“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.’ (NLT)
One of the great truths of our Christian faith is that we are not put right with God by doing all the right things. We come into his family by helpless trust in what Jesus has done for us, not in boldly boasting about what we have done ourselves.
However, this is only one side of the Christian faith. We become Christians by faith in Jesus; we show ourselves to be Christians by our ongoing obedience to Jesus. We can never get to heaven by doing good works; we can never get to heaven without doing good works. Our obedience does not save us, but it does provide evidence of the faith that does save us.
Jesus warns us against complacency. Mere verbal profession is not enough. Not even supposedly ‘Christian’ work is enough. We need to be seriously intent on following Jesus from the heart. Intent not just on our own personal ministries but on the whole ‘kingdom priorities’ of Jesus. Intent not just on grasping more doctrine, but applying what we know.
Patting ourselves on the back for having the right beliefs or apparently successful ministries is not enough. We need to be moving on in practical obedience. As the old saying goes, even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.