Looking good and being good, Wolves in sheep’s clothing

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

The above passage is often used as a proof text for those whose idea of salvation from sin and hell is a mixture of works and grace. Those of us who believe sinners are acquitted and set right with God solely upon the merit of Jesus (His perfect life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection) are pointed to this text as proof faith in Jesus is not enough.

Ironically, every one of those men who believe men are saved by a combination of grace and works (they refuse to admit they trust “works” and prefer the word “faithfulness”) also believe a person can be saved and then lost. The reason they believe this is that they believe their acceptance by the Father depends, at least in part, on their performance.

So what is being said in the verses quoted above? Is this proof I am in error for teaching that men should trust Christ alone for forgiveness of sins and eternal life? No it does not! The truth is it teaches the exact opposite. What does it say?

First the context.

The context is Jesus’ warnings to the Jews about false prophets. He began this section in v15 by saying “Beware of false prophets..” , and continued by teaching how to know who they are. He concluded by using the metaphor of the wise man who builds his house on a rock.

What are the lessons for us from this passage?

First, you can know a real man of God by watching him. His “fruit” is a dead give away to what he really is. Is the “fruit” (results) of a preacher, or church leader expensive houses, fine cars, and great fame? Watch out! He is likely a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 5:15). Is the result (fruit) of a man’s ministry a flock of self righteous people who trust their own goodness for salvation? Do they try to share the glory that only Christ deserves? Do they talk more about the Holy Spirit, tongues, and miracles than they do about the good news about Jesus? Watch out! Do they talk more about their heritage, a particular church, how to worship correctly, baptism, or any other subject you can imagine than about the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is eternal life? Watch out!

Secondly, this section of scripture teaches that Christ alone, that depending only upon Him is the way to life and heaven. Verses 13 and 14 immediately precede the section about false prophets.

 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Jesus is that “narrow gate”, He is the “narrow way”. He is the door to the sheepfold; He is “the” way, “the” truth, and “the” life. His way is very narrow and considered intolerant by those on the wide path. It is the path of designer religions, good works, law keeping, and those who claim to have a private revelation from God the rest of us don’t have. The way to destruction is to take the path of least resistance, the one that is lined with ego polishing stations and places to display fleshly pride.

Jesus is also the “Rock” in the section of scripture in verses 24-27.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

A wise man builds his whole house of faith on Jesus Christ. A foolish man uses all sorts of other foundation materials and when the wind of judgment blows and the flood of God’s wrath against sin comes the house will fall. We are warned to trust Jesus alone for our eternal hope.

Finally, Jesus affirms the eternal security of the believer and denies the flimsy doctrine of those who think they are, at least in part, good enough to be approved by God, and yet live in fear that they might loose their souls because of a performance that doesn’t meet God’s approval.

“I NEVER KNEW YOU!” (vs23) These stinging words of Jesus fly in the face of those who teach you can be saved and lost, saved and lost. These false teachers Jesus warned of are not apostates, they are not those who once were on solid rock and fell. No, these have never been saved. Jesus NEVER knew them. Oh yes, they were faithful in church attendance, they did all the religious activity. In fact they excelled at being religious, but they went to hell because they missed the narrow way, Jesus.

What could be sadder than to live a life of being good, doing good, and then be forever lost and suffering in eternal fire? Notice Jesus never denies that they did the works they claimed (v22) to have done, He did say He NEVER knew them.

John 6:27,28 records Jesus’ words when asked by the people “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” His reply is my plea. His reply had been my message of hope for over 40 years. “Jesus answered them; this is the work of God that you believe on Him whom He has sent.”

Please believe this; God will not share His glory with another. The Bible is clear. The reason wicked sinners are made fit for heaven by faith is in part so boasting will be eliminated. (Romans 3:27) So I say with the Apostle Paul “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31)

For Jesus,


How to know you have eternal life from 1st John

Right from the start John makes clear that Jesus Christ himself is eternal life and life is only found in him. This was no theological theory with John. This fact was as real as anything could possibly be.

                                    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us” (1 John 1:1,2)

John and the others were eye witnesses to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not knowing facts about Christ, or doing the right things, but rather Christianity is centered in the person, Jesus Christ. John starts the book with Jesus, and to put the icing on the cake, he says in the last chapter these words.

                                    “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life”. (1 John 5:11-13)

These are absolute, clear, and unmistakable statements of truth. They are not easily misunderstood if one only reads the text. Sandwiched between the first and fifth chapters is a series of markers, or characteristics that we may use to see if we indeed have Jesus Christ, who is himself eternal life. Many have mistakenly used much of this book to teach salvation by works, which is unfortunate because the clarity of the book is so obvious. Those who have Christ will look like him. A watching world will see one who has the aroma of Christ when they see one who has truly been born from above.

Now what does that person look like, how does he live in a world controlled by the evil one?

1.      He walks in the light. (1 John 1:7) Jesus said those who come to the light have nothing to hide but those who do not come to the light do not because their deeds are evil. A person who is in fact one of God’s own will live in the full light of day. That is he will not hide his sin but will rather confess it and receive God’s cleansing. If you either say you have no sin, or try to hide it by living away from God’s light you are not a child of God. (1 John 1:5-10 )

2.      He keeps His commandments. (1 John 2:3) Those who are genuine children of God have a built in desire to obey what Christ taught. Those who do not obey are not saved. This is easy stuff to understand. The person who says “I know Him”, or “I am a Christian” and shows by his life no desire to please God is a liar and there is no truth in him. (1 John 2:4)

3.      He loves his brother. (1 John 2:10) There is a song that says simply, “If you don’t love your brother you don’t love God”, how very true. Love is not an emotion, love is action, it is only love when it is demonstrated in loving acts. A person who does not act in loving ways toward his brother “still walks in darkness”, still lost. (1 John 2:11)

4.      He does not love the world. ( 1 John 2:15,16 ) A person whose life is marked by a pattern of satisfying the desires of his flesh (sexual immorality, drunkenness, gluttony, etc.) and polishing his ego (bigger houses, more expensive cars, more, more, more) by an unhealthy desire for what the world has to offer is not a child of God.

5.      His life will be marked by generosity. ( 1 John 3:16-18 ) One who has been born again by the Spirit of God will not withhold necessities from those in need. One who does so “closes his heart against him”. An uncaring, stingy person, and at the same time has the love of God in him? Hardly! Christ’s disciples are called to not only talk the talk but also to walk the walk. (1 John 3:18 )

6.      He listens to the word of God. (1 John 4:5,6 ) One way to know who is of “The Truth” and who is not is how they respond to biblical teaching. Those who refuse to hear it (and abide by it) are “not from God”. It is unthinkable that a person would love God and have the love of God in him and not love God’s word.

7.      He has overcome the world. (1 John 5:4,5 ) “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

In the final analysis it is the obedience of faith that distinguishes a child of God from an unbeliever. (Romans 1:17, 4:22, 5:1, 10:14-17) We can know for sure that Christ is in us and that we are in him if these markers in 1st John are evidences seen in our lives.

The truth sets men free.

Royce Ogle