It appears some people will be surprised come their judgment day. Matthew 7:21-23, “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 thy 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.”
These people claim to do what they have done in the name of Jesus. Jesus says he never knew them. These two positions can’t be further apart on the spectrum.
On one hand we have Christ telling us we must do the will of the Father and on the other hand, He is telling a group of people who have preached, changed lives, and done other amazing works for Him that He did not know them. Upon seeing this, we have to ask, “What is the will of the Father?”
2 Peter 3:9 tells us God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Therefore, the will of the Father is that we keep from perishing by repenting. This was Jesus’ message when He started preaching. Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (see also Luke 13:3,5).
But what about faith? The Bible tells us salvation comes through faith, not by works. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Jesus also uses the word “perish” when talking about faith. John 3:15-16, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Repentance and the faith that gives eternal life must somehow be intertwined.
There are three types of faith, and only one is tied to repentance.
1. There is the faith that is nothing more than an acknowledging of the facts. One may believe God is there and even go as far as to believe that Jesus Christ is His Son and died for the sins of the world, but the Bible tells us even the Devils have this much faith (James 2:19).
2. Another type of faith is one that will change actions but not change the heart. This faith is the kind of faith the people in Matthew 7, our original passage, had. They had enough faith in God to attend church and participate in serving Him, but deep down inside the heart; things were the same. There was no desire to forsake sin. They still look at their sins as something that isn’t that bad or as actions everyone else was doing, or circumstances that God would understand. There was no repentance.
3. Then there is the faith that is intertwined with repentance. This is saving faith. Works do not save us, we are saved by grace through faith in the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ. When, through the Holy Spirit, a person sees the fact that they are a sinner and cannot save themselves. When they see that the blood of Jesus is the only thing God the Father will accept on their behalf as a sin offering. When they place their faith in Jesus Christ as the only means to erase the sin from their record, as the only means of their salvation, as their only hope for eternity, then they have faith that will intermingle with repentance.
Repentance is far more that going to and being active in a church.
Because of our faith, love, and gratitude to Jesus Christ for washing our sins away (Revelation 1:5) our heart has no choice but to turn from the sins in our life. This is repentance. We repent not to save ourselves, but because He has saved us. Just as Zacchaeus’ saving faith caused him to stop stealing the tax money from the people and return fourfold what he had taken (Luke 19:1-10), our saving faith will cause us to turn from our sins.
When your judgment day comes will you be surprised?
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. Visit his website, [email protected]