Misunderstandings About Salvation

Q. Last week when I was reading thru the Bible, I got to a couple of rather bone-chilling verses and I’d like to get your 2 cents worth on it:

Mat 7:21-23 “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. 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.”

I don’t know if I can think anything more frightening than come final judgment day if the LORD tells me “depart from me I never knew you”. After giving it some thought I’ve come to the conclusion that just merely accepting Christ and that He died for my sins is NOT sufficient. I don’t mean that works are required except for ONE thing in addition to having faith—REPENT. The forces of darkness know who Jesus is and they believe in Him and know that thru Christ the sins of the people are forgiven. The difference is that they never had any intention of repenting. I don’t want to sound doom and gloom but this is starting to bother me a bit, which I assume is a good thing because that means the Holy Spirit is doing some conviction in my heart. But, what do you understand these passages to mean?

A. Before looking at Matt. 7:21 let’s to go to the verses that most clearly explain God’s will where our salvation is concerned. John 6:28-29 tells that the work the Father requires of us is to believe in the One He has sent. And John 6:40 says, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” And Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us we were included in Christ when we heard the gospel of our salvation and believed it. At that time we were given the seal of the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our salvation. There’s no mention of any other requirement in these or any other statement concerning our salvation. Don’t take my word for this. Check Matt. 7:7-8, John 3:16, John 6:38-40, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:13, 2 Cor. 1:21-22, Titus 3:4-7 to be sure.

Add to this the fact that the Greek word translated repent simply means to change one’s mind. Before you can be saved, you have to change your mind about your spiritual condition and agree that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior. When the Bible says repent and be baptized, as in Acts 2:38, it doesn’t mean to change our behavior to prove we’re worthy of salvation, it means to change our minds and admit we need a savior.

In Matt. 7:21-23 Jesus was finishing up a teaching about false prophets that begins in Matt. 7:15. He said just because they call Him Lord does not mean they will enter the Kingdom even if they claim to have done miracles in His name. He will call them evil doers and deny ever knowing them. These verses were not intended for general application. They pertain to the false prophets among us.

As for the oft misquoted James 2:19, what it really says is, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” There’s no mention of Jesus, or what it takes to be saved. James is arguing that saving faith will eventually manifest itself in the desire to help others. The reason the demons tremble is that while they know there’s only one God, they haven’t been willing to humble themselves and admit that they need a Savior. Therefore they have only His judgment to look forward to.

Over and over again, the Bible says that belief in the Lord’s atoning death and accepting it in faith as payment for our sins is the only requirement for salvation. Our faith in that is what’s credited to us as righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

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