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." - Jesus ends His Sermon on the Mount with some startling news - news that points a finger directly at the hypocrites and Pharisees of the day. Simply going through the motions of faith is not enough.
22-23: "On that day many will say to me, 'LORD, LORD, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' 23Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'" - Salvation is not earned through our good works.
24: "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock" - Having faith in Christ, listening to God, and responding by following His will are the steps we are to take towards salvation.
25: "The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock." - We can be assured that in our life we will experience storms that will threaten to overwhelm us. Only when we have built a firm foundation from our walk with God will we survive.
Points to Contemplate:
Have you been saved?
What is the basis of this hope? Are you generally a good person? Are your doing no harm? Do you attend church regularly? Do you sing in the choir and teach in Sunday school? Do you study the Bible, meditating often on its words, and fervently pray at every opportunity? Do you tithe, feed the poor, heal the sick, and minister to needy? Do you visit hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons in the name of the Lord? If so, it sounds like you are doing all the right things butů, so were the Pharisees. Is your salvation assured through these actions?
Is there more you can do? Do you evangelize at every opportunity? "Do you 'prophesy' in the 'name' of Christ? Do you preach the truth as it is in Jesus? And does the influence of his Spirit attend your word, and make it the power of God unto salvation? Does He enable you to bring sinners from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God?"1 Do you fight the powers of evil in your life, community, and nation? Do you espouse the virtues of righteous living and condemn those who do not follow the Laws of God?
Have you experienced falling rain, rising flood waters, and destructive winds in your life? How did you do? Was your faith firm? Or did your foundation weaken? Did you cry out to God and ask 'Why me' as the sands of your faith washed away? Did you worry? Were you fearful? Did doubt erode away your belief? Did you feel forlorn and forgotten? Did it feel that God had forsaken you? Is it possible, then, that you have built your faith in Christ on shifting sands? Promise of the Gospel:
In our verses today, Jesus points a finger directly into the hearts of His followers and says: 'Going through the motions of faith does not cut it! Do not be a Pharisee, proud and self-assured.' True faith, and the promise of salvation that comes with it, is not based on our actions - no matter how good they might be. It is based on fervently listening to God, allowing Him to change our hearts, and following His will in every aspect of our lives - not just the parts we want to control. Again we are reminded of Noah, a righteous man who walked with God. We must walk every step of our life with God, our rock of ages, so that His righteousness will prevail in every thing we do.
John Wesley said it in this way: "In a word: Let thy religion be the religion of the heart. Let thy soul be filled with mildness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering towards all men; -- at the same time that all which is in thee is athirst for God, the living God; longing to awake up after His likeness, and to be satisfied with it! Be thou a lover of God and of all mankind! In this spirit do and suffer all things! Thus show thy faith by thy works; thus 'do the will of thy Father which is in heaven!' And, as sure as thou now walkest with God on earth, thou shalt also reign with him in glory!"1
1"UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT (XIII)" by John Wesley, SERMON 33, (text from the 1872 edition), John Wesley's Sermons