Author: Ron Graham
Why Do You Call Me Lord?
—and Don't Do What I Say?
When Jesus was preaching, he asked this revealing question of his audience: "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, yet don't do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). Apparently there were people who paid “lipservice” to Jesus but did not obey him.
¶“46Why do you call me Lord, Lord, yet don't do what I say? 47Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like. 48He is like a man who built a house. He dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. Now when a flood arose, the waters broke against that house yet could not shake it. It had been too well built. 49But one who hears my words and does not do them, is like a man who built a house on the ground with no foundation. When the waters broke upon it, the house fell, and great was its ruin.” (Luke 6:46-49).
¶“21Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven. 22On 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 miracles in your name?' 23And then will I declare to them plainly, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23).
1 Do What Your Lord Commands
In these passages we observe three kinds of disobedience.
- Firstly there is not doing what Jesus says to do.
- Secondly there is doing what is against Christ’s law.
- Thirdly there is doing things in the name of Christ that he has not authorised.
In the Luke passage, the problem was that people were not doing what their Lord commanded. But in the Matthew passage, they were claiming to have done what Jesus commanded.
At the end of Mark’s gospel, Jesus says, These signs shall follow those who believe: in my name they will cast our demons; they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents and if they drink any deadly poison it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18).
So why does the Lord reject them and call them workers of lawlessness? Were their miracles false? Were they using the name of Christ though not true believers? Or were they citing their miracles to excuse their disobedience or lawlessness in other matters? Whatever the case, they were disobeying Christ in one or more of the three ways we listed above.
When Jesus condemns someone for lawlessness, it is no good that person pleading “But Lord, have I not loved you in doing many good things?”. The Lord says through John, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and they are not burdensome" (1John 5:3 cf ch 2).
That means keeping all the commandments of Christ’s law, not keeping some and disobeying others thinking Christ won't notice. Surely "it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). We are expected to “do” what Christ commands.
2 Believe What Your Lord Promises
Obedience to Christ is "obedience to the faith" (Romans 1:5, 16:26). Faith in Christ is the source and basis of obedience. You will not do what your Lord says if you do not believe what he promises.
As a simple example, Jesus says, "The one who believes and is baptised shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
A person who does not believe what Jesus promises is not going to obey Jesus in baptism, so that unbeliever is condemned. Faith (belief) is the basis and cause of obedience. Where there is no faith in what Jesus says, there will also be no obedience of faith; in this case, no baptism. Indeed that's why Jesus does not mention baptism in the case of the unbeliever.
We must believe our Lord’s promises, and not only those, but his warnings too. Yes, and we must believe the facts or truths that he states as well. We must believe him in all that he says.
3 Speak What Your Lord Teaches
Now it follows that those who believe and obey Jesus must also speak for Jesus. In the example I gave above, Jesus prefaced his promise by saying, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:15).
Surely, the gospel we preach should be the gospel Jesus spoke and revealed to his apostles. Yet many quite different and contradictory “gospels” are preached. The preachers of these various “gospels” all call Jesus “Lord”. But how can we expect Jesus to know us if our teaching is not his?
If we were to go from place to place visiting many churches, we would find one teaching Premillennialism, another Calvinism, another Sabbatarianism, another Pentecostalism, another Modernism, another Roman Catholicism, and so forth.
These “gospels” cannot all be right. They cannot all agree with the gospel that Christ gave to his apostles and evangelists in the beginning of Christianity. We have what they taught in the scriptures they wrote.
Surely we can carefully examine these scriptures and see what was taught as the gospel of Christ. Unfortunately people mostly examine the scriptures to see how they might bend them to conform with a different gospel.
Paul says, "If we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than the gospel we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9). We need to know that teaching other than the Lord’s gospel will bring the Lord’s condemnation, "I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23).