Monthly Archives: August 2013


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.


“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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mat 7:21—23

Countless things have been done and are still done in Jesus’ name. Some things were the most devilish and evil actions ever done. Think of the witch-hunts, inquisitions, religious wars, forced “conversions”—I think you understand. (Thank God we do not have to defend Christianity). Then there are the dreadful mistakes men have made with guilt-laden teaching, false prophecies, disunity, and the like. (Thank God we do not have to defend the Church).

Let us listen to Jesus!

First, not everyone who says Lord, Lord. NOT EVERYONE. Not even those who do supernatural acts in his name. Not even those who perform miracles in his name.

These maybe include well-meaning people. They decide what are the right things to do—they prophesy, work miracles, drive out demons. Or maybe they decide to build mega-churches or mini-churches. Perhaps they decide to be missionaries, or simply help people. Perhaps they decide to be pastors or evangelists, to conduct services, to preach. They decide. They do not ask Jesus. They do not hear Jesus. They think that prayer offered in the name of Jesus carries an automatic guarantee of acting in the will of God. “But I prayed about it!”

They act on their own volition as if that is OK. But apparently that is not OK. But in the Father’s eyes these are workers of lawlessness. The Kingdom of Heaven is counter-human thought.

Then who Lord? the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

The will of God has to be heard and acted upon. It cannot be assumed. It cannot be inherited from our mentors or leaders or fav authors. The will of God, his Jesus’ movement, his government, is done by the Father deciding what he will do and then showing us, the disciples of Jesus, what that is, so that we do it. It is a matter of obedience. That was the methodology of Jesus. That must be our way. Jesus.

Knowing Jesus? This is how we know Jesus : by hearing and obeying his Father, our Father. It is friendship with the Father and his Son. It is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit living within our mortal bodies who constantly draws our attention to Jesus.

Ignore this at your peril. Man, how serious this is! The Kingdom of God is counter intuitive. It is not as we are inclined to see things, to think. It is a wisdom from above, not from below.

Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. Turn around.


Rob Bell in his popular book teaches that the idea of the punishment of unrepentant sinners in Hell keeps people from coming to Jesus. That is an unsettling thought, but on closer look, it falls in upon itself.  Jesus spoke very clearly about Hell, using language that can only be described as explicit. He warned of “him who can destroy both soul and body in Hell (Hades).”

Really, how could Jesus agree with sending anyone to Hell?

Actually, Jesus mostly had religious professionals in his sights! It is always important to thoroughly examine the context of Jesus’ sayings. Sometimes we are asked to explain to a critical person about hell. We don’t want to stop all arguments, to cut off all possible means of communication. It is wise to leave the implications, the mysterious details, to Jesus. Better to quote him saying ‘I did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save …..’ The bottom line of the good news of the Kingdom is that God is good and his generosity freely given to all.

So do his references to Hell really stop people from following Jesus? Well, the record shows otherwise. Everywhere he went he was met by crowds, in their thousands, from all over Israel and beyond Israel’s borders. And it did not inhibit the astounding revolution across the Roman world under the apostolic proclamation.

However, why would the authors of the New Testament books include the hard words of Jesus knowing that these would inhibit people’s following Jesus?

Life is serious. Death is serious. What happens after death and judgment that is surely coming, is of immense importance. Unless we are playing Russian roulette with our future and that of others. As the IVF Illustrated Bible Dictionary, vol 2 says “Nothing must be allowed to detract from Jesus’ warnings re the terrible reality of God’s judgments in the world to come.”

In the end if we stumble over this word of Jesus what else will we reject? Anything else which seems hard to take? There are heaps of difficult things said. We miss the Kingdom of God because we want our way, our truth, our life. Our facts. Our beliefs.

“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Mat 11:6

The authors of the New Testament documents did not keep back the hard sayings of Jesus, though they must have been tempted. This surely indicates their authenticity. We have to take the whole Jesus, not just the parts we like. If we only take the parts we like, then we appoint ourselves as the ultimate authority.

Following Jesus can only be authentic if you actually follow him, in obedience. Otherwise you are merely setting your own philosophy above Jesus’ living words which he heard from the Father.

You may not like what you hear. Are you going to reject other things he says because they don’t suit you? This issue goes to the very heart of many of Jesus’ living words from God. e.g.,

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Mat 6:14-15

Pretty plain, right? Or did the authors get their reporting wrong? Or this, similarly:

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Mat 7:1-2

John’s Gospel will say the same as the three others. Paul and the other writers say the same too.

Of course, God is a Lover, the very source of love. He is kind and good to all:

He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust”  Mat 5:45 (GW)

Yet he alarms us with words like this:

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36

“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:20-21

In Jesus, we do not hear the voice of one who brings a gospel of compromise, of wishy-washy, ear-tickling, men-pleasing words. Who would serve a god like that, in whom justice has no meaning? No. This is the living God who made everything and to whom we must all one day, give an account.

 “…… our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us …. We are far too easily pleased”  C.S.Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Man, this is serious. Much more serious than we like to think. Dare we trivialise the words of Jesus?