• Josh Anderson

Know Me and Be Close to Me

Pastor Josh shares his thoughts on God's greatest gift of all, the invitation for us to know him and be close to him. But how do we accept this gift in full? It begins with a grateful heart.

By Josh Anderson, Pastor

After nearly nine months, we just wrapped up our extended teaching series on the Sermon on the Mount. Before we move on, I wanted to share some additional insights on Matthew 7:21-23.

Ethan taught on this passage as well. I encourage you to watch the Mobile Church video from August 29 on our YouTube Channel. Or you can check it out here:

Let's jump right in.

Having just warned his listeners to beware of false prophets, Jesus makes it clear that it's possible for other people to "put on" a show of faith. From the outside, these self-proclaimed followers of Christ can seem righteous and devoted.

And yet, Jesus says 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 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.”—Matthew 7:21-23

Here, Jesus offers the other side of the two-part alert he first mentioned when it came to false teachers. This time his warning is to beware of false followers.

Specifically, Christ is warning those who hear him not to fool themselves into thinking they are true believers, when in fact they are not. Jesus goes so far as to declare that not everyone who refers to Him as "Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven.

The title of "Lord" implies a master, a leader, and an authority to whom someone submits. But those who are unwilling to submit to Jesus' authority really can't call him Lord.

In prior teachings, Jesus indicated that mere words and actions are not enough—these outward expressions must all be motivated by inward sincerity and truth (Matthew 6:1, 5, 16).

In that same way, Jesus states in no uncertain terms that merely referring to him as Lord is not enough. Neither are acts of supposed righteousness. As we know, going through the motions and claiming God's name is nothing more than a hollow exercise of legalism.

Entrance to the kingdom of heaven is limited to those who truly, fully do the will of our Father in heaven. With every ounce of our heart, mind, body, and soul, we are called to love God and love others—without judgement or qualification.

So how can we determine if our own motives are true? What can we do to ensure that our intentions are righteous rather than self serving?

Testing Ourselves

One way that we can extract the purity of our motives is by testing ourselves. Paul offers this instruction in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”—2 Corinthians 13:5

These are tough words from Paul. (Because aren't all of his words hard to take at times?) What he suggests is that self-evaluation leads to self-awareness. If we're honest with ourselves—even brutally critical when examining our intentions—we have the ability to test ourselves and know whether Christ Jesus is in us or not.

Where do we even begin? It starts with sincere faith in Christ.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”—John 6:28–29

The testing begins with our believing. Instead of us thinking that we can do it on our own, we must acknowledge that it is Christ alone who helps us do the works that God requires. This surrendered posture then extends to humility in how we live our lives.

“If you love me, keep my commands.”—John 14:15

God has given us the answer to the test. It comes down to loving God more than ourselves. It comes down to believing in his plan for our lives rather than pursuing