Jesus had just finished talking about how we need to enter by the narrow gate that leads to life vs. by the gate that is wide which leads to destruction. And he had just finished warning against false prophets and how we will recognize them by their fruits. And then he talked about how not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one doing the will of his Father who is in heaven (see Matt 7:13-23).
So many people think that a profession of faith is enough to secure them heaven, and so they think they will be safe entering by the wide gate. For, they don’t believe that God will judge them, and so they aren’t really concerned about false teachers, either. Since they believe they don’t have to obey Jesus’ commands, they will never imagine that they will one day hear him say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Matthew 7:24-25 ESV
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
Jesus Christ never taught what, in America, is predominantly passed off as the gospel these days. He did not teach “the sinner’s prayer,” and for us to tell people to “repeat after me” and “congratulations, now you are part of God’s family and heaven is now secured for you.” He did not teach “now if you meant that prayer then…” He did not teach once saved always saved.
Jesus taught that if we want to come after him that we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily with him to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. For, he said if we save (hold on to) our lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (die with him to sin) for his sake, then we have eternal life with him (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 6:1-23).
Jesus taught that we must obey him. For, he sees faith as obedience and disobedience as unbelief (1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13). He said that no words we say will save us. Only those who are doing the will of God (who are obeying him) will enter the kingdom of heaven. It is only us who hear his words and who are doing them (in practice) who will be saved.
And Paul and the other apostles taught the same thing. Paul didn’t teach that God’s grace means Jesus does it all and that we do nothing. He taught that just because we are under grace it doesn’t mean we are now free to keep sinning. For, he said, by faith in Jesus we died with Christ to sin so how can we live in it any longer? And he said that if we continue living in deliberate and habitual sin (walking in it) that we will die in our sins.
If we want to be assured of our salvation from sin and our eternal life with God, we must by faith in Jesus forsake our lives of sin to follow him in obedience to his ways and to his commands. This is what it means to build our house upon the rock, which is Jesus. It involves action on our part. It involves doing the will of God, and it involves submitting to Christ as Lord.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13]
Matthew 7:26-27 ESV
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
So, those who are telling you that you can “believe” in Jesus and have your sins forgiven (past, present, and future) and that you can have heaven secured you based on a profession of faith, but that God requires no repentance, obedience, or submission to him as Lord as part of that saving faith, they are lying to you.
If we don’t obey Jesus, as a matter of practice, and if righteousness is not our practice, but sin is, and if we are still walking (in conduct) according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, then heaven is not secured us and neither is our salvation. It is only those who are doing the will of the Father who will enter into his eternal kingdom. So, we can’t live like the world and still have the hope of heaven when we die.
If we “build our house on sinking sand” instead of on The Rock, because we are believing the lies while we are rejecting the truth, because the lies sound better than the truth, then we won’t make it. We won’t survive the crash. We can’t put our hope in some prayer that we prayed or some confession we made of Christ with our lips. Lip service only will not get us there.
And no, this is not works-based salvation. Yes, God’s grace is a free gift, but that gift is repentance, and it is obedience, and it is submission to Christ as Lord, for even the faith to believe in Jesus comes from God, and we can only believe in Jesus if God first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and as to our sinfulness and as to our need for deliverance from our slavery to sin so that we can now live for God by his grace.
For God’s grace is not free license to continue living in sin, only now without guilt. God’s grace, which brings us salvation, trains us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts (worldly passions) and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. His grace delivers us from our slavery to sin and it empowers us to become slaves of God and of his righteousness (Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
So, please don’t put your hope in a lie. Read the Scriptures. Read the New Testament (Matthew to Revelation). Read it word for word in context, prayerfully, asking the Lord to show you the truth about him and his grace and his salvation and regarding what all he requires of us under his grace for us to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
For we are all going to be judged by God one day, and he is going to judge us by our works (our deeds), not by what we profess. And only those doing the will of God will enter into his heavenly kingdom. So, please know what the will of God is so that you are doing it, for it isn’t just to profess him as Savior and Lord and then to go on living in sin. If you do that, you will die.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
By John Newton
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
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