing the effectiveness and the import of ministry as it is exercised by others, is directly related to the holiness of our lives, and to the obedience of our hearts, and not to the apparent exceptional nature of our gifts.

Isn't this what he's saying? There will be people on that day who say to me, we said this, and we did this. And I'll say, Sorry, I don't have you on my list.

Sorry, your name isn't in here. John Stodd, in his masterfully concise manner, says this, What better Christian profession could be given than this? Here are people who call Jesus Lord with courtesy, orthodoxy, and enthusiasm, in private devotion and in public ministry. What can be wrong with this? In itself, nothing. And yet everything is wrong, because it is talk without truth, profession without reality. It will not save them on the day of judgment.

So the question is clear. Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? No apparently mighty works of ministry or no jumbling up and accumulating religious and Jesus language will be able to disguise the private behavior of our lives. For the real test of those who name the name of the Lord, says Paul, and let us not evade for one instant the chilling demand of this, the real evidence of those who name the name of the Lord, is what? That they depart from iniquity.

That's the evidence. Now, it is not that they live perfect lives, but that it is when they are confronted by the peculiar clutches that make demands upon them, they say, Oh no! Why not? Because of the lordship of Christ.

Not a moralism that is external, but that a power that rises up from within them. A hundred percent success? No. Disappointments? Yes.

Declensions? Yes. Falterings?

Bumblings? Yes. A long way from what we need to be? Yes. But a long way from what we were?

Yes. We have turned from idols to serve the living and the true God. We're different. That's the question, and it's clear. Notice, then, the illustration. If the question is concise, the illustration is clear. And when you come to this illustration that Jesus gives, you will notice that he changes the contrast. The contrast in the question is between saying and doing. The contrast in the illustration is between hearing and doing.

Why do you say this and don't do this? And then he says, Let me give you an illustration of the person who hears but who doesn't do, or the person who hears and who does. And he illustrates it in the familiar story of the two builders. Now, there are a number of builders here this morning, and I have to be very careful lest I betray my ignorance of any nature of building by seeking to delve into an illustration that you would be better able to use than I. However, I think it's safe to say that if we had gone down the road and seen these two homes under construction, at least once they had begun to bear testimony to their frame or to the structures of the walls, we would not have been aware of any difference between the two structures. We might have wondered at why it was that in the earlier days before the walls had begun to come up, that the first individual had apparently spent so much time down under the ground. We may even have said to ourselves, you know, I must make a mental note that if ever I build a house, I want to go with the second builder, because the first builder seemed to waste a dreadful amount of time, and I'm sure he's being paid by the hour, and I don't want him down there digging in the foundations all that time.

I like a builder who can get started immediately, and everyone in my neighborhood can see that the house is coming up quickly and successfully. The second chap, we might have said to ourselves, is far more efficient, and he's obviously faster. No apparent difference, though, once the walls began to rise. So what, then, gave testimony to the difference in the structures? Well, we're told, when the day the rain came, when the river burst its banks, when the wind beat against the structures, then and only then the fundamental, fatal difference between the two became apparent. The one with the foundations, verse 48 says, could not be shaken because it was well built, because the man had dug down deep, he'd laid the foundation on the rock, and yet the one without foundation, in verse 49, collapsed like a pack of carts.

Now, what a wonderful teacher Jesus is. Everyone can understand this. Anybody who has a Lego set can understand this. Anybody who has any notion at all of raising something above the ground knows the importance of putting it in properly, whether it's a mailbox or a lamppost or whatever else it is. Every so often you go along and see these mailboxes lying around like dead dogs, and part of the problem is that whoever decided that he was putting it up some Saturday afternoon was so excited to show his wife how quickly he managed to get it in place. And then it would only take a very small amount of wind for it to lie over, looking absolutely pathetic, just as his building prowess was and his wife understood it. And she said to him over breakfast one morning, Do you not think it would have been better to dig down a little further, pour a little concrete, and put the thing in so that I don't have to get out of my car and lie down on one side in order to get my mail out of the box? And he said, Well, for a while there it looked just as good as the neighbors across the street.

Well, yes, it did. In fact, there was no apparent difference between the two of them until this dreadful storm blew down the street, and then it is obvious to all. So it is that professing Christians tend to look much the same from the outside. That is an uncomfortable but essential warning from Alistair Begg that proclaiming faith in Christ is worthless unless it actually spurs us on to love and good deeds.

You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend. As we begin to prepare for Easter, we want to encourage you to read a brand new book written by Sinclair Ferguson titled Lessons from the Upper Room. In this book, Sinclair gives us a vivid look at the intimate exchange between Jesus and his disciples during their final Passover meal. Sinclair unpacks the remarkable details given in John's Gospel as he describes the evening before Jesus was crucified.

As the scene unfolds, Jesus is washing the disciples' feet, he predicts his own betrayal, he tells about his coming death, and he promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. Sinclair skillfully navigates us through the emotions, the meaning, and the implications of this extraordinary dialogue. You can find out more about the book Lessons from the Upper Room when you visit our website at I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. Join us next weekend when we'll find out why the Bible is a dangerous book and why church can be a dangerous place to be. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-13 04:49:05 / 2023-05-13 04:57:42 / 9

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