Yesterday I shared the conclusion of Sunday’s sermon and told you that I was haunted by the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23. These words drive my ministry and my preaching almost as much as Paul’s call in Philippians, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to do his good purpose.”
In Matthew 7 Jesus has given us two warnings—first there is only one way to be a Kingdom person. Second, there are those who will come in and try to get you off of the true path. And now he gives us a third, not everyone who claims to be on the road is actually on the road. In the Church there are three kinds of people—first those who know they are not followers of Jesus; second, those who know that they are followers of Jesus; and third, those who think they are followers of Jesus, but aren’t. Jesus addresses that third group in our passage.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
In this passage Jesus moves from “false prophets to false professors, from unsound teachers to unsound hearers.” (JC Ryle) In doing so, Jesus deals with two groups of people—those who make mere verbal professions and those who make mere intellectual professions. Neither leads to the narrow gate and both lead to destruction. They “have a form of godliness, but deny its power.” (2 Tim 3:5)
AW Pink spoke of this passage and said, “Never were there so many millions of nominal Christians on earth as there are today, and never was there such a small percentage of real ones. Not since before the days of Luther and Calvin, when the Great Reformation effected such a grand change for the better, has Christendom been so crowded with those who have a ‘form of godliness’ but who are strangers to its transforming power.” (377) What is amazing is that Pink wrote that somewhere between 1930 and 1950—imagine what he would say today!
I want to spend the rest of the week studying this passage and I would encourage you to seek the Holy Spirit and to truly work out your salvation.