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.
Again, we see an example of Jesus separating people 1 of 2 ways. There are those that go to heaven, and those that will not. this is the end of the sermon on the mount, the most famous sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher ever.
Jesus is speaking primarily to the Pharisees, and he has already explained to them that a man’s righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. He has just explained that true followers of Him will exhibit fruit in their lives in a way that displays a love for Him. Loving God will result in loving what He loves, and a believer is expected to bear good fruit. Mat 7:16-18 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Why is Jesus making this point? It think Matthew 7:21-23 makes that clear. In possibly the most chilling portion of scripture, there will be people in the last day who confess Jesus Christ with their mouths as Lord (Romans 10:9) but will not be true followers of Christ!
How can this be? There is an enormous amount of scripture that speaks of salvation:
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Don’t the above verses make it sound like all you have to do is believe, or even call on the name of Jesus? Yes they do, but this is the beauty of scripture. It is all TRUE. So how do we handle apparent contradictions like these? Well, it’s important to remember that, “All scripture is given by God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16. We must understand all of scripture as one book, one complete thought. We cannot ignore Jesus’ words, that many will say to Him “Lord Lord’ and His reply, “I never knew you.”
Romans 10:13 can be explained by reading it in context. Even in the same chapter (Romans 10:9) we are told we must confess Christ as Lord AND believe in our heart that God has raised him from the dead. Obviously, Paul implies that there is more to “being saved” than saying Jesus’s name, even if you think you’ve “called on it.” What does “believe in him” mean then in the other two verses? “We know that even the demons believe and they tremble,” James 2:19. And even Judas believed in Jesus, in a sense, Matthew 27:3-4, and knew he had sinned against an innocent man, but he certainly didn’t get saved.
Matthew 26:24 states, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”
So to be truly known by Christ requires far more than just calling His name, or in the case of the people in Matthew 7, it requires trust in Him alone for righteousness. According to our verse, only those of us that do His Father’s will in heaven will see the kingdom of Heaven, but Christ makes clear in the following verse (Matthew 7:22) and the preceding verses, that our good deeds are nothing but the outpouring of a heart that is totally submitted to Him, and that is trusting him alone for salvation. This is the overwhelming theme of the bible as it pertains to man (the overwhelming theme of the bible is the revelation of God’s glory). Man cannot do anything to please God, outside of faith. (Romans 14:23, Hebrews 11:6, Is 64:6)
Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
This is a warning from the King of kings and Lord of lords! My reader, please do not put your faith in your own works of righteousness for your salvation. Even the biblical practice of looking at the “fruit” in your life can be nothing more that trusting in yourself. Throw yourself fully upon Christ and cling to Him alone for salvation. You must be born again!
And I think the main problem here is, IN WHOM DO YOU TRUST? Do you trust in an image of Jesus created in your own mind, or one born from the devil? Those Jesus’s cannot save! They are powerless over sin and powerless over the power of God to punish sin. Trusting the Christ revealed in the Holy Scriptures is the only way! (John 14:6)
This is a great verse for witnessing because you will run into “christians” all the time who do not know the gospel. They won’t be able to communicate to you how they know they are saved. If you truly care for people you will realize they may be believing in a false Jesus. They have put their trust in a Jesus that cannot save, like the health and wealth Jesus, or the Jesus that is still being crucified in the Catholic church. I beg you to care about people and the gospel more than you treasure your own life!
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
1Timothy 1:5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
For further reading on this important topic see my Ephesians post and What is the gospel?