Rejection or Acceptance?

21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21–23)

As we continue with the conclusions of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ statements are most sobering. Last week we looked at Jesus statements about false teachers and how we can know them by their fruit. Today we will see that Jesus is not just concerned with what we say but is intensely interested in how we live and next week, Lord willing we will read the final illustration of a man who builds his house on sand and another who builds his house on a rock. One bing a person who hears the words of Jesus only and the other who hears the words of the Lord and then obeys those words.

The point that Jesus is driving home is simply this…it is not enough to sit in the congregation of those who hear the truths of the Lord, but what is important is a desire and to and a lifestyle of living out the Words of Christ. What we do, means something. And this is always true.

For instance, you can tell your spouse you love him or her, but what do your actions show? You can claim to be a hard worker but if you never show up to work then what is true of your claim? You can say are a follower of Jesus but if you do not follow what He has said then what does say about your words?

Some would say to this, but I believe in Jesus therefore I am saved. Well, believing is important for sure but if there is no fruit of obedience that follows belief then whatever you believe it is not saving faith.

But there is someone else we have to be careful of, regarding what is true saving faith. Salvation is not just doing great works. You see there are false ideas about salvation. One is just believe in Jesus, you know, say you believe in Jesus and you are in. But this can be said when there is no true saving faith. How do we know if it is belief unto salvation, well, we will be known by our fruits So saving faith is belief which is followed by obedience to Christ. You have justification, that is belief and then you have works that indicate a real changed life, that is obedience.

But another error in understanding salvation is that good works is what saves us. In this case, some just skip over the faith part and start doing, so called, good works. You know like feed the poor, go to church, pray before meals, just do good things and God will find favor with you and this will get you to heaven. This too missed the mark of what true salvation is. Good works never save. Salvation is by grace, a free gift, by faith. Works simply follow true belief.

Our passage today is one that addresses this second error that many believe about salvation, that is that saying Christian like words and then doing some good works will.

What Jesus says is that there will be some who say Lord, Lord. Some who with their lips call Jesus Lord, who address Jesus as Lord who will not enter into heaven. People who would call Jesus Lord would not be openly hostile toward Him. They would not be open haters of God, they would not openly blaspheme God. To call Him Lord must mean that spoke in favorable ways about Him and probable even mixed with others who would call Him Lord.

What do you think about that? I think that perhaps the best way for us to understand this is to at least entertain the idea that these are people who sit among the church people, who may sit among us. I mean why are they calling Him Lord unless they at least have some kind of good will toward Him or they believe it is the popular thing to do in the crowd with whom they associate?

Let’s not be surprised by this. Last week we studied about wolves in sheep’s clothing right? The wolves being among the sheep. That is non-believers disguising themselves as believers in order to bring harm to the sheep.

Jesus is still driving home that point.

And so Jesus makes this very clear and very pointed statement.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,

So if saying Lord, Lord is not what gets us to heaven what does? One whose heart has been changed leading to obedience.

but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven

A Christian acts like a Christian, because He or she is a Christian.

Another way to say Christian is to say a follower of Christ. A follower of Christ follows the words of Christ. This is obedience.

I remember someone telling me years ago that if I ever doubted my salvation then that is of the devil. He said, if you professed Jesus as Lord, referred to Jesus as Lord then you are saved and you should never doubt that as a genuine salvation experience. Well, it appears that Jesus disagrees.

Now it gets even more interesting and more sobering. Jesus goes on to say this of those who called Him Lord,

22 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

So now these who are being described as not only some who have called Him Lord but also some, or it says, many will say, did we not prophesy, cast out demons and many mighty works.

Now we have words and works.

They grammar here suggest that many actually did these things. Like Jesus would acknowledge that they did these things and yet, He is not impressed nor is He swayed by these acts.

One commenter reminds us that “signs and wonders can come from sources other than God, including both the demonic world and human manufacture.

The word prophecy here has two different meanings. It can mean to be an inspired revelation or to tell of something in the future. Jesus did not dispute that individuals had uttered prophecies in His name. In fact we know from the Bible that telling of a future event does not necessarily mean that it came from God. For instance, in Acts 16:16-19 we read this account:

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. (Acts 16:16–19)

In this case, this girl was telling the future but it was not from God. So, a prophetic gift doe snot prove that one truly belongs to Jesus.

Some or many would also cast out demons. Again, there is no indication that Jesus disputed their claim. In Matthew 12:27 some in the sect of the Pharisees cast out demons. Jesus said speaking the Pharisees:

27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. (Matthew 12:27)

On one occasion we see some attempting to cast out demons in Jesus name, this must haver been common, but in this case though a miraculous thing happened it went badly for them!

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 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. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. (Acts 19:11–17)

The point here bing that many were trying or claiming works in Jesus name even many who did not belong to Him.

And so, many who prophesied and many who cast out demons were not true believers in Christ.

But there is more. Some even did other mighty works. Some will perform miracles who don’t belong to Him. We read more about this in Matthew 24:24

24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)

And here are the chilling words of Jesus to those who even prophesied, cast out demons and did mighty works:

23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Stirring words, fearful words. This is not the only place where we see such warnings.

In Matthew 23 we see a stark warning for religious leaders:

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27–28)

These are people who also did outwardly good works

Or how about Matthew 13:41

41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41–43)

And there is Matthew 24:11-14

11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:11–14)

Why does Jesus reject so many in the last day? Because they were not His true children. They did some incredible things in Jesus name and even referred to Him as Lord, but they had no relationship with Him.

A relationship with Jesus leads to a life lived for Him doing what He has said we should do. Either we are followers of Jesus or we are not. If we are, we are because He has saved and changed us, changed our wills and desires. If we are not then we are still focused on ourselves, living not for Him but for ourselves, this would make us workers of lawlessness.

This is what Jesus means when he calls them workers of lawlessness.

Though today we have looked at many warnings that Jesus spoke as he cuts right through the masks that people wear. But as awful as these warnings are and as true as they are we need to remember that Jesus offers relief and escape from the terror of life without Him.

He has given Himself so that we do not have to dread being cast out of His presence to a place of eternal punishment. Jesus said, come to me all of you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. He alone was able to pay the price for our sin. He alone lived a perfect life so we can be delivered from slaver to sin. He alone was able to die for our sin take our sins upon Himself and he alone calls us to Himself into a relationship with HIm. And He alone can change our hard hearts and give us new desires to follow Him and His commands.

And we can call upon Him and he will hear.

Do you fear what lies ahead for you? Call on His name, repent of our sins, give yourself to Him, let go of your pride and let go of trying to earn His favor, he saves sinners, those who know they are sinners who will repent and believe.

Don’t be one of those who pretend to be His and who will be rejected by Him for lack of genuine faith. Turn to Him, call on Him and let go of everything that would hold you back.

Here again is the warning:

21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21–23)

Let me end with this.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:15–21)

This is the difference, a sharp contrast for those who truly belong to Christ, instead of rejecting His acceptance. He will come again, and we will live as He lives and we will, as true believers be loved by the Father.