Skip the Useless and Dead Religion and do God's Will
Contrary to what may be taught by many preachers, THE TRUE BELIEVER NEED NEVER BE AFRAID OF MATTHEW 7:21-23!
Adapted from "Skip the Religion and do the Will of the Father" from "Angles and Aspects of Salvation"
Just about every religious system, other than the true
Gospel of Jesus Christ (gospel means good news), including many forms of “Christianity,” [falsely] teach that it is necessary for us, to one degree or another, to somehow work at being good or enlightened enough to go to Heaven, get reincarnated into something better, go in to Nirvana, or whatever the case may be, in terms of the afterlife. People who ardently follow a false “Christian” gospel, that somehow mixes works with grace for salvation, who never fully put their trust in the finished work of Christ; the Gospel (again, good news), which is His death for our sins according to Scripture, His burial and Resurrection according to Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and die in such a state (die in their sin), are in for a very rude awakening, so to speak, at their final judgement. Jesus portrays it like this in the following passage:
Matthew 7:21 Not every one 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.
Matthew 7:22 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?
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Notice in verse 21 where Jesus points out the fact that those who enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of His Father which is in Heaven. With that in mind, at this point I think it would be extremely wise and of ETERNAL importance for us to nail down just what the will of His Father is! Is the will of His Father that we keep the law? We cannot keep the law! If we could have done so, Jesus never would have needed to do what He did for us in order to save us. As pointed out in Angles and Aspects of Salvation, we were BORN in sin; we ALL fall short of God’s standard; God’s standard is perfection. Therefore, if the will of the Father were for us to simply keep the law, something that Jesus laid out the specific requirements for to an even greater and more specific/difficult degree than in the Old Testament, in passages such as Matthew chapter 5, NO ONE from the human race could or would EVER enter the kingdom of Heaven, and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross at Calvary would have been nothing more than a tragic waste of life (Galatians 5:21). Jesus Himself tells us the will of His Father in the following passage:
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
John 6:39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The last verse sums it up and nails it down what the will of the Father is. This is what one must do to enter the kingdom of Heaven: To look upon the Son (Jesus), meaning to recognize and acknowledge Him for who He is, (the sinless Son of God who has come to us in the flesh to save us from our sins, see Hebrews chapter 1 and John chapter 1, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans chapters 3, 4 and 5, and numerous others), what He has done for us (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and BELIEVE on Him. He states/emphasizes what is necessary again in verse 47 of the same chapter: “Verily verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Please note that only God COULD have done what He did for you (1 Peter 1:19-20, Hebrews 1:3), and that only God WOULD have done what He did for you (Romans 5:6-8). The more you walk with God and study His word, the more self-evident this truth will become to you.
Note also the present tense expressed in verses 40 and 47 (and numerous other verses). The Greek word “echo,” rendered in the English translation as “hath,” indicates present possession of something. That something is EVERLASTING LIFE. If something is everlasting/eternal and presently in my possession, that means that I HAVE IT and I CANNOT lose it (verse 37 emphasizes this as well), otherwise it would not be eternal/everlasting and I would not be in present possession of it. When you put your trust in Jesus you HAVE everlasting life. If not, then God would be a liar. God CANNOT LIE!! (Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2). Dr. Hank Lindstrom rightly said that this is a message of confirmation, not probation!
Now notice what the people are saying to Jesus in verse 22 of Matthew 7. They are bragging about their works. They are not talking at all about their TRUST in the finished work of Jesus, because they NEVER had it; they had NEVER been saved. Remember Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” They had never put their faith/trust in Jesus, thus had never been born of the Spirit (please see the section entitled "The Perfect, Sinless Second Birth" in Angles and Aspects of Salvation for treatment of this ever so important topic), thus they were “serving” God out of their own sinful nature; something God is thoroughly unimpressed with, to say the least. Meaningful service to God ONLY occurs when it is done in the Spirit; in whom we are sealed with at our new birth, which takes place at the moment we believe on/trust in the finished work of Jesus (Ephesians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A side note: In a sense one may indeed correctly argue that the will of the Father is for us to perfectly keep the law, however the Father is quite aware that we cannot, so He sent His Son to keep it for us. We have the sinless perfection of Jesus (which is the law kept perfectly and not transgressed [1 John 3:4, 9]) placed upon us at the moment we believe on Him; when we do the will of His Father (John 6:40, Romans 4:11, 21-25).
The saddest verse of our passage in Matthew 7 is verse 23: He tells them that He NEVER knew them; NOT that he once knew them and then didn’t know them anymore. The worst part of that verse is where He tells them to depart from Him, while he pointed out the fact that they were WORKERS of INIQUITY (sin). Look at Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” The people in this passage never trusted Jesus, thus He never knew them.
Another thought that I take from the Matthew 7:21-23 passage is that Satan does not care if you follow Jesus, if you serve Jesus, or even if you worship Jesus; just as long as you do not TRUST Jesus (the following, the serving, and the worshiping will however be quite empty without receiving what comes from the trusting). A prime example is Judas Iscariot, who in Jesus’ earthly ministry followed, served, and worshiped Jesus, but never trusted in Him, particularly for salvation. The fate of Judas was very tragic indeed (Acts 1:25). This topic is given further treatment in the section of Angles and Aspects of Salvation entitled “Former Christians” You may have figured this already: there really is no such thing as a former Christian, if one rightly defines a Christian as a sinner who has been saved by grace, as a result of truly believing on Jesus.
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Please click the button below entitled "the Lordship 'salvation' counterfeit" for more excellent teaching on this topic by the late Dr. Hank Lindstrom.