Jesus responded to a spectacular question in Luke 12:23, “Are only a few going to be saved?” The only issue with Jesus’ response is that he never really answers the man’s question. But he does unfold an incredible story where he discloses another secret of the kingdom. Discover in the message today the mystery of the “narrow door” and the real question that Jesus answers.
We are coming to the end of the Sermon on the Mount. This incredible sermon is now coming to the end. We’re going to have two more weeks, this week and next week, and I’m excited to share with you the message for today because it is the coolest message that Jesus wants to share. Because we know that when every Pastor gets to the end of his message he finally makes his point, go ahead and giggle, I know, he finally makes his point and Jesus here is delivering a blow and a punch that we hope that you will enjoy. This whole last section beginning with the narrow gate leading into the fruit, it really comes to a climax in verses 21 through 23. So let me read this text for you. It says this:
“Not everyone who says to Me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 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 mighty works in Your name? Then I will declare to them I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness”
I have to be honest with you. When I read that this week it shook me in my core because Jesus is saying some really strong words here as He looks out at these people gathered on this mount and talks to them to deliver perhaps the most important message that He would ever deliver. I mean you see this what is happening in the context of this story here is that there’s a person or a group of people who proclaim with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, they proclaim that God is sovereign over all creation and that at the end of their life they come to discover that something was slightly off, that even though they said certain things and did certain things that looked to be supernatural, religious, Christian, God-fearing, that the Master stands at the end and at the gate and looks at them and says “I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness” and when I read that the first thing I thought about was my own self; am I that guy is what I thought. I think that
Jesus, even though it feels very cold in this moment that you read it, is very loving toward all mankind because as we said far back at the beginning of this context that Jesus wants all mankind to enter. He wants them to enter, He wants them to enjoy the pleasures of heaven and eternity, He wants them to enjoy the pleasures of a relationship but here He presents the cold, hard truth that there will be some who say that they follow Christ, perform miraculous things but will not make it into eternity and so I have to ask myself am I that guy, am I that guy and how do I understand what it means to not be that person and then my eyes fell to these words “but the one who does the will of My Father” and for me everything folded around those words, understanding what the will of the Father is and if I understand that then I can ensure that I will not be accounted with those who walk through the wrong door.
Now, what is the will of the Father? Well to give the whole thing away I think the will of the Father is found in the very next words and the will of the Father is actually found in the context before. Here is the Father’s will for your life that you experience joy here and hereafter that is greater and farther than anyone has ever experienced in this life and that it’s so fulfilling that your life will glow and emanate, influence into this world that looks like salt and light, that your righteousness will look different from everybody else in life so much so that people will look at you and go man he is an odd character. What is up with him? How does he experience joy in the middle of death? How does he experience joy when he was just laid off? How does he experience joy in the middle of children who are not obedient to Christ? How does he experience joy when he walks on to the campus and everybody else heckles him? How does he experience joy when he’s just made a bad decision? How do he or she experience joy on this journey and they look so different? Well it means that we must understand the will of the Father and what I want to do this morning is frame up the will of the Father so that you will understand what it means to know Jesus Christ in a way that’s different from the people in this context who happen to walk through the wrong door that they thought genuinely was marked to heaven. So here we go.
What is the will of God? Well throughout the context of the entire Bible, God’s will is made known in a framework and inside of this framework His will is revealed to us in a number of different ways. Theologians refer to His will in two to three ways. The first will of God is this is His sovereign will. That is the first will of God. The second will of God that we see in the bible is God’s moral will and the third projected will of God is what some people call a vocational will of God, what I’m supposed to do with my life and I want to define each one of these and help set them in the context of God’s word this morning because if we understand that framework then we can get what God wants from us out of this context and begin to live in the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is in all of His purity.
The first will of God is this, it is His sovereign will. God’s sovereign will is present throughout the entire Bible. In fact, it’s the will most be talked about in relationship to God. It’s actually the will that we use to define God Himself, His will, God. What is God? He is God by the things that He wills. His character is defined by that solely and God in His sovereign will be able to do whatever He wants, when He wants at any time because that’s what makes God, God, that He is completely and totally sovereign. There is no Christian, no Jew, no Muslim that would ever contest this in their faith. No monotheistic, God-fearing person would ever question the sovereignty of God because God must be able to do whatever He wants otherwise the word God is not defined as God. So when God is acting sovereignly in the bible, what does that look like? What does a sovereign God look like? It looks like Someone who says let there be light and that must need come about. So when God said let there be light, there was light and it illuminated the world. When God says everybody will die and experience an eternity well then everybody dies and everybody will experience some form of eternity. When God says that Jesus Christ will come again to redeem the world well then Jesus Christ will come again to redeem the world.
Now for many people, God’s sovereign will can be very disturbing at times. For example when you read Romans 9 and you look out at God intervening with the creation and in Romans 9 Paul says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and used him as a tool to redeem Israel from slavery and that can be very, very disturbing to us at times. However, God must be able to do that whenever He wants otherwise He ceases to be God and if He doesn’t do that then He isn’t able to actually redeem mankind from their sin. He must be able to intervene with the world in such a way that He represents a sovereign God and even when He’s acting inside of His sovereignty when He allows certain things to happen, He is still willfully sovereign. So for example inside of God’s great will theologically when He allows us to make a choice about our eternity, He is still willing it even though He allows it. Now this can be very unsettling for some people but we cannot deny this because the definition of God being God must mean that there is One who is in control of all things at all moments regardless of the situation and that He can allow inside of His sovereign will whatever to happen that He wants to happen and at times He can intervene in moments like Pharaoh or Judas in the New Testament that He can intervene in hopes of bringing about salvation to the world. Because of this, we get to experience certain things that are incredible about God because when God acts sovereignly then we get to experience things that are not a part of this world such as grace, love, forgiveness, mercy, which are the antithesis of humanity.
None of us are able to extend those to other people unless we are indwelt by the Spirit of God and through His Spirit, He releases those characteristics, those qualities, those attributes to the world and that we are able to share those with the world because our God is sovereign and each and every moment, each and every day, throughout all creation that God must be able to will whatever He wants at any moment in time.
The second will is this, it’s called moral will. The moral will is God’s ability to reveal what is good, right and true. The perfect example of a moral will is the Ten Commandments. So inside of all of God’s sovereignty God then begins to demonstrate to us what is morally good and what is immoral and by God being all truth and being sovereign over all things, He then inserts into time and space a right way to live life. This revealed truth came first through the Ten Commandments and then again through the actual life of Jesus Christ where we can see what is the best way to live life and we have a choice. We can either live morally or immorally. We can either choose to obey that truth or not obey that truth and that’s where God gives us the freedom to choose is inside of His moral will and each and every one of us in this room knows that at some point in our life that we’ve made immoral choices, everybody does. Yet for the Christian who has trusted in God’s sovereignty, believes that He is Lord and Savior of all mankind, He is able to absolve those moments that we act immoral, covering them with the blood of Christ and by His grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness He becomes the great Priest, King, Judge of these things and absolves our sin looking through the lens of Jesus Christ and what He did when He died and rose again.
Now these revealed wills of God are very important for us to understand in this specific context and so I want to illustrate what it looks like. About six months back I and my wife were on vacation, we’re in North Carolina just me and her. Leave the kids at home with my mother-in-law. It goes downhill from here okay? So they’re at home with the mother-in-law, my daughter is two months into having her driver’s license. We’re in North Carolina, it’s two thirty in the morning and I get a call, it’s the sheriff’s department. Is this Mr. Miller? Yes, it’s Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller, we have your daughter in custody. That’s never a good sign okay? We have your daughter in custody here, we’re on the corner of a such and such freeway, she’s in a car with five other kids two-thirty in the morning, she’s out after curfew, two kids don’t have their seatbelts on and she’s not supposed to have them in the car. I need you to come by and pick her up. Well, that’s not going to happen so I got a friend of mine who’s a sheriff on the phone, he went by picked them up, brought them home. Now what had happened was this, at least I was told this is what happened. My daughter was staying under the care of my mother-in-law, mother-in-law allowed my daughter to drive over to her friend’s house to spend the night. She’s over there spending the night and her and some friends are gathered together and the mother of that child allowed them to go to a drive-in movie. So they went out to Woodbury to a drive-in movie. They were out till at least two in the morning and then they’re driving home supposedly, about five of them packed into a car, and as they’re driving home with a case of toilet paper in the back supposedly coming home, they get pulled over by a police officer. Of course, everybody is frightened in this moment about what’s going on including me and there are two kids in the backseat who didn’t have their seatbelts on, which is a violation. The second violation is the fact that she’s not supposed to be out after I believe it’s midnight for the first six months so she’s violating that rule, that’s the second one. The third one is she’s not supposed to have anybody but family members in her car for the first six months as well so she’s violated three laws and I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen. Well a couple of months later we go to court, so I have to appear with my daughter in court. My daughter is really nervous about this moment because she actually is a pretty good kid but she violated three laws. So we show up in the courtroom and it’s very, very intimidating. You’re sitting down below with a microphone and there’s a judge sitting way up high, way, way, way up high, I mean ridiculously high, I mean it’s almost laughable because it’s so intimidating it’s ridiculous. You have a couple of cops in there, you have a court attendant, a number of other people and you have this weird, awkward mic that you pull in front of her and the judge starts to read her case and basically asks her two questions. She wasn’t allowed to speak, she was only asked to answer yes or no, which you can see what the judge is doing to her. She’s putting her in a corner so basically, she can admit her guilt. She begins by saying she is guilty, she answers that question. Then the two other questions are this, was this you driving at two o’clock in the morning on the such and such date? Yes she answers and did you commit these violations and she said yes and then the judge turns to me and he says Sir I assume you’re her father. I said yes. Do you have anything you want to say? And I said what the heck, I’ll explain the situation so I explained the situation to him. I told him I said mother-in-law, you get it right and then he nods and then it’s over to friend’s house, nods yes to that and then I explain she goes out to a movie so to speak etc. etc. and then I get done explaining it and he doesn’t say anything to me. I experienced the greatest moment I ever had in my life as a father. This is the greatest moment I ever had. He then doesn’t even respond to me, turns to my daughter, puts his glasses down like this, looks at her and then says to her but young lady, you do understand that this is your fault don’t you and then she awkwardly speaks into the mic and I went woohoo yeah that’s what I was sitting there thinking this is an awesome moment for me and in that moment something very special happened, something very, very special. You get to see the combination of a moral law combining itself with sovereign will because in that moment something special happens because number one, there is a moral law that my daughter knows, I know it because I paid a few hundred dollars for her driving classes, again for her to actually take the driver’s test and then again to take the driver’s test again. Why I paid for her twice I don’t understand but anyway I like to give my money away okay? So in that moment, I knew that my daughter knew the laws. She knew the laws. She violated the laws so she was immoral, that’s what she was, knowingly immoral. She admitted to the fact that she was immoral and the judge looked down at her with all of his sovereign wills and he had a choice. Do I be justice to this young lady or do I forgive? And I witnessed a judge do both simultaneously. He looked down at her and said here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to remediate your ticket for one year, which means that he’s hold it somewhere off into some file and he said to her if you don’t get one more ticket over the next twelve months, that ticket will forever go away but if you get one more ticket over the next twelve months then you’ll have two tickets and your dad’s insurance will go way up and he looked at me, said do you understand? Oh I already understand this whole situation and he remediated her ticket and made her pay one hundred dollars. Now the beauty of that moment is incredible because it’s a combination of moral will with sovereign will and when those two things come together they can actually be extraordinarily beautiful when we live in the middle of that will. I believe that’s what God wants us to find. He wants us to discover that inside of His sovereign will, even though it makes us tremble at times, that you must know if you’re sitting in this room today that God is gracious, loving, merciful and forgiving and even though He knows what it looks like when you break His moral law, He is willing and ready to extend with ridiculous favor toward you. Love, grace, mercy and forgiveness when we bring our sin to Him but we must not rip those two things apart and misunderstand that there is one thing that is the linchpin between really discovering the beauty of God’s sovereign and moral will coming together and it’s a word that appears a little later in this context and it’s the word knew. Jesus Christ said “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness”.
Now what Jesus is using there is a very particular Greek word. It’s the Greek word ginosko. It means a deep knowing, a deep knowing. It’s a knowing that goes so deep that’s it intellectual and it’s emotional, it’s physical, it’s relational, it’s social, it’s all those things put together. It’s a kind of knowing that isn’t just about our behavior kind of knowing, not just about our intellect kind of knowing. It’s a deep knowing that goes farther than the reaches of our language, for those of us who are American and read the English Language. It reaches far back in time to the beginning of time, when Hebrews use the word yada for know and the occurrence of that that I’m referring to is actually in Genesis chapter two where it says Adam knew Eve and we tend to think of that in the sexual connotation that He’s talking about how Adam slept with Eve but it was more than that. Hebrews understood that it was a full knowledge, a knowing that went so deep that there was an emotional, spiritual, relational, intellectual and yet even physical connection to each other and what Jesus is suggesting here is that there are some people, don’t miss this, there are some people unfortunately who say Lord, Lord and do miraculous things that unfortunately have connected the right saying to the wrongdoing and do not know Jesus Christ intimately. We would call that works based righteousness, which is exactly what Jesus is spending the entire Sermon on the Mount destroying, deflating, decomposing and bringing off the throne so that we can see the beauty of what it looks like in the imagery and in the relationship of actually knowing God and I believe it happens when we strike the middle of the framework between the two wills. We discover that God is God and we are not and that we rest in His justice but also His grace, love, mercy and forgiveness and when we experience that there is a knowing that goes beyond all others. It’s a knowing that we can hardly describe, like the birth of my children that I can’t even articulate.
You know I’ll never forget the birth of my second child. I thought I was a pro by the time I was at number two by the way and my wife is about ready to give birth and I remember the nurse and the doctor came in and they sit at the stool, my wife is fully dilated at this moment and the child’s head is starting to crown and I did what I did last time, I put her foot up on my chest, I’m encouraging her to push and she’s telling me to shut up and a doctor gets down there and it’s fourth and goal, the ball’s about to be hiked and everything’s about to come out and I’m looking down at this moment at this beautiful moment and it’s hard to articulate, I know it sounds disgusting but it’s hard to articulate, it’s actually beautiful for some reason and there in this moment I saw the doctor and nurse do something I’ve never seen them do before. They put on glasses and a mask and they didn’t do that for the first kid so I was like what’s going on here?
What are they doing? And of course they’re down in there and I’m encouraging my wife, the nurse is on one side and the doctor’s in the middle, I’m on the other side, the baby is coming out and I’m all excited telling my wife push, she’s still telling me to shut up, I’m still telling her to push, come on honey, I can take it all day long, and right about this time the baby starts to crest and the child comes out and there’s Grant our second child and all of a sudden she just blows like a champagne bottle with a cork coming out, splash and I am drenched, I am drenched in fluids and then the doctors look at me and they laugh at me. This is my moment, to have a child and they turn and they’re laughing at me out loud and I’m completely drenched. I know it sounds disgusting but I was so happy. This child comes out, I am drenched, my wife’s holding the child, it’s healthy, we’re excited about it, we’re laughing, we’re crying and that experience of seeing that child coming out was so incredible that I forgot that I was completely drenched in amniotic fluid and I went out of the room, so happy about having this new child. Yes, the nurses in the lobby heard about it by this time, other parents in other parts of the wing heard about it. You know what? It didn’t even matter to me because Grant was born, Grant was born and I saw creation come to be and because of that moment I got to witness, aside from all the other stuff and all the things that went wrong and all the pain and all the months that I watched my wife live in torment, I saw God bring about a child into this world and it’s an experience that I’ll never forget, I promise I’ll never forget for the rest of my life and I believe that God wants us to know Him like I knew that moment, the beauty of it, the splendor of it, the disgusting parts of it, the pain of it, the agony of it and He wants us to know Him like that. Take away all the intellect, take away all the things that went wrong, take away all the pain, I now get to watch my fourteen-year-old child play soccer play so beautifully, muscles developed in his bone, his brain developing, the splendor of watching him make a decision for Jesus Christ and the joy of him living a daily life that honors God. With him through the highs and lows, I can’t even describe that and today I would tell you fourteen years later I know my son more than just a child that was born on a particular day in November many years ago. I know him well and that’s the way God wants us to know Him and the way that He wants to know us, not just in one little moment in time, not just intellectually, not just in our behavior but a full kind of knowing and so I think that’s where Jesus begins the end of the journey, is in us fully knowing Him, sovereignty and in His will, living in a rigorous obedience because He loves us and we love Him.