“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven—only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”Matthew 7:21
It is common to ignore clear Bible teaching on the subject of works. Indeed, works do not save us, and no person can cause God’s indebtedness to mankind. But, works are important in the Christian life.
There is no verse more clear than Matthew 7:21. Jesus speaks these words himself. They are a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. There is no textual issue regarding the verse.
The passage arises in the context of false teachers who creep in among true disciples. Our Lord says that words are not enough. We all know people who talk big but do nothing. Jesus’ words target these people. Calling Jesus “Lord” is good, but it is not enough. Jesus says the only one entering the kingdom of heaven is a doer of God’s will. “Do” is an action word, a verb, which points to labor. The Christian is a worker; else, he is lost. Jesus says in verse 23, And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Those who talk big while doing nothing are “workers of lawlessness” and will be eternally lost.
The Sermon on the Mount was not the only time Jesus talked about workers. In Matthew 12:46 – 50, Jesus’ mother and brothers were trying to talk to him. Jesus replied, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). So again, the one who does God’s will is accepted.
Doing God’s Will is Taught by Jesus’ Followers
Doing God’s will is also a theme in James. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). The one who listens, but does not do, is deceived. He has convinced himself that all is good when he is lost. In the same paragraph, James tells his readers what a genuine Christian is. He is a doer. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
You cannot discount the Lord’s words about working as a Christian. It is the purpose of our existence. Paul writes, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus said those good works reflect the worldly man’s vision heavenward, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Doing God’s Will is a Habit of Jesus’ Followers
We should add that doing good works will never place God in debt to you or anyone else. We are saved by grace, and without it, we would be lost. Thousands of prayers, untold hours of good works, and service are meaningless without the grace of God. It is impossible to overstate the necessity of God’s grace. But let no one be mistaken: Our sovereign Lord requires works of those who belong to him. Apathy and a lackadaisical attitude toward serving God is spiritually deadly!
May we be known for our good works of service!
More from my site
Follow Preacher's Study Blog on Twitter @Preachers_Study. On Facebook, please like us at Preacher's Study Blog. Contact Bryant directly by email at [email protected]