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The Visible and the Invisible Church

20/08/2018

The Visible and the Invisible Church

Text Matthew 7:21-23
False teachers are not not just found in pulpits, they have their equivalent in the pews. That’s why we speak of the church as being ‘visible’ – the church we see, and ‘invisible’ the church God sees. Just as there are false teachers in the church, so there are false followers too. Let’s see a description of such a person here…

1 The Sadness of a False Profession! THEY LOOK LIKE CHRISTIANS! 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

This must be one of the saddest, one of the most solemn verses in the whole of the bible, because it reminds us that there are people who genuinely think that they are Christians, but are are outside the Kingdom of God.
This person is enthusiastically orthodox. He has a correct Christology, he acknowledges that Jesus is Lord. The Lordship of Christ is a vital fundamental doctrine. It demands an understanding of the scriptures, the virgin birth, a submission to his sovereignty.
This person PRAYS. He speaks to Jesus. He has a heartfelt devotional life. He attends to worship. This person is praying to Jesus, but perhaps it’s just a ritual?
This person is outside the Kingdom of Heaven! He was there… I wonder how many like him were there. I wonder how many people were on that mountainside that day? Hundreds? Thousands? I wonder how many of them were false converts, people who had been somehow lulled into thinking they are believers, but have never repented of their sins, or trusted in Christ. I wonder was Judas there…
And what exactly is the Kingdom of Heaven? The Kingdom of heaven refers to God’s kingship, or rule in the hearts of men and women.

  • There is the NOW. – believers in Jesus who have repented of sin and are trusting him for salvation.
  • There is the YET TO COME. the future, – when at the last day, the elect are gathered in and we shall meet around God’s throne and dwell in the new heavens and the new earth for ever and ever. Only then shall we know who truly is in the kingdom.

In our text, the context implies the future realisation of God’s kingdom.

2 The Spuriousness of a False Profession. THEY ACT LIKE CHRISTIANS 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

These people can’t be false believers can they? Not only are they so much like Christians in appearance, but many of them have supernatural works being manifested in their lives! Look again at many of these people…

  • They have preached in the name of Jesus. The word prophecy here simply means to declare the will of God. It is to preach. And these people are not part of a cult, they are preaching in the name of Jesus.
  • They have been involved in supernatural works in the name of Jesus.
  • They have caused other people to stand in awe of God, in the name of Jesus. Do you remember when Jesus sent out the disciples and when they returned they gave a report on their mission in Luke 10:17-20? Don’t you think Judas might have been among them? Had he been involved in casting out demons, healing the sick, rejoicing at the mighty works that the Lord had wrought through him? Yet he is a hypocrite, and and traitor. The true test is the objective standards of the Bible, not my experience, or my ‘success’ in ministry!

3 The Seriousness of a False Profession. THEIR ETERNAL DESTINY IS CERTAIN 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Where does this lead? When the day comes, ‘on that day’ they will hear the most solemn declaration …

  • A declaration of denial. I never knew you. What a terrible thing to hear. To hear that I’ve never known the Lord, and he has never known me. Jesus never even knew this person, yet he has been in the church, looking like a believer and even acting like one.
  • A declaration of dereliction. Depart from me. The awful sentence is passed down. Cast away from the presence of God for all of eternity. Lost forever, to pay the fine for the broken law.
  • A declaration of dishonour. ‘You who practice lawlessness.’ There is the basis of their condemnation. These people are condemned under the Law, which they have broken. Still in their sins, they are trying to fulfil the works of the law without Christ, still considering themselves as ‘good people’ who deserve to be in heaven, they fall far short, and stand condemned. They are, in their religion and in their perceived goodness, ‘workers of lawlessness.’

4 The Self-Assessment to Avoid a False Profession.
So who will be in the invisible church, and be assured of a home in heaven? Those who do the will of God. “He who does the will of my father in heaven.” Now let’s understand exactly what that means, in case we run away with the idea that we can perfectly fulfil God’s will in our lives and thus earn or deserve to be in heaven. To do God’s will, is

  • Firstly, to surrender to him. It is only through an act of divine will that we are brought into the kingdom, not our dead corrupt will. Galatians 1:3 Our response to the will of God to save us is to bow the knee in humble surrender, to admit our need of him, our own sinful failure, and to cast ourselves upon him for mercy. To trust in Jesus, who took all our sins at cross, and to rest in him.
  • Secondly, as believers we seek the will of God so that we may live in ways that please him. Romans 12:1 I In many ways the will of God is extremely plain. 1 Thess 4:3

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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