Who Will Enter The Kingdom of God, Mt. 7:21-29

Jesus makes the necessary connection between “listening” to his words that reveal the will of God, and “doing” them.

Words. The power of language is concentrated in the consistent and universal meaning of words. The universal acceptance of the meaning of words is what makes language meaningful and communicable. In this sense words can be both beautiful and powerful. But language, like all created things, can also be abused and used for less than holy purposes. Yes, even the word of God can be used for purposes that are contradictory to God’s eternal and saving Word.

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At the end of Jesus’ all-encompassing “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus gives us a perfect example of the true power and eternal meaning of his words and their connection to our actions. In Matthew 7:21-29, he says to the disciples: “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 in heaven.” In other words, our understanding of the true meaning of words is revealed in our actions. For example, when our actions are not consistent with our words, or when we lie, or attempt to manipulate words, especially the word of God, either out of fear or out of a desire to manipulate others for our own selfish purposes, we become hypocrites, like the scribes and Pharisees.

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Jesus’ words are very clear here and, as the people listening to his words recognized, they possess true authority. They have transcendent and eternal meaning and purpose. He says here in this passage that the one who, “listens to these words of mine and acts on them”, reveals himself as wise. When Jesus says, ‘these words of mine’ he is referring to the entirety of his teaching in his Sermon on the Mount, from the Beatitudes at the beginning of Matthew’s chapter 5, to this last statement at the end of his chapter 7. Jesus makes the necessary connection between “listening” to his words that reveal the will of God, and “doing” them.

He uses a parable about a man who builds his house on solid rock and how it withstands both floods and winds. That ‘rock’ represents true faith in God and His Word. If one has placed God and his word at the center of one’s life, linking oneself to that power that even here and now creates the cosmos, and lives in accord with His words, then the storms and the floods that often come into one’s life cannot and will not destroy you.

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Christianity is a demanding and serious calling. G.K. Chesterton says of it, “It is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but that it has been found difficult and not been tried.” Sadly, many Christians, for manifold reasons, do cry, “Lord, Lord” but do not live up to the hard and uncompromising realities of the Word of God. These are the foolish ones who are building their imaginary houses on sandy soil. They cannot and will not withstand the storms and floods that inevitably come their way in this life.

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Let’s face it, the words and teachings of Jesus are astonishing. They are the truth in its fullness after all. But astonishment can be fleeting to sinful human beings. To use another metaphor from Jesus’ parables, the seed of his words needs to fall on fertile ground, that is the fertile ground of a faith rooted in prayer, the study of the scriptures, the keeping of the sabbath, etc., and a will so focused on God that doing his will becomes a well-developed habit.

Life is difficult, but as Christians, we have been shown the way, the truth, and the life that leads to the Kingdom of God. Will we be among the wise who willingly and humbly choose to live in accord with God’s words in our daily lives, or will we be among those who foolishly accept and follow the words of the world?

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