Summary: We must examine ourselves to see if we really are Christians.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in they name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23).
John MacArthur in his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, writes,
Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 7:21-23 as a warning to people who think they are saved but do not live in obedience to God. Unlike preachers today who go to excessive lengths to avoid upsetting anyone’s assurance, our Lord was determined to destroy the false hope of all who falsely thought they were redeemed. He often challenged such people. He never encouraged someone who was unsure of salvation to ignore the doubts. His message stands in stark contrast to the gospel of today, which seems designed specifically to prop up false assurance. The pattern of modern evangelism is to give people a pleasing and easy message; take them through a simple formula; get them to pray a prayer, sign a card, or whatever; then tell them they are saved and should never doubt it. Such an approach to witnessing actually fights against the Holy Spirit, whose ministry is to bring both assurance to those who are truly saved (Rom. 8:16) and conviction to those who are not (John 16:8-9). God knows the difference; we do not. It is not our job to certify people’s salvation [p. 214].
God’s Word encourages SPIRITUAL SELF-EXAMINATION. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul writes, "EXAMINE YOURSELVES, WHETHER YE BE IN THE FAITH."
For fifteen years Jim Fixx, author of the 1978 bestseller, The Complete Book on Running, ran eighty miles a week. He appeared to be in tip-top shape. It didn’t seem possible that a man his age could be in better condition. Yet at age fifty-two Fixx died of a massive heart attack while running alone on a Vermont road. His wife, Alice, later said she was certain that Fixx had no idea he suffered from a heart problem. Why? Because he refused to get regular checkups. After Jim Fixx’s death, doctors speculated that his heart was so strong he may not have had the telltale chest pains or shortness of breath that usually signal heart disease! [sermonillustrations. com].
Just as Jim Fixx was mistaken about his physical well-being, so many people today are mistaken about their spiritual well-being.
The sad truth is that many people who think they are Christians are self-deceived. They think they are on the road to heaven when they are actually on the road to destruction.
BOTH ROADS CLAIM TO BE THE WAY TO GOD. The wide gate is not marked "This Way to Hell"; it is labeled "This Way to Heaven," the same as the narrow gate. It just does not go there.
Notice the end of verse 14: "FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT."
Someone once asked Jesus, "Lord are there few that be saved?" His answer was, "STRIVE to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:23-24). The word "strive" implies an intense struggle. This goes against the modern idea that salvation is easy.
"Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing" [John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, p. 93].
1. NOT EVERYONE WHO PROFESSES JESUS TO BE LORD WILL ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (v. 21a).
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. . . ."
"Ye call me Lord and Master: and ye say well; for so I am" (John 13:13).
To address Jesus as Lord is to address Him as the one true God. Jesus is therefore talking about those who make a profession of faith in Him.
John Montgomery Boice writes,
Across [North] America on any given Sunday thousands of sermons will be preached to those who are Christians to urge them to live like Christians, and many thousands more will be preached to those who are not Christians to urge them to believe in Jesus. I doubt if many are preached to those who already believe the doctrines of Christianity and who think they are Christians but who, nevertheless, have never come to the point of accepting the Lord Jesus Christ personally as their Savior. . . .
The interesting thing about the situation that I have just described is that most people who listen to Christian preaching are, I am convinced, in the last of these categories. That is, they are not genuinely born-again Christians, but neither are they hostile to Christianity. They believe the doctrines. It is just that they have never committed themselves to Jesus Christ and are not really his. They believe, but they are not disciples. They do not deny Christ, but neither to they follow him [The Gospel of John, vol. 2, p. 637].