Saved Through Evangelism?

Q. Our Bible study leader ends almost every lesson with the admonition that we should all be witnessing to everyone we come into contact with. He says on judgment day the Lord will ask who we told about Jesus and if we didn’t tell enough people He will say “Depart from Me for I never knew you.” This scares me to death. Do you believe that if we don’t witness to everyone we will be rejected by Jesus?

A. There is absolutely no Biblical support for this man’s outrageous position. In the first place the only judgment for believers will take place after the Rapture when we’re already in Heaven. The Lord will not say “I never knew you” to anyone there because He will know every one of us.

The Bible is clear that we’re saved because of what we believe, not because of how we behave. There are lots of verses advising us on how to behave after we’re saved, but there are none that make salvation contingent on evangelism or any other religious work. This man is taking something the Lord gave His life to make free (Matt. 7:7-8), and turning it into something that can only be acquired through human effort.

The phrase “depart from me for I never knew you” is from Matt. 7:15-23. It’s a warning to beware of false prophets. Even with the miracles these false prophets claimed to have done, they will have failed to do the one thing the Father asks of us, and that’s to believe in the One He sent (John 6:28-29). When Jesus claims He never knew them, it means they were never saved in the first place.

In John 6:40 Jesus explained the will of the Father regarding our salvation. “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life.” This tells us it’s conditioned only upon our belief in the completed work of Jesus.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in my life as a believer who have tried to take an idea of their own and turn it into doctrine by falsely claiming the Lord has made it a requirement for salvation. According to James 3:1, people like this will be held accountable for their false teaching.

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