"Not Every One"

"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 who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)

In this judgment scene our Lord teaches that not every one is going to heaven. Even though God so loved the world that He sent His Son Jesus, not all will be saved. This is a sobering reminder of the power of human volition (see Deut. 30:19; Joshua 24:15).

All who think about hell have some notion of who's going there. But oftentimes our thinking on this matter may not be God's. Consider carefully from this scripture some characteristics of those who will be lost eternally.


This is because God has provided a Savior (Romans 5:6-8), and given to us a revelation of His mind (Acts 20:32; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13). God's word is understandable (2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 3:3-4), and it is the complete, final and all-sufficient word provided for man's spiritual needs (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 1:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4).

Therefore, man is answerable to God and without excuse when he doesn't obey the word of truth. We are warned against believing a lie (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Jesus teaches that excuses for our negligence in spiritual matters won't avail on Judgment day.


God, who would not have us ignorant of Satan's devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), shows the devil to be "the deceiver of the whole world" (Revelation 12:9), and warns us to not be surprised if he seeks to delude many (2 Corinthians 11:3, 14-15).

In our text, Jesus teaches that not every one who is religious will be saved. Though this may come as a shock to many, it is a plain fact of God's truth. Not every one who believes in God and Christ will be saved, because mere acknowledgment isn't the same as full surrender (see James 2:19-26, especially vs. 24).

Not every one who prays will be saved, because prayer isn't a condition of salvation for the alien sinner (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38), and God doesn't acknowledge the prayers of sinners (Proverbs 1:28-30; Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 Peter 3:12).

Not every one who does religious works will be saved. Too many use loosely the term "good works" to justify what ever they want to do. Those in our text were busy, but they were "workers of iniquity" (without law). Cain was one who sought to worship God his own way rather than obeying God (Genesis 4:3-7). Also Nadab and Abihu, died by the fire of God because they offered "strange fire before Jehovah", their sincerity notwithstanding (Leviticus 10:1-2). Something is truly a "good work" because God's word teaches it (Acts 10:35; Ephesians 2:10).

Not every one who is filled with religious zeal will be saved, because zeal without knowledge of God's truth is spiritually detrimental. Paul bear witness how the Jews had a zeal toward God, but sought to establish "a righteousness of their own" (Romans 10:2-3) and, consequently, were disobedient to the Divine will.

Not every one who is a good, moral individual is saved. As commendable and desired as such character traits are in this unruly age, one can be so disposed and still not be redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Cornelius is a case in point, having outstanding integrity but it was still necessary for him to hear and obey the words of the gospel to be saved (Acts 11:14; 10:48). If one could be saved and go to heaven based merely on good character, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. There were people of this moral caliber long before Jesus died on the cross. Unless one is redeemed by Jesus' blood, he cannot be saved (1 Peter 1:18-20; Romans 3:23-26).


Jesus said, "many will say to me in that day..." (emphasis mine, DR). What doesn't seem to bother many people, including some Christians, is the fact that the majority of people will be lost: "Enter ye in by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby" (Matthew 7:13). In the next verse, Jesus reveals the way to heaven as "straitened" or difficult, "and few are they that find it" (vs. 14). A realization of this should restrain us from being adversely effected by the wave of popular opinion on every subject, especially the salvation of our souls.


For those judged faithful, there is a place of eternal bliss prepared. In another Judgment scene, Jesus said to those who are worthy, "...inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). To borrow a familiar, but truthful phrase, "Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people". Peter described the Christian's hope as an "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet. 1:4). In the next verse is stated that the faithful are "guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (vs. 5). We must be faithful to gain heaven (2 Timothy 4:6-8).


One of the saddest expression in all the Bible is seen here when Jesus says, "depart from me". All of God's love, grace, mercy, and lonsuffering shown on behalf of mankind will have been for nought if we are eternally lost. Hell is real and, therefore, we need to be fearful of going there. Hell is eternal in duration (Matt. 25:46), separation from God (Rev. 20:14), darkness (Matt. 22:13), and unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43-48). Hell is no joke. If you find yourself there one of these days, remember it was by your choice.

Serve God!

by Dan Richardson

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