Will You Miss Your Flight? (ATP)
Matthew 7:21- 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 will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; LEAVE ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ This verse scares me. Can you explain more about who he is talking about? If people are doing these works in Jesus name surely they are believers but Jesus is rejecting them and telling them to depart because they never knew him. They must know enough of Him to do these works? How are they able to do these things in Jesus name with out a relationship with him? When he says depart from me does that mean they are going to Hell?
When reading scripture and trying to understand it, one very important thing to keep in mind is the need of context. In this case, it is very important to remember who Jesus was talking to. Though all scripture is written for us, not all is written to us. What I mean is, there are many things written to many people that would not as a rule apply directly to us. In these instances we can draw out the principle.
One thing all believers must remember is that God’s word sets us free, it never creates bondage. If while reading scripture we find ourselves in fear we need to do a quick test. Fear of not being good enough is never God’s way of drawing people to Himself. It is said in Romans 2:4, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” The truth of scripture teaches us no one can be good enough, this is why we needed a savior. The devil would love believers to be in fear because it will hinder them. Now, if you have fear because you know full well you are in complete disobedience, that is another story. Conviction and fear are not exactly the same thing however, so don’t be afraid.
In context Jesus is speaking to people who believed that because of their familial status (being descendants of Abraham), that they were good. It’s very similar to people in certain denominations, religions, or cults that believe that it is the only way or that they are good because they believe in the right religion. The Pharisees thought they were good because of this and because they followed the law, but Romans 3:20 tells us, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight…”
This part of chapter 7 is also part of a much greater body of scripture. It actually begins in chapter 5 and is known as the sermon on the mount. In this Jesus is laying out the right way to God. Among many things, He draws the distinction between people who think they are religious and those whose works speak of their relationship with God. Fast forward to chapter 7 vs 15 and He addresses His people to beware of false prophets and then goes on with the warning that your question brings up.
The truth is, you can absolutely know whether you’re going to Heaven and only the devil will tell you you’re not. But to be sure, ask some questions. Do you go to church? Do you read scripture and pray? Do you desire God’s plan for your life or are you only interested in your own? Are you correctible when you hear something from scripture that is opposite of what you do? None of these things gets anyone to heaven in of themselves, but they certainly can reveal things about your path. You don’t have to be perfect in any of these things either, but where is your heart? That’s what God really wants and that’s what all these scriptures really point us to.
Remember that the devil always tries to twist the word against us, he did it to Jesus. This is why being full of the word is so important. Reading scripture isn’t some rule that God demands, it’s the protection we have against the devil so He tells us to read. Going to church is not about spiritual brownie points, it’s about getting instruction for our help in time of need and preparing us for inevitable trial. Believers who separate themselves are the ones most susceptible to attack and that without victory.
I remind myself if this often, when religion gets complicated and works seem confusing, God keeps it simple. He gave us the easiest, most sure fire way back to Him. You want to go to Heaven but believe it or not, God wants you there more. He made the way before any of us was born and God’s way is such that a child can choose. Have faith. He made the way, He will keep it open for you.
In closing I will reiterate, it is faith pleases God. Yes faith produces works but the basis of faith is trust. Do you trust God? You should because before you knew Him, He knew you. In fact, you know Him because He chose to bring you in. If He brought you, He intends on keeping you. Trust this and trust Him. If you keep your heart pointed towards Him, nothing will separate you.
Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.