Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Matthew 7:21-23 issues a stern warning to us. Here Jesus says that not everyone who calls on him or even does miracles in his name will be a partaker of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says this not to plant doubt, or to call people to do more good works in his name, but to urge his children on to do “the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
What is God’s will if it isn’t the kind of work detailed in verse 22? All that prophecy, casting out demons, and doing mighty works? What are we supposed to do that will be better than that?
Consider for a moment how Abraham was counted as righteous before God. He believed God and he was accounted as a righteous person in God’s eyes. Christians confess, with the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter two, that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works of any kind. The action that pleases God is believing him, taking him at his word, knowing that he is the God who brings forgiveness, life, and salvation.
By no means does this say that we don’t have an obligation to live a holy life before God and our neighbor. Those works of righteousness are good. They are pleasing to God and they serve our neighbor. But they won’t save us from sin. We can’t possibly do saving works. God is the one who has done that, by having Jesus, God the Son, bear our sins and earn our salvation through his perfect righteousness on our behalf. We don’t do that. We receive it. Then God makes us to be the good tree, bearing good fruit, for the glory of God.
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