Excerpted from John Bevere’s Driven By Eternity (Chapter 5: Pages 82-98)
Unfortunately, we only quote such Scriptures as, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). So we tell people all they have to do is quote the magical prayer and they’re in. Yet, why don’t we also quote Jesus’ own words: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke46). As we’ve seen, “Lord” means Supreme Master, it carries the meaning of Ownership. So Jesus is saying, “Don’t call me Master and yet still own your own life, better to call me ‘Great Prophet’ or ‘Teacher’ so that you do not deceive yourself.”
So now let’s reexamine Jesus’ statement with which we opened this entire discussion: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 7:21a, NIV).
As we’ve already stated, not everyone who calls Jesus Christ Lord will be in heaven. So that emphatically tells us just saying the “sinner’s prayer” doesn’t secure us heaven. Then my question is this, “Jesus, who will enter into the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answers by saying, “But only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21b, NIV).
Interesting. These were almost the exact words of Polycarp. So it is not confessing Jesus only, but confessing Jesus and doing the will of God that will get us into heaven. And the only way we can do His will is through the grace He gives us when we humble ourselves by denying our own lives and receiving Him as Lord. It is as simple as confessing, but the difficult part comes in yielding ourselves entirely to the reality of His lordship.
Hear now why I’ve stressed this point so passionately:
When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me,
“Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by
your name we drove out many demons and performed
many miracles!” Then I will say to them, “I never knew
you. Get away from me, you wicked people!”
Matthew 7:22-23, TEV
In the late 1980’s, God gave me a spiritual vision. I saw a multitude so large you couldn’t see the end of it. It was a sea of humanity. I knew there were no atheists in this group, no self-acknowledged sinners, no followers of other religions; rather, all confessed being Christians through the lordship of Jesus. This multitude had come to the Judgment and were fully expecting to hear Jesus say, “Enter into the joy of your Lord; the Kingdom of God.” But instead they heard the words, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).
I beheld the utter shock and terror upon their faces. Can you imagine feeling secure in a salvation you don’t possess? Can you imagine being exiled into the flames of hell forever when you fully believed you were heaven bound? Forever and ever having to deal with the memory that you, and possibly those who preached to you , took your eternal destination so lightly? Is there room for a seeker-friendly ministry that shuns the admonitions of Jesus? Can you understand why we are to proclaim the whole counsel of God, not just the positives or benefits? Yes, we love the benefits, and we should tell them and enjoy them, but not at the expense of neglecting the warnings!
I recall in a conference stating the reason for preaching these truths is that “I don’t want anyone screaming at me at the Judgment, ‘Why didn’t you tell me the truth!’, while their blood is dripping off my hands!”
After my session, a pastor immediately approached me quite upset; in fact, he was irate. He said, “How dare you put that Old Testament theology on us ministers. I won’t have blood dripping off my hands for not proclaiming the entire gospel.” He obviously liked the positive aspects but stayed clear of the confrontational portions of God’s Word.
I then said, “Sir, look at what Paul stated to the leaders of Ephesus.” Having my Bible in hand I turned to Acts and asked him to read: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).
He looked up at me in shock, his eyes and mouth wide open. He said, “All the times I’ve read the New Testament, I’ve never noticed this.” We then had a friendly conversation. I mentioned that in order to present every human being mature in Christ, we must not only teach, but warn them (see Col 1:28). What is the warning? To not drift away from truth, to not be swayed by the message propagated by impostors who seduce not only themselves but countless others from godliness.
Paul had been with the people of Ephesus for quite some time. He loved them dearly and knew by the Spirit of God he would not see them again until heaven. Think of how carefully you would choose your words knowing they would be your last to those who were like your children. His parting words were:
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which
the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of
the church of God, which he bought with his own
blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come
in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your
own number men will arise and distort the truth in order
to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!
Remember that for three years I never stopped warning
each of you night and day with tears.
Acts 20:28-31, NIV
How would they distort the truth? Possibly by words, but most likely by actions. Notice that Paul felt so strongly about this that he didn’t stop warning them day and night for three years. Again, we see the emphasis; we are to affirm these things constantly.