Monday, March 15, 2010

Matthew 7:21 I’m (Not) In With The “In-Crowd”

I was talking to a friend of mine in our church youth group when we were on a mission trip one time. I asked him what his testimony was. I had just come to faith in Christ less than a year before that and I was really interested to hear how others came to faith in Christ. I remember my friend saying “Oh, I’ve been a Christians forever. My mom and dad are real strong in the Lord.” I didn’t say anything (but I should have—stupid pride) but I thought to myself “Is that really what he thinks makes him right with God—his parent’s relationship with Christ?” If that was the case, of course, he was as lost as a goose in a snow storm. I haven’t seen him in 20 years or so. I hope he did profess saving faith in Christ. If not, he will be like those who are the subject of Jesus’ pronouncement in the 21st verse of this chapter-someone who had deceived himself and will suffer the consequences.

First of all, notice with me that there are two divisions of people in this verse. There is, as Jesus paints the picture, a group of people standing and making a declaration. You can imagine a huge crowd of people and they’re all saying the same thing—“Lord, Lord”. However, within this group of people there are really two groups. Those who are really saved and know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and those who are simply saying “Lord, Lord” with no such relationship. You can’t tell by looking. You can’t even tell by listening. Jesus says “Not everyone”—in other words, there are some in the group who are not part of the group. These are the tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:27). As we look over the world and see and hear people profess faith in Christ we can’t ultimately truly know whether a profession of faith is genuine. However, Christ does know the division between those who are His and those who are not.

We also see two declarations in this verse. There are those who proclaim “Lord, Lord” with their lips and their life. The claim of faith is sincere. For them to call Christ their Lord is not just a matter of air passing over their vocal chords with their lips, tongue, and teeth coming together to form sounds. It is an expression of a heartfelt faith that has transformed their lives in a real way. In contrast, there are those (“Not everyone”) who go about saying (“says”-present tense which means this is something they are doing constantly) “Lord, Lord” but they don’t mean it. Or perhaps they think they mean it but have deceived themselves with activity, piety, or they have been deceived with a false gospel. In short, they make the declaration that Jesus is their Lord but it just “ain’t so”.

We also see two destinations that Jesus mentions—well one mentioned, the other implied. At the end of time, when God brings this universe to a close and brings in a new heaven and new earth, the redeemed from across the ages will come to live in a place so glorious, so majestic, as to defy human comprehension. We read a description in Revelation chapter 21 of the beauty of the heavenly home of those whom God has graciously saved. There will be no death, no crying, no pain, and no sin. However, “Not everyone…will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Well, if they’re not going there, what does that tell us? I mean, they’ve got to go somewhere, right? Jesus mentions heaven but the other location is implied—hell. Those who don’t go to heaven will be tormented forever in a lake of fire. Eternally conscious of their suffering, their punishment will go on throughout eternity. Although it sounds like a cheesy bumper sticker the fact is there are two destinations for eternity—smoking or non-smoking.

The key feature that those who enter heaven will have in common is their deportment (n.- the manner in which one conducts oneself). Jesus says those who enter heaven will be the one who “does the will of My Father who is in heaven”. Now, what is this “will” and how do I do it. Because, obviously, if I want to be in heaven I need to be busy doing that. Where can I go? How much should I give? If we read further in the immediate context of this verse, we see that it can’t just be religious activity. The people in the next verse, perhaps some of the very same Not Everyone’s mentioned in this verse, will be bragging about their religious activity for naught. I believe God’s will, in this case, would be best described in the passage from John 6:40—“"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." God’s will, in this case, indicates the means of salvation—saving faith in Jesus Christ. This saving faith, like a seed planted in the ground, will produce fruit (good works). But true good fruit does not come out of nowhere or nothing—it comes from a seed planted by the Master Gardener.

As we have seen thus far beginning with Jesus’ illustration of two roads, we see Jesus moving His audience to a point of decision. There really is no two ways about it. Every person must decide if they are going to follow Christ or follow anything else. As we have seen here, to choose to reject Christ or pay lip service to His Lordship is to accept dire consequences of eternal torment in hell.


Nathan W. Bingham said...

Just wanted to say "Happy Blogiverssary" but it appears that post has gone offline.

Joe Blackmon said...


Thank you brother. I had a snafu with a post publishing a wee bit (like 2 weeks) before it should have.

I think it may have been operator error. :-)