Summary: How can we explain that some who even prophesy, cast out demons and do miracles in Jesus name will find out on Judgment Day that they have not done the will of God and are headed to hell?
The Paradoxical Sayings of Jesus
Jesus' Chilling Warning, Part II
As we attended Dallas Seminary in the 1980s, my brother-in-law was attending dental school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Oral Roberts University and lived in the student dorms there. So we would often visit them in Tulsa, and as we did, we got to know some of their fellow students. One was a theology student, not surprisingly a flaming Pentecostal, a young man whom I'll call Scott. He was certainly on fire for the Lord and told many stories about his ministry.
But the story that sticks out the most in my memory was a very odd one he told about a group of Pentecostal evangelists he knew who would often drive for hours to get to the many Pentecostal churches in the area to do ministry. He noted how this group of Pentecostal evangelists would generally drive at about 90 miles per hour to get where they were going, and how the Holy Spirit operated as their fuzz-buster to prevent them from getting speeding tickets. If you don't know what a fuzz-buster was, it was essentially a piece of electronic equipment that you could buy which would tell you if you were under radar surveillance by law enforcement. He told how accurately "the Holy Spirit" foretold and forewarned members of this speeding group of Pentecostal evangelists, for whenever "He" warned them, sure enough they would slow down just in time to find that the Highway Patrol was indeed there watching for speeders.
If you find yourself puzzled by this kind of story, well, you're not alone. So was I. I was somewhat skeptical of Pentecostalism generally at the time, so it seemed like just another extreme of that spiritual movement, though I must admit that I believe all the spiritual gifts, including the miraculous ones, are for today with the exception of apostleship. But I was puzzled at how to explain the supernatural element that, if this story were true, was so clearly involved in “busting the fuzz” and breaking the law. Would the Holy Spirit actually do this sort of thing and allow Christians, or professed Christians, to break the law of the land? That seemed to contradict the Bible, especially Romans 13 and other places. These folks, though they may have a different style and some differing beliefs, believe in Jesus and pray to Him, don't they? How could these things be? The answer to that question, as it turns out, is also the answer to the paradoxes and the seeming contradictions in that most chilling of all Jesus' paradoxical statements which we find in Matthew 7:21-23.
Again, let me read to you this most paradoxical and chilling statement given by Jesus as He concludes the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount. “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’"
Now last week we did part one of this message. We asked four questions about the apparent paradoxes posed by this passage:
1. First of all, the clear teaching of Scripture that salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ and faith alone, apart from works. The New Testament clearly teaches a person is saved by faith alone, apart from works. So how then do we explain this emphasis that only those who do the will of God will be going to heaven?
2. Second, the apparent teaching of the Bible from places like Romans 10:13 which say
all who call upon and profess the name of the Lord will be saved. Clearly, Matthew 7:21-23 indicates that some, in fact, many, who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will most definitely not be saved
3. Jesus indicated that miracles were indeed a valid testimony that He was from God,
was God Himself, and that people should believe in Him because of those which He did in John 14:11. How is that also not always true for His apparent followers?
4. The New Testament's assurance that we can know with certainty we're going to heaven based on the promises of God. Matthew 7 says some will clearly be self-assured they're going to Heaven, when in fact many who will be certain of their salvation who will be most certainly and sincerely wrong, to their eternal regret.
Our answers to questions one and two were basically this: Salvation, or going to heaven, is definitely by faith alone in Jesus alone, and based on His work on the cross for us. There is nothing we can add to His work of salvation to us. But the faith that saves is always a faith that produces good works—what you truly believe determines what you do--and so the kind of faith that saves also works. Though the means of getting to heaven is faith in Christ, the result of that faith is good works. In other words, the faith that saves is always the faith that works, the faith that repents and the faith that generally obeys. Though faith does not produce perfection in our lives, it produces a complete change in direction, in which we are born again. "If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation, old things are passed away, and all things have become new." (II Corinthians 5:17).