“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” — Matthew 7:21-23
This is a scripture verse that is heart-stopping and heartbreaking.
Reading in my Bible a few nights ago, Jesus was sending the 12 apostles out to travel from village to village. He gave them authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and tell people the good news of the kingdom. They drove out many evil spirits and healed many who were sick.
It dawned on me that Judas was among the 12 who went out. He must have cast out evil spirits and healed the sick. If not, the failure would have been noticed by the others.
Judas was an accepted member of the 12. They even trusted him to carry the money and buy whatever they needed. It is clear from the last supper Jesus shared with His disciples that they had no suspicions of Judas.
Jesus said to them as they were at their meal, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked around, wondering who it could be that would betray him. One after another said, “Surely not I, Lord!” The 11 had no idea who it was Jesus was speaking about.
When Jesus told Judas to go and do what he was going to do quickly, the rest thought Jesus had sent him to buy something because he had the money. What a shock it must have been in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas showed up with the crowd that came to arrest Jesus.
One day we may well be surprised at who is not allowed into heaven. We just need to be certain we are not among those turned away.
It is not works that will give us entrance to heaven, although works are important. Your works are a result of your love of Jesus. But first there must be a love and a relationship with Him.
Jesus said, “You must be born again.” There has to have been a time and place where you repented of your sins, asked forgiveness and received it. You cannot enter any other way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
The people who were told to leave Jesus’ presence, were those who broke God’s laws. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me”.
While there may be times when we fail, our heart’s desire should be to keep God’s law. He knows our heart and our intentions. The heart and the mind are what we need to guard.
In this brand new year, ask God to check you and show you if there is anything He is displeased with in your life. Vow to obey Him. Vow to read His word. His word is the only way you can learn more about Him and know His commandments.
Peace with God is the only true peace we can have. May you have peace with God in this coming year and the joy that results from that peace.
Sylvia Hughes is a longtime Sunday School and women’s Bible study teacher, and a retired newspaper editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.