Mr. Thoemke wrapped up Matthew 7 in his sermon this past Sunday in which he addresses the kind of fruit one must exhibit in order to enter the kingdom of heaven on the last day and how to ensure that such fruit is produced. Verses 19 to 22 say, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (NASB).
His listeners are rightly encouraged to consider the fruit of their own lives and not just look at the fruit of the people around them. Then, he provides the formula that, when followed, ensures that one knows God, does his will, and enters the kingdom of heaven. He says:
Do what it takes to get to know Jesus. That means studying his word . . . but it also means getting with people that you know know Jesus, that you see by their fruit there’s something more than just head knowledge; but more than anything, you need to begin a dialogue with Jesus if you are not doing that. It may be awkward to be driving in your car having a conversation, listening, saying, “God, what do you want to speak to me?” [and] talking to him about all the things going on in your heart. This may seem awkward; but I will tell you what, if you will commit to that relationship, commit to building that conversation, there will come a point it will become natural. That’s the way it is with Jesus. He is challenging us to know him, then we walk in his will, and then the fruit of our lives equals a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
What Mr. Thoemke says here is quite subtle. When I first heard it, it sounded like the rest of the jargon that comes out of his mouth, but then I listened to it again. Notice the argument he is making. He is saying that you need to know Jesus, not just know about him, which is true. Then, he reveals how it is that you are to come to know him. First, read the Bible. Second, spend time with people who have more than head knowledge. Third and most importantly, you need to have a dialogue with Jesus. A dialogue consists of two people speaking and listening to each other. You have to talk to God, and he has to talk to you. And when he talks to you, you had better hear his voice. Eventually, it should be natural for you to hear God’s voice throughout the course of the day. This is the most important element in the equation. Talking to God and listening to his voice is different from and more important than reading the Bible. It is the only way you will get to know Jesus. It is the only way you can know and do God’s will and is, therefore, the only way your life will produce the fruit that is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven on the last day.
That is Mr. Thoemke’s argument, and what it necessarily means is that anyone who does not have a conversation with Jesus and hear his voice outside the Bible cannot know him and is, therefore, incapable of producing the fruit that is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven on the last day. This is a radical statement to make. Mr. Thoemke is saying that the reformers and the vast majority of Christians throughout church history are condemned to hell because they practiced Sola Scriptura and never heard God speaking to them. Indeed, Mr. Thoemke condemns you to hell if you don’t hear God’s voice outside the Bible. I, for sure, am condemned, for I have never heard God’s voice outside the Bible. I have no idea what he sounds like. I talk to him a lot, but he never responds verbally. He never calls me on the phone or sends me an email. All I know about him and his will is what is written in the Bible, which according to Mr. Thoemke, is not enough.
Oh well, at least I will be in good company in hell. I will still get to rub elbows with St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John McArthur, and everyone else who has ever held the orthodox view of Sola Scriptura.