Read Matthew 7:21-23
21 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. 22 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.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ (NLT)
In our legitimate desire to tell ourselves and others we are put right with God through faith in his grace rather than our good deeds, we run the risk of assuming good deeds don’t matter. The testimony of Scripture from those like Micah and Hosea, like James and John, like Paul and Peter, suggests they matter a lot. And most importantly, Jesus thinks they matter too.
It can be relatively easy to know our doctrine, to speak the language of faith, to even get involved in what we might call ‘supernatural’ ministry and still not be a follower of Jesus. Many apparently ‘Christian’ people won’t be accepted into the new heavens and new earth.
The problem is twofold. Mere verbal profession of faith is not enough. We need to practise what we preach, however imperfectly we may do so. And then, the good works we do are to spring from a relationship with God, not our own desire for self-advancement. Lots of good deeds can be counterfeited, even seemingly ‘supernatural’ ones. Without a living relationship with Jesus, these deeds are empty.
So this passage is a reminder that our faith is to be backed up by good works. And our good works are to spring from faith.