Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. The first teaching was The Beatitudes, which is the greatest sermon to everyone and anyone:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-11)
Then Jesus continued for His followers to be salt and light, and taught about giving to the needy without telling (i.e., secretly between us and God). Jesus gave Lord’s prayer, and explained treasures in heaven, sinning by judging others, and how to ask, seek and knock before God as prayer. Then Jesus asked His followers to go through the narrow gate, and few actually found and entered through the narrow gate. Jesus also added:
“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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus asked us to enter through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and wide, and many choose that way. But the gateway to life is narrow. Only a few find it, let alone entering it. Therefore, one who enters the narrow gate has already traded an easy-going life with a life that many do not want.
Surprisingly, Jesus added to the people listening to His sermon, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Should those who choose the narrow gate and follow Jesus be accepted by Jesus? On the contrary, to those who prophesy in Jesus name, cast out demons in Jesus name, and performed many miracles in Jesus name, Jesus will tell on judgement day, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s law.”
Why? This teaching of Jesus has puzzled lots of believers. Some of them are even fearful about this Bible verse. One of my dear Christian friends is one of them. One day, he talked about his fear about this verse to me. Through God’s grace, my friend literally did what Jesus described – gone to a remote mission field in a foreign land, calling His name for the people in the land, preaching Gospel in Jesus name, and even casting demons in Jesus name. Should he be really fearful about what is written in this Bible verse?
Here is what Jesus also did. After feeding 5000 men (could be 20,000 if women and children were included), Jesus immediately sent them away. Then Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee with His disciples to the other side. The people followed, and when they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:26-29)
What was the focus of the people who followed Jesus? Their question answers. Their heart was fixated to what they must have done (i.e., performed) to do the works of God. Upon their question, Jesus’ answer was brief and direct. The work of God is nothing more or less than believing God.
We are not that much different from the people who followed and asked Jesus. If not [extremely] careful, without knowing, we approach God with a merit-based mind. This is a natural tendency of us. We constantly observe what we do, and evaluate what happened (i.e., what is achieved.) When we see something achieved, our heart praises the achievement, and own lips are easily quivering, “I did for God a great God’s work, or a miracle, or even casting demons.” Verbalizing our own praise with our own mouth is a tell-tale sign that we are no longer entering in the narrow gate, but we are on the easy and smooth highway that everybody loves to travel. Therefore, it is so obvious that what will happen when we stand before the judgement seat. All self-praised works and achievements will reduce to nothing, because we have already taken our rewords in full on earth. Wait a minute, even worse, we actually robbed God’s glory because all praises absolutely should belong to God. Then what will we logically expect to get? Surely, God will declare, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
God asks us to be still before Him, just believing and completely trusting Him. Why? Because God is one and only one true and ever-loving Father. As a proof, He gave His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. Through Him, God has saved us from the eternal death. Then with His loving provision, He gives us everything that what we have. Let’s not forget that God owns everything that we see. Thus, God does not need us to do anything on earth. Then why does He care for us so much? Because He dearly loves us, He wants us to be part of His glorious kingdom plan. Yes, this is God’s unfathomable grace. Thus, we infinitely owe His love and everything that we have as well as who we are, and especially what we have done for God. (In reality, all have been done by, thought and in the power of God.) Then what should we do to Our God? As commanded by God, the first is loving God, and the second is loving our neighbors. Our love to God and our neighbors is the tell-tail sign of our humble and genuine belief in God.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)