A Current Bible Study:
Matthew 7
"The Big Wheels Under the Gospel Train"

        Recently, in our local jail's chapel, I gave a message on Matthew Chapter 3 in which I referred to Christ as God's designated "Train" to Heaven. I was trying to make the point that, in the end, it doesn't matter what you or I think of the Lord Jesus. The significant fact is what God, the Father and Creator of this universe and the next, thinks of Him. Matthew 3:17 tells us that God is well pleased with Jesus. I was sharing with the men that we all must "get on board" Christ to get to Heaven. God has given us the train schedule (His Word) and freely offers us our ticket (Salvation through Jesus), and even calls on us to remind us of our departure (the Holy Spirit tugging at our hearts throughout this life). Therefore, if some STILL miss the train, they are really not being "Left Behind." They have chosen to stay behind. They have condemned themselves to Hell.
        Well, beloved, that was another day and another message, but I want to extend the Gospel train analogy here to the wheels that I picture being under the big engine of the Gospel Train. Maybe this is a good time to re-read Ezekiel, starting in chapter 1! At any rate, let's listen as Jesus describes some of the essentials that make His Gospel really move forward.

The First Wheel-"Judge Not"
Verses 1-5: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

        We are not in a position to judge when people are hopeless. That doesn't mean we can never notice others mistakes. But we must not "pull the plug" on anyone spiritually. We must share the Gospel with ALL, and let God figure out who is beyond hope and redemption.

The Second Wheel-"What's that Smell?"
Verse 6: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

    We just concluded above that we need to share Christ with all. Is this verse a contradiction? I believe it isn't. It is a warning to believers to watch out for people who are lacking in faith. Temporarily carnal believers (I still smell like a pig in this way sometimes, beloved) or the worldly lost may easily drain and destroy our faith, ministry, message and resources. So while serving Christ, keep a nose to the wind. We have the greatest gift to share, but even the Master showed us that there may come a time to temporarily pull back and conserve resources (see Matthew 13:54-58). It takes wisdom to discern and react properly to the smell of faithlessness.

The Third Wheel-"Can the Faithless Get Faith or Get it Back?"
Verses 7-11: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

        It is an enigma that God gives us the faith we have in Him (see Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8-9). It is very humbling. Some may never have had true faith. We all can stray from our faith. We may seek it in our sinful selves, or seek to find it in a man or a movement. But, beloved, when real faith is in short supply, we must remember Who to ask, and where to seek and knock. Luke 11:13 reminds us EXACTLY what we are asking for. And it's not wealth or happiness. We must seek faith so that we may serve Christ.
        Rejoice. The desolate can be filled, the beleaguered, restored. This is a prayer the Lord promises to ALWAYS answer!

(Remember, beloved, these wheels keep the Gospel Train rolling!)

The Fourth Wheel-"The Golden Wheel"
Verse 12: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

        As I like to say, "In basketball, you get no points for fancy dribbling!" What I mean is we need to know EXACTLY what God expects of us. It has been difficult for me to trust, even Christ, when He says He has summarized the entire Scriptures in just one statement. But there it is. Christ's golden rule. Our only commandment. Obedience, success, failure, all must be measured here and no where else. It was so simple I missed it almost completely for years, even as a Christian. I never knew real suffering or real persecution until I tried to focus on this all-encompassing command. Yet I would not wish to go back.
        Jesus continues with a warning for us not to be distracted from continuously following the strait and narrow path of obedience:
Verses 13-14: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

The Fifth Wheel-"Being Deceived"

Verses 15-20: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits..."

        Re-read verse 12! Don't be dazzled by the fancy dribbling. Either a prophet is seeking to love or he isn't. Watch for it. Pray for a false leader. Feel his confusion and pain, for we are all false in many ways. So love him. But DON'T follow him! That's not going to help him or you or the Church:
"...Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

    Christ's love is the golden fruit that we must use as criteria for selecting our leaders. Nothing else matters. Not money, talent, influence, looks, brains...nor anything else.

The Sixth Wheel-"Deceiving Ourselves"
        Beloved, the old fifth wheel was kind of easy to get through wasn't it? It's easy to look at our leaders. But in this last section Christ has some disturbing news for you and me. EVERYTHING that applies to our spiritual leaders applies to US also! And this is tricky. It's dangerous all right to be fooled by a Church leader, but apparently, it can be FATAL to fool yourself:

Verses 21-23: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord. Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
        Nowhere is talk as cheap as it is in the Church. Christian language has become permanently embedded into the world's languages. The words flow ubiquitously all around us and from us. But Christ is watching to see who is actually following the golden rule through faith in Him. Did you ever notice that the Scriptural record of the ministry of the original Apostles of Christ is NOT called "The Words of the Apostles?"
        But not all religious acts are acceptable to Christ, either. Only that done out of His kind of love matters. We can dribble around all we want, He isn't going to be fooled. But, beloved, are we fooling ourselves by the way we serve Him and what we say?

Verses 24-27: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
     Verse 12! Verse 12 is our command. It keeps the Great Gospel Train rolling. Jesus says it keeps the house of your soul standing even in the worst of times!

Verses 28-29: "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
        The people listening back then did not know what to think of all this, or of Jesus. But we do, beloved. Christ is worthy to give these admonitions to us and the world. He earned the authority at Calvary. God is still totally pleased with His Son. There is one Law-Giver, Judge, and Savior. He has given us one Golden Law to obey. And He will give us the faith to obey everyday, if we seek it from Him.
May Jesus Christ richly bless you-JKD 9/30/05
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