“Who Will Enter the Kingdom of God?

” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Introduction: This morning we were looking at how important it is that we sit under that kind of teaching that is going to point us in the right direction, into the narrow path, the path of righteousness that leads to heaven. Sadly, we also saw how rare this kind of teaching is today. There was a time when it was much more wide-spread, especially during those times when the Spirit of the Lord was poured out mightily upon His people. This is one of the effects the Spirit brings: a return of the people of God to holiness. This is what we so need desperately in our nation today. This is why the saints of old used to get on their knees and pray. This is why we need to continue to pray and beseech the Lord that He might pour Him out upon us again in this generation. And this is why we need to continually seek Him to work this work within us. Holiness, the fruits of righteousness, are so essential to the Christian, that we will not obtain heaven without it. Remember what the author to the Hebrews wrote, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14). Many believe that this sounds like works righteousness, a righteousness according to the Law. There are many in the church today who believe that it is, and this is why they have rejected the necessity of good works for salvation. But as we saw this morning, they are wrong. Their doctrine has and will continue to lead many to hell, because it is a lie of the devil. Our passage tonight plainly tells us that Only those who do the will of the Father will ever enter into the kingdom of heaven. I. Jesus begins by telling us, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘ Lord, Lord,’will enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is the clearest refutation of the easy-believism position that I know. A. As I said this morning, they teach that you don’ even have to accept Him as Lord, but only as t Savior, and you can be saved! 1. They believe that you can receive forgiveness of sins, become a child of God and be sure of heaven, without ever obeying Him. 2. The implications of this are staggering. They are saying that you can still be in rebellion against God and against His Christ, and yet be one of His people. 3. But let me tell you, the Bible does not teach this. It teaches exactly the opposite. a. The Bible says that the Father is even now causing all of Christ’ enemies to submit to Him. s b. David writes regarding Christ, in Psalm 110:1-2, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘ at My right Sit hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’ The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘ Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.’ ” c. There are some who believe that Christ is not ruling now, that He is not now occupying this place of authority and that He won’ until He comes again. But Peter tells us plainly that He t is reigning now. He said that the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, that Spirit which gave His disciples the power to extent Christ’ kingdom rule in this world, was the s indication that He was. He said about Christ, “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘ THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-- this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:33-35). He says in 5:31, “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” It was in this place of honor and authority that Stephen saw Him, as Christ stood and prepared to receive Stephen’ soul as he laid it down in martyrdom s (7:55). d. He is reigning now, the Father is causing all of His enemies to submit to Him now, and one day every one of them will be brought into subjection to Him. Paul writes, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at

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the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11). e. What are the implications of this for the Christian? Paul continues, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (v. 12). There is an obedience we must render. There is a work we must do. And we must do it in fear and trembling, because of the possibility of falling short of that salvation. f. But, on the other hand, there is the gracious promise that we will persevere and make it to the finish line, if we have truly trusted in Christ. Paul continues, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (v. 13). If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, God is working in you. He is working in you both the desire to work and the work itself. And this work which He has begun, He has also promised to bring to completion. Paul writes in 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” g. But the point is, you must work. But you are not working that you might receive salvation, you are working because God has already saved you and is at work in you to bring about this new obedience. h. But this also proves the point, that you can’ receive Jesus as Savior apart from His Lordship. t He will not receive you on those terms. He must be your Lord, or He is not your Savior either. B. Jesus tells us here that even among those who call Him Lord, not everyone will enter into His kingdom. 1. He says there will even be those who know that they must submit to Him as their Lord, but who will still not enter heaven. 2. Their problem will not be one of correct knowledge, but of correct living. II. And this brings us to the second point. If not everyone who calls Jesus Lord will enter into heaven, who will? Jesus says, “He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” A. Again, recognize the implications of what Jesus is saying here. It is not those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior who will enter into heaven, but those who actually do His will. Again, this refutes easy-believism. 1. The Lord, on that great and terrible day of His judgment, is not going to judge us by whether or not we claimed to be Christians, or whether or not we held our membership in His church, He is going to judge us by what we actually did. a. Paul tells us that God “will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 2:6-10). b. Again, our Lord shows us in the Sheep and Goat Judgment -- where everyone seemed to think that they knew Him, like those Jesus speaks of here in our text --, that it is only those who actually did what He commanded that will enter into His kingdom. He will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (25:34). Why? Because they prayed the prayer, or walked the isle, or because they claimed to be Christians? No. He says, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me” (vv. 35-36). c. But then He will turn to those on His left and say, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devils and his angels” (v. 41). Why? Because they didn’ pray the prayer, walk the isle, or profess to be Christians? No. Jesus says, “For I t was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to

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drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (vv. 42-43). 2. Now again, is Jesus saying here that we will be saved or lost by our works? No. But what He is saying is that His judgment will not be based on a mere profession of faith, but on the fruits of that faith, for those fruits will reveal what kind of a tree is in front of Him. B. Brethren, this should make us carefully examine our lives to see what kind of fruit we are bearing and how much. 1. I think we place far too much confidence in the fact that we believe the facts of the Gospel and profess to know Jesus Christ, and try to stay away from doing things which are terribly wrong, and not enough on what it is that our lives are really producing for God’ glory. s 2. Neither Jesus nor Paul in the passages I have quoted point to the fact that the true believer doesn’ do things which are evil. I think it goes without saying that a believer is not going to t live a wicked life. But the absence of evil fruit is not enough. They are pointing to the positive fruits of righteousness which must be there. 3. Let me read one other parable which Jesus taught. Luke writes, “And He began telling this parable: ‘ certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came A looking for fruit on it, and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” And he answered and said to him, “Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down”’ (13:6-9). Now what did Jesus mean by this? ” a. Obviously, He was speaking about Israel. God had given the nation of Israel many blessings and privileges, but they were not bringing forth the fruits which they should have, as Jesus also showed in the parable of the Landowner (Matt. 21:33-46). b. But it also has reference to individuals. If a man bears fruit for the Lord, then he will receive a blessing. But if he does not, then he will be cut down. In the parable of the Sower, only the ground which received the seed and bore fruit received the Lord’ commendation. Jesus s said, “This is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matt. 13:23). In the parable of the vine and the branches, it is only the branches which bring forth fruit which are pruned that they might bear more. Those which produce nothing are cut off (John 15:2). In the parable of the talents, those who use their talents to make a profit for their Lord are rewarded. But the one who buried His talent in the ground is cast out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:19-30). c. It is not those who say ‘ Lord, Lord,’who will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who actually do the will of God. III. But is the bare doing of what Jesus requires even enough? This brings us to the third point. A person may outwardly look as though he is doing what God requires and still be lost. Jesus says here, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘ Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘ never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ I ” A. Here are some who appear to have been doing what Jesus required, and yet they are still rejected. 1. Not only were they doing what He required, they were even doing things which not everyone can do: they were prophesying, casting out demons, and performing many miracles, and they did it, not in their own name, but in the name of Jesus. a. Now Jesus doesn’ anywhere deny that what they said was true. And because of this I think it t is safe to assume that they were really doing these things. b. But how could they, if they were not saved? (i) We mustn’ forget that the Lord shows us in His Word that there were times when He t even allowed the wicked to do supernatural works by the Spirit of God. (ii) Balaam was a prophet of God, and yet he was destroyed in God’ judgment. s (iii) King Saul was numbered among the prophets, but in the end he was also cast away by

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God. (iv) And, of course, there was Judas. Judas was numbered among the twelve disciples of the Lord. He performed many miracles, and yet Jesus said that he was a devil from the beginning. (v) It was possible in those days for a person to do the things which these men were doing and yet not be saved. This is why when the seventy, whom Jesus sent out to preach the Gospel and to cast out demons, returned rejoicing, He said to them, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20). They were not to rejoice in the first things, because a man might do these things and still be lost. But he cannot be lost if his name is written in heaven! (vi) What was it that these Jesus speaks of in our text were yet lacking? 2. Jesus said they failed to keep the Law. a. Outwardly, they were doing good things. They had the miraculous gifts of the Spirit and were even claiming to use them for the glory of the Lord. Perhaps there was even some real good which came from their service. b. But they were still breaking the Law. Jesus says, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (v. 23). We must remember that the Law requires more than an outward conformity to its standard. Our heart must also be in it. c. These men were doing the right things, but for the wrong reasons. They were doing what the Lord required, but not in the right way. What they lacked was a true love for God. Jesus said, “I never knew you,” which means that they had not entered into a personal love relationship with the Savior. If they had, they would have done these things out of love for Him, and the things they did would have been accepted by Him. d. But secondly, since they didn’ love Christ, they were also not truly doing these things for His t glory, but for their own. How could they really seek Christ’ glory, if they didn’ love Him? s t Those who don’ love Christ, those who are not born again by His Spirit, actually hate Him. t You generally don’ seek the honor of those whom you hate. t e. They did what was outwardly right in the eyes of the Lord, but they were still rejected, because they weren’ doing it in the right way. Jesus will say to these, as He will say to those t who do not do His will at all, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (v. 23). B. I would close by asking you this evening, Are you doing the works of God and are you doing them for the right reasons? 1. Jesus has told us plainly here that only those who do His will will ever enter into heaven. Is that what you are doing? 2. Are you studying to know His Word and His will more accurately? And more importantly, are you seeking to put to use what it is you have learned? Jesus tells us that we should bear witness to the Gospel by our lives and words. Are you bearing witness to it? Jesus said that we should be helping those who are in need. Are you helping those in need whom the Lord brings into your lives? Jesus said that we should be loving our neighbors as ourselves. Are you loving, not only those who love you, but also those who hate you? 3. The Lord is not going to give us a theological examination on the day of judgment, but is going to inspect the fruit our lives have produced. What will He discover when He examines yours? 4. But again, ask yourself this question. If you have found what appears to be good fruit, why have you done these things? Have you done them because you love God? Have you done them because you desire to give Him glory and honor? Or have you done them because you are trying to prove to those around you that you are a Christian? 5. It would be wise for us to use this passage to examine ourselves this evening, so that we won’ be t surprised on the day of judgment by the Lord’ verdict. If you find that you lack in these areas, s then come to the Lord now for the gracious help you need to overcome your deficiency. Come to Christ in faith and repentance. Come to Christ for the strength and the power to do what He calls you to do. Ask Him for the grace you need to work diligently for Him. This is one prayer

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that He delights to answer, for He is looking for laborers to send into His vineyard. 6. People of God, let us come to Christ now and seek Him for His Spirit, that He might fill us with Himself and in doing so fill our lives with the good fruits of His grace, for His praise and honor. Amen.

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