“I never knew you; depart from me,” are words in Matthew 7 many of us fear we will hear from Jesus. Should we live in fear that we will finally be rejected by Christ for not doing enough? Was that his intention? Or did he mean something else?
Members’ Podcast Description: Jon and Justin talk about the importance of law/gospel distinction in the Sermon the Mount, as well as how to love and care for those with a tender conscience.
Book give away: “Safe in Christ: A Primer on Assurance”
Jon Moffitt: Hi, this is Jon. Today on Theocast, we are looking at the phrase, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” Many of you have struggled with this and asked us what this means and why did Jesus say this? Justin and I are going to look at Matthew 5-7, and then specifically looking at verses 21 and following, to help you understand what Jesus really meant by saying, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” Stay tuned.
Justin, today is one of these podcasts that, I think, for years and years and years, we have been getting the question on Matthew 7. The famous phrase of Jesus “depart from me; I never knew you” is a legitimate source of fear and anxiety among many, many Christians. What we’re going to do today on the podcast is try and walk you through what Jesus wanted us to know and maybe how he misinterpreted that.
Justin, I’m going to start with you. I know that you wanted to give us a little bit of context with Matthew 5, and that’ll help us in our explanation while walking through the passage in Matthew 7, so that we can fully understand Jesus’s intention. We’re not going to be biblicist or eisegete a text, which means to isolate a verse out of its context and make our own application separate from the original intention of the application.
Justin Perdue: We want to try to faithfully understand this text in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, because that’s where this occurs. Matthew 5-7 contain the Sermon on the Mount, which is perhaps the most famous sermon in the history of the world. What we would understand is contained in those chapters is a summary of all the things that Jesus would have taught on that occasion. We want to be faithful to that context in an immediate way, but then we also want to be faithful to the context of the New Testament, the new covenant, and the context of the entire Scripture. We hope that that’s what occurs today and we hope this is encouraging for people.
The Sermon on the Mount, wholesale—there are a number of things that could be said about it, but it’s very clear that perhaps the primary thing that Jesus is aiming to do in that sermon is to unpack and preach for the people God’s law and apply it rightly to the hearts of man. He begins with the Beatitudes, which are relatively famous—and I think those we could talk about for just a second. He begins by saying blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, etc. It’s very clear that what Christ is saying in that context is you’re blessed if these things characterize you and to be these things very clearly means that you understand that you are weak, that you are needy, that you do not have what it takes, and that you would be hungering and thirsting for righteousness but understanding—and I’m going to go and say in the context of the whole Scripture—that righteousness must be given to you. It’s not something that you can achieve and earn. It’s very clear in the way that he lays out some of those Beatitudes there.
But then he goes on, in Matthew 5, to say things like, “I didn’t come to abolish the law; I came to fulfill the law.” Not any small part of the law is going to pass away. Then he says to the people that righteousness is required of you, and in particular, a righteousness that is greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees, which in that context would have been a mind blowing thing to say because the scribes and Pharisees were famous for their conformity to the law. They were so godly and pious that they had even put a hedge around the law so that they didn’t come close to breaking it. That would have been the perception, and that would have been held up in the minds of the people as the standard of righteousness and godliness. And Jesus says even that is not enough; you need something that exceeds even that. Then he goes on to illustrate what the law of God requires, in talking about anger, and how you’ve heard it said you shouldn’t murder, and you might think you’re good if you hadn’t killed somebody, but if you’re angry with your brother, you’ve broken the law. You’ve heard to not commit adultery: you might think you’re doing well, and that you’ve fulfilled the law if you’re not sleeping with somebody who’s not your spouse, but I’m telling you if you’ve lusted after somebody, you’ve broken the law. He goes on to talk in those ways. Then at the very end of Matthew 5:48, the conclusion there of that section is, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Anybody who has ears to hear, that is listening to Christ speak these kinds of words, must draw the conclusion, “I am done. It’s hopeless for me because I cannot do what Christ is telling me I have to do.”
This is an exercise in law and gospel distinction. If you don’t have a law and gospel distinction in view when you come to the Sermon on the Mount, God help you because Christ is saying things that will absolutely not only unsettle you, but crush you. Because it’s very clear that what is required of us before the Lord, we could never pull it off.
Jon Moffitt: I think it’s helpful just to read the beginning of Matthew 6, because he is setting the tone of who he’s talking to: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” So he is dealing with an issue of self-righteousness. I think this is so important.
Justin Perdue: Self-righteousness and this kind of very external showy religion. Even when he teaches us to pray in the famous model prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, what does he say right before it? “Don’t heap up empty phrases in prayer, like the Gentiles do, thinking that there’ll be heard for their many words.” Don’t do that; that’s what ungodly people do. “God already knows what you need before you ask Him, so therefore, pray this way.”
Jon Moffitt: And in that context, when he says not to lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, sometimes we think of that about money, but in context, again, I do think he’s thinking of your works here. You think you’re somehow gaining value, and he says, “No, this is not where your value is found.” It’s so helpful if you’re going to make applications and understand what Jesus’ intentions of us understanding what he’s saying, you have to pay close attention to his audience, and his words, and what he’s saying. This is why we wanted to start back in chapter five and get the whole sermon in mind to study what he’s going after. There’s a law-gospel distinction definitely going on. He’s giving them law so that they’ll take the gospel, they don’t want the gospel, so he ups the law higher and higher and higher.
Justin Perdue: It’s important to remember that Jesus almost exclusively interacts with other Jewish people; he is not speaking to Gentiles, he’s not speaking to pagans. He’s talking to people who would have had the Torah, the law of God, who would have at least to some extent known it, and who would have been under this very Pharisaical kind of religion where they were taught, “Do these things, and you will be righteous.”
Even the Pharisees would acknowledge that God needs to be gracious in this and that God is the one who makes us this way ala Luke 18: “I thank you, God, that I’m not like other people.” But it still is this notion of needing to be righteous and needing to do what’s required. To use the language of the gospels that we see repeated over and over again, he’s talking to people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and he’s talking to people that trust that they can somehow achieve righteousness—and we cannot ever forget that when we’re reading the teachings of Christ.
Jon Moffitt: That’s super helpful.
Now we’re moving into chapter seven, and in chapter seven, the theme is being carried along. Jesus’ primary mission, he says, “I’ve come to seek and to save that which is lost.” He says the healthy don’t need a physician, but the sick. So, he’s always telling them, “I am here for those.” Just like we said a couple of weeks ago, when we were looking at Luke 14 and he’s talking about those who can hear, let them hear. Who is it that walked toward Jesus? It was sinners and tax collectors. He is trying to convert every self-righteous Jew into a sinner because once they’re a sinner, they’ll want Jesus as a Savior. But until they see Jesus as Savior, then they’re never going to see him as who he is. A Jewish teacher; that’s all they’re going to see.
Justin Perdue: You’re exactly right. He’s talking to people and he’s saying effectively, “You think you’re healthy, but I’m telling you you’re sick. You think you’re righteous, but I’m telling you you’re a sinner.”
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. Then you look at chapter seven. If you pay attention from chapter five going forward, it seems like Jesus just keeps upping the wall so high that eventually no one will think they can climb over into acceptable righteousness in the presence of God—but they don’t. So Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged for the. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure that you use it will be measured to you. What are these people saying? “Oh, I’m a righteous person and they’re not.” Jesus is like, “Don’t do that. You’re not understanding.”
Justin Perdue: It’s straight up Romans 2. When you do that, what you’re effectively doing is this: you are judging other people because they have not met the standard that you are holding out for them to meet. Then effectively, he is saying, “You also have not met your own standard. So when you judge other people and condemn them for not meeting the standard and not passing the test, you condemn yourself because you haven’t done those things either.” Then the point of Paul in Romans 2 that, I think, agrees with the words of Jesus is if you haven’t met your own standard, how much less so have you met God’s?
Jon Moffitt: He even calls them hypocrites at one point. “You hypocrite! First take out the log that is in your own eye,” your own sin, your own self-righteousness; you need to remove that before you can ever be considered to think about trying to help someone else. He starts moving on. Then there’s the shift where he’s trying to help them understand that he is drawing them to himself. He says something in verse seven: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” He was bouncing back and forth between the concept of those who try and earn self-righteousness, this is what happens to them, but those who receive self-righteousness, it’s theirs. “If you want my righteousness, just ask for it. It’s yours.”
What you have to understand is that these people have so much law in their minds. They must earn it. Jesus says, “No, the Father who is good, and will give good gifts, He will give it to you. Ask for it and it’s yours.”
Justin Perdue: Yeah. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Ask and it will be given. Jesus is reiterating that God is a good and faithful Father who always gives good gifts to his kids, so you can trust that God will be good and that He will respond kindly to such a request.
What Jesus is doing there is it’s an invitation. This is effectively Christ saying, “Come to me and come to my Father in humility and meekness and poorness of Spirit,” if that’s even a way to phrase it, “and the poverty of your own spiritual condition. Ask, and it will be given.” It’s Luke 18 again; it’s, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I’m just mindful of Jesus saying in John 6, “Whoever comes to me, I will never cast out.” So this invitation, “Ask and you’ll receive,” it all hangs together quite beautifully.
Jon Moffitt: Yes, it does.
Now we’re getting to a place where things are going to get a little complicated. This is where these verses are often used to beat Christians down and to scare them. From some of the camps that I grew up in, which was fundamentalism and even the Lordship salvation camp, these are used as a way to say, “Hey, for those who are going to be a real Christian, a true Christian, those who are going to take Jesus seriously, we’re just going to quote Jesus.” Jesus literally says that it’s hard to be a Christian, it’s hard to find your way in. So, you start reading verses like Matthew 7:13, which says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many, for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Right there, Jesus is saying that if you’re going to come unto him, it’s going to be hard and there’s not going to be very many that find it. What does Jesus communicate? Have we misunderstood him or are we understanding him rightly? What is he saying here?
Justin Perdue: What I don’t think he’s saying is the kind of stuff that would be presented, like you’ve alluded to, Jon, in the Lordship camp; the kind of hard-to-believe, “Christianity is hard so you need to be dedicated enough, you need to persevere, you need to grit your teeth and white knuckle this thing, stay the course and it’s going to be hard. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Only the strong survive.” That’s the message that we often hear, and I don’t think that’s at all what Christ is saying—in part, because that would fly in the face of the context of the Sermon on the Mount, and it is contradictory to the gospel, bottom line. We then ask ourselves, in light of the context of the Sermon on the Mount, where it falls in redemptive history in light of a law-gospel distinction and the like, and also a theology of the cross. I’m just throwing a bunch of terms that we’ve used before, and if you don’t know what these are, you can listen to some other episodes.
Jon Moffitt: We’ll put them in the notes.
Justin Perdue: What I think Christ is saying, Jon, is that very few people will be Christians because it is hard to enter, because very few people are going to renounce their own virtue, and renounce what they’re doing and trust in Christ alone. That is not something that is intuitive or natural for fallen man. We always want to trust in ourselves in some way. It’s hard, actually. Frankly, to use the words of Christ elsewhere, it’s impossible for man to enter into this because we always want to look to ourselves, and it is only by a miracle of God that we would ever look away from ourselves completely and trust Christ. So, yeah, the gate is narrow and the way is hard in that—Christ says this in other places and we talked to this a couple of weeks ago—if we follow Jesus, we will live a cruciform life in that we follow a crucified suffering Messiah, so our lives will also be characterized by weakness and we will encounter harm and hatred for his name. It will not be an easy way to live. I think that’s what he’s trying to illustrate there.
Jon Moffitt: This is not disconnected from the context of being perfect; this is the outflow of it. As a matter of fact, he gives something above it. “However you wish to be treated, treat other people that way, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Then he says, “Oh, and by the way, entering into the gate is hard. It’s narrow. There are few that find it.” Why? Because it requires you to abandon yourself; any self-worth, any self-righteousness is what he is talking about.
Then he says to them, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruits.” Again, this is where we get into fruit checking. What I think is interesting in the context, Jesus is saying you’re looking for the fruits of the false teachers, and you’re trying to use that to be aware of it. Some would ask what Jesus is pointing out about what they are teaching that is false. I have to say, Jesus, I think, has made it very clear that the false teaching is that you are saved by the law.
Justin Perdue: I think the false teaching in particular that he’s pointing out in his immediate context is the false teaching of the Pharisees who have told people, maybe by God’s grace, to do these things well enough and you will be righteous.
Jon Moffitt: Again, we like to put things on the text. It’s sad when this happens: when you have preachers or teachers who will make this context about lazy Christians or sinful Christians or people in general. Now they’re trying to say that Jesus is trying to straighten these people up. You can say you follow Jesus and live however you want—and that’s what Jesus is pointing out. It’s like they’re saying, if you’re going to follow Jesus, it’s going to be hard, and you need to be aware of these people because they’re going to have bad fruit. Jesus is not talking about people who are claiming to follow him. He’s talking to people who won’t follow him. That’s the problem. They won’t follow him because they don’t see a need for him, because they have their own righteousness. Don’t put your context on what Jesus is saying. Listen to what Jesus is saying in his own context.
Justin Perdue: Really, at the heart of what Jesus is trying to expose in the entire sermon, but in this context too immediately in chapter seven, is this thing that we talk about all the time: where is your trust and confidence? Are you trusting in yourself and what you’re doing or are you trusting in Christ? It’s very clear that what Christ is aiming to do is destroy any possibility of us trusting in ourselves, and he is inviting us to trust in him.
Now we come to verses 21 to 23.
Jon Moffitt: Before we do, it’s the famous verses that are used, and I do think they are connected. It says, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
Justin Perdue: He’s talking about teachers though. False prophets, etc.
Jon Moffitt: He is. He does say every healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a deceased tree bear good fruit. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, he’s talking about good fruit and bad fruit. Justin, what fruit is he talking about here? We just have to ask it. We put into the text what we think Jesus is saying, but can we look at Matthew 5-7 and determine what Jesus means by this context of fruit?
Justin Perdue: The illustration of a tree and its fruit is used. I want to say a few things. First of all, if we’re talking about fruit that has any kind of value, we’re talking about the fruit of God’s Spirit. Full stop. It’s very clear that only the Holy Spirit of God can produce that fruit. It’s important that when we talk about a tree and the fruit, that we understand the relationship of the tree to the fruit. Many people before me have said this, but it just bears repeating right now, that the tree being alive is what causes it to produce fruit. The fact that there is fruit on the tree does not make the tree alive. You can’t invert the relationship. So life produces fruit; fruit does not produce life. When we are talking about fruit, biblically, we are always in the realm of evidence and demonstration of life that has been given by God to somebody. This is why willpower religion will never square with the gospel of Christ, because you cannot reverse engineer this, and you cannot white knuckle this thing and produce the kind of fruit that Christ is talking about. You can’t do it. Only God can.
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. So in context, self-righteousness, obedience to the law and laws that aren’t even Christ’s law—these are manmade Jewish laws—and Jesus is saying you will know them by their fruit. You’re going to see it. You’re going to see the self-righteousness and know they’re a false teacher, because that is not what Jesus is talking about.
Justin Perdue: Yeah. The bad fruit is that. The good fruit is what I was describing.
Jon Moffitt: Exactly. That is where we find ourselves.
Justin Perdue: Matthew 7: 21-23. I’m just going to read them so that they’re in the minds and the ears of our listeners, and then we’ll talk about it. “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?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Let’s walk through this, Jon, and just riff a little bit.
Verse 21, “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.” Immediately, when I hear those words of doing the will of my Father in heaven, my mind goes to John 6, where Jesus is very clear about what it is to do the works of God. Effectively, he says in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” I don’t think we can forget that. You may call Jesus Lord, and you may call upon him, but have you trusted in him whom the Father has sent? And if you are doing that, in one sense, you are doing the works of God. But that’s just one observation on verse 21.
Then notice in verse 22, there will be many who say to Jesus at the end of history, “Lord, Lord, did we not do all of these things in your name? Did we not do all of these works in your name?” Christ’s response to them is, “Depart from me; I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness.” I think it has to be observed in the context of the Sermon on the Mount. You have people who are calling upon Christ and who are saying to him, “Jesus, we’re legitimate. Look at all we did in your name. We did it in your name. Look at all this stuff we did.” And he says, “Depart from me.” It’s very clear that they are trusting in something else besides him alone. They are not looking to him; they are, in some measure, looking to the works they have done in his name. Christ says to those people, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”
I want to also observe from verse 23 that we can’t forget something like John 10, where Jesus is very clear that he knows his own and that his own know him. They hear his voice and they follow after him. “I give them eternal life. They’ll never perish. Nobody can pluck them from my hand.”
This situation is very clear in the context of everything that we’ve been saying. The people that are going to come to Christ and call upon him, and Jesus is going to look at them and say, “Depart from me,” are people who are still trusting in their own righteousness. They are looking to work that they have performed in Christ’s name. Jesus is going to tell them, “Your confidence and your trust is misplaced. You, in fact, are not my sheep because my sheep know me and follow me and trust in me, not in anything else.”
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. He gets some parables to explain to them, “If you reject what I’m saying, you’re a fool.” He says to them, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew…” Anyways, we all have all heard the story. Then at the very end, Matthew writes at verse 28, “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. He came in and basically said, “Thus says the Lord. And if you don’t believe this, you’re damned.”
Justin Perdue: The Sermon on the Mount—just a brief theological comment here. It is so similar to when the law was given the first time through Moses at Sinai. The law then is given through a mediator on a mountain, written on tablets of stone. But then Jesus now shows up as the new and greater Moses on a mountain side, and is going to really give people the law. People are shocked and astonished at what he says, because it’s like you said, it’s, “Thus saith the Lord”. This has come directly from God himself, and we, for the first time are hearing rightly what God requires of us, and this is astonishing.
Jon Moffitt: The tender, poor person who legitimately worries, “Is God going to look at me and say He never knew me?” There are people who listen to this podcast, and I know you struggle with that. You’re afraid that when you get to heaven, that you weren’t genuine, you truly didn’t believe, you truly didn’t repent enough, you didn’t do good enough works—it almost sounds like Roman Catholicism—and it’s pietism. It’s this constant introspection of, “Am I doing enough to basically prove to God I deserve to be let in and not be left out in the cold by the Father? I want to make sure this is a done deal.” This is not who Jesus is talking to. As a matter of fact, to that dear precious person who is beat down by the law, you know what he says to you? “Just come to me and I’m going to give you rest.” These harsh words, you know who they’re for? They’re for the person who has the confidence in themselves saying, “Well, I’ve done all the right things. I’ve said all the right things. I am good. Therefore God should accept me.” And Jesus says, “I don’t know you that I don’t save people like you because you don’t need to be saved. I save people who crumble under their sin and say, ‘Oh, wretched man that I am. Who will save me from this body of death?'” To quote Paul in Romans 7.
Justin Perdue: God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. That’s in Scripture. Now He is opposed to every proud person, He is opposed to people who are trusting in themselves that they are righteous. But to those who have been humbled and crushed by the law, what does Christ say? You already said it. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I’ll give you rest. Come take my yoke.” Again, the yolk was an image he used of the law. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” That’s the invitation of Christ to all those who are poor in spirit, to all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, to all those who are meek, who have been crushed by God’s holy requirements and know they don’t meet the test. He says, “Come to me and find rest, righteousness, peace, absolution, and forgiveness.”
John 6:37, where Jesus says, “All the Father gives to me will come to me and all who come to me, I will never cast out.” Christ never turns people away who come to him in faith, and who come to him knowing that they can’t achieve righteousness and need him to do it. It’s only those who are proud and self-righteous, who are trusting in some measure in themselves, that Christ would be opposed to.
Jon Moffitt: Someone may ask, “How do I know if I’ve heard the voice of Jesus?” He says, “My sheep hear my voice and they know me and I know them.” I will tell you this: if you can look at yourself and say, “There’s no way that I measure up to what God requires.” “Be as perfect as I am.” I can’t do that. I’ve never been able to do it a moment. I’ve never loved God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and I’ve definitely not loved my neighbor.
If you feel that, this is what Jesus’ voice sounds like: “If you do not want to be condemned and held accountable for this violation against the Father, then you come to me and I’ll receive that punishment. In turn, I’m going to give you my obedience. I’m going to give you my righteous garments that you are going to wear. And the Father is going to look at you and say, ‘My child.'” That’s what Jesus’ voice sounds like. That’s where rest is found. If you are hearing the gospel message of you want to be set free from your guilt, you want all the required righteousness that God requires of you, to be in His presence, then come to Jesus. It is that simple. By faith, trust in God’s imputation of His righteousness and His replacement of you on the cross. It really is that simple.
Jesus keeps saying that over and over and over; it is that simple, but you must first see yourself as sick and sinful, a wretch. This is why it says that Jesus spent time with sinners because that’s who he came to save. Why would he go spend time with the righteous? They don’t want him. He’s going to go spend time with the sinners because those people are going to want him
Justin Perdue: And sinners gravitated toward him in his earthly ministry, and sinners still do the same. Paul, also in Romans 7, says, “Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.” What a tender, gentle, kind, and loving Savior we have, and he bids us come to him for all of the things that we’ve been talking about.
Jon Moffitt: The most harsh you’ve ever seen Jesus is when his temper is appropriately brought to a high level. The words that come out of his mouth, like “viper”, and things like that, he is not talking to those who have morally and socially destroyed their lives. He’s talking to those who are presenting themselves as acceptable in his presence. He’s saying, “I’m God, and you’re going to come approach me as an equal? How dare you?”
Justin Perdue: Or, like you said, “viper” or “hypocrite”, he tells the Pharisees that they’re like whitewashed tombs; they have it all together on the outside and inside they’re dying. Even when he pronounces woe upon not only the scribes and Pharisees, but also on certain cities. He’ll say that, “If the works that had been done in you had been done in Nineveh, Nineveh would have repented,” or, “It will be better on the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for you.”
The posture is we don’t need Jesus, we don’t want Jesus, we’re fine as we are, we’ve got this thing figured out, and we’re doing just fine at pleasing the Lord—Christ’s word to that is “woe to you.” Judgment, condemnation, wrath. He’s opposed to people like that. But for those who are sinners, weak, meek, and all those who come to him knowing they’re sick, knowing their need, he is gentle, lowly, gracious, and tender.
Like I said a minute ago, I just want to say it again: it is no shock that the sinners and tax collectors are the ones who gathered around Christ at various points in his ministry, when the Pharisees didn’t want anything to do with Jesus. It was those who knew they were a wreck who were drawn to him—and that still is true in the church. It’s true for all of us who know that we are a mess, and that we are looking inside and we find no place to stand, and we know that we rightly should bear the wrath and condemnation of God. Even after trusting in Jesus, we could never do enough to have earned God’s favor, or to have turned ourselves into the kind of person that God would have been happy to save. So we’re always looking to Jesus, and God gives grace.
Jon Moffitt: It’s interesting for those who hear the voice of Jesus, they say, “Oh, it is good to be in the house of the Lord because we will be reminded once again that we were brought here on the grace of our Father.” He brought us here. But to the self-righteous, they will say, “Oh, it’s good to be in the house of the Lord because it is here that I have earned my righteousness. It is here that I will prove that this week I have been faithful.”
Justin Perdue: Piggybacking on that: one person says, “It’s good to be in the house of the Lord because this is where I come and bring an offering to God that pleases Him. This is where I come to do something and give something to God that He desires.” The other person says, “It is good to be in the house of the Lord because I come in absolute desperate need, and I know my faithful Father is going to meet me here, and He’s going to give me what I need, and He’s going to give me His son in the Word and in the sacrament. I come empty and needy that I might be filled, nourished, and sustained.” One is a posture, I think, that is commensurate with what Christ is saying in the Sermon on the Mount, and another one, though well-intentioned, I think, is misguided. God is honored very much when we know that we are in need, when we know we’re sick, and that we’re not righteous, and we need him to give us what we could never do and accomplish on our own.
Jon Moffitt: For that sensitive conscience out there that really truly is feeling this fear. First of all, Safe in Christ, the primer on assurance, I would recommend that. I would also recommend our episode that we did on assurance. If you are afraid that God’s going to abandon you on the day of judgment, He will abandon you. Absolutely. It’s not abandonment—He’s going to reject you if you were showing up holding your own self-righteousness as a means by which God should accept you. You should be terrified. But if you’re standing there utterly disgusted with yourself, saying there is nothing good in you that God would ever accept, and if you don’t have Jesus, you’re doomed, He will not turn you away.
Justin Perdue: He will never turn you away. If you come with the attitude of, “I got nothing. I’ve got only what Christ has given me,” there is no reason to fear. You will never be lost and you will never be turned away, not because you are strong, but because Christ is strong. You will never be lost and you will never be turned away, not because you won’t fail, but because Christ will never fail you. We look to Jesus always. I’ll talk about this more in the members’ area, maybe, but that kind of wrestling, even over Matthew 7 in particular, is not lost on me because these verses would come up in my mind and heart for years and years and would just rob me of any peace. I was convinced that I was going to be one of those people, that I will have spent my life sincerely meaning to trust and follow Christ, and at the end of it all, it will have been for nothing, because he’s going to look at me and he’s going to see right through me. He’s going to see that I’m a sinner and that I just am not worthy, and he’s going to say, “Depart from me.” My word to that weary saint is you most certainly are not worthy, but this has never been about your worthiness; this has always been about Christ’s worthiness and Christ’s work for you. God loves and delights to save all of those who trust in His Son.
Jon Moffitt: For those of you that are new, we have another podcast that we do where it’s kind of the unfiltered version. We’re going to go deeper and farther into this conversation. It’s for those who want to take this conversation to the next level, where they really want to dive into a Reformed biblical understanding and understand how it is that we can. Help others find rest in Christ. You can find out more about that by going to our website, theocast.org. There are all kinds of new stuff coming.
There’s a new membership coming. Stay tuned for that. It’s so hard not to talk about it, but it’s going to be amazing. I can’t even tell you. It’s a lot of work so we’re also going to need your prayer and support on that. New website, new membership, all kinds of stuff coming, and a new book. Can we tell them what the new book is?
Justin Perdue: We’re looking at another primer on Reformed theology.
Jon Moffitt: What is Reformed theology? Stay tuned for that.
Thank you for listening. Let us know if you have any questions or any comments, or if this was helpful. Leave us a review. Leave us a comment. It’s always encouraging to see how God is advancing the gospel and encouraging people to rest in Christ.
We’ll see you next week.