This was a rather frightening thought as I considered Jesus’ sermon on the mount to the crowd. He begins this sermon in Matthew, Chapter 5 but as he is closing out his sermon in Chapter 7, he tells them that not all who call him Lord, are going to heaven. Specifically, he says:
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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
So, that makes me wonder, what God were these serving? Surely, they were confident enough to raise their works as their defense and evidence. It sounds as if they were busy doing works in the church, but Jesus said, depart from me. Those are frightful words.
Consider too the Jews, who had the written law. But to them, Christ says:
…and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me.John 5:38-39 ESV
The Jews had the word but they still got it wrong.
How can one go about their whole life thinking that they are Christian, a follower of Christ, when they are not? Suppose you are serving in various ministries in your church, does it mean that you are serving God? It does not. All we have to do is go back to what Jesus told the crowd, not everyone who calls him Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven.
So, how do we know which God we are serving? The Pharisees and the scribes who were steeped in the written law, to them, Jesus pronounced seven woes and called them hypocrites. (Matthew 23:13-36)
The Apostle Paul who was a Pharisee, persecuted followers of Jesus, the church, until he was converted and commissioned by Jesus on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-19) Before he thought he was doing God’s will according to the written law, but learned that he was not.
We know which God we are serving by how we live, by what we believe, by who we follow. God has given us the Bible for our instruction, our learning. We find out who the true and living God is through the scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, that if we love him, we will keep his commandments, (John 14:15). Jesus also says that he who follows him will not walk in darkness, (John 8:12b) and that only if we abide in his word are we truly his disciples, (John 8:31).
How do we get to the place where we believe that we are doing enough to go to heaven?
A few years ago, I was watching a segment on the View and the discussion was interesting about religion, or what it means to be good. Check it out.
The various ways that people think and believe will render them good before God is vast, but there is only one way, as one of the ladies stated in this segment; it is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The faith is not just a matter of assent, or just saying that I believe Jesus, but as the Apostle Paul described it, it is a repenting and turning to God. It is a radical turn from our way to God’s way, which is laid out in the Bible.
One theologian posed this question:
Do You Have These Marks of a Christian?
Are we ourselves people of God? Have we been born again? Have we the MARKS which always accompany the new birth-sense of sin, faith in Jesus, love of others, righteous living, separation from the world? Let us never be content until we can give a satisfactory answer to these questions.J. C. ryle
Let us not be deceived, but let us be sure that we have the marks of a Christian. Let us follow the exhortation of the Apostle Paul and examine ourselves to make sure that we are who we say we are. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
God has made the way plain. There is no bargaining or negotiations with God for a different way than his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 14:6) Ours is to obey and follow.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.Philippians 2:12-13
Obeying God’s written word is key. Working out our salvation is not working to be saved, but it is proving that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ by our works.
Are you certain that you are serving the true and living God? Make certain now.