Saturday, August 2, 2014

Matthew 7:21, "Not Everyone Saying To Me"

I was recently asked, “Are you a believer?” I answered affirmatively and then asked what church the gentleman I was speaking with attends. He said something to the effect that all religions are just different paths leading to the same place, although his words were much more poetic and picturesque. I then asked what he thought of Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 7:21-23. I told him that, in essence, Jesus disagreed with what he just stated.

After reflecting on that conversation, I felt the scripture in Matthew 7 would be a good subject for my blog. So here it is, word for word: 21 "Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!"

When we consider that Jesus prophesied, expelled demons, performed miracles and other powerful works, it is really an eye-opening and sobering thought that he would actually reject and condemn others for doing it. Why was that? Jesus himself answers that question in verse 21. The only thing that would get his approval is that true Christians would be “doing the will of my Father.” Put another way, since doing the will of the Father does NOT necessarily include or feature prophesying, expelling demons and other amazing outward acts, what else did Jesus do that gave us an example of true Christian actions? 

The answer is Jesus’ public ministry. (Matthew 4:17,23;9:35; Luke 4:43,44; 8:1) He also taught his followers the art of public preaching as noted in these two instances recorded in Luke. Then, just before Jesus left the earthly scene, he gave them a grand commission to fulfill a worldwide preaching campaign before his return. The apostle Paul recognized the vital importance of this work--without it lives could be lost forever. (You may have noted in some of the scriptures linked in this paragraph that Jesus actually told his first followers to perform some miracles. Yet that was not to be the main feature of their ministry. Those miracles served to demonstrate who had God’s approval but their effect was short-lived. Even Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, eventually died again. So the bigger benefit of the preaching work is that it would have everlasting benefits.)

In short then, the will of God is that mankind come back into a good relationship with him and have the opportunity to live forever. But who today are doing that will? What united brotherhood can be found today preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom in 239 lands? There is only one that fits that description.

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Note: Some may feel that Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23 are referring to individuals who falsely claim to be Christian, not whole religions. While his words would definitely apply to individuals, they would also apply to religious organizations as well. While some TV evangelizers may fit into the "individuals" category, even these are usually backed by an organization. Although the Catholic church  is not alone in various moral issues, it comes to mind not only because of the abuse cases that have surfaced, but also because of its being involved in questionable financial practices. It also comes to mind because it claims to be capable of exorcisms (casting out demons). I cite this as just one example of how a whole organization is culpable before God for claiming to represent him and his son while being guilty of wrongdoing on so many fronts. Lumping together all those whom Jesus condemns in Matthew 7, Revelation 18 speaks of these false religions as a figurative prostitute who has made herself wealthy by involvement with the “kings of the earth” that is to say, worldwide governments.)

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