Have you ever worked with epoxy? It comes in many forms and can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s a five-minute epoxy that comes in a double syringe, or a liquid steel kind that comes with two tubes, or even the paste kind the process is the same. Equal parts of the resin and the hardener mixed together and then applied as needed. By themselves, the resin and hardener are basically useless, but when mixed there is a chemical reaction that changes everything. Our next Jesus Said That?! statement contains two parts that when combined create something radical.
Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21–23, NASB95) These verses bridge the gap between looking outward and following Christ’s words. In the preceding verses, Jesus warns about those coming as wolves in sheep’s clothing and that we will know them by their fruit. The following verses pull us back and remind us that what matters is putting Jesus’ words into practice.
A Complex Mixture
Jesus gives us a complex mixture to work out. These folks were calling on Jesus as Lord. Even saying it twice for emphasis. Some have tried to minimize this by pointing out that before Jesus ‘Lord’ was used as a kind of ‘sir’ or ‘teacher.’ Kind of like calling someone ‘coach’ even if you’re not on their team. But after Jesus the same term became loaded with meaning, Jesus is our Lord. Meaning that He holds the reigns of our lives. Matthew’s readers would have probably read this with the higher understanding and so should we. Not everyone that self-identifies with Jesus, even to the point of calling Him Lord and doing works of power in His name will enter into the Kindom of Heaven.
We must be careful to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Jesus wasn’t saying that those who prophesy, cast out demons, and perform works of power are in error. I think He used these as a kind of pinnacle. We often think that if someone does these kinds of works, then they must be close to God and are a “shoe-in” for entering God’s kingdom. But Jesus is emphasizing that radical faith is not necessarily demonstrated by our ideas of radical action.
Like epoxy, radical, kingdom of heaven faith has two parts. The first part is found in “he who does the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” The second part is found in the reverse of “I never knew you.” Radical faith occurs when these two are combined. Consider Paul’s words to the Galatians, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6, NASB95)
Doing God’s Will
God’s will is both hard and easy to understand. There are universal parts of God’s will that all Jesus followers are given. Here are some of them. Telling God’s story to others (Matthew 28:18-20). Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned (Matthew 25:44-45). Loving one another (John 13:34). Caring for the helpless among us such as widows and orphans (James 1:27). Jesus universally calls all of us into those activities in some way. The difficult part of God’s will is to understand what is closer to home. What does God what me to do? What is my role, my purpose, my responsibility in His kingdom? I can’t answer that for you although someday Lambchow may explore ways to understand your unique shape. But there is one other component concerning God’s will that we must discuss.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. We often think of God’s will as this large over-arching thing that guides or directs our lives. It is that. But God’s will should also be a part of each moment, each step. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons (and daughters) of God.” (Romans 8:14, NASB95) It is the Holy Spirit that prompts our hearts in those moments. Should we drop a few dollars in the hands of a beggar? Should we interrupt our plans to help someone else? Should we give up our time to serve in some way? How do we know? By learning to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, learning to discern between our desires based on habit, or guilt, or what people will think and the Holy Spirit’s desire that knows how to best minister in the situation.
The second part of radical faith is found in Jesus denunciation “I never knew you.” It would have been a whole lot easy if Jesus had said: “you never knew me.” We can get our arms around that. But what did Jesus, He who knows everyone, mean by saying that He did not know these folks? Knowing has, of course, many levels. We can have a passing knowledge of something with variations all the up to having an intimate knowledge of something. Many of us have a passing knowledge of cars, but the mechanic that we call when it doesn’t work has an intimate knowledge of cars.
We see this as Jesus interacted with folks in the Gospels. More than once He displayed an intimate knowledge of someone but worked with them to open their heart more and more towards Him. We see this with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the judgmental Pharisee, and even with His own disciples. It’s like Jesus knows what is behind our doors but asks us to open them up to Him anyway. That’s what we see in these folks that were doing wonderful things in Jesus name but never opened their heart to be really known by Jesus.
I think that Jesus unwrapped how this looks in John 15. He talks about us as branches abiding, drawing life, from His vine. The whole section of John 15:1-10 mentions the word ‘abide’ ten times. We are to abide in Him, in His word, in His love, and they in us. The results will be keeping His commandments which are summed up in love, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, NASB95)
The radical faith of Jesus’ statement requires the thorough mixing of walking in God’s will and abiding in Jesus. We can do all kinds of wonderful things in Jesus name. We can keep all kinds of rules. We can even do service in His name. We can draw a crowd, speak charismatically, command demons, and even perform works of power yet completely fail to enter into God’s kingdom. Radical faith is more than doing the stuff; it is unabashedly opening our hearts up to Christ AND doing the stuff.
In words that we often, but wrongly, set aside for romantic love we are reminded of the necessity of mixing the epoxy of radical faith. “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3, NASB95) Like Jesus, Paul is not saying that we should give up these doing things but that they are meaningless without love just like epoxy is a worthless goo unless both parts are mixed together.
Our encouragement, our challenge, therefore is to see to both parts. We must seek God’s will and do what follows. Faith is more than believing, it is doing as well. I can’t tell you everything that means for you. I can’t give you a laundry list of things to do. The best I can tell you is to ask God, not once, but keep on asking as in “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7–8, NASB95) Open your heart to Jesus, even the doors that you’re afraid or ashamed to open, let Him love you like no other. Combine that love with everything that follows. Mix well. Let love motivate and empower all that God the Father tells us to do – that’s radical faith. That is God’s Kingdom life.