You know the verses, you have probably heard them your entire Christian life, but when is the last time you really meditated on the words of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 7: 21-23? Here are the verses…
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
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.’
Understand the context of this verse. Jesus is referring to His “followers”… or at least those who claim to be followers of Jesus. This is a startling proclamation from our King that should give us pause. In our culture today, where people are taught to say a “sinner’s prayer” and they are saved… where hyper grace doctrines are being pushed at every turn… where many are seeking to live their BEST LIVES NOW…
In our culture it is almost a crime in the Christian community to speak of this truth: MANY Multitudes of “Christians” today are deceived and unknowingly on a path to Hell. You see scripture is very clear… Jesus was VERY clear…
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
According to PEW Research nearly 70.6% of Americans self identify as Christians. That means that out of 325 Million Americans, 227 Million think they are going to Heaven. Yet Jesus tells us that the path is NARROW and FEW will find it.
So where is the breakdown?
What are Christians missing in this equation of salvation? This gift freely given by God. John 3:16 famously reveals “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” ~ Emphasis mine.
So is that it then? All one needs to do is believe in Jesus? What does that mean to believe in Jesus? Does Satan believe in Jesus? Do the demons believe in Jesus? Is salvation then just an intellectual exercise?
I would argue that salvation has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what you have brought yourself to believe in your mind, and has everything to do with the condition of your heart. In fact, let’s go back to the Gospels, in the book of John chapter 3…
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Here Jesus clearly indicates a requirement for those who wish to live in eternal paradise with God, they MUST be born again. This goes beyond a mental exercise of simple belief and delves into a transformational relationship with the Holy Spirit of God. You must DIE to your SIN… another way of saying it… you must repent or “turn from your sin” towards God. This is not to say you become sinless or perfect when you accept Christ as your savior. But every Christian should be in the process of change, where we grow more and more Christ-like the closer we draw near to God.
If you have been a Christian for some time, and you still find yourself living the same life you always lived, you may need to examine your life closely. This is what Paul exhorted the church members of Corinth to do… “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
Brothers and Sisters, if you said a prayer years ago, and just accepted what people in church said about your eternal destination, I would strongly encourage you to follow Paul’s advice and evaluate your relationship with Jesus. If you find yourself running joyfully into sinful behavior or with little regret when you transgress God’s law… you have a real reason for concern.
Most Americans take the time to be absolutely certain of things far less important than their eternal destination, don’t make that mistake. Eternity is a very very long time.
Stay Strong & Stand Tall