Not Just Lip Service
By Ronald Graham
Have you ever questioned your salvation? Have you ever thought that even though you say that you have accepted Christ for your salvation there is a chance you didn’t mean it and He hasn’t accepted you? If so, the following words can be very disturbing. “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.” Matthew 7:21. This verse can and should cause us to ask some serious questions about our salvation. There will be some who have said the right words and do wonderful things, but their commitment to Christ isn’t sincere. That is just lip service. These words recorded in Matthew 7:21 are a warning to those who think they’re justified (saved), but in reality are just going through the motions. Their faith in Jesus isn’t real and their salvation is just imagined. At one time I was one of those who thought I was a Christian and had nothing to worry about. I know now that I was on the broad road to an eternity in Hell and only a right relationship with Christ has given me the promise of eternal life with Him.
Too often we place a high value on works. How often have you tried to talk to someone about Jesus and they tell you that they are a good person and they do lots of nice things for others, so of course they think they will go to Heaven when they die. Do you also feel that way? “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.” Matthew 7:22-23. These words are from Jesus Himself. He doesn’t argue with these folks and deny that they have done good works and even do them in His name, but still He says that He never knew them. Why? Because they never did accept His death, burial, and resurrection as the basis for their salvation. They think that salvation is up to their own doings and is based on works not faith. Jesus very clearly said “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6. Works won’t save anyone, only faith in Jesus.
In Biblical times there were only two people groups. First there were the Gentiles. This group was made up of all nations. Most were idol worshiping pagans. The second group was called out from the first group when God called Abraham to follow Him instead of the pagan ways. Eventually this group of chosen people became known as Jews. They were given the Law through Moses and were required to do the works of the Law in order to try to stay right with God…which was impossible to do perfectly. These two groups still exist today, but there is a third group which is made up of people from the first two groups. The Ekklesia…the Body of Christ…Christians. “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Ephesians 2:14-16. Jesus broke down “the middle wall of partition” and it is only faith in Him that brings salvation to those who are now known as born again Christians. The works of the Law will not save anyone, nor will any other type of works.
There are many people today who profess to be Christians and even do many good works in the name of Jesus Christ, but when it comes to being in a loving relationship with Him the evidence just isn’t there. “I never knew you” spoken by our Creator will be sad words to hear at the end of a life filled with good works, but ignorant of Christ. “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.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Do you boast of all the wonderful things you do for others? Think about your motive for doing good things. Are you trying to earn your way into Heaven? I’m sure we all have had Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses knock on our door and try to convince us that they have the way to be saved, or so they hope. Both of these groups are very deceived and they do not know Jesus. They are trying to work their way to God, but the god they worship is not God as described in the Bible. Sadly, the lip service of these deceived people will be among those who hear “I never knew you”.
Is it wrong for a person to do good works if they are Christians? No. It is incumbent upon Christians to do good works. Not to earn salvation, but because we love Jesus. James has a lot to say about faith and works. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17. Our love for Jesus and what He has done for us should instill in us a need to serve Him well and do good works. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18. These works are not for our own glory nor are the merely lip service. They are sincerely done for Christ and other people can see Christ living in us. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26.
According to Jesus Himself, it isn’t what we do for Him it’s our relationship with Him that matters. He wants us to know Him personally and include Him in all that we do. “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. These words were written to those living in the End Times. That’s us. Jesus wants each one of us to have a personal relationship with Him right now. The more we trust Him the deeper our relationship with Him will be; the deeper our relationship the more we will love Him. By placing our lives, our trust, and our hope in His hands we will be a part of the type of relationship that He wants and expects, one that we should desire as much as He does.
When we say yes to Jesus Christ changes happen in our life; we become born again, which will be an obvious sign that something about us is different. Our friendships will change, our language will improve, our love for Him will be obvious. We will desire to do good works for Christ, but our faith is what brings salvation. Those who are truly born again will never hear those heartbreaking words “I never knew you”. If one’s works do not come from a love of Christ, those works are works of inequity. Jesus says so.
Who did Jesus have in mind when He spoke the words “…I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” Matthew 7:23b? These workers of iniquity are those who have not been forgiven because there was no real acceptance of Christ’s finished work on the Cross. That means they are not a part of Christ’s Ekklesia. They do not trust Christ alone for salvation. These words will be spoken to those who haven’t truly accepted Jesus. An actor on the stage can read a script and say “Lord, Lord”, but unless those words come from his heart they mean nothing. Conversion comes when we first decide to place our faith, trust, and hope in Christ alone for salvation. This new relationship is sealed by the Holy Spirit who is now living inside the new believer. Our faith in Jesus Christ is the key. We no longer try to work our way to Heaven, but understand that it is faith alone that has brought salvation. Lip service has been replaced by a desire to serve our Lord.
On the other hand, Satan, the father of all lie, wants to see that no relationship between God and His creation is ever established. He’s got one agenda and that is to confuse, disrupt, corrupt, and to lead astray all who will accept his lies rather than believe the truth given to us by our Creator. Could the words of Jesus be any clearer? “Not everyone who saith unto me Lord, Lord…” Matthew 7:21a. Search the Scriptures for yourself to be sure that what you are being taught and what you believe about the Creator of the universe is true. All roads don’t lead to salvation and works won’t save you. Jesus is the Son of God (fully human), but He is also God Almighty (fully God). If you don’t believe this truth about who Jesus Christ is, you’re headed down the wrong path. Satan would have you believe that you are “good enough” and “works will save you” and that it doesn’t matter what you believe about Jesus. Satan is a liar.
Many people try seeking the truth but end up in a fully apostate congregation or false religion. Jesus is kept on the outside knocking to be invited in. His words, “I never knew you” are a sad commentary on our times because the real truth of the Gospel has been ignored by many. False teachers abound who try to water down the Gospel in order to give everyone a warm fuzzy feeling about themselves. Sin is not confronted and people are allowed to continue in sin in order that they aren’t made to feel bad or feel they have to change a lifestyle. God’s word is very clear that homosexuality is an abomination, as is other sexual sin. But false teachings of many of our mainstream denominations teach the lie that God didn’t really mean what He says in His word, or that times have changed. All a person has to do is say “Lord, Lord” and that’s acceptable. Just give lip service. This false teaching allows many people to think they’re in good shape for eternity, but according to Jesus Himself that just isn’t the case.
Apostate doctrines are being preached from too many pulpits. The congregation is being fed, that’s true, but if poison is mixed with food it is still deadly. Many Christian worship services are led by pastors who are not grounded in God’s word and they water down the Gospel. Being politically correct has no place among Christians and we need to study God’s word in order to be able to stand firmly upon it and not just give lip service to our King.
When it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, God our Savior, nothing is more important. “Going to church” won’t save you. You may have memorized hundreds of Scripture verses, but still don’t understand who Jesus is. Reading your Bible through in a year won’t bring salvation. Not eating pork or only attending worship services on a certain day isn’t what Jesus wants. All of these actions are based on works. The question is do you know Jesus the Christ, and just as important is the question does He know you? Is your salvation based on faith alone or do you just give lip service? Commit yourself to establishing a personal relationship with Jesus. You won’t be sorry as you’ll avoid hearing these heartbreaking words “I never knew you.”
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham