The Matthew Principle: Matthew 9:9-13

The Matthew Principle: Matthew 9:9-13
“9) As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. 10) Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11) When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12) But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 12) But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”” Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭9‬-‭13‬ ‭
We now have the call of Matthew. He was sitting in a tax office and as Jesus passed by He said to Him, “Follow Me.” With that simple invitation he rose up and followed Jesus.
The next verse paints the picture that Matthew invited Jesus into His home to meet his family, friends and acquaintances. Many tax-gathers and sinners were invited to a meal with Jesus and His disciples hosted by Matthew.
Herein we discover one of the ministry principles of Jesus. He viewed every person reached as an open door to an entire new group of people. Instead of cutting Matthew off from his family and fiends, Jesus welcomed the opportunity to meet and minister to his family and friends.
This concept was extremely dynamic. It opened the door to reach hundreds and thousands of new people. This helps explain the rapid spread of the gospel by the early church. They followed the example of Jesus and formed many home groups to minister to friends, relatives and acquaintances of those open to the gospel. (See Acts 2:46-47; 10:23-24)
Rapidly growing churches embrace this dynamic concept. They follow “the Matthew Principle” and grow by intensional multiplication. They design opportunities for new people to reach their family, friends and work associates.
Stagnant churches do just the opposite. They practice division and subtraction. When someone comes to Jesus they isolate and separate them from their family, friends and associates. The result could be called turtle growth. Instead of extending outward, they retreat inward into their shell.
When the Pharisees saw what was happening, they became jealous and critical of Jesus. They were the ultimate turtle society. They were a small and exclusive group of self-righteous critics. It’s amazes me how many churches become turtle gatherings.
Jesus sent the Pharisees a strong rebuke. “11) … He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 12) But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””
In other words, Jesus was doing exactly what He intended on doing. He was launching “the Matthew Principle.” He was walking through many open doors for the glory of God. He was going to sinful, lost and hurting people with mercy and compassion and offering hope, forgiveness and a new life. He then did everything possible to make every new convert contagious! He started a movement that changed the course of human history.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Authority to Forgive Sins: Matthew 9:1-8

Authority to Forgive Sins: Matthew 9:1-8
“1) And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2) And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3) And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5) For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6) But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7) And he rose and went home. 8) When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭1‬-‭8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
This story unfolds with a unique twist. Rather than the focus being on the power of Jesus to heal a paralytic, it shifts to the authority of Jesus to forgive sins. This is a huge change in the conversation.
Some Old Testament prophets healed people and even raised the dead, but the forgiving of sin was left to God alone. The scribes were correct, by His statement to the paralytic; “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”, Jesus was making a claim of being God!
A casual reading of this story might miss the significance of what happened. The scribes reaction and opposition to His statement actually underlined His claim. Critics are sometimes worth their weight in gold.
These scribes focused the story back on Jesus. Without the critics we might conclude that the main subject was the faith of the paralytic and his friends. Granted, this was a noteworthy miracle, but in this story Jesus served up something far greater than a miracle. He presented Himself as the Saviour with the authority to forgive sins.
I’ve had conversations with people from many different world religions and even different Christian denominations. At some point I throw in the key question; “How does your religion remove your sins?” Another way of asking the question; “How do you know your sins are forgiven?”
Usually they ask; “What do you mean by sins?” I then say; “The wrong or bad things you have done in your life! Those things you feel guilt over.” It doesn’t take long to acknowledge personal sinfulness, but they always draw a blank when it comes to assurance of forgiveness.
The conversation usually boils down to an attempt to do good deeds to offset their sins. I then ask, “At what point do you know you’ve done enough good to cover your bad and who is the judge?” They finally admit, “I just hope I’m good enough.”
At that point they are ready for my next question; “Do you mind if I share with you how I know God has forgiven my sins?” The answer is usually, “Yes, please tell me!” I then share the gospel and why Jesus alone has the authority to forgive sins.
That’s what makes this story in Matthew 8:1-8 so significant. It begs the question; “Who is Jesus Christ, and what gives Him the authority to forgive sins and change the eternal destiny of those who believe in Him?” This story is an open door for the gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Authority Over the Demonic Realm: Matthew 8:28-34

Authority Over the Demonic Realm: Matthew 8:28-34
“28) When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29) And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30) Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31) The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32) And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33) The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34) And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.” Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭28‬-‭34‬ ‭
We now have an account of Jesus going into the land of the Gadarenes. Immediately, he was met by two demon possessed men who were exceedingly violent. Mark 5:1-20 tells the same story with many additional details. In the Mark account there was one man that Jesus focused on. I assume he was the primary spokesman.
Mark focuses more on the tragic physical, mental and emotional torment being inflicted by the demons. Apart from saying they were violent, Matthew focuses on the exchange between Jesus and the demoniacs. Let me share a few brief observations from this text.
First, from verse 29 we discover that the demons recognized Jesus. They called Him the Son of God. We can conclude that the realm of angels and demons know the identity of Jesus.
Second, they asked if He had “come to torment us before the time?” What an irony. They were tormenting people, but they understood the dynamics would one day change. They faced a future of judgement and torment.
Third, they made reference to “before the time?” Satan as the god of this world and his kingdom of darkness has limited time. These demons understood that the Messiah was about to step on the head of the serpent. At some point God was going to hold them accountable and they would face eternal judgement. (See Revelation 19-20)
Forth, it seems that this gave them some “wiggle room” to negotiate with Jesus. They entreated Him to send them into the swine. They understood both the Sovereignty of Jesus and that the kingdom of darkness still had time to be active in the world.
I often ponder why God allows the kingdom of darkness any degree of time and jurisdiction in this present world. The primary answer I keep coming back to is that “God is not done with them yet!” Like in the book of Job, God sets the parameters, but trials and testing are part of this present world. 1 Peter 1:6-9 concludes that trials refine the faith of believers like gold. What Satan means for evil, God turns to good.
Finally, from Matthew 8:28-34 we discover that Jesus had absolute authority over the demonic realm. Keep in mind, this episode unfolded before His death, burial and resurrection. If He had authority over the realm of darkness back then, it has now been multiplied many times over since His resurrection, glorification and ascension.
I personally believe God has granted Satan and His kingdom of darkness more time in this age as a training ground for His church. God wants every Christian to grow in faith and discover our authority “in Christ.” A brief survey of the book of Ephesians defends this theory. (Ephesians 1:3, 1:19-21; 3:10; 6:10-20) The balance of the New Testament adds clarity to this purpose for the church age.
The clock is ticking. Satan’s time is running out. God is not done with him yet, nor has the church fully embraced its authority and power “in Christ.” The early disciples were treated to front row seats in discovering the broad range of the authority of Jesus Christ. From this encounter they discovered that it included authority over the kingdom of darkness and the demonic realm.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Authority Over The Weather: Mathew 8:23-27

Authority Over The Weather: Mathew 8:23-27
“23) And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24) And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25) And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26) And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27) And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”” Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭23‬-‭27‬ ‭
They now got in a boat to cross over the Sea of Galilee. This was most likely a boat from the fleet of the sons of Zebedee. Four of the disciples were former fishermen. Peter, Andrew, James and John had spent their lives in boats on the Sea of Galilee. They were now on their own turf. They were home. They were in control. It was time for Jesus to relax and take a nap.
Do you ever feel that way? You are so confident and in control that you don’t need God? You’ve got this one covered without Him!
Then the unexpected happened. That’s usually when the big storm hits. The winds began to rage, the boat was being smashed by the waves. They were close to sinking. They were out of control. They were filled with fear.
But where was Jesus? This amazes me… He was sound asleep! He was peacefully sleeping right through the raging storm.
Then they awoke Him saying, “Save us, Lord, we are perishing!” They saw no need to appeal to Him until things were totally out of control. That’s usually the point at which most people turn to prayer. Most people turn to God as their last resort.
Then the most amazing thing happened. “He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” His actions sucked the raging energy right out of the waves. The sea instantly became as flat as glass. The outward storm suddenly aligned with His inward calm.
Most people need to ponder this for a while to appreciate the magnitude of this miracle. The waves were most likely several feet high and smashing against the boat. These waves were going to rage all across the Sea of Galilee until they hit the rocks on shore.
The waves had momentum and were loaded with energy. But at His rebuke, the wave about to smash against the boat suddenly flattened out and became perfectly calm. But it wasn’t just the next wave about to hit the boat; all the waves on the entire sea suddenly flattened out and became perfectly calm.
According to the laws of physics … that’s impossible… except under one condition. “An object in motion stays in motion until it is met by an equal or greater force in the opposite direction.” Conclusion: the words and authority of Jesus were a greater force than strong winds and raging waves.
Let me put this in perspective and illustrate the laws of physics at play in this story. Let’s assume we have an intersection where a street crosses a railway track. From one direction comes a small subcompact car down the road at 50 MPH. But on the rail tracks a mile long train is also coming at 50 MPH with the momentum of thousands of tons of energy stored in all of those moving train cars. What’s going to happen when car and train collide at the intersection? Because the car is not a force big enough to counter the force of the train, it will be utterly destroyed as it immediately changes course to match the direction and momentum of the energy of the train.
Now back to our story. The energy in all of those waves raging in motion on the sea of Galilee far surpasses the energy stored in the mile long train mentioned above. What about the energy in the little boat? It was already at the mercy of the waves. It was being tossed about like a piece of drift wood.
We can now appreciate this story. Jesus suddenly stood up in the little boat and rebuked the winds and the sea. Result: The winds and waves were suddenly met by a greater force! They became perfectly calm. Let me emphasize; the laws of physics would conclude that the waves and winds were countered by a force equal too or greater than themselves. (This gives me goose bumps!)
I know the disciples were not physicists, but look at their response to what they witnessed; “27) … What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Raging seas take hours to calm down, but Jesus did it instantly! This miracle made a greater impression on them than all the healings they had previously witnessed. Why? It was monumental!
This miracle is in the category of God dividing the Red Sea under Moses or stopping up the Jordan River under Joshua. It begs the question; “Who is this man, that even the winds and the sea obey Him.”
You cannot read this story and conclude that Jesus was just and ordinary man. Let’s add together the evidence presented by Matthew: He had authority in His Teaching, He had authority over leprosy, He had authority over time and space, He had authority over Himself, and now He had authority over the weather… and Matthew is not done with his report about Jesus yet!
We can now understand the growing suspicion of the disciples about the identity of Jesus Christ… “What kind of man is this?” They were beginning to suspect that the Son of man was indeed the Son of God.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Authority Over Himself: Matthew 8:18-22

Authority Over Himself: Matthew 8:18-22
“18) Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. 19) Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20) Jesus *said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 21) Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 22) But Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”” Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭18‬-‭22‬
This is an amusing text, and at first glance it seems to be more informative than instructive. But Jesus wasted no words, therefore we must assume that the Holy Spirit had reason for including these two stories in the inspired text. Let’s avoid the tendency to skip over these verses. Instead, let’s try to dig for some gold in these verses. There are at least two gold nuggets buried in this text.
First, if we stay the course with our theme that Matthew was presenting examples of area’s where Jesus displayed authority, an interesting insight emerges from these two encounters. It seems that the Son of Man had authority over Himself! Let me explain.
It is natural for people in this world to make a priority of pursuing material security and family approval. These two longings can become huge distractions for those trying to become disciples of Christ. But God wants us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” while trusting Him to provide these things that worldly values count as “essentials.” A fixation on these two longings can become costly distractions for men and women seeking to follow and serve Christ.
The Son on Man had conquered both of these in His own life. You ask, “in what ways?” First, though he was the carpenters son and had built homes for many others, He Himself had no place to lay His own head. He did not even compare well with foxes which had dens or birds which had nests. Was He a failure or had He conquered this innate longing?
Second, as the son of Mary in the absence of His step father, it was expected that Jesus would expend His life caring for His widowed mother and step brothers and sisters. It seems that He did this up until age thirty when He entered His public ministry. At that point he endured much family scorn and public ridicule to focus on His calling. He remained single mined and fixed His focus on the cross that awaited Him. It appears that the Son of Man had authority over Himself.
This is what eventually won the devotion of His step brothers James and Jude. The Holy Spirit later used each of them to write a book of the New Testament. When we put God first in seeking His Kingdom, He writes the chapters for our lives and abundantly takes care of the very things that cause worry, stress and anxiety.
The way Jesus replied to the two men who wanted to follow Him was neither cruel nor insensitive. He was merely saying that they would be their own worse enemy in seeking to follow and serve the Son of Man. Those who want to serve God need to die to themselves. The Son of man was no exception to this principle. He had come to the place of having authority over Himself.
But there is more gold in this text. Jesus knew the battle within each man that approached Him. He understood their struggles. He spoke to their weakness. He personalized His response to each of them. This was not rejection, it was zeroing in on their inner war.
I believe every man and woman who sincerely seeks to follow Christ will fight inner wars. It has been true in my life. I have often been my own worse enemy. Dying to self has not been easy for me. From this text, I understand that Jesus knows my inner battles and He tailors His grace and counsel to my needs. He has a personal interest in each of us!
Through the years, He has faithfully addressed my “current” inner battles and struggles through each stage and chapter of life. Though I have let Him down, He has never let me down. Do not let anyone or anything undermine the truth that Jesus is for you and not against you!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Authority Over All Human Oppression: Matthew 8:14-17

Authority Over All Human Oppression: Matthew 8:14-17
“14) When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. 15) He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him. 16) When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 17) This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”” Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭14‬-‭17‬ ‭
As Matthew chapter eight unfolds, the momentum builds in illustrating the authority of Jesus. Let’s review what we have discovered so far:
*First, chapter seven closed with Him having authority in His Teaching. *Second, He had authority over leprosy. *Third, He had authority over time and space.
Now as Jesus enters Peters home, we are met with a monumental disclosure, Jesus had authority over a mother-in-law! (Sorry, I have a sense of humor and couldn’t resist!)
Actually, he not only healed her fever, but also ministered to the crowd that soon gathered at their door. He set free all who were demon possessed and heal all who were ill.
I can only imagine the marvel of His disciples. Matthew was so moved that he connected what he witnessed with the prophecy of Isaiah; “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” He connected what he was seeing to Isaiah 53:4.
But wait, Jesus had authority over all human oppression, but what about the rest of what Isaiah said in His prophecy? Was Jesus going to suffer and be pierced through to pay for all human sin and iniquity? Was there any case to severe for Him?
This is what amazes me most about Matthew 8:16. It is also what utterly astounded Matthew and the other disciples; “He healed all who were ill!”
I don’t know how long the line was that evening or how many different human ailments came before Him, but He healed them all! For that matter, I’ve studied the four gospels over and over again and cannot find one case where His power fell short of setting the captives free or healing the sick, injured or broken.
It would have only taken one failure for the growing suspicion of Matthew to be invalidated! The same observation was made in Matthew 4:23-24. Though the ailments varied greatly, “He healed them all.”
The question that was foremost on Matthew’s mind; “Is Jesus the Messiah?” The stage was being set for the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross! One healing failure would have negated His claim of Deity!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Authority Over Leprosy: Matthew 8:1-4

Authority Over Leprosy: Matthew 8:1-4
“1) When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2) And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3) Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4) And Jesus *said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭1‬-‭4‬ ‭
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed His. Suddenly, the parade was interrupted by a man with leprosy.
According to Leviticus 13:45-46, a person with leprosy became a social outcast. He lived alone with his dwelling outside the camp. When in public, his clothes were torn and the hairs of his head were uncovered. As he walked about, he would cover his mustache with his hands and cry out; “Unclean, Unclean!” People would shun and avoid him like a plague.
As the crowd accompanied Jesus, a leper stood in the path blocking their way. Instead of crying out “Unclean, Unclean”, he bowed down before Jesus saying, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” His well practiced staccato voice from crying out “Unclean, Unclean” was most likely heard by the whole crowd.
The crowd stood back and watched in astonishment as the scene unfolded. If Jesus physically touched the leper, he would become unclean. But if He was indeed God, He had the authority to heal the leper.
Initially, Jesus said nothing. Instead, He stretch out His hand and touched Him. That touch healed much more than His leprosy. Jesus was the first and only hand that had physically touched him from the day he had been pronounced a leper.
The inner healing was monumental. Jesus was ministering to his fractured inner core. He could have healed his leprosy without touching him. But with that touch Jesus was sent a message. It said; “You have value!” “You are not an untouchable!” “I accept you!”
I believe Jesus wants to touch you as well. He wants to heal your inner core. He wants to impart value, acceptance, healing and love into your life. Maybe it’s time for you to bow before and cry out; “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Then Jesus spoke; “I am willing; be cleansed.” Those words would mean nothing coming from anyone other than Jesus. Only He had the power and authority to heal leprosy. He also has the authority and power to heal whatever is broken within you and me.
As the crowd watched, the skin on the leper changed. The open soars and deformed skin were restored to normal. He was healed both inwardly and outwardly. He was a new man!
He then told him to go and be examined by the priest to confirm his healing. This involved a trip to the temple in Jerusalem. Then he was to offer the sacrifice that the Law prescribed for the healing of a leper. He was to do this as a witness to the priests. I can only imagine the conversation about Jesus that unfolded between the healed leper and the priest. God wants all of us to be a witness of what Jesus does in our lives.
But one mystery remains. Who was this leprous man. The text does not say, but Mark 14:3 says something very intriguing that often goes unnoticed. As the fateful Passover was approaching during which Jesus was crucified, He started His journey to Jerusalem. Look at what the text says; “3) And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper and reclining at table …”. Could this be the same man Jesus had healed three years earlier as He launched His public ministry? It is only speculation, but the circumstances seem to line up.
But there is a more important observation to glean from the text. This leper was no longer a social outcast. He had become a friend in the inner circle of Jesus and His disciples. This former leper hosted them and they dined with him.
Jesus wants to dine with you and me as well. Revelation 3:20 says; “20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” This was literally true for “Simon the leper.” It can be true for us as well. Jesus wants to be part of our inner circle.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global ‭

Jesus Starts to Display His Authority. Matthew 7:28-29

Jesus Starts to Display His Authority. Matthew 7:28-29
“28) When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29) for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭28‬-‭29‬
Jesus was very different from the scribes. He never shunned away from any subject, and He tackles them all with authority.
The scribes and many people pleasing pastors today avoid controversial issues. They want approval from people. They are willing to bend God’s Word and even condone sinful living so as not to offend people.
Jesus did just the opposite. He forced people to deal with truth and left the with the realization that they were sinful, lost and in need of a Savior. The Sermon on the Mountain set the tone for His whole ministry.
Jesus spoke the truth in love. He exposed sin and pointed the way to salvation. He came to seek and save the lost. Because of His identity, His teaching was the Word of God. Isaiah 66:1-2 punctuates this thought. It ends by saying; “2)… But to this one will I look, to him who is humble and contrite, and who trembles at my word.”
God’s Word is the standard of truth. It is the foundation of good and bad, right and wrong. It not politically correct, it is theologically correct! It points to the narrow gate and the narrow road. It leaves all people as sinful and lost and in need of a Savior.
But let’s not loose sight of the significance of these two verses. The people where amazed with Jesus Himself and not merely His teaching. He displayed absolute authority in His teaching, but in the next two chapters, His authority is going to extend too many area’s that mere mortals have no control or authority over.
Stay tuned, this is about to get very interesting. We are about to wrestle with the true identity of Jesus Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global.

The Story of Two Houses: Matthew 7:24-27

The Story of Two Houses: Matthew 7:24-27
““24) Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26) Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27) The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”” Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭24‬-‭27‬
Jesus closed the Sermon on the Mountain with the story of two houses. In the story, two people built themselves a house with totally different outcomes. It appears that they lived in the same area, because they both experienced the same storm, but one stood fast and the other was destroyed.
The spiritual side of the illustration is that they attended the same church, heard the same sermons, maybe had the same version of the Bible and even knew many of the same people. But their outcomes were totally different.
Have you noticed all the comparisons of two’s in last part of Matthew chapter seven? Two gates, two roads, two trees, two kinds of fruit and now two houses. Jesus is warning that two very similar people will face two radically different destinations.
Note, in the story of the two houses, the storm hit hard. The rain descended, the floods came and the winds blew. This was a severe trial. The rain tests your roof, the winds test your walls and the floods test your foundation.
Trials are going to come in life. 1 Peter 1:6-9 tells us that trials come to test our faith. They are intended to refine us like gold in fire. The outcome of genuine faith is the salvation of our souls.
It amazes me how often people go through very similar life circumstance but it affects them radically differently. On person seems to get stronger while another falls apart. Why? Trials expose us! They reveal our core make up.
In the story, one man built his house on the rock, the other build his house on the sand. One stood fast through the storms of life, while the other collapsed. What was the difference?
Jesus said it came down to how they responded to His words. They both heard His gospel. One acted upon it and the other did not. One received Him by faith and the other did not. One embraced Him and the other held Him at arms length. One was wondrously saved, the other was tragically lost!
The irony in the story is that man who built on the sand was religious. He listened to the same gospel about Jesus, but did not act upon it. He built his house on worldly sand. He was religious but lost! He acknowledged Jesus, but chose his own way in life.
This describes so many people today. What about you? Are you building on the solid rock or on sinking sand? Have you accepted Jesus Christ by faith and building your life on His Word, or are you merely religious… but lost?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

A Bold Claim To Deity: Matthew 7:21-23

A Bold Claim To Deity: Matthew 7:21-23
““21) 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 will enter. 22) 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?’ 23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭21‬-‭23‬ ‭
Something absolutely profound happened in these three verses that is often missed. Jesus makes a bold claim of being Deity. Look carefully; “Many will say to me on that ‘Lord, Lord.’” Did you see what just happened? Jesus claimed to be both Lord and eternal Judge.” He is the One we will all kneel before some day. (Philippians 2:9-11) Jesus just claimed to be the gate keeper to heaven!
This is often obscured by people who use this text to support the claim that a genuine Christian can loose their salvation. But Jesus said the opposite. Let me state the obvious; “You cannot loose what you never had!” Jesus said, “… I never knew you.” He did not say; “You once belonged to me, but I lost you.” He said; “… I never knew you!
That my friend is a very sobering thought, because these people thought they were Christians. They assumed that their religion, their church, their religious ceremonies and deeds of benevolence had saved them. They were tragically wrong! They were deceived.
Keep in mind, the context is talking about those who come through the wide gate, the broad way, false prophets, ravenous wolves, bad trees and bad fruit. (Read from Matthew 7:13-23) If you include Matthew 7:24-27, these are the ones who built their house on the sand. They were religious but lost.
But wait, another amazing thing happens in this text. Verse 22 says that these people prophesied, cast out demons and even performed miracles in the name of Jesus. How do you explain that? Well, it seems that the name of Jesus is authoritative and powerful no matter who evokes it! The name of Jesus Christ is recognized as preeminent in the spiritual realm.
For example, in Acts 16:13-16 some Jewish exorcists evoked the name of Jesus when attempting to cast out a demon. The demon recognized and acknowledged Jesus, but did not obey them.
I have no problem imagining that demons might cooperate and seem to leave in order to prop up a false prophet to deceive people. For that matter, false prophets can duplicate all kinds of false signs and wonders.
Look at what Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. The apostasy perpetrated by the man of lawlessness is going to come with many false signs and wonders to the point that he will display himself as being God. Paul refers to this as “the mystery of lawlessness.” Isn’t that coincidental with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:23? We again see the word “lawlessness.” The end goal is deception and eternal destruction. Many will be deceived.
Many people are religious but lost! The broad gate and the broad way will be full of religious people. Saul was religious but lost before he met Jesus Christ. In his zeal for God… he killed Christians. The chief priests and religious leaders who had Jesus crucified were religious but lost. According to the Bible, many devout followers of various world religions are religious but lost. Many who call themselves Christians are religious but lost. Jesus will say to them on that day; “ I never knew you: DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”
In John 3:1-21, Jesus had a very important conversation with a religious but lost man named Nicodemus. In verse 3, Jesus told him; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In verses 5-6, he added that a person needs to be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God.
The conversation builds to a climax in John 3:16-18. With these verses we discover that personal faith in Jesus Christ is the basis of salvation. These are the people who through personal faith invite Jesus Christ into their lives.
According to John 1:12; “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” We have just come full circle back to His name.
It is a very different thing to give religious lip service to His name than it is personally believe in Him, place saving faith in Him, invite Him into your life and become a child of God through faith in His name. Those who are born again in this way are known by Him. They are sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed into new people. This is what it means to be born again.
It behooves every person to study what it means to be born again from the Bible. Are you on the wide path or the narrow path? Are you trying to enter heaven through the wide gate or the narrow gate? Are you a child of God through personal faith in Jesus Christ or will He say to you; “ I never knew you: DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS”?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global