Scripture Study: Matthew 7:21-23
A Powerful Jesus Straight Talk Moment:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
Saying that Jesus is LORD doesn’t make it so.
Let me say one thing very clear as I begin this study in Matthew, Neither Jesus or I am talking about a works theology of earning His grace and salvation. In fact, there may be some reading this who’ve tried that method.
Jesus indicates on the Day of Judgment…
Clearly, these are individuals who believe they’ve done a lot…
They believe that the stuff they’ve done is going to gain them entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. And it’s not little stuff either…it’s preaching…teaching…blogging…engaging in spiritual warfare with demons…it’s miracles!
Jesus isn’t talking to the crowd here, He’s talking to the Church. He’s talking to people who defend themselves with these words:
- “In Your name we prophesied!”
- “In Your name, we cast out demons.”
- “In Your name, we performed miracles!”
It sure seems to me that the problem here is the statement, “In Your name.”
Jesus uses this statement 3 times in Verse 22.
My point is that doing stuff in “the name of Jesus” makes you feel good, but if you have no real relationship with Him…if He doesn’t really know you and you don’t really love Him…it’s worse than doing nothing at all, because it leaves you in a state of deception. In my opinion, and it’s just ‘my opinion, it’s one of the most heretical and damning teachings of the Church today. Its certainly one of the greatest tools that our enemy, Satan, uses to deceive people who have a loose association with Jesus in the Church today:
“Let the stuff you do become more important than the Leadership of Christ.”
“Let Him just be a name you speak and not a Savior you personally love and serve.”
David Platt, in his book “Follow Me” writes this:
I have a friend – let’s call him John – whose first experience to the concept of hell was during an episode of Tom and Jerry when he was young.
During one particularly vivid scene, Tom was sent to hell for something bad he had done to Jerry. What was intended to be a humorous cartoon scared John to death, and he later found himself at church talking with an older man about what he had seen.
The churchman looked at John and said, “Well, you don’t want to go to hell, do you?”
“No,” he responded.
John paused. After an awkward silence, he realized he was supposed to repeat after the man, and so he hesitantly responded, “Dear Jesus…”
“I know I’m a sinner and I know Jesus died on a cross for my sins,” the man said.
John followed suit.
“I ask you to come into my heart and to save me from my sin,” the man said. John echoed what he had heard.
“AMEN,” the man concluded.
Then the nice, old gentleman looked at John and said, “Son, you are now saved from your sins, and you don’t ever have to worry about hell again!”
Surely what that man told my friend John in the church that day was not true. Surely this isn’t what it means to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him.
And yet, this story represents the deception that has spread like wildfire across the contemporary Christian landscape: “Just ask Jesus into your heart and repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved!”
Should it alarm us that the Bible never mentions such a prayer? Should it concern us that nowhere in Scripture is anyone ever told to “ask Jesus into their heart” or to “invite Christ into their life”?
Yet this is exactly what many professing Christians have been encouraged to do, and they’ve been assured that as long, as they say, certain words. recite a particular prayer, and with every head bowed, every eye closed, (‘no peaky’), told to raise their hand, check a box, sign a card, or walked an aisle, they are Christians and their salvation in eternity is secure.
IT’S NOT TRUE!
We’ve taken the lifeblood out of Christianity and put Kool-Aid in its place so it looks and tastes better to the masses, and the results…are catastrophic.
According to Jesus, “Many…” scores of men and women believe they are saved when they are not.
In Matthew 7, Jesus isn’t talking to atheists and pagans.
He’s talking to people who are associated with Himself and His ministry. They assume their eternity is safe and will be shocked one day that it’s not. Even though they professed their belief in Jesus…even did all kinds of works in His name, they never really knew Him…and He never really knew them.
I don’t know about you but His response is heartbreaking. It sometimes keeps me awake at night and it burdens my soul.
“I never knew you…depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible uses the word “evildoer” for “lawlessness.”
Maybe this straight talk reveals the truth of real SALVATION…and the real issue. Remember, Jesus is using the word “EVILDOER” toward people who thought they were “good”…because they did good things.
The word Greek word “kakos” [bad, evil, wicked] reveals the inner character of a person. The iniquity, the sin, the wickedness lives in us all.
The inner wickedness and sin cannot be cured in a name association with Jesus or by doing “good works”, that would be like putting running shoes on a corpse.
In Luke’s gospel, someone asked Jesus. “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
And here’s His answer:
The narrow door (the gate) is the only way in, and once the owner of the house shuts it, it’s too late.
Here’s the picture: The door’s shut, but people are knocking and pleading to get in. But, it’s too late!
And the owner’s response to all the knocking…Luke 13:25 b.
“I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me all you evildoers.”
“We hung around you Jesus…we listened to your teaching…we ate and drank your meals.”
“Away from me…you never dealt with your sin…you never knew me…I never knew you.”
No wonder verse 28 records:
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth.”
The heartbreak is basing your life on the false hope that “Hey, Jesus is my friend”…but you never died to your sin, you never surrendered your life to His ownership, you never accepted His grace, and now it’s too late!
It all comes down to the truth: If your heart isn’t open to understanding how much we need God’s grace, you can say a thousand prayers, be baptized over and over again, work your fingers to the bone in Church and you’ll still be lost.
Remember this scripture that the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:
What Jesus is addressing in His straight talk in Matthew is the difference between those who know about Him and those who live in Him. It’s the difference between working for Jesus to earn His favor and walking with Jesus out of an overflow of faith.
When you or I…or anyone else is “in Christ”, we haven’t “received a get out of Jail free card.” We haven’t been redeemed because we just believe in something. We’ve died to self and we now have Christ “IN” us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
If you are no different than you were before or you are no different than the rest of the world around you…
You’ve been DECEIVED and you are not a Christian.
The Barna Study Group Research, published on Agust 4, 2011 is revealing!
Almost half of all Americans claim to be “born again” Christians (I don’t know of any other kind! ). Out of this group of “born again” Christians, researchers found that their beliefs and lifestyle weren’t indistinguishable from the rest of the world. Many believe that “works” can earn them a place in heaven, others think that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and an ever-increasing number describe themselves as only marginally committed to Jesus.
After reading the study, I think the one thing that’s abundantly clear from these statistics:
There are a whole lot of people in the world that think they are Christian but are not! There are a whole lot of people who think they’ve been born again, but are dangerously deceived!!
Now I understand the concept of different levels of spiritual maturity…babes in Christ versus grown-up followers, but Jesus didn’t come to make good people better, He came to raise dead people to life, and that can’t happen in someone’s life and it not be noticeable in attitudes and actions.
Here’s is an illustration I came upon in my reading this week that I think really fits here:
Imagine you and I set up a meeting for lunch at a local restaurant, and you arrive before I do.
You wait, and wait, and wait, but 30 minutes later, I still haven’t arrived. When I finally show up, completely out of breath, I say to you, “I’m so sorry I’m late. When I was driving over here, my car had a flat tire, and I pulled over on the side of the highway to fix it. While I was fixing it, I accidentally stepped into the road, and a Mack truck going about 70 mph, suddenly hit me head-on. It hurt, but I picked myself up, finished putting the spare tire on the car, and drove over here.”
If this were the I shared, you would know I was either deliberately lying or completely deceived.
WHY? Because if someone gets hit by a Mack truck going seventy miles per hour, that person is going to look very different than they did before.
Jesus isn’t a pussy-cat…
He’s the Lion of Judah and if you come face to face with Him, the Word of Creation, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe and He reaches down into the depth of your heart, saves you from the slavery of sin and transforms you to follow Him…you are going to look different…very different!
So what happens when the Mack truck of God’s glory and forgiveness hits us?
There’s repentance and baptism and resurrection of new life by the Holy Spirit. And, we begin to look like Jesus in this world, according to 1 John 3:1-10.
DON’T BE DECEIVED!
Sources: Interlinear Bible; Vinne’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W.E. Vine.
Images/Photos: Google Image Search.
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New American Standard (NAS); New King James Version (NKJV).