“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 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, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21–23, NASB95)
A recurring theme in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was hypocrisy. He spoke multiples times in a variety of ways about those who do things for their immediate reward, and repeatedly He said that the only reward they would receive is what they were to get then and there. These verses for today speak to how drastically short these kinds of efforts leave the people who base their lives upon them.
Scripture clearly says that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. In Isaiah we read, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:22–23, NASB95) This is true for all. There are no exceptions. Some will bow in adoration as they receive their inheritance of eternal life and have their works judged for eternal reward. “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10b–12, NASB95) And it is true for those who bow in deep sorrow to be sentenced to eternal separation and judgment.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15, NASB95)
There will only be one book that counts, and that is the book of life. The next chapter of Revelation immediately speaks of the new heaven and the new earth created perfect for eternity for those whose names were found in THE BOOK. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:3–4, NASB95) Later in chapter 21 we read, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:22–27, NASB95) What an incredible time this will be as we inherit eternity in the presence of our God with His glory as our light and Him as our temple. There no longer is a representation, but a full and eternal realization for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
But Scripture also tells us there are other books which contain the futile works of all whose names are not in the one book that matters. These are the ones who rejected God and sought their own paths as Jesus had just referred to. These are the ones who chose the wide way that leads to destruction, and all of their works of whatever form will not make up for the sins which they committed. “as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3:10, NASB95) The Bible says that the only way to be saved is by faith, and then those who are saved will evidence God’s work in their lives as they walk and serve by faith. Those who never trust are never saved. Those who are big in themselves and their works and the strength of their bootstraps are the ones whose bowing will come with great regret. The Bible tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NASB95)
Today’s passage is indeed sobering. Let’s say you were to ask someone the question, “Suppose you were to die tonight and God were to ask you why should I let you into My heaven, what would you say?” To this the person then responds with anything other than trusting God by faith. Think of the opportunity to share with them the great eternal Difference Maker. God’s gift of salvation is found in His Son who is declared to us throughout the entirety of Scripture, and is found in the simplest of truths, such that they don’t have to wonder how good is good enough. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NASB95)