22“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 deeds of power in your name?’ 23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
24"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!”
28Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Much of Jesus' teaching in this section in the Gospel of Matthew centers on discipleship. The basic actions involved in discipleship to Jesus is to hear his words and to act on them. Hearing the words of Jesus without acting on his words is not discipleship. As Jesus says above, hearing without acting is foolish. The only way a person becomes a disciple, or shows himself or herself to be a disciple of Jesus, is to follow through on what Jesus says. There's simply no other way around it.
It's interesting that Jesus picks out actions that almost all of us would associate with being a follower of Jesus. And not just a "regular" follower but a mighty, Spirit-filled follower of Jesus. Those actions are: prophesying, casting out demons, and doing deeds of power, all in Jesus' name! The point of this list is not to reject them, but to emphasize that even the mighty Kingdom works of God done in the name of Jesus is no guarantee that you belong to the Kingdom as God's son or daughter. The true son or daughter of God is a disciple of Jesus Christ. Miracles don't qualify, raising the dead doesn't qualify, breaking down demonic strongholds doesn't qualify. None of these "big" things qualify a person as a citizen of Heaven. Only discipleship to Jesus in the power of the Spirit.
But there's been such confusion about and neglect of discipleship in the church, that Dallas Willard has called this absence of discipleship "The Great Omission."
We all know about "The Great Commission" -- "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt. 28:19). Instead of making disciples, Willard contends, we have made "Christians." Check out his book:
These are sobering words, the words that Jesus speaks. So many people just hear and fail to do. They get it half right. Fifty percent in a test is an F. May the Lord raise up true disciples of Jesus!
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we need your quick and deep action today. Would you act on hearts and minds of people in the church who only hear but fail to do. May you raise up people who hear and act. Have mercy on the church, have mercy on us. May a wave of conviction sweep over us and our nation with a call to discipleship to the Risen Lord. We need you. In your name, amen.