Have You Been Bludgeoned by Matthew 7:21-23?

If you’ve been bludgeoned by that text (Matthew 7:21-23), I have some astonishing news for you: Jesus was not talking about getting better, working harder and being more religious so that, when the end came he would recognize you.  He was talking about what he had set loose in the world – the love and forgiveness that he had made possible.  Jesus was talking to the most faithful and most religious people in his culture, and he called them false prophets.  Immediately prior to that text, Jesus said that we would know the false prophets by their “fruit”.  And then Jesus said, “So, every healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7: 17-18).

Brown, Steve; Three Free Sins: God’s Not Mad At YouHoward Books;  New York, copyright 2012; Kindle Edition; Location 1191

Sometimes I Don’t Do It Right

Sometimes I don’t do it right.  At times I get tired of being “religious” an don’t do it.  Other times I get so rebellious that even my mother, if she were still alive, would think about disowning me.  But, dear friend, you have never met a man who wants to please God more than I do.  The more I experience his love and grace, the more I want to please him.

– Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel, copyright 2004, Howard Books, page 17

What Were the Prophets and Jesus Criticizing?

What were prophets and Jesus criticizing (Luke 11:39-46; 20:47; Matthew 21:31; Isaiah 58:2-7)?  They were not against prayer and fasting and obedience to Biblical directions for life.  The tendency for religious people, however, is to use spiritual and ethical observance as a lever to gain power over others and over God, appeasing him through ritual and good works.  This leads to both an emphasis on external religious forms as well as greed, materialism, and oppression in social arrangements.  Those who believe they have pleased God by the quality of their devotion and moral goodness naturally feel that they and their group deserve deference and power over others.  The God of Jesus and the prophets, however, saves completely by grace.  He cannot be manipulated by religious and moral performance – he can only be reached through repentance, through the giving up of power.  If we are saved by sheer grace we can only become grateful, willing servants of God and of everyone around us (Mark 10:43-45).

– Tim Keller, Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, copyright 2008, page 59-60