Matthew 7:21–23 says that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven? Does this mean that if you are not doing the will of the Father, you can lose your salvation?
In Matthew 7:21–23, Jesus is recorded as saying:
“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!’ ”
Notice that our Lord Jesus said, “I never knew you.” Obviously, this cannot be applied to believers who have been born again and who have a relationship with the Lord. It is clearly referring to people who never had a personal relationship with the Lord. That is why Jesus could say to the latter group, “I never knew you.” This passage is to be used as a warning only to professors of the Christian faith, not to those who have genuinely accepted Jesus as their Lord.
It is important to let the Bible interpret the Bible. If you study the Bible, you will see that the will of the Father is that you believe in the One Whom He has sent and receive eternal life. Jesus said, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40 NASB). And in John 6:29 (NLT) He tells us plainly, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” That is the gospel. That is doing the will of the Father.
Jesus also said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). What was that will that Jesus had to fulfill? It was to die for our sins and to bring us into His new covenant of grace. The same verse tells us, “He takes away the first [old covenant] that He may establish the second [new covenant].”
So what Jesus was saying in Matthew 7 is this: “Not all who call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ in that day are saved, but only those who fulfill My Father’s will, which is to believe in Me.” He is not saying that the moment you make a mistake in thought or deed, He denies you and you have lost your salvation.
Why am I sharing all this with you? It is so you will be established in our Lord Jesus, and not be easily swayed and tossed and turned by every wind of doctrine (see Eph. 4:14). You are His precious child and your heavenly Father wants you to have a strong foundation built on your secure salvation in Christ. Instead of being confused by obscure passages in the Bible, I want to encourage you to be anchored on certain and clear passages like this one found in John 10:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
—John 10:27–30 (emphasis mine)
Now, doesn’t simply reading this promise in God’s Word impart to you confidence, assurance, and security in your salvation in Christ? Let me draw your attention to the word “never.” This is going to bless you. The word “never” here is translated from the Greek particle ou me, which is a double negative, strongly emphasizing the meaning of “never, certainly not, not at all, by no means.”1 In other words, once you are saved, you will never, by no means, ever perish!
My friend, let’s accurately value the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and not make light of what our Lord Jesus suffered at Calvary for our salvation, forgiveness, and redemption.
The Bible tells me in no uncertain terms that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). The Bible tells me that “no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:29). The Bible tells me, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16–17). That’s what the Bible says!
Joseph Prince, Grace Revolution—Experience the Power to Live Above Defeat (New York: FaithWords, 2015), 238–241.
1. NT: 3364, James Strong, Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.