"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On 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 mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' - Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
One of the great debates in Christian circles is the once saved always saved question. I do not wish to get into that today, but the bible does explicitly say in Philippians 2 that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and I do not see a church today that lives by that biblical guidance. We all want the goose bumps and liver shivers from corporate worship. We all want the fantastic oration by our pastor, or favorite preacher on television. I understand why Joel Osteen draws millions, but it is not because of God. Jesus taught us that if we truly represent His gospel then the world will hate us, not buy ten of our books and make us a millionaire. What does it mean though to work out one's salvation with fear and trembling? I remember one night after preaching someone asked if I was living in fear of God striking me dead with a lightning bolt, the inference being that this would be a bad way to live in the freedom of Christ. That freedom however is from sin and Jesus paid a heavy price for it. As for my fear I answered, it was in forgetting that God could strike me dead with a lightning bolt if He wanted to. It is in forgetting who He is in relation to who I am. This disease permeates the apostate church today because they are not taught to revere God. They are not taught to fear God, even though that is the start of all wisdom. Instead, Jesus is dumbed down to the level of humanity. He becomes your buddy Jesus. He becomes your partner. I saw a sermon once declaring Jesus was our wing man! That is the opposite of working out your salvation with fear and trembling.
The cold hard truth today is that decades of purpose driven pastorships have created the great falling away by promising people that a six word faux-prayer has "saved" them and then their church activity is internalized as their proof of salvation. So, they become self-assured because they volunteer in two ministries across three services and go on an annual "missions" trip. Sure, they still steal from work or are abusive to their wives but c'mon, no one said they had to BE Jesus. They see sin rampant in their church or even leadership and are admonished to "judge not." They watch horrifically inaccurate "Christian" movies and television series designed to make money, not be accurate. There is now an entire ecosystem for the apostate church that reinforces the heresy they follow is ok, and that whatever they may engage in they are saved. The problem with that is God, foreseeing everything, provided for us the key verses to debunk these notions. In my opinion they are the most frightening verses in the entire bible for believers. They serve to remind us that we better be working out our salvation with fear and trembling, lest we think we have arrived. The bible warns us in Corinthians to take heed if we think we are standing, lest we fall. Oh beloved, God does indeed see all. So let us walk slowly through these key verses and see what God is saying:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 7:21 (ESV)
The first lesson is that our words mean very little to God. Anyone can say they believe this or that. Anyone can profess faith. That does not mean they are going to heaven. Who is? Those that actually do the will of the Father, as found in Scripture. I am brought to remember supporting scriptures here. One time the mother and brother of Jesus were stuck outside trying to get in through a crowd to speak to Him. When people told Jesus this He replied, who is my mother and brother except they that do the will of my Father. Did this mean He did not love His mother and brother? Of course, not but the teaching point is the same here in Matthew 7, our relationship to Him is based upon our doing the will of the Father. So many in the apostate church today fetishize the notion of relationship over religion but without religion, we have no relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion are the very words the Father wrote down, divinely inspired throughout the millennia. I am also drawn to the scriptures regarding prayer or fasting to be seen. We see this throughout the Charismatic church today. I should not sign into Facebook and see you giving food to the hungry or clothes to the needy. I expect you are already doing that since the bible commands it. Why then the boastful post? Why embarrass the poor? The bible says you can expect no reward in heaven for you already got it. I think these are related because of the usage of "Lord Lord." Why say it twice? We are dealing with people who like to sound more spiritual than everyone else. Anyone who has spent five minutes in a charismatic church understands this. Everyone fancies themselves a prophet or even an apostle! Who is not screaming out in unintelligible gibberish while others gather all attention to them to impart what they believe God has spoken to them to "prophesy." It is a showy, look at me spirit. In another verse we see Jesus lament why people bother calling Him Lord if they are not going to do as He says! That is what this first verse is saying. It does not matter how pious you sound or how many times you say "Lord." The only thing that matters is doing the will of the Father.
On 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 mighty works in your name?' - Matthew 7: 22
The second verse in the set begins by reminding us when this will occur - Judgment Day. We all will stand before Christ. Those who were saved by His blood will approach this with the same or more reverence, awe, and fear than which they even led their lives. Is that how this group approaches it? No. It is with an arrogance that thinks they can correct Christ. Let's go deeper though. Who are these people? These are not the unsaved, merely surprised that their disbelief their entire lives was misplaced. No beloved, these are churched people to use a Rick Warrenism. They know about mighty works. They clearly believe in deliverance and prophecy. Not only do they believe in these things but they lived them! When I see this verse I think of Bethel Church, where they routinely think they cast demons out and prophesy in Jesus' name. Heck, I have seen this at my old local church! This is the apostate charismatic church today! I am brought back to the story of the Seven Sons of Sceva in the Book of Acts. Sceva was a high priest and his sons liked to run around trying to cast demons out of the possessed by declaring it in Jesus' name. Problem is they did not know Jesus and one day, the demons called their bluff:
But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. - Acts 19:15-16 (ESV)
Now, I do not know how badly you've been beaten to lose all of your clothes and I do not want to know. The point is that they did not know Jesus, they merely were saying His name. I am sure they thought their cause was righteous too. They thought they were the good guys. I feel sad for the people in Matthew 7 who are left to say Lord Lord. They were like sheep without a shepherd. They were taught so poorly. The firmly believed in what they were doing. I am reminded however that they have been warned. I know because I warn them everyday and not because I am anywhere close to perfection myself. I am not. I am working out my own salvation with fear and trembling. I remind them that the false prophets they follow are wrong 35% of the time or more and should be marked and avoided. I warn them that there are no sneaky squid spirits or angels of abundant harvest and that their politics will not save them. A great many of these folks are not quite like sheep without a shepherd as much as they are sheep who have chosen to follow wolves. This second verse here is frightening in that people could spend their entire life thinking they are following Jesus. Only to find out:
And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' - Matthew 7:23 (ESV)
How can any believing Christian read this verse and not take pause? Years of thinking you were serving Christ. Decades of church services, ministries, missions trips, demonic deliverances, and prophecy only to hear that He never even knew you! We have been fed the mega-church lie! People are not saved by the thousands! Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents! Narrow is the way, and FEW are those who find it! Wake up from your slumber! Having a hundred people raise their hands for altar call does not mean a hundred people were saved. Having fifty people get baptized does not mean fifty people got saved. I understand this might be a hard word but these are not my words! Depart from me! I never knew you! Can you imagine! If not, you better start.