Are You Lost? Are You Saved? (Matthew 7:21-23)


Sunday, January 5, 2020: Are You Lost? Are You Saved? (Matthew 7:21-23)

Communion this Sunday, January 5

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sometimes people send me these emails. They are forwards that people pass on and this is one that I thought might be an appropriate opening for this topic:

I was testing the children in my Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven. I asked them, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven? “NO!” the children answered. “If I cleaned the churchevery day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?” Again, the answer was, “NO! “By now I was starting to smile. Hey, this was fun! “Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?” I asked them again. Again, they all answered, “NO!” I was just bursting with pride for them. Well, I continued, “then how can I get into Heaven?” A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD.”

I want to talk this morning about knowing Jesus. Most of you think, “I know Jesus.” Well if you are thinking that please keep listening. I hope you still say that at the end of this message.

How many of you know of an actor? An actress? Do you know an athlete? Do you really know them? No, you just know of them. If you tried to call them you could be labeled a stalker and thrown in jail.

  • Do you know Christ or just know of Christ? We can know all His teachings and everything He did and not really know Christ.

 Today, I am launching a series titled: Be Contagious Christians in 2020. But the first step is making sure that you know Christ.

My theme today is:

Examine yourself and make sure you are saved.

This sermon may be a downer since I am talking about a passage where Jesus says some are not really saved. How can you be encouraged today? How does this help hurting people?

  1. I hope this helps you to have confidence in your salvation. The true believer can have confidence.
  2. I hope this helps you to repent. This is important. Repent and turn to Christ.
  3. I hope you will apply this sermon with the examination test at the end of the message.

Read with me Matthew 7:21-23:

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 who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

  1. What saves us?
    1. First, we see that doctrine alone does not save us.
      1. Now, where are we at in the Bible? This is a section at the end of the sermon on the mount. Jesus has been talking about knowing false teachers. In the previous verse Jesus says that we will know them [false teachers] by their fruits.
      2. We see in that passage that they had the right doctrine. Jesus says they come to Him with Lord, Lord… this implies they see Him as Lord.
  • There are many people who may have correct doctrine but do not know Jesus.
  1. I read about an atheist that had correct doctrine. Listen to this debate between an atheist and a liberal, supposed Christian:

Marilyn Sewell

Unitarian Universalist  Minister

 and Christopher Hitchens Author, God is NOT Good: How Religion Poisons Everything 

Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of      various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of the atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?


Only in this respect: I would say that if  you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth

was the Christ, in other words, the Messiah, and that he rose again from  the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.


I disagree with that. I consider myself a Christian. I believe in the Jesus story as story, as narrative, and Jesus as a person whose life is exemplary that I want to follow. But I do not believe in all that stuff that I just outlined.

I simply have to tell you that every major

Christian, including theologians, has said

that without the resurrection and without the forgiveness of sins, what I call the vicarious redemption, it’s meaningless. In fact, without that, it isn’t even a nice story – even if it’s true  


It doesn’t really matter to me if it’s true literally. It matters to me whether the story has efficacy for my life. 


Well, that’s what I meant to say. When

C.S. Lewis, for example, says, . .  ‘if this

man was not the son of God, then his

teachings were evil’ because if you don’t

believe that the kingdom of heaven is at

hand and you can get to it by the way, the truth, and the life, offered by the gospel, then there’s no excuse for telling people to take no thought for the morrow, for example, as he did. . . It would be an evil nonsense.

  1. So, correct doctrine does not save. Don’t get me wrong doctrine is very important. Sometimes wrong doctrine shows that one is NOT saved, but that is another sermon. Let’s get back to the text. If you keep reading, they do not submit to Him as Lord. They do not do His Father’s will.
  1. Emotions do not save us.
    1. In the passage it seems that the people who approach Jesus are quite serious. They seem very emotional. They seem very persistent. They seem like they really care. They are saying, “Lord,” twice.
    2. Still that does not save them.
  • We can have correct doctrine and be passionate about it and not be saved.
  1. At the end of verse 21 Jesus says the one is saved who does the will of His Father. We will come back to that.
  1. Then we see that actions do not save us, but right actions are important.
    1. They say to Jesus, “Did we not prophesy in Your Name?” Stop right there. We could easily think, “They did a miracle, they prophesied.” But even the demons can do counterfeit miracles. We see this in Rev. 13:13-14, which is a key passage about this. Prophesy could mean preaching the Word, or it could mean rebuking sin, or it could mean calling out the future. These false believers could do that naturally without God or they could do it by demonic forces. Jesus says they are not saved.
    2. They say to Jesus, “Did we not cast out demons in Your name?” Again, they are not saved. In Acts 19:13-16 we see false teachers, non-Christians try to cast out demons. They may cast out demons, but maybe the demons do not stay out. Of course they could be lying, maybe they never did any of these things.
  • Lastly, we see that miracles do not save us. These people tell Jesus that they did miracles in Jesus’ Name. They could be lying, or maybe they did the miracles by demonic power. Again, I refer you to Rev. 13:13-14.
  1. So, how do you know if you are saved?
    1. We will come back to that in a minute, but firstly, right here, Jesus says, do the will of His Father. This would be follow His Word.
    2. Now, we interpret Scripture with Scripture, this means that we know based on Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace. We know based on the theology of salvation that we cannot earn our way to God. But our works validate our faith.
  • In John 15:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands…”
  1. Then we see in James 2:18-19: But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
  2. Our works validate our faith. How else can we know we are saved?
  1. Examine yourself
    1. In 2 Cor. 13:5 Paul writes that we should examine ourselves. How can we examine ourselves?
      1. Are we repentant of sin?
        1. Does sin in our life grieve us (Acts 2:38; Romans 7 Paul did not like the sin in his life)?
        2. Do certain sins grieve us, and others do not?
        3. Does sin grieve us because it grieves God or because of selfish reasons?
        4. Do we desire to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31)?
        5. Is Jesus our Lord? Do we follow Him (Luke 9:23)?
      2. Here is a breakdown of 5 things to look for:
        1. Penitence towards sin (Psalm 32; 51).
        2. Pursue righteousness (1 Tim. 6:11).
        3. Willing and joyful submission to Christ (James 4:7; Eph. 5:21) and others.
        4. Longing to obey the Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Psalm 119:9-11).
        5. Love for God and others (Matthew 22:37-39).

So, do you know Him?

Are you lost?

Do you care?

I think too many believers just really do not even care. I think oftentimes we really do not care. Consider this very serious story from Henry Blackaby:

The first funeral I ever conducted was for a beautiful three-year-old. She was the first child born to a couple in our church, and the first grandchild in their extended family. Unfortunately, she was spoiled. While visiting the little girl’s home one day, I observed that she loved to ignore her parents’ instructions. When they told her to come, she went. When they said, “sit down,” she stood up. Her parents laughed, finding her behavior cute.

One day their front gate was inadvertently left open. The parents saw their child escaping out of the yard and heading toward the road. To their horror, a car was racing down the street. As she ran out between two parked cars, they both screamed at her to stop and turn back. She paused for a second, looked back at her parents, then gleefully laughed as she turned and ran directly into the path of the oncoming car. The parents rushed their little girl to the hospital, but she died from her injuries. 

As a young pastor, this was a profound lesson for me. I realized I must teach God’s people not only to recognize His voice but also immediately to obey His voice when they hear it. It is life.[1]

Responding to Jesus and making Him Lord is serious, it is life. Jesus gives us life now and life eternal.

Do you know Jesus?                                                               

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

[1] Henry Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice (Broadman & Holman, 2002); reprinted in Men of Integrity (May/June 2003)


This was a recent devotion which I read:

Unveiled Faces

16But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit—2 Corinthians 3:16-18

On fire, white hot, rocked to the core, gripped by His greatness, unbelievably contagious; these are all phrases describing one who has experienced a breakthrough, victory over sin, and  transforming growth. Great! The question is, “How do I get there?”

The answer lies in beholding God’s glory . . . with unveiled face. This is defined earlier in the passage as trusting in Him as Savior. When sin and self-reliance are put down and God is lifted up, God’s children with unveiled faces can be more than formed through raw human effort. They can be transformed by His glory pouring over them. This divine transformation (also known as sanctification), purifies us from one degree of glory to another

We may think, “Yeah, I believe in Jesus, but I still feel stagnant.” Here’s what we do:

Think of God’s glory as sunshine and get a “glory tan.” Bask in His glory with nothing veiling His impact. Give Him control over your life.  We say, “Great, I get that, and I have been trying to give Him control, but I am holding back or something.” That’s common. Here is a secret; there is one simple step to basking completely unveiled, allowing His glory to pour over you.Breathe. Spiritually breathe. It’s a Bill Bright term, and man, does it capture the essence of that thought. To spiritually breathe we must exhale and then inhale.

Exhaling is breathing out the junk, confessing and repenting of any known sin. Exhaling is getting it clean before God. Exhaling is completely removing the veil between us and God’s glory. It is essential to transformation. To seek any change without being unveiled before God’s glory is just fleshly behavior modification. Remember, God’s glory is where the divine power of change resides.

Inhaling is then claiming any promises of His character, of His person, of His relationship with us. Inhaling is setting your feet on the Rock, our Savior and standing firm. Do not be satisfied with one breath a day, week, or month. You are spiritually suffocating if you do.

So it’s time to start breathing. It’s time to start exhaling and inhaling regularly throughout the day. You will be basking in the radiant glory of the Almighty. You will be on fire! You will betransformed from one degree of glory to another! —Tim Harkness

I read this int…


I read this interesting blog on Prov 13:24

This is from Dr. Ben Witherington of Asbury Theological Seminary:

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child?

July 17, 2012 By  14 Comments

On June 8th of this year Prosperity Preacher Creflo Dollar (yes, that’s his name) was arrested for assaulting (choking involved) his 15 year old daughter when she would not co-operate with his ban on her going to a party after midnight. In my life time, the issue of corporal punishment and whether it is acceptable or not an acceptable practice for parents to use with their children has become a contested and controversial one, whereas when I was a child, not only was it seen as an accepted means of dealing with a disobedient child, it was also seen as an accepted means of dealing with a disobedient student in school. Principals and vice principals had ‘boards of education’ that they were not afraid to use on the backsides of recalcitrant or rebellious students. Nowadays, our culture has other ideas about this matter, and some would even call the use of any physical discipline, including spanking, an example of child abuse or assault.

What should we think about these matters as Christians? Is there really no difference between physical discipline and assault or child abuse? And what does the Bible actually say on the matter? Well there is a famous verse in Proverbs used to justify physical discipline, and perhaps it would be useful to look closely at it first.

Proverbs 13.24 says the following— “those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.” The axiom ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ appears to derive from paraphrasing the KJV 1611 mistranslation of the Hebrew text. Let’s first deal with the issue of how proverbs actually work. They are not one maxim fits all occasions teachings. They are generalizations and generalizations are by definition something that have been shown to be usually, often, or normally true under normal circumstances. They are not laws for they are not always applicable. Proverbs, in other words are not universally applicable laws. They admit of exceptions of various sorts. The Biblical book of Proverbs however does not try to deal with exceptional persons or situations. It presupposes a normal state of affairs, and gives advice into that normal or common situation. It is well to remind ourselves that what turns out to be true in a stable, settled, orderly society, and works well, might not be true at all in troubled or chaotic times or places or situations.

For example, Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes rightly makes clear that the teaching of Proverbs cannot be universalized, for example when Proverbs suggests that the righteous are rewarded with wealth, whereas the lazy end up poor and starving. No says Qoheleth, there are times and situations where the righteous end up destitute, persecuted, prosecuted, even executed whereas the wicked sometimes prosper. The question then becomes— under what circumstances and in what situations is the advice given in Proverbs appropriate and probably apt and helpful? Does this advice about children readily translate to our own dysfunctional cultural and family situations?

It is interesting that OT scholars who are experts in Wisdom literature have suggested the material like we find in Proverbs 13 is for more mature disciples of the sage, not for beginners. That is, it is advice given to those wise enough, and mature enough to know how to use and not abuse the advice. Think for a minute about times you were disciplined growing up (if you were). Was physical discipline applied to you when parents got angry and used it as an expression of their wrath?

If so, a good case can be made for that being an abuse of the privilege of disciplining your children, something which must be done dispassionately, fairly, in an appropriate measured way and not as outlet for one’s anger. Here the advice must be taken in the context of everything the NT says about anger. For example: 1) Ephes. 4.26– be angry but sin not; 2) ‘Father’s do not provoke your children to anger’ Ephes. 6.4 (a verse that seems apposite in the Creflo Dollar case); 3) James 1.19-20 says we must be slow to anger, and that the anger of human beings does not produce the righteousness of God.

A second regular feature of maxims, aphorisms, or proverbs is that their rhetoric is often sharp edged. By this I mean they use dramatic contrasts and even hyperbole to make a point. So here the language of ‘hate’ and ‘love’ cannot be taken literally in Prov. 13.24. We might say a person who never disciplines an unruly child is guilty of being a bad parent or a negligent parent, but in our context the word hate would be too strong a word if taken literally. Parents who fail to discipline their children often love their children but are unsure of how to discipline them properly or are afraid if they do so that they will harm the child or lose their love and affection. In other words, sometimes failing to discipline is an example of fear based thinking about one’s children. I can honestly say that the spankings I occasionally got when I was young did me no lasting harm at all, and indeed were a memorable reminder that a particular course of conduct or speech was out of bounds, inappropriate, indeed even sinful in some cases.

I would say that Prov. 13 assumes that physical discipline is an appropriate form of disciplining a child, but clearly it does not mandate that this is the only appropriate form of discipline or even that it should be the first resort. Time outs, taking away of privileges, extra home work or house work, and so on, should all be exhausted first before resorting to physical discipline, and again that sort of discipline must be limited, measured, and not an expression of a moment of anger or frustration.

In regard to the latter I would say Dollar definitely crossed the line into abuse and so into sin. He was angry and his anger led to abuse, such as choking, of his 15 year old. This was not appropriate at all and would never be appropriate conduct by a parent under any circumstances, no matter how frustrated one becomes.

So is Proverbs 13 providing us with justification for the regular exercise of physical discipline of our children whenever we may feel inclined to use it, or angry enough to use it? No. It does not, for it does not suggest it is the only means, or even the primary and first option means of disciplining of children. There are many other things that should be tried first. But what a saying like this does suggest is that there may come a day when a measured application of physical discipline is appropriate and does not constitute child abuse.