“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Have you ever been to the White House to visit the President of the United States? I’ve never been. I’ve walked by it. I have peered through the gates and wondered what it must be like on the inside. When George Bush was the President, I knew that he existed. I voted for him. In fact, when his popularity waned, I still believed in him.
Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to give a political speech. I’m just going to use my relationship with former President Bush to make a point. The fact is I don’t have a relationship with him. I believe that he exists. I’ve read about him. I’ve quoted him. I’m a citizen of this country. I try to live a good, moral life. But, none of this gives me access to the White House. And, that doesn’t seem fair to me! It seems like I’ve earned it.
Do you know why none of this gives me access to the White House? It’s because even though I believe George Bush exists, and even though I know a whole lot about him, the fact is, I don’t really know him. I have no relationship with him. If I were one of his children, I could’ve walked right up to the White House, and they would have opened the gate and let me in. All I would have to say is, “I’m here to see my Father!” You see, knowing the Father gives you access to the house.
Did you know it is the same in terms of our access to heaven? It is only if you know the Father that you will ever gain access to Heaven. By the way, you come to know the Father through the Son. Jesus said, “When you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father. He also said, “I and the Father are one.” It is not so much about what you believe that gives you access to Heaven. It’s all about who you know!
And so, let me ask you, do you know Jesus? Or do you just simply believe that He exists? You see, believing that He exists is not enough. James 2:19 states, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Understand this, Satan believes in God. The demons acknowledged that Jesus was God. They know who Jesus is!
Here is the question that I want you to ask yourself: How can I know beyond a shadow of doubt that when I die I will have access to heaven? The answer lies not so much in what you believe, but in who you know.
From Matthew 7:21-23, one learns of five characteristics of those who will be turned away from the door to heaven. First, there will be many. Matthew 7:13-14 states, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Only a few people enter through the narrow gate, thus, there will be many who will be turned away. Which road are you on? The one that leads to life or the one that leads to destruction.
Second, those who are turned away will be familiar with His name. According to verse 22, many will stand before Jesus one day and say, ‘Lord, Lord.’ In other words, they may be very familiar with His name, and they may know all about Him. But for some reason, they refused to come to Jesus and place their trust in Him. In John 5:39-40, Jesus warned the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Third, those who are turned away will be disobedient. In verse 21, Jesus says, “Only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” will enter. In other words, those who refuse to do the will of God will not enter. What is the will of God? In John 6:28-29, Jesus was asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” The will of God is that men and women repent, and come to Him by faith. That is how we truly obey Him. Have you done this?
Fourth, those turned away will try to gain access through their good works. Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” If Jesus were preaching this today, this is what I think He’d say, “Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, didn’t you see me going to church, don’t you remember that I taught Sunday School, didn’t you see me living a good moral life, don’t you remember all of the kind deeds that I did for others?” People who think like this have never come to the realization that they are sinners who need a Savior. They actually think of themselves as being good and moral. How sad it will be on that day for people who think like this.
Lastly, those who are turned away will not know Jesus. How tragic it will be when the many who knew all about Jesus realize they were relying on their good deeds to give them access to heaven. I think at that moment they will reflect back over their lives and remember all the opportunities they were given to trust Jesus. They will remember the countless times they sat in church and heard the minister give an invitation to come forward and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But, they just sat there. They thought he was getting a little too carried away with all of that Jesus talk. They will remember the time when the evangelist on TV was imploring people to trust Christ. But, once again, they did nothing. They will remember the time when they were driving in their car, and heard a man on the radio sharing how his life was changed the moment he met Jesus. Once again, they did respond. They will remember all of these times during their lives when God was reaching out to them. But every time they refused to respond, their hearts became a little bit harder. Jesus warned the religious people of His day in Matthew 13:14-15. He said, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.” The memories of the many times they refused Jesus will haunt them throughout eternity.
And so, let me ask you again. Do you know Jesus, or do you really only know about Him? Remember, it’s all about who you know!