Jesus Christ is Lord!

Bible Book: Matthew  7 : 21-23
Subject: Lordship; Jesus is Lord

Arthur Gordon “Art” Linkletter (1912-2010), was born in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, where his biological parents abandoned him on the doorsteps of a local church. This Canadian-born American radio and television personality, “had his own term for hypocrisy. As he puts it, ‘My relationship to God had no real significance; I was, like millions of others, a cardboard Christian … I was doing it all on my own—I didn't need anybody. But we all need somebody.’ Art recalls a meeting he attended in a San Francisco hotel where he and ten young people knelt together in the lobby … to pray … ‘For a fleeting moment,’ Art admits, ‘I … hoped no one in the lobby would recognize me. But all that vanished almost instantly … and as we knelt and prayed together, I felt the joy and peace that come only through an absolute commitment to Christ’ (‘Art Linkletter Battles Drug Abuse’ by Ann Bradley, Christian Citizen Newsmagazine, March, 1981).”[1]

W. Phillip Keller (1915-2007) authored many books to include A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 and A layman Looks At The Lord's Prayer, shares the following in Walking With God: Wholeness and Holiness for Common Christians, “We may try to delude ourselves into believing we are ‘born again’—we may think because we subscribe to a certain creed, or engage eagerly in ecstatic, emotional experiences that we are walking with God. But it is utter self-deception if still our wills are set against doing God’s will. We can sing, pray, praise, perform miracles, and execute dramatic displays of supposed Christian service. But if we do not walk with God in our wills, it is all for naught. The most solemn, searching, sobering statement Jesus Christ ever made on this matter is this: . . .”[2] From Matthew 7:21-23 we read, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) comments, “These... are in many ways the most solemn and solemnizing words ever uttered in this world... to open our eyes... to the terrible danger of self-deception and self-delusion.”[3]

As you might know, our passage comes from the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5 through 7.

Allow me to share three pictures painted in this portion of our Lord’s address.

I. We see those proclaiming empty words about the sovereignty of the Lord.

We read in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Rev. William Secker (d. 1681?) writes in The Nonsuch Professor, “‘Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord — and do not do the things that I say?’ As if He had said, ‘Either keep My words more — or else call Me Lord no more! Either take Me into your lives — or cast Me out of your lips.’ As princes disdain to have their images on base counterfeits — so the Lord Jesus cannot delight to see His name on rotten hypocrites. Therefore He says, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ, depart from all iniquity.’ If godliness is evil — why is it so much professed? If godliness is good — why is it so little practiced?

‘Who has saved us — and called us with a holy calling.’ Now a holy calling — will be attended with a holy carriage. Many may be found who can talk of grace — but very few can be found who taste of grace. It is not everyone who looks like a Christian — who lives like a Christian. For there are some who make their boast of the law, and yet through breaking the law, they dishonor God. It is a greater glory to us, that we are allowed to serve God — than it is to Him, that we offer Him that service. He is not rendered happy by us — but we are made happy by Him. He can do without such earthly servants — but we cannot do without such a heavenly Master.

It is unnatural for a Christian’s tongue — to be larger than his hand. It is lamentable for him to hold a lamp to others — and yet to walk in darkness himself. There are more infected by the undue conduct of some — than there are instructed by the righteous doctrines of others. He who gives proper precepts, and then sets improper examples, resembles that foolish person, who labors hard to kindle a fire, and when he has done it, throws cold water upon it to quench it. Though such a physician may administer the reviving cordial to some fainting patient — yet he is in danger himself of dying in a swoon. I may say of such professors, as was once said of a certain preacher, that ‘when he was in the pulpit, it was a pity he should ever leave it — for he was so excellent an instructor. But when he was out of the pulpit, it was a pity he should ever ascend it again — for he was so wretched a liver!’

Many people are offended with the profession of religion, because all are not truly pious who make a profession. A little consideration will correct this error. Does the sheep despise its fleece, because the wolf has worn it? Who blames a crystal river — because some melancholy men have drowned themselves in its streams? Will you refuse medicine — because some have wantonly poisoned themselves with it? He is a bad steward, who having a spot in his garment, cuts off the cloth, instead of rubbing off the dirt. God rejects all religion — but His own.”[4]

Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Jesus continues, “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:47-49).

Paul the apostle warns in 1 Corinthians 12:3b, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” This statement does not contradict the words of Jesus. While anyone can say, “Jesus is Lord,” only those indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9b) can say it with meaning. Jesus warns against speaking empty words about his Lordship.

II. We see those doing evil works in the name of the Lord.

From Matthew 7:22, 23b, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? . . . you who practice lawlessness!’”

Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) writes, “How frightening it is to learn that you can pray in the name of the Lord Jesus and still be a hypocrite. You can preach in the name of the Lord Jesus and still be a hypocrite. You can perform in the name of the Lord Jesus and still be a hypocrite. And unless there is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hypocrites will find their place in outer darkness, for it is to people like this that Jesus will turn and say, " … I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:23). All this helps us to realize the nature of synthetic Christianity. There is in the world of religion that which is unreal, and at all costs we must renounce it.”[5]

We read in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:13, “Do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

We read in Jeremiah 13:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

Note the warning of Proverbs 21:4, “A haughty look, a proud heart, And the plowing of the wicked are sin.” This certainly covers preaching messages, pursuing minions, or performing marvels. These things can be done without the Holy Spirit. Unless these are directed by the Holy Spirit, they are sinful, no matter how it might seem to man. For over a century well-meaning people have asked, “What would Jesus do?” Our purpose is to do His will not to merely follow our impressions and inclinations. Rev. John H. Sammis (1846-1919) perceptively writes, “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.”[6]

III. We see those suffering eternal woes under the judgment of the Lord.

In Matthew 7:23 we read, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Jesus said in John 5:22-23, “The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

Dr. Roy B. Zuck (1932-2013), senior professor emeritus of Biblical Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, shares the following in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, “That Matthew saw divine prerogatives associated with the title ‘Lord’ are clear from two passages concerned with Jesus as the Judge who determines individuals' destinies. According to 7:22, many will profess allegiance to Jesus and be numbered among His followers but they will ultimately be banished from His presence. ‘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 perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (7:22-23)

In this context, calling Jesus ‘Lord’ formally identifies these individuals as followers of Christ, but ultimately this profession of faith is shown by their deeds to be false. It is noteworthy that the deeds that betray their false profession are not the miraculous and the spectacular. Their claims with regard to these deeds are not denied. Rather, they have not done the will of God (v. 21); the apparently prosaic and unspectacular deeds have been left undone.”[7]

Dr. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) writes, “Let us take notice of this. It requires far more than most people seem to think necessary, to save a soul. We may be baptized in the name of Christ, and boast confidently of our ecclesiastical privileges. We may possess head-knowledge, and be quite satisfied with our own state. We may even be preachers, and teachers of others, and do ‘many wonderful works’ in connection with our church. But all this time are we practically doing the will of our Father in heaven? Do we truly repent, truly believe on Christ, and live holy and humble lives? If not, in spite of all our privileges and profession, we shall miss heaven at last, and be forever cast away. We shall hear those dreadful words, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me.’

The day of judgment will reveal strange things. The hopes of many, who were thought great Christians while they lived, will be utterly confounded. The rottenness of their religion will be exposed and put to shame before the whole world. It will then be proved, that to be saved means something more than ‘making a profession.’ We must make a ‘practice’ of our Christianity as well as a ‘profession.’ Let us often think of that great day. Let us often ‘judge ourselves, that we be not judged,’ and condemned by the Lord. Whatever else we are, let us aim at being real, true, and sincere.”[8]


Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) shared, “You remember the lighthouse that was built off the coast of England by Winstanley. The architect was confident that the structure was strong, and laughed at the criticisms upon it. To show his confidence, he took up his abode in the building. In the midst of that fearful November storm, how little that confidence availed him as the structure was caught in the grasp of the winds and shaken to pieces! Now another lighthouse stands there well founded, well builded, and lights the mariner to the safe harbour. So that character that is rightly founded and builded in Christ will not only be secure itself, but light others to security.”[9]

W. Phillip Keller concludes, “It remains a melancholy mystery how men and women can set their wills for almost every other purpose in life, yet find it abhorrent to set their wills to walk with God. Of course, to a degree this does depend on how they have been instructed in God’s Word. Too many are taught that they can just coast along cheerfully in an aura of semispirituality, where no deep discipline is demanded: that walking with God is merely a matter of having a nodding acquaintance with Christ. Setting our wills to serve God is much more than some sort of casual acquaintances. It is a devout determination to know and do God’s will.”[10]

We read in Matthew 18:2-3, “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

Paul the apostle instructs in Philippians 2:5-11, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jim Elliot (1927-1956) said, “What gets me into the kingdom, from Christ's own statement, is not saying, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but acting ‘Lord, Lord.’”[11]

Dr. Henry Allan Ironside (1876-1951) explains, “Mere lip profession is of no avail if the heart and life are not subject to the Word of God. We are not saved by our works, but good works are the test of reality. He who is born of God will delight in obedience to the Father's will (Ephesians 2:8-10).”[12]

George Macdonald (1824-1905) writes, “God's thoughts, his will, his love, his judgments are all man's home. To think his thoughts, to choose his will, to love his loves, to judge his judgments, and thus to know that he is in us, is to be at home.”[13]

Those who proclaim empty words about the sovereignty of the Lord and do evil works in the name of the Lord will suffer eternal woes under the judgment of the Lord.

[1]Stephen F. Olford, Expository Preaching Outlines, Volume 3, Second Quarter, Week 23, The Law of Reality, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

[2]W. Phillip Keller, Walking With God: Wholeness and Holiness for Common Christians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1980, 1998), 109-110.

[3]D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1976), 516-525.

[4]William Secker, The Nonsuch Professor, (London: Richard Baynes, [originally published 1660] 1829).

[5]Stephen F. Olford, Expository Preaching Outlines, Volume 3, Second Quarter, Week 23, The Law of Reality, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

[6]John H. Sammis, “Trust and Obey,” (1887).

[7]A Biblical Theology of the New Testament: From Members of Dallas Theological Faculty, ed. Roy B. Zuck, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1994), 29, Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

[8]J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Volume 1, Matthew-Mark. Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.

[9]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n. d. [originally published New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1887]), Database WORDsearch Corp.

[10]Keller, 110.

[11]Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 77, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[12]Henry Allan Ironside, H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Matthew, (1948), 82 © Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[13]A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern, ed. Tryon Edwards, (Detroit, MI: F. B. Dickerson Company, 1908), 197.

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / / (251) 626-6210

© January 19, 2014 All Rights Reserved