In another article (016) we raised this question: what kind of Christian gets to go to heaven when they die? We probably ought to have put 'Christian' in quotes, like we have in this sentence, because there are many who would argue that the term only applies to true believers who are born of God and heirs of Christ. However, we didn't. It was Jesus Who said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord', 'Lord', will enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 7:22). Since only Christians call Jesus Lord, and the world recognizes there are many who call themselves Christians, we will use the term Christian like the culture uses it. So, in effect, Jesus said not all Christians will go to heaven when they die. Who will? and how is it determined who will and who will not?
The answer is given by Jesus in Matthew 7:22-23. There Jesus said, "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.'" (NASB).
Let's consider this statement carefully. Obviously Jesus is making a distinction between what the mouth utters and what the heart believes. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:9 that "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (NASB). But Jesus said simply saying with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" will not save you. Thus, He makes a distinction between the utterances of the mouth and the real beliefs of the heart.Why?
Because He knows that it is possible for a person to "honor God with their lips, while their heart is far from Him" (Isaiah 29:13). So, simply saying you believe Jesus is Lord will not save you. But, then, what will? Paul said, "and believe in your heart...". But believe what? Exactly what? Jesus said that many would say "Lord" but believe in their hearts that they are saved by what they have done for the Lord. His words were, "...did we not prophesy in your name...cast out demons in your name...perform miracles in your name?". All of these actions are legitimate activities for those who own Jesus as Lord. But they are not saving activities. So, Jesus was saying very plainly that no one will be saved who mixes a vocal commitment to His Lordship with a heart-faith of confidence in what they have done for Him.
This means, then, that no one will be saved who thinks that his salvation springs from his obedience to God's commands. Thus, the one who thinks he is saved because he was baptized is not. The one who thinks he is saved because he prays a lot is not. The one who thinks he is saved because he does legitimate service to God is not saved. The one who thinks he is saved because of any work that he has performed is not.
Then, who is? More on that in the next article.