A couple of days ago we looked at this sobering passage that follows. Let us listen further to Jesus!
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mat 7:21—23
Notice the repetition of in my name. Repetition shows Jesus is stressing something important. How often do you hear that something was done in Jesus’ name as if that legitimises it, the decision. Mark well this scary word from Jesus. Let us beware of doing stuff not planted by the Father, or worse, upon which we are subtly relying to enter the Kingdom of God. There may be a sub-text to “my ministry” by which we store up credits for the End. Instead we may be storing up wrath for ourselves.
Jesus tells us frequently to ask for things in my name. This is a gracious promise and privilege for his disciples. But this is not a formula to stick at the end of our prayers as if that would move God to answer us. In Jesus’ name means we ask as if Jesus is asking, our requests matching his requests, our cries intertwined with his. We ask with the mind of Christ. Our askings must come out of a profound relationship with him. We must know him. Otherwise we may take the name of the Lord in vain.
Jesus warns us here that the things we do in his name must arise from a loving relationship with him. If not, we may hear the dreadful word of rejection and the charge of lawlessness (=unrighteousness).
Can you think of anything more horrifying after years of labouring for what we think is his Kingdom to hear those terrifying words ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Can you imagine the protests? “But look at what I have done in your name! I have pastored churches in your name. I have written books in your name. I have lectured theology in your name.” But defence will be useless. Only one thing is needed: turning from running our own lives, knowing him. Now.
Well-meaning people may decide what are the right things to do. They decide what they will do, but with no reference to what the Father wants. “But I prayed about it” is a plea that will not be acceptable. There is no point in us running his show and asking “Lord please bless what we are doing”.
Politicians may declare “we will decide who comes to our nation and the circumstances under which they arrive”. This is the way of human thinking, the way of the kingdoms of this world: I will decide where I go and what I do and how I do it. Who has authority to decide, is the issue. It was this which ignited faith in the Roman centurion recognising Jesus’ authority and submitting to it. (Mat 8:9-10)
“Then who Lord, will see the Kingdom?”—the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. The will of God has to be heard and not just assumed to be what suits you or your organisation. It is his government, not yours. You are to take your place as his partner not his advisor. So, what to decide? We do the Father’s will by deciding to listen to his voice, then acting on it. Obedience not sacrifice! Jesus’ methodology consisted of his relationship with the Father. That must be our way also.
How serious this is! His Kingdom is utterly counter intuitive. The government is upon his shoulders, not ours. It is his Kingdom, not ours. And we will experience it only through our relationship with him.
Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.