You can have all the right theology and still not enter the kingdom of heaven.
“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. 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?’”
– Matthew 7:21–22 ESV
Those who say, “Lord, Lord” have the right theology. They put their hands up in worship and know when to say “Amen”—and even say it twice (which shows they mean it).
And, not only do they have zeal in worship and theology; they also have zeal in ministry. They prophesy (preach) in Jesus’ name, cast out demons in Jesus’ name, and do miracles in Jesus’ name. These are not sideline people. I don’t know what kind of church you grew up in, but in my childhood church, if you got picked to be on the demon-exorcism squad, that’s varsity! These are not people who slide into the service late and leave early; these are pastors, elders, deacons, ministers, and missionaries.
“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
– Matthew 7:23
Oh, this sends a tremor of terror down my spine. These people confess Jesus, but Jesus does not confess them, because they always work “lawlessness,” or evil. Though they were around Jesus all the time and went through the motions of Christianity, they never fully yielded to him. To those people, Jesus says, “You knew of me, but I never actually knew you—the kind of knowledge that comes from surrendering your life to me and hoping in me as your Savior.”
Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” actually belongs to him.
We are saved by faith alone—by believing in Christ as our Savior and trusting in his work alone to save us—but the kind of faith that saves is faith that reorients our whole lives. It puts the roots of our lives into gospel soil and builds the foundation of our lives on gospel truth.
We are saved by faith alone—by believing in Christ as our Savior and trusting in his work alone to save us—but the kind of faith that saves is faith that reorients our whole lives.
You see, there are two ways to tell what you really believe: what your lips say you believe and what your life demonstrates you believe. God looks at your life as a better indicator of what you believe than your lips.
I read a poem as a kid that I’ve never forgotten, called “Why Do You Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things I Say?”:
You call Me the Way, and walk Me not.
You call Me the Life, and live Me not.
You call Me Master, and obey Me not.
You call Me Bread, and eat Me not.
You call Me Truth, and believe Me not.
You call Me Lord, and serve Me not.
If I condemn you, blame Me not.
Is this true of you? Do you lift your hands in worship but refuse to surrender your life to Jesus?
If your life does not bear evidence of spiritual fruit, then there is a simple way forward. You embrace Christ and the truth that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. Jesus is the only one who can save you. That’s good news! He paid your full sin debt on the cross and offers to come into your life and make you a new creation.
Embrace that with your heart and yield complete control over your life to him. When you do, he will come into your heart and save you.