Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21, NIV).
Who are the people to whom Jesus says, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” in Matthew 7:23?
These are the people who say to Jesus:
Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles? (Matthew 7:22).
Why does Jesus reject these people who did good things, but accept the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39–43), who, as far as we know, may never have done anything good in his entire life?
Who are these people? They are the ones who present their works before God as their grounds for their being accepted by him. To understand the difference between these people and the thief on the cross is to understand the whole Gospel.
A whole lifetime of good deeds and law-keeping of the religious people in Matthew 7 did not count one little bit towards their salvation. Conversely, a whole lifetime of crime and lawlessness was not counted by Jesus against the thief on the cross.
What makes the difference between these two is the attitude of their hearts towards God.
If you’ve believed in Jesus, then obedience will be the natural outworking of the love of God in the born-again heart (Romans 13:10; Matthew 22:36–40; Galatians 5:14).
Eli’s Reflection: How well do you know Jesus? It’s not good enough just to say his name: you have to know him. And he desperately wants you to know him. Will you make time to get to know him better this week? How will you connect with him?
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.
Feature image: Photo by Diana Vargas on Unsplash