One of the things I really enjoy doing with the ministry the Lord has blessed me with is answering questions of believers and unbelievers alike. The questions people have never cease to amaze me; most I have never even considered myself.
This QFTBOC (Questions from the Body of Christ) series are articles from these questions I have received and will be in a question and response format.
If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.
If I end up using your question, and you would like to have your name and/or place of residence listed on the question in the article, please specify with your submitted question; otherwise, if I use your question, it will be listed as “Anonymous.”
Regardless, I will make every attempt to answer every person’s question(s) in a response to the emails I receive. Depending on volume, it may be a little while until you hear back from me, but my intention is to respond to all inquiries.
Other articles in this series are: QFTBOC: Civil Disobedience and Patriotism, QFTBOC: Memory – Fully Retained or Total Reset?, QFTBOC: Psalm 91, Protection, & God’s Will, QFTBOC: God’s Chastisement of His Children, QFTBOC: What’s Satan’s Problem?, QFTBOC: Can We Know Another’s Salvation?, QFTBOC: Childbirth Purification & Christ, QFTBOC: Biblical Slavery, QFTBOC: Peter & John at the Palace of the High Priest, QFTBOC: Living for Christ in a Dark World, and QFTBOC: Family and the Afterlife.
(Question representative of others)
First, I want to say Thank You for writing the QFTBOC series, a great idea.
Secondly, I would like to have your thoughts on the following:
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV).
That passage has confused many of us, and I sure couldn’t provide a worthwhile explanation. It certainly comes across as works-based salvation rather than salvation by faith by grace. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could not offer a satisfactory explanation of what the Lord Jesus was saying or to whom.
If you select this passage for study and commentary, I request that my name not be used.
Thanks for your kind words! I’m so thankful that the Lord has used this ongoing series to bless His people.
Let’s review that passage of Scripture:
Not everyone 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” (Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)).
So, the first thing we need to note in this passage of Scripture is that it has to be defined in the context of a judgment. Which judgment does this passage of Scripture fit? Why do we see professing “believers” pleading their cause before Christ? Using these key elements, cited in this passage, is crucial in determining what judgment the Lord is referring to.
We know for a fact that this can’t be the Bema Seat of Christ, as all who are judged there for rewards or loss of rewards are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – the church, both dead and alive – and had just been resurrected at the rapture of the church.
The description hardly describes the judgment at the separation of the sheep from the goats after Christ’s Second Coming. That judgment has other criteria for those who will be allowed into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ – namely how they treated Christ’s brethren, the Jews and the church – and there’s no hint at all that anyone will object to their judgment from the King. (Please see The Mystery of the Last Sheep for more information on this particular judgment).
Who are these brothers of our Lord? Obviously, His people Israel. But people from the Gentile nations, who also come to Christ during the Tribulation, are His brothers as well:
“For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35).
These individuals He will set on His right hand and are referred to as “sheep.”
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
And, of course, those who reject Christ – or are false converts – will be set on His left hand and are referred to as “goats.” Those who mistreat Israel and Gentile believers have, by their actions, rejected Christ. Professing “Christians” today, who hate Israel and the Jews, are just as much false converts – deceiving themselves – as those who survive the Tribulation and are separated as the “goats.”
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy” (James 2:13a).
We also have to remember that there will be very few men and women left, after the horrors of the Tribulation, to be judged:
“The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left“ (Isaiah 24:4-6). (emphasis mine)
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22). (emphasis mine)
Christ said, in regard to the judgment we are looking at, that, “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?”
Being as there won’t be many people left at the judgment of the separation of the sheep and the goats – and keeping in mind the other elements we have been looking at – this judgment can’t be what Christ was referring to.
Therefore, the only judgment that this could be applied to is at the Great White Throne judgment of the unsaved (Revelation 20:11-15).
As these people are false converts, professing themselves to be believers in Messiah Yeshua and that they have actually “worked” for Him, they have deceived themselves into believing they were saved when, in fact, they were apostate heretics.
We see these people today in most of Christendom, unfortunately, and they are even mentioned in most of the epistles of the New Testament, commonly as false teachers and false prophets (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Corinthians 11:13, 1 John 4:1, Jude 4, et al.). Of course, all false converts – whether teachers, “prophets,” or laity – are included in Christ’s words.
Hence, we have had false converts within the church for 2,000 years, so we can be assured that there will be many making these same petitions to our Lord during the White Throne Judgment. I think it reasonable to expect this to be a common occurrence during the Great White Throne Judgment.
Because they are unsaved, they don’t have the covering of the blood of Jesus and must be judged according to their works.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works“ (Revelation 20:13). (emphasis mine)
The term “kingdom of heaven” is often synonymous with the phrase “kingdom of God,” depending on context, and both can apply to either the Millennial Kingdom of Christ or the Eternal Kingdom of Revelation 21 and 22. In this context, the “kingdom of heaven” must apply to the Eternal Kingdom, as the unsaved lost are judged just prior to the Eternal Kingdom.
Something else we should keep in mind is that even though the body of Christ isn’t saved by works, we will be rewarded based upon our works for the Lord. Of course, works don’t save the believer, but it is the works we do for our Lord because of our salvation and our love for Him that result in those rewards.
As I mentioned earlier, an article the reader may be interested in that covers the Second Coming judgment of the sheep and the goats through the Eternal Kingdom and may help align these judgments a little more clearly, is The Mystery of the Last Sheep. It is one of my more exhaustive studies and, as such, may take a little time to get through as there’s a lot to it. I pray it helps.
Faith Without Works
I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where people in the Tribulation, or anywhere else, are saved by their works.
Where people tend to get confused is the fact that our works display our salvation. For instance, at the separation of the sheep and the goats, everyone there seems to be professing “believers” (or else they would just plead “guilty”), but just like today, there will be many false converts. Their false conversions will be revealed by how they treated the brothers and sisters of our Lord – Tribulation Saints, Jew and Gentile – and that treatment shows to them, and everyone else, whether they were truly saved or not.
It’s the same with us today. If someone professes themselves to be “Christian” and hates the Jewish people and Israel, aren’t they showing themselves to be false converts? They sure are! If they accept homosexuality and sexual perversion, at the rejection of God’s clearly revealed Word, aren’t they showing themselves false converts? They sure are! This is why we read such passages as:
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). (emphasis mine)
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall“ (2 Peter 1:5-10). (emphasis mine)
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:14-20). (emphasis mine)
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:21-26).
So, we shouldn’t be surprised when the Scriptures equate judgment and works, even for the believer who is saved by grace through faith. For it is our works that manifest our inward rebirth in Messiah Jesus.
You see, we aren’t saved by works, but works show us, and others, that we are saved. We do good works because He saved us, not because by our works we are saved. Our good works on behalf of Christ Who saved us are clear evidence that we are saved; and it will be just the same for those who come to Christ during the Tribulation.
Thank you for this important question, and I pray that my response has satisfied the reader’s understanding of this significant issue.
May the Lord richly bless you all as you all continue to bless others through Him and for Him. Keep sharing the gospel with the lost for Christ, as the sands of time seem to be running low.
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
➢ Email: email@example.com
➢ If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ and are seeking answers about God, Jesus Christ, the gospel, and salvation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
➢ I am still taking questions for the Questions from the Body of Christ series. If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.