“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Today’s passage is perhaps the most chilling to come from the lips of Jesus. Here we have the Lord’s declaration that on judgment day, many religious people will be refused entry into His Kingdom. These will not be ordinary religious people either. These will be people who know the name of Jesus and who regard Him as Lord. Furthermore, these will not be lazy or uncommitted people. They will be people who are busy performing, what will appear to be at least, righteous acts in the name of the Lord Jesus. They will openly declare what they believe to be divinely revealed truth. They will even appear to engage in spiritual combat with the forces of darkness and they will no doubt gain the reputation as miracle-workers on the earth. How shocking it is to think that these people—and there will be many of them—will be cast from the Lord’s presence as workers of iniquity. Here we see, in stark and unmistakable terms, that mere association with, and proximity to, the things of God is insufficient. Judas is the most powerful object lesson in this regard. He too went out preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He too was granted power to perform miracles (Matthew 10:1-8). How sobering it is to think that Judas kissed the very Gate of Heaven and yet went straight to hell (John 10:9; Luke 22:47-48; Acts 1:25). No one who takes the Bible seriously can remain unaffected by these passages. Troubling though they may be, they were written to be a help to us, to guide us away from error and personal disaster. Today’s passage is a powerful, positive reminder that our salvation is in no way dependent upon our good works (Romans 4:4-5). How good it is to know that entry into the Kingdom of Heaven is based entirely on the finished work of Christ. It is His performance, not ours, that reconciles guilty sinners with the holy God Who inhabits eternity. This reconciliation, however, will not occur apart from our entering into a love-trust relationship with the Savior (John 6:35, 47). This is an intensely personal sort of thing that goes way beyond engaging in regular religious sorts of activities. We must come to Him in sincere, humble, heartfelt repentance; He demands and deserves access to the deepest recesses of our “heart of hearts.” When we trust completely in Him to meet our redemptive need, we have assurance before Him that we will not be cast from His presence at His coming, but will be granted joyful admittance into His long-awaited Kingdom (Luke 12:32; James 2:5).