“Never Saved”: How Christians misuse Matthew 7:21-23

Last updated on:

21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Matthew 7:21-23 is a passage used by Christians to refer to those they believe “were never saved to begin with,” the phrase goes. According to the passage above, there are those who call Jesus “Lord, Lord” (v.21), “prophesied” (v.22), “cast out demons” (v.22), and “done many wonders” (v.22), but are not known by the Lord. In the end, the Lord will say “I never knew you.” The words of Matthew 7:21-23, as spoken by our Lord, seem difficult to believe. How could those the Lord “never knew” prophesy, cast out demons, and do many wonders “in His name”? According to Jesus in the verses above, these individuals believed they were saved and called Jesus “Lord,” but they did not live out their faith. Jesus would agree with James when the half-brother of Jesus says that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14, 20, 26).

We can understand that it’s not enough to say “I believe in Jesus”; we must also live in accordance with what we believe. There must be a trail of good works that characterize our lives in Christ. After all, believers do have the Holy Spirit, who not only sanctifies them but enables them to bear “the fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22). And yet, it is not right that we use Matthew 7:21-23 to describe everyone who doesn’t endure until the end in faith. Jesus is talking about those He “never knew,” which means that these individuals “never” did anything to show the world they were saved. They never had any good works to speak of that pointed others to Jesus. They never lived the life they claimed they experienced. They were saved “in name only,” to use a phrase with which we’re all familiar.

And yet, there are other Christians who aren’t saved in the end for other reasons. Not every condemned person who isn’t saved is lost in the end because they called Jesus “Lord” and lived like hypocrites. Some former believers were real about their faith; when they depart from the faith, they do so for other reasons — perhaps an unanswered prayer, a sin struggle that they pray God removes, yet He doesn’t, and so on. And there are those that the Lord “knows” for a while, and then they leave due to something such as persecution they endure as a Christian. Some folks do not want the persecution that Jesus says comes with being a follower of Christ. There are other reasons for why Christians depart from the faith, but in the case of Matthew 7:21-23, those who call Jesus “Lord” are those who don’t do what God commands. Remember what Jesus says about those who follow after Him?

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26, NKJV)

Those who follow Jesus must “deny Himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Those the Lord says He “never knew,” those Jesus calls “workers of iniquity,” are those that were never saved. They never had a relationship with the Lord because they never denied themselves, never took up their cross, never followed Christ. They only claimed to know Christ. And the most interesting part of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23 is that these individuals prophesied, cast out demons, and did other wonderful works in Jesus’ name. They did works consistent with someone who has the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in their lives. And yet, despite all their spiritual giftedness, and the work of the Spirit in prophecy, demon possession, and other works, these individuals were never saved.

When it comes to exegesis, one cannot just take one passage and run with a theological position; he or she must examine Scripture as a whole to determine if one verse is being placed above the rest of Scripture (if Scripture opposes the verse) or if one verse of Scripture is being sidelined because of the remainder of Scripture (is the verse a particular option or for a particular person or group?). Are there exceptional cases in Scripture that are not normative for faith and practice? Scriptural interpretation is not as easy as we often make it out to be.

When it comes to Matthew 7:21-23, the same can be said. We have taken these three verses and plastered them on every particular case where a person falls away from Jesus or departs from the faith. Not everyone who falls away was a “fake believer” who was only masquerading as a Christian.

Matthew 7:21-23 points to those who were never saved, but there are a ton of verses within Matthew’s own gospel that point to the contrary: that is, those who fall away were genuinely saved. To this end, we’ll approach the New Testament to determine what verses out there clash with Matthew 7:21-23. The purpose of this exercise is not to show that the traditional Christian interpretation of Matthew 7:21-23 is wrong per se, but to make the case that we can’t take these three verses and chalk every apostasy case up to “they were never saved to begin with.” We’ll place Matthew 7:21-23 alongside these verses to show that they are talking about different situations, not the same ones. Christians have misused Matthew 7:21-23, but we need to know how we’ve misused the passage.

The Gospel of Matthew and Matthew 7:21-23

The Parable of the Sower and the Soils (Matthew 13:1-23)

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,

And seeing you will see and not perceive;

15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.

Their ears are hard of hearing,

And their eyes they have closed,

Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,

Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,

So that I should heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:1-23)

The Parable of the Sower and the Soils is one of my favorite parables of Jesus in Scripture. It pertains to the situation with which Jesus’ audience, and Christians today, are familiar: the sower or the farmer sows seed, and the seed falls in different places. All the soils get some seed, but they respond to the seed in different ways. The point of this is to explain that all get the Word, or the gospel, but not all respond favorably to it. There’s the good soil that receives the Word, holds on to it, endures life with perseverance, and bears thirty, sixty, and hundredfold fruit. We love the good soil believers, but they’re only 25% (one-fourth) of the soils. The good soil believer does not characterize everyone who gets the Word; some who get the Word never bear any fruit, but even that is a very generic category because we don’t know 1) whether they never bear fruit at all, whether they 2) bear fruit but then cease bearing fruit, or 3) if there is an expectation of bearing fruit that remains unfulfilled. These factors are all part of determining how we can view those who are ultimately unsaved in the end. Not all “soils” have the same scenario or story; the same can be said for Christians in real life.

The rocky soil believer, or the stony ground believer, is the one that poses problems for traditional Christian tendencies to plaster Matthew 7:21-23 over every situation. The reason why the stony ground believer poses such a problem is because the rocky soil believer was actually saved for a time:

20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. (Matthew 13:20-21)

The stony ground believer or rocky soil believer “hears the word and immediately receives it with joy” (v.20). He or she believes the word, receiving it as a result. No one receives a word he or she does not believe, so this individual is actually saved. In verse 21, the stony ground believer “endures only for a while.” What does the stony ground or rocky soil believer endure if they’re not enduring persecution as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Remember, only those who are in Jesus suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

If the rocky soil believer stumbles because of “persecution [that] arises because of the Word,” then this individual or group of individuals suffer as believers and fall away because of the intensity of suffering as a Christian. What is “the word” mentioned here? What is the persecution mentioned here? And how does this believer “stumble”? These are questions we must ask to arrive at a conclusion. And when we investigate, we see that Jesus is referring here to a temporary believer: someone who was once saved but faces intense persecution and then falls away because the persecution becomes too much to endure. The phrases “endures for a time,” “immediately receives the word,” “persecution arises on account of the word,” etc., all signify that the rocky soil believer of Matthew 13 was once saved. The persons of Matthew 7:21-23 were never saved (Jesus says “I never knew you”), and thus, aren’t in the same camp as the rocky soil believer here in Matthew 13.

There are other clues about Matthew 7:21-23 that deserve a statement here. In Matthew 7:21-23, we see that those who were “never saved” are those who actually do works in Jesus’ name: they masquerade for a long time in order to perform so many wonderful works. The rocky soil believer of Matthew 13 doesn’t “masquerade” at all; when persecution gets too intense, he or she leaves the faith, stumbles, falls away. Their departure from the faith shows just how real the persecution is, which shows just how genuine their faith really was. The rocky soil believer isn’t masquerading in their faith; if they were, they’d persist “appearing” as a believer when they weren’t. The masquerading Christian of Matthew 7:21-23 doesn’t care about persecution because he or she doesn’t suffer any. They were never saved to begin with, so there’s no persecution to endure. Remember, those of Matthew 7:21-23 never believed on Jesus, never did His will, so what persecution did they endure? How could a fake Christian endure persecution when the Word says nothing about masquerading Christians experiencing persecution? In contrast, the stony ground believer “endures for a time,” which places them in a better position than the masquerading Christian of Matthew 7:21-23.

Let’s look at the same Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:

16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. (Mark 4:16-17)

The rocky soil or stony ground believer “endure only for a time.” At least they endure some time, as opposed to those of Matthew 7:21-23 who never endure anything at all because they never attempt to do the will of God. At least this temporary believer tries to live out the will of God — even if it is for a limited time only. Again, they fall away after persecution or tribulation arises “for the word’s sake.” What “word” is in discussion here? What “word” would Jesus have talked about? If this isn’t the Word of God, or the spoken words of Jesus, then what would this “word” be?

In Luke 8, we get more description than we’ve received in the other Sower Parable statements in the Gospels:

13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. (Luke 8:13)

The rocky or stony believer receives the word; we’ve seen that before in the other two passages, but now we see the words “believe for a while” rather than “endure for a time.” Now we can see that the rocky soil believer is a temporary believer — not in the same boat as the “never knew you” crowd of Matthew 7:21-23. This is the reason why we can’t put the rocky soil believer in the same boat as the masqueraders of Matthew 7:21-23. There are other passages as well that prove Matthew 7:21-23 is a specific case rather than the case for all falling away.

One other thing: before moving on, it’s also important to note that the rocky soil believer of Luke 8 falls away “in time of temptation.” They struggle to resist sin in their lives and decide to give up their faith because their sin proves too strong. Those who fall away during temptation do so because, while their spirit is willing to endure, human flesh is weak. Paul gives his own sin struggle testimony in Romans 7:

13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:13-25)

Paul writes about his sin struggle in his flesh and mind. He wills to do the will of God in his mind, but wants to sin in his flesh: “With the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). This struggle only happens in the life of a believer, a Christian. No unbeliever struggles with their mind and flesh. The rocky soil or stony ground believer who falls away in temptation is someone who wanted to serve God with his or her mind but struggles with the lusts of the flesh within. The sin struggle and temptation in the life of the individual proves that the Luke 8 group consists of genuine believers.

“I never knew you” versus “I don’t know you”: Matthew 7:21-23 and Matthew 25:1-12

In our continued discussion of Matthew 7:21-23, we now arrive at Matthew 25 with regard to the five wise and five foolish virgins:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘ No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:1-12)

This parable is well-known to many Christians, but we miss a few words of Jesus here that are pivotal to our discussion of Christian misuse of Matthew 7:21-23. When you read Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus tells that crowd, “I never knew you,” the Greek word Οὐδέποτεo. The Greek word Οὐδέποτε (oudepote) is a compound word consisting of oude (neither) and pote (ever). When one places these words together, the translation is “neither at this time nor ever.” So when Jesus says “I never knew you,” He is saying to the masquerading Christians, “I don’t know you, neither at this time nor ever. I have never known you.”

In Matthew 25, though, the five foolish virgins have an expectation to meet the bridegroom. Remember, “the kingdom of heaven is like” five wise and five foolish virgins. All these virgins expect to meet the Bridegroom. These are all Christians, for they are virgins dressed in white, trimming their lamps and sleeping while the Bridegroom tarries. They expect to be with Jesus in eternity, which is why they’ve gathered together: to await His return. At midnight, the cry goes out to meet the Lord for the marriage supper, and the five foolish virgins ask the five wise virgins for some of their oil to replace in their lamps. The wise virgins tell the foolish to go buy some oil because they only have enough for themselves. The foolish virgins go to buy oil, and while they’re gone, the wise virgins go into the marriage supper and God shuts the door. The foolish virgins come to the door all too late, begging God to open the door to them. The Lord has one response to them: “I don’t know you” (Matthew 25:12).

Jesus doesn’t respond in Matthew 25:12 the way He does in Matthew 7:23. He doesn’t tell the foolish virgins, “I never knew you,” but instead, “I do not know you.” The Greek phrase is οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς ( ouk oida humas), The Greek word oida meaning “to know.” The word oida is present tense, referring to now. Jesus says to the five foolish virgins, “I do not know you now,” as opposed to the masquerading Christians of Matthew 7:21-23. For the masqueraders, Jesus says, “I have never known you, neither in the past, nor now, nor ever.” Jesus has continually not known the masqueraders, whereas He did know the foolish virgins at one time; it is only now, that the door to the marriage supper has been shut, that He does not know them. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says that He “never” knew the masqueraders. The word for “known” there is the Greek ἔγνων (by the way, the Greek word egnon, a verb that is aorist (past tense) in nature. When one combines this word with “never,” we see that Jesus didn’t know them in the past, and this “unacquaintance” continues to the present day. In Matthew 25:12, Jesus presently does not know the virgins, though at one point He did know them because they were planning to meet Jesus for the marriage supper.

The masqueraders of Matthew 7:21-23 were never saved, but the people of Matthew 25:12 were saved at one point. They were virgins, clear, pure, spotless, preparing to meet the Lord. Matthew 7:21-23 can’t apply here with Matthew 25:12 because the foolish virgins were virgins; they weren’t unbelievers. Nowhere in Scripture is the word “virgin” used to refer to heathen ungodly persons or unbelievers. Case in point, Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:1-2)

Again, virgins presented to Christ, preparing to meet Christ, are believers, saved individuals. Those of Matthew 7:21-23 were masqueraders at best whom the Lord “never” knew. Thus, Matthew 7:21-23 and Matthew 25 can’t be equated as the same case or situation. Therefore, there are some Christians who will miss Heaven and eternity with Christ because they are unprepared and slumbering on their salvation. Not every Christian on earth will meet the Lord, and some people who claim they’re saved have never been saved. These two categories can’t be equated as the same. Some Christians will fall away for various reasons, whereas the Matthew 7 group never fell away because they never belonged to Christ from the start. Again, two different groups, two different situations.

Wheat and the Tares: Telling Them Apart (Matthew 13:24-30)

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ” (Matthew 13:24-30)

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is one that I’ve not heard enough in church all my life. Yet, it is one of Jesus’ most interesting parables because it is designed to render Christians silent when it comes to how the church has so often “cast judgment” on church attendees and so-called believers all throughout church history. We want so badly to declare, like the game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” who’s “saved” and who’s “damned.” The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares doesn’t permit us to declare someone saved or damned because it tells us, in effect, that we are too short-sighted to properly evaluate every man or woman for who he or she really is.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is as follows: the owner of the field sowed good seed (wheat) into the field, but an enemy came and sowed tares into the field alongside the wheat. The servants discover the tares and question their owner’s good seed sowing. He tells them “an enemy has done this.” They want to uproot the tares but the owner rejects the idea, saying that they may uproot some of the wheat along with the tares if they uproot now. Instead, they should wait until the future time at harvest, when all will be revealed and all will be separated.

Jesus later goes on to explain, like the Parable of the Sower, what His teaching in the Wheat and Tares is all about:

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:36-43)

Now here is where Jesus explains the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. In verse 38, Jesus lays out all the parties involved: “ 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.” The field refers to the world, the place where both the sons of God and the sons of the devil meet. Notice that the Parable of the Wheat and Tares does not take place in a church. The field is not the church, so those who want to just examine the church should take a step back. Jesus puts the wheat and tares of the parable in the world, in a neutral place where everyone exists together. Christians, like unbelievers, are in the world, but we are not “of the world.”

In the Parable, the servants see the tares with their own eyes and inquire that the owner grant them permission to go remove the tares. The owner does not. His reason has nothing to do with not wanting to uproot the tares, but rather, that some of the wheat may be uprooted as well:

The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. (Matthew 13:28-29)

Now, here’s the emphasis of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares: Jesus is concerned that by uprooting the tares, some of the wheat, some of the sons of the kingdom, are destroyed in the process. This is why He tells the servants to wait until harvest time. Did you notice that? Jesus was not concerned about the tares, the sons of the devil. He knows that there will be “tares” in the world, as we know it to be true, and He doesn’t concern Himself with uprooting the tares. The tares are the “chaff” that will be burned up in the end. What Jesus does concern Himself with, however, are the sons of the kingdom, the wheat crops, that could be uprooted with the tares. What does this mean? If Jesus was to declare judgment now and to declare the end at this time, some of the “wheat” would actually be “tares” and would be destroyed, lost, without a Savior. Jesus, foreknowing all things, omniscient of the end, knows that some of the “tares” or rather, the seeming “tares,” are actually “wheat,” and He doesn’t want them destroyed until they grow and blossom as sons of the kingdom. He corrects the servants because, in their zeal to usher in the coming age, they’d rather uproot those “wheat” crops rather than be patient and let the wheat blossom as such. They’d rather lose a few sons of the kingdom to Satan and Hell, rather than wait and allow those sons of the kingdom to show their true colors. Their impatience, Jesus says in so many words, could cost Heaven souls that truly belong to the Lord. This is why the Lord says to wait until harvest time when all will be revealed.

If we, in our judgmental selves, can find ourselves in the Parable, we don’t need to focus on the wheat and the tares; rather, we need to see ourselves in the judgmental servants who were so trusting of their senses that they believed they could see and adequately distinguish the wheat from the tares. But our Lord could see better than they, for He knew that for some “wheat” crops, the time was not yet ripe for them to be seen for who they truly are. The servants were short-sighted, and we believers are today. Instead of relying on the end to reveal all, how many of us spend our time talking about who’s “in” and who’s “out,” who’s “saved” and who’s “unsaved”? So many Christians are judgmental in this fashion. We think that because someone comes to church, he or she is “saved” while someone who works Sundays and doesn’t show his or her face in three years is “unsaved.” And yet, the end will surprise all of us, for Scripture says that the righteous will “scarcely be saved” (1 Peter 4:17-18), a phrase that should scare us all. In the end, a room of 1000 righteous people may only yield 250 as “wheat” crops while the other 750 will be “tares.” In our zeal to be self-righteous and judge others, we may just awake to find that we, like those of Matthew 7:21-23, have called Jesus “Lord, Lord” but have not done the things He commanded us to do. In our desire to determine who’s fit and who’s not, we may find that we ourselves have been, to use Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 9:23, “disqualified” from the heavenly race. While we are judging others, we should be judging ourselves first. Let us not be so perceptive of the “mote” and “beam” in someone else’s eye while overlooking the “log” that is in our own.

In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, we see not only the short-sightedness of man and the omniscience of God (who is greater than ourselves), but also the heartbeat of God: He wants none to be lost, but all to come to repentance. He doesn’t want any of the tares to remain tares, but desires that they be transformed into “wheat” and become sons of the kingdom. He desires that the wicked turn to Him, repent of their sins, and be saved from the wrath that is coming upon the world. In other words, He wants the tares to become wheat, so He has delayed His coming to give the sons of Satan more time to repent — and the sons of the kingdom more time to also work through their own sin struggles and lifestyle inconsistencies. Peter says it best:

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:1-9)

Calvinist James White says in his debates that 2 Peter 3:9 is talking about the believers in Peter’s letter: God doesn’t want any of the believers lost. But he has yet to realize that such a statement works against him and Calvinism. If God doesn’t want any of the believers to be lost, then that implies that believers can be lost — which means that apostasy or falling away is a genuine doctrine of the faith and not a matter of bad biblical interpretation. If believers can be lost, then that means that, like Matthew 7:21-23, some Christians will get to the end and call Jesus Lord while they have done nothing Christ commanded. To bring it back to the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, some of the tares, as Jesus implies, will be “wheat” in the end, but some of the “wheat” will ultimately be “tares” (a tragic thought, no doubt).

The end will certainly surprise us because there will be tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards, murderers, adulterers, thieves, swindlers, and even LGBT persons who will end up in the kingdom of God. Some of us heterosexuals who have never drank, smoked, slept around, committed perjury, have abstained from sexual relations outside of marriage, have never taken God’s name in vain, have given our money to charity and paid our tithes regularly, attended church at every possible event, etc., and are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, will find ourselves “on the outside looking in.” We will be the ones standing outside the gate or the door, knocking and saying, “Lord, Lord, open unto us.”

It is a chilling thought, but it should be. We should understand that our estimation of ourselves and where we stand with God, and the divine perspective on where we stand with God, are two different evaluations: one is human, the other is divine. And in the end, the divine evaluation is all that matters. No matter how many humans think the better of us and beg and plead with Jesus to “open the gate and let them in,” Jesus is the one who determines who makes it in and who doesn’t.

And since He is the determiner of who makes it and who doesn’t, the divine perspective is the only one that matters, to be honest. What I think of you, what you think of me, and what you and I think of other church members and Christians is irrelevant because, when they stand before God, our word won’t help or harm them, either way. Our word means nothing now, and it will mean even less than nothing on the Day of Judgment. Only God will have the very last say-so. With that said, it is our job to point people to Jesus and tell them to please Him if they want access to His Heaven and eternity with Him. It is HIS job to judge, not ours. It is HIS job to determine if they’re headed to Heaven or Hell, not ours. It is His job to say “yay” or “nay,” not ours. He hasn’t given us the power to decide the eternal fate of any soul. What He has called us to do is to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

The same God that didn’t want the servants to judge is the same God that doesn’t want us to judge. Let us not be so presumptuous as to think we have “the inside track” on “Who’s Who In Heaven” and “Who’s Who In Hell.” We are called to evangelize, to be a witness, to testify of what Christ has done. In a court of law, the witness doesn’t get to be the judge; he or she is only the witness, and the judge is the one who makes the ruling. That’s how it will be at the end of time: Christ will be the judge calling the shots, and our witness will either work for us or against us at judgment. And if we take the time we have on earth to call men and women to Christ, all while working on ourselves, getting our lives straight, examining ourselves to see if we’re in the faith, making our preparations to meet the Lord so that we don’t end up in the same situation as the five foolish virgins, we won’t have time to play judge and jury. The judgment you mete out to others will be your own judgment. We want God to grant us grace in the end despite what we have done; His grace plays no favorites. As He gives grace to us, He will give that same grace to others. Let’s live a life reliant on His grace instead of casting judgment and throwing stones.

Now, how does this relate to Matthew 7:21-23? As we’ve seen, some of the “tares” could be wheat and could be destroyed if the end were to come now. But Matthew 7:21-23 is a statement Jesus makes at judgment. Currently, the world consists of both “wheat,” sons of the kingdom, and “tares,” sons of the devil, and the end has not arrived just yet. Since Matthew 7:21-23 is a statement concerning the end, we’ll have to get to the end before we can use such a statement on anyone in the faith. If some “tares” will be “wheat” and some “wheat” will be “tares,” then the end will surprise us all. Don’t say Jesus didn’t warn you. Don’t say you haven’t been properly warned.

As the servant turns (Luke 12:42-48)

42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:42-48)

Luke 12:42-48 is another passage that can be used to disprove the Christian temptation to claim that those who fall away were never saved (Matthew 7:21-23). The servant in Luke 12 has two choices. He can be wise and faithful and on the job when Jesus returns, or he can say in his heart that “Jesus isn’t coming back right away,” and eat and drink until he or she gets drunk, all while beating the fellow servants, then the end of that servant will not be good. Jesus is advocating here that the servant can be faithful until the Master departs, then turn wicked and evil and ungodly. This is what the doctrine of falling away says, but Matthew 7:21-23, a passage used to claim that there are many who do great things for Christ in the church yet aren’t saved, says that those who don’t do what the Lord says were never saved to begin with. How do advocates of “never saved to begin with” handle Luke 12:42-48? Many of them don’t. They simply assume that “one cannot fall away” and interpret the passage to say that the servant (by the way, the Greek phrase δοῦλος ἐκεῖνος ( doulos ekeinos), meaning “that servant,” shows that the servant that is faithful and blessed in verse 43 is the same servant that can choose to be unfaithful in verses 45ff. The servant can be faithful for a time, and then choose to fall away from faithfulness and act unbelieving. And in the end, the Lord says that the servant who turns unfaithful and doesn’t remain faithful until He returns will have “a portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:46). The servant that belonged to Jesus before His return is now with the unbelievers. In other words, you can be a servant of Jesus but endure “only for a time” (as Luke 8 says about the stony ground believer) and fall away from the faith. Matthew 7:21-23 says Jesus “never” knew those individuals, but Luke 12:42-48 refers to a servant of Jesus who once belonged to Jesus but then turns away and suffers Hellfire. The apostasy is the “turning away” from faithfulness and servanthood to a lack of self-control (such as drinking and getting drunk, Luke 12:45). Matthew 7:21-23 doesn’t refer to Luke 12:42-48 because the person in the Parable that is later disowned by the Lord Himself was a servant of Jesus. Those in Matthew 7:21-23 were never servants at all because the Lord never knew them.

“I do not know you” (Luke 13:23-30)

23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”

And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:23-30)

Jesus tells those following Him to “strive to enter the straight gate” because so many will not enter it. Jesus tells of what the future will be like, as those who reject Him would not get an answered door into eternal life; rather, they will find themselves on the outside knocking, trying to gain entrance:

25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ (Luke 13:25-27)

Twice in the Luke 13 passage above, we see that God says He doesn’t know the individuals before Him: in verse 25, He says, “I do not know you, where you are from,” and in verse 27 He says, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from.” Now here, we see that the words “I do not know you” are present tense. Notice that Jesus says He doesn’t presently know the individuals in question, though they know Him: “we ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” In other words, they are familiar with Jesus and His teachings, but they are “Workers of iniquity” who don’t really know who Jesus is, Their association with Jesus’ visits in various towns and regions is used by these individuals to win brownie points with Jesus in the end, but it won’t work. Jesus is not impressed that they “danced in the streets” at His coming but rather, that they do what His Word tells them to do.

This passage ends the same as Matthew 7:21-23, but again, the verb tense “I do not know” doesn’t line up with Matthew 7:21-23’s “I never knew you.” So, in that vein, we cannot rule that those of Luke 13 didn’t know Jesus at one point, and that He didn’t know them earlier on. All we can gather is that Jesus says that He doesn’t know them now. The present tense verbs, fit for “now,” don’t tell us about the past (what “was”) or the future (“what will be”), but rather, what is in the here and now. For those in Luke 13 who knew Jesus in the past and “danced in the streets” at His coming, perhaps they did know Him in the past. But their past association with Jesus does nothing for them now, since Jesus tells them “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:27). And notice that Jesus says “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” in verse 28, a reminder that life outside of Heaven will consist of physical and mental torment and anguish. Those who struggle to understand how God can create and allow a literal Hell will struggle with Luke 13:28.

Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 13:23-30 point to two different realities: 1) those who were never saved (Matthew 7:21-23), and those who are not currently known by Jesus (Luke 13:23-30). Again, one is continual and dates from the past (“I never knew you”), while the other is current and exists now with no insight on the past (“I do not know you”). The same “I do not know you” Jesus says here in Luke 13:23-30 is the same “I do not know you” Jesus says to the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25.

Jesus prays for failing faith (Luke 22:31-32)

31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)

It is in Luke 22 where we see that Peter pledges his loyalty to Jesus and Jesus tells him, “You will deny me three times this night.” And yet, a statement made before Jesus’ prediction goes under the radar in Christian interpretation often: that is, that Jesus prays for Peter. First, let’s notice that Satan desires Peter’s falling away: “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). This means that Satan wanted Peter, to destroy him. We get an even greater glimpse of the situation in Jesus’ next statement:

“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32).

Jesus prays for Peter, specifically, “that your faith should not fail.” Let that sink in for just a moment. If Jesus prays that Peter’s faith would not fail, then that means Peter’s faith could fail. The possibility of failing faith in this passage is highlighted by the fact that Jesus prays for the possibility of Peter’s failing faith. If Jesus prays for it, then failing faith isn’t a hypothetical possibility but an actual occurrence in the lives of some. Apparently, it was a genuine possibility in the life of Peter, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have prayed for it. Those who say that failing faith is impossible have to explain why Jesus prays for Peter’s presumed “impossibility.”

Luke 22:31-32 relates to Matthew 7:21-23 because it, like the other passages we’ve studied, doesn’t speak of the same situation or circumstance as that of Matthew 7. In that passage, Jesus says He “never knew” those who prophesied in His name, cast out demons, and did other wonderful works. Here in Luke 22, the idea that someone’s faith can fail indicates that faith can shrink. It also indicates that, if someone’s faith can fail, then someone can be a believer whose faith shrinks. In that regard, a believer’s faith can decline over time. Matthew 7:21-23 has been used to say that those who fall away were “never saved to begin with,” that Jesus never knew them though they do good deeds, come to church, claim to be saved, etc. And yet, if that’s the case, then Luke 22:31-32 can’t argue the same because Peter was handpicked as a disciple of Jesus and has faith in Jesus. He believes in Christ, as evidenced by his statement to Jesus when Jesus’ asks the disciples if they want to depart from Him:

61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:61-69)

Peter said to Jesus in John 6, “We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.69). He believed in Jesus and had faith in Jesus. So when Jesus prays for his faith not to fail, the assumption is that Peter is a believer. He doesn’t fit the person of Matthew 7:21-23, someone who never knew Jesus. And if Peter’s faith can fail, then the faith of any believer can fail. We’ve seen with the stony ground/rocky soil believer of Luke 8, Mark 4, and Matthew 13 in the Parable of the Sower that the rocky soil or stony ground believer “endures for a time” and “believes for a time,” and then falls away in time of temptation. Again, this temporary believer is not someone who was never saved, but someone’s whose faith fails.

Paul concerned about the Thessalonians’ faith (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

Paul is concerned for the Thessalonians’ faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2), “that no one should be shaken by these afflictions” (v.3). What does it mean to be shaken by their trials? It means to be unsettled, that one’s trials can move one away from his or her faith in Jesus. Remember, the stony ground or rocky soil believer falls away “in time of temptation.” Trials and tribulations can bring back a sin struggle and increase the struggle to resist sin. It happens to the “holiest” of Christians. The Thessalonians are “suffering tribulation” (v.4). Paul is concerned that “by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.” In other words, Paul is concerned that their tribulations and suffering might move the Thessalonians to give in to the Tempter (that is, Satan), and that he, Timothy, and Silvanus’s work in bringing them to Christ “might be in vain.” What does it mean that their work may be in vain? It means that the efforts made to bring the Thessalonians to Christ may have been undone — that they may have gone back into the world, into their sin, that they may have strayed from the gospel because of the intensity of their suffering. This is the same Thessalonian group that Paul praises earlier in the letter. He refers to their “work of faith” (1 Thess. 1:3), their “election by God” (v.4), that they “became followers of us and the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (v.6), and their “faith toward God” has gone out to all the surrounding region (v.8). “You turned from idols to serve the living and true God” (v.9), a sign that the Thessalonians had Paul’s fullest confidence with regard to the genuineness of their salvation. And yet, despite the genuineness of their faith, their faith could be susceptible to temptation and they could fall away. Again, this shows that genuine faith can also be a fragile faith (as with the rocky soil/stony ground believer).

With Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus never hints that those He tells to depart from Him ever had faith. We never read in Matthew 7 where those “workers of iniquity” or lawlessness ever truly believed in Jesus. Paul believed the faith of the Thessalonians, though fragile, was genuine. Thus, these believers wouldn’t fit the “never saved” group of Matthew 7. Again, Paul’s words show us that we can’t take Matthew 7:21-23 and plaster it all over every text that involves salvation or divine judgment.

The Holy Spirit weighs in on the Doctrine of Falling Away

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

If there’s to be any Doctrine of Falling Away, a biblical doctrine anyway, then it should start with God. And here, we find that the Third Person of the Godhead and the Trinity weighs in on the Doctrine of Falling Away: that is, “in latter times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). The Spirit “expressly” says this, the Greek word ῥητῶς ( hretos) meaning “expressly” or “clearly.” In other words, the Holy Spirit says this without hesitation, no second-guessing or follow-up statements needed. Some will depart from the faith, the Spirit says, the Greek word ἀποστήσονταί ( apostesontai) being a “middle” verb. The “middle” designation implies that the action is done by the subject to itself. It’s the equivalent of someone “stubbing their toe,” for example, with the person hurting their own toe as opposed to someone else hurting it. In this case, there will be Christians who remove themselves from the faith — God is not the one removing them, though their decision to remove themselves will result in God the Father severing them as a branch from the vine (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit departing from their lives. God the Father’s role in severing believers who remove themselves can be seen in John 15:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:1-6)

See our article titled “The Great Divorce: John 15:1-6 and Divine Severance” for more information.

Now how did Paul know that “the Spirit expressly says” this? Where did Paul get this information? He could’ve gotten it from the Spirit as a direct revelation. He could have received this information from his reading of the Old Testament Scriptures. There is no direct quote here, so we gather that the Holy Spirit has said this in Scripture in different places and in different ways. Whatever it reveals to us, it reveals that Paul was no proponent of eternal security. Contrary to most of today’s Christian scene, Paul didn’t believe that believers who come to Jesus are forced to stay and have no choice in abandoning Christ. Paul didn’t believe that believers who come to Jesus were “locked in” and couldn’t leave. In the first five verses of 1 Timothy 4, Paul writes about how false doctrine will lead some away from the faith. For example, the apostatizers (those who abandon Christ) will teach that marriage is forbidden (v.3) when it is a gift, a blessing given by God to be received with thanksgiving and prayer. Take note: false doctrine can lead anyone away from Christ. The moment you think you’re an exception to the vulnerability of falling away is the moment you should most fear.

Where does Matthew 7:21-23 fit into all this? Well, it isn’t the situation of 1 Timothy 4. In context in 1 Timothy 4, the person who leaves the faith does so because of false doctrine. They are led astray by false teaching, whereas the persons of Matthew 7:21-23 never had any faith and thus, were never led astray. They just never believed, but did all these works and claimed that the works are what made them children of God. In 1 Timothy 4, those who “depart from the faith” cannot leave a faith they were never part of to begin with. To say otherwise is to say, “I departed from the store but was never at the store to begin with,” for example. It’s illogical and doesn’t make any sense. Advocates of eternal security can’t make sense of “depart from the faith” if they hold onto the idea that “you can’t ever leave Christ once you come to Him, unless you were never saved.”

So, 1 Timothy 4 shows Christians who removed themselves from the faith, whereas the group of Matthew 7 was never saved from the start. To be in the faith, then depart from it, is different from never having known the Lord whatsoever.

Falling Away because of greed and money (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Some abandon the faith because of false doctrine, as 1 Timothy 4 tells us. Others, however, abandon the faith because of their love of money and their greed to acquire more of it. “Those who desire to be rich” (v.9) are those susceptible to falling away from the faith and departing from it. Paul says that those who desire to be rich can find themselves “in destruction and perdition,” the word perdition referring to eternal damnation. “Some have strayed from the faith in their greediness,” Paul says (1 Timothy 6:10), reminding us that not everyone departs from the faith because of one particular reason. We tend to generalize why some leave the faith (they love their sin more than God), and perhaps that’s true, but each case is different with its own set of particulars. In 1 Timothy 4, the issue was false doctrine; here in 1 Timothy 6, the issue is the love of money. And as much as some claim Judas betrayed Jesus because “he was foreordained to do so” and “was never really saved,” Paul’s words should make the critics reconsider: for, if Paul’s words here are true, then any genuine Christian with a love for money and greed can fall away from the faith. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” Paul says. In other words, money can lead one on a trail that ends in Hell. Judas’ love of money drove him to betray his Lord and depart from the faith. He gave up his fellowship with Christ, his salvation, his apostleship, everything. If we could ask Judas today about whether or not it was all worth it, I doubt he’d say “yes.”

Matthew 7:21-23, as we’ve seen, are about those who do all kinds of wonderful deeds in Jesus’ name but simply call Him “Lord” without submitting to His will. Calling Jesus “Lord” is not enough; one must also do His will and obey His commandments. The Matthew 7 group fails to obey Christ; they simply “trust” Him without any obedience. Trust and obedience are partners on the same spiritual team, so to speak; you can’t have one without the other, in the same way that love and marriage must work together in the lives of a married couple. Here in 1 Timothy 6, though, Paul is discussing how money can lead someone to Hell fire, to “perdition” or destruction, that those who desire to be rich are “strayed from the faith” in Ephesus. Paul talks here as though he has a lot of experience with the effects of money, and either he’s seen the desire for money in his own heart or in the lives of those he’s been around. Perhaps his travels have brought him to a place where he can relate them to the situations around him. And since he talks about how money can lead some to stray from the faith, perhaps in his work as an apostle of the churches, he’s seen some leaders from any number of churches depart from the faith over money. If it can happen to Judas, a man who was handpicked by the Lord, then it can happen to anyone. Paul is aware of just how tricky and deceitful money is, which is why he gives sound advice to Timothy about contentment (“godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Timothy 6:6).

To depart from the faith over money doesn’t mean that you never loved God; rather, it means that, when faced with the choice of God and mammon (wealth), you chose wealth. The only persons that ever come to such a decision are those who are in the faith, in the Lord, and read His Word and realize that there is a choice to be made. An unbeliever, a sinful person who never believes in his or heart, could never come to such a conclusion. When you’re not in Christ, you don’t realize the spiritual battle going on with the flesh and the spirit, nor do you realize just how much you’re giving in to the flesh. Temptation is more real to the child of God than some of us believe.

The person of 1 Timothy 6 is a believer who is caught up in a snare by the love of money; the love of money leads him or her to “stray concerning the faith.” One must be in the faith to stray from it. You can’t stray from the right road if you were never on it; similarly, you can’t stray from salvation if you were never saved to begin with.


There is so much more that could be examined on this interpretation matter, but time will not allow us to cover it all.

We’ve done our best to look at Matthew 7:21-23 and how Christians have misused the passage to claim that everyone who once believed and doesn’t now was “never saved.” The claim itself is faulty because it overgeneralizes every situation. The “never knew you” of Matthew 7:21-23 is different from the “one believed and endured, now departed” statements of Scripture. Matthew 7 is really a unique case in Scripture, no less real, but still unique. Sure, there are those who will lay claim to the things they’ve “done” for Jesus, but without having done His will in their lives, no amount of marvelous works will help the unbeliever bypass the divine justice.

Scripture tells us to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and we need to take this verse even more seriously in the days and years to come. We’ve not done a good job of rightly dividing the Word of Truth. We’ve not done a good job of seeing Matthew 7:21-23 in light of other passages of Scripture; we’ve not understood that some in the end were never saved but some were rocky soil/stony ground believers who believed/endured for a time, then fell away due to temptation. The end for both groups is the same, but the exact circumstances are different. We’re so willing to brush both groups with a broad stroke and leave it at that, but such an action shows that the Church of Jesus Christ (Christians everywhere) is not too adept at making distinctions. Distinctions are important. If we can’t make distinctions between unbelievers and apostates, how will we ever rightly divide the Word of Truth for the next billion believers?


50 Responses to ““Never Saved”: How Christians misuse Matthew 7:21-23”

Read below or add a comment...

Newer comments are at the top.

  1. Thank you very much. I’ve been suspicious of Calvinism, and now I see why. We must preserve, keep the faith alive until the end. “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” I’ve not been able to obey Him 100%, and so rest on 1 John 1:9; and on His grace for me. When covid is gone, I want to bring the Truth to ppl again, this time with more clarity.

  2. Here is my question, is the author saying that once I believe and then turn back into sinful ways I cannot come back? If that is the case then the prodigal son is lost forever as well. Can someone help clear this up for me? I feel if a person truly desires to repent when the laws of God has finally pierced his heart and he realizes the mistakes he’s made God will take him back.

  3. Like Lauren said, there’s a lot of misinterpretations here.

    Article: “Jesus is talking about those He “never knew,” which means that these individuals “never” did anything to show *the world* they were saved ”

    Why would a Christian need to validate themselves to *the world* in any capacity of salvation? Jesus is the judger of hearts, the only Way through whom we can hope to reach the Father.

    Your salvation isn’t determined on your relationship with the world. It’s your relationship with God that determines your eternity. Good thing, too, because the world hates God…

    Article: “How can someone prophesy and cast out demons if they weren’t of God? ”

    Jeremiah 5:31 mentions that there were false prophets.

    These are people who are “prophesying”, but that doesn’t mean that what they say will happen. That doesn’t mean their words are true. False prophecies. It’s just like with dead faith in James 2:18. A person can have faith in literally anything at all. People have faith in Buddah, etc. These are not saving faiths because none of them follow the Bible — none of them look to Jesus as the sole savior of our souls, the Truth. — or there is something that seems right, but is slightly off. A white lie is still a lie. Dead faith is still faith, but it doesn’t save because the gods that they look to are beyond dead — they are powerless and nonexistent.

    There’s an underlying current that, if we aren’t careful, implies that someone’s works aren’t good enough to get them to heaven (no one’s are; it’s faith that saves). Or that you don’t need works, just grace and faith. Or that God isn’t almighty enough to forgive your sins after giving you the very faith you use to walk in His light with. (Romans 12:4-8~)

    The works — the amount, the perceived difficulty, the length of time it takes to complete the works; all of it — is where the grace comes in again.

    The thing about works is that they were prepared in advanced by God. Those who belong to God are going to walk in these works, because He knew foreknew it, as well. Whatever we are called to do, it has been tailor made by God with our individuality in mind. God didn’t have someone else complete Jonah’s work. He persistently pursued Jonah.

    Different translations will have “works” or “deeds” or “actions,” and can give it a different connotation.

    These works, while they have fruits that are very visible to those who are in Christ, are not to be judged by us. (A slipery slope of pride, since God made these works.) Big or small, one or a great multitude, a person who is saved will have works — actions, fruits — that reveal who they belong to.

    Ultimately, our primary concern should be what *God* thinks of us. Not man. Not man’s perception of our works. Not even other believers.

    In fact, because of how much grace and mercy God shows to backsliding Christians, repeatedly, we should with full confidence draw nearer to Him, knowing that if we “fail” these works (a false perception that we can fall into, if we don’t constantly look to God), something good will come from it anyway, if “nothing” more than our own faith being strengthened.

    Romans 8:1-2: “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

    With God in our hearts first, everything else will fall into place. I would argue that one of the “works” every saved person completes is to simply surrender their sin to God.

  4. I think you have a great deal of inconsistencies in scripture that you need to first off realize, and then address. You sound theologically educated, therefore I won’t go into too much detail- but if one is born of incorruptible seed, how can he be lost? If he has passed from death unto life, does he die again? IF Jesus states that ye believe and surely have eternal life, and then lose it, doesn’t that mean you didn’t really have eternal life? Or only temporarily have eternal life? Likewise, if salvation is by grace through faith and not of works- how can you lose your salvation through works? lack of works? A true lack of works is the result of a dead faith, for true faith produces works. You cannot be saved and then lost, it is highly unscriptural. The ones spoken about who fall away, fall from a profession. They have an evil heart of unbelief. One that has never came to true HEART faith. Profess with mouth, but deny in works. Not converted, not born again. Not saved, no eternal life. period. Re-evaluate the things you post online, this is error.

  5. John 2:23-25
    Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for HE KNEW WHAT WAS IN MAN.

  6. What if I constantly struggle with trusting christ thinking about when I think of him I should have constant joy knowing my sins are all forgiven .. that he is my righteousness.. how do I stop this endless battle of struggling with doubt over what christ has done for me .. I feel like I am doomed ,and will never trust him enough, or have enough faith in him to be saved ? Can anyone have a assurance then?

    • Rose Sherry
      Doubts from time to time arise in every believer- but it is not in what Christ has done but in our realization that we are so unworthy of Him. And we are. But we are saved by His grace(THE UNMERITED LOVE OF GOD)
      It has been given to us as a gift, to be accepted with the utmost gratitude and love in return to Him and to others. Tho it may be incomprehensible it is to be accepted. Those who don’t have rejected His grace love and salvation. Pray dear one and ask the Lord Jesus to give you the faith that you need to do that……….HE WILL. God bless

    • I feel the same way. You’re not alone. I also struggle with this but I pray to God to give me strength and peace in my heart and to remove any doubt, fear and unbelief that I have within me.

    • You are saved by the gospel!
      Read first Corinthians 15:1-7..
      The author did not read the scripture carefully,
      Jesus said Matthew 7:21 “unless he does the will of my father “ what is the will of the father?
      You can know it by reading John 6:40
      Once you believe on Jesus you are sealed with the Holy Spirit Ephesians 1:13 once saved always saved. You can rest in the Lord and know! I write these things so you may know you have salvation.etc. We are saved by grace through faith it’s not of works!

  7. I enjoyed the reading very much. I read the comments and there were some who said that you were wrong about there being an apostasy in the Church. In other words they were saying that once you were saved, somehow GOD takes away your freedom of choice and HE condemns you to go to heaven, no matter what you do. That is not what Y’shua said. HE left you a way to opt out of the Kingdom of GOD, if you so choose. Clearly the scriptures you quoted were pointing this out. Any time you think that I can do whatever I want to, and no matter what it is, I go to heaven, you have left yourself wide open to be condemned to listen to lying spirits and be damned, and yes there is scripture for that as well. You pretty well covered this false teaching. The notion that once you are saved, you are always saved is one of the greatest false teachings of today that causes people to fall.

  8. Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Is our thinking heard by God? Intimate knowledge between our Father in heaven and His children, our brothers and sisters, is a two way street. Whose thinking is not a 24 hour daily prayer?

  9. A really thought provoking article but I have this nagging question bouncing around in my head. Why would unbelievers waste there time doing things for Christ and pretending to belong to him? It would seem to me if some one puts that much effort in to doing such amazing thinks for Jesus they will likely being bring people to Christ which is what we are called to do. That would mean they are being obedient and “bearing fruit”. So then Christ would have known them.
    I,m just trying to get my head around this because as a follower of Jesus Christ this is a most crucial and important conversation that the church must have to direct people to the right road that leads to eternal life.

    • The disciples were called to preach by jesus. That testimony of his word was then spread as the gospel.
      I don’t know any verses that say god expects us to preach. And that by doing that you are gaining something for god and therefore he must have known you.

      God uses all things to gain his purpose. Good, bad, truth, lies, sin, righteousness, the devil, the angels, goody goodies, religion etc etc etc.

      You may be basing your question on an a wanting to do good. Which is exactly why some people go to church, read the Bible, not sin, and tell people about God. Like the author says in this article.
      That doesn’t make them a saved believer. God doesn’t tell a goody goody religious, but unsaved person to preach. But he will use that situation to save someone. His word is active.
      He doesn’t tell the devil to create false religions either, but through that some would get saved too. Does that mean he owes the devil something? No, of course not.

    • Hi Murray, truly a thought provoking article. Your concern about the effort people put out to do so much good and that Christ must have known them really makes me think. In my reflections one text that has come to my mind is 2 Corinthians 11…..the entire chapter is worth reading but verses 13 and 14 I would like to highlight. I think one of the very fundamental truths we sometimes forget (and I almost forgot when reading this article) is that the devil and his workers are quite capable of performing miracles also.

      What might seem to be an effort to do good could turn out to be an enormous amount of effort to deceive just to have our own way or to allow the devil to have his way. I think this is another dimension to Matthew 7 that should be included in the discussion…..that even the devil masquerades as an angel of light…..Matt 7 does speak of false prophets earlier in the chapter so it seems to me there is clearly an outright attempt to deceive…..hence, the words of our Lord, “I never knew you”……that’s a thought I wanted to share. I hope it helped in some way.

      I should also say thank you to Deidre for a very stimulating article……Blessings upon you!

  10. This is an exceptionally well done work. The effort is phenomenal. Thanks for putting out a great amount of food for thought (which I will be chewing on awhile, as critical as this subject is.

    I do have an area or two as I was reading that struck me as possibly incorrect–depending of course on if I’m understanding what you’re trying to convey properly.

    For instance, you cited: “The end will certainly surprise us because there will be tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards, murderers, adulterers, thieves, swindlers, and even LGBT persons who will end up in the kingdom of God.”

    –This is difficult for me at least off-hand; the Word itself says in 1 Cor 6:9-11 the exact opposite: that those who practice such things will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.

    hope you can clear this up

    • The author already did clear it up in my opinion.

      Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom. You are right.

      Repent of your sins… and you will be saved… you are forgiven… etc. and “the saints will inherit the kingdom”. These are also right.

      It’s about holding onto that practice, or repenting of it.

      Present tense says the ones who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom. The ones who repent will. Read the verse you quoted carefully, and you should see the error.

      It says in the new heaven and new earth god will say to us “this is the way, walk in it”. We are just the faithful ones to him who will say “yes Lord”. And therefore we will walk in his righteousness, not our own. That is why he calls faith righteousness.

      The ones who currently “practice” and will not repent, and will not listen to god telling them to repent now cannot receive the kingdom.

      Remember, to repent does not mean to be sinless. It means to turn from your sins.

      • To repent means to have a consistency of life; not to have dark, ongoing, life-characterizing habits of sin.

  11. What if after 30 years thinking we were saved by a prayer but always choosing sin over God can we repent or will He not accept me anymore?

    • He will accept you. John 11:26: “and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

      • I don’t think it’s as simple as “saying a prayer a long time ago” but then never really walking with Him. I think back in that day, “believing” meant more than just some kind of very temporary acceptance of the truth–i think it meant “following” in thought and action.
        Obviously, we all grow at different rates and changes, some slower, some faster, some less, but ultimately we all should be feeling conviction when we sin and a sense of peace when we’re walking closer with Him.
        Those promptings lead you to grow in Him, even if it’s not always as sure or fast as some might think it should be.

        • To add though: I don’t think it’s ever too late. But I do believe repentance means a true change of heart. Your actions may not always follow, but they should some, especially with what’s going on inside you and your Spirit. There should be more of a desire to walk with Jesus, in His ways.
          He’s waiting for you to turn from the past and seek Him.

  12. Your article on the mise use of Matthew 7:21-23 is excellent.I have thought about this scripture and fitting it together with Matthew 24:37-39 Like in the days of Noah, and Luke 17:28-30 like in the days of Lot. It’s as Jesus says that the world in the end times would mirror what it was like in the days of Noah and Lot, so shall the second coming of Jesus Your article brings these elements of thought into a proper perspective. Thank you for your article and may God richly bless your ministry for Christ.

  13. My take from Mat. 7:21-23 is that many, many people are going to ***assume*** that they have found the small gate on the narrow path (Mat. 7:13-14), only to find out when it’s to late that somewhere along the line that they have been misled. –> Mat. 24:11, James 1:22, Luke 6:46-49, ect.

  14. I feel damned. I struggle with all kinds of sin and hate and fear. I always repeat them. I never really improve.

    • I went through periods like that as well. Don’t stop praying about it. Tell God the Father, he knows what you’re going through, but he wants you to tell him, ask him for help. Every day ask him, in Jesus name.

      • I agree with SRSP, yes Jack please don’t stop praying about it. Your own strength isn’t what you can count on, but His is. “He wants you to tell him, ask him for help”. He loves you and will answer your seeking, repentant heart. I struggle with sin, hate and fear too, and yet I press on, believing that He will abide in me as I abide in Him (seeking His face, praying and studying, repenting, never giving up, and even if I end up feeling hopeless for a time–that feeling is only the Enemy trying to kill our faith!)

    • Jack, here’s my advice: Don’t obsess over your sin. We all sin. That not meant to be an excuse, but it’s a fact. All have gone astray. We all sin thousands of times a day, not only by the things we do, but much more so by the things we fail to do.

      Instead of being distracted by our own sin, let’s take Jesus’ word for it. He has taken that upon him. It is finished. Go and help others rather than sitting at home thinking about your own sinfulness. Go out and tell others about the GOOD NEWS, that you are SAVED, and FREELY so, not by what you do, but by what JESUS has done.

      We are all sinners in the flresh. We are all made rightous by His blood, if we accept that. If we truly understand that we don’t need to change to be saved, we will be saved, and thereby changed. Never the other way around.

      The experience of His increadible love for you and I is what changes us.

      The verses of Matthew 7 cited above mention that, “he who does the will of My Father in heaven” will be saved. Obviously we all don’t do all that God commands us to do all the time. Whoever says otherwise is lying. Plain and simple. So if this verse meant we should always to all God tells us to do (sell our house would be just one of those things), we’d all be doomed.

      Thank GOD, that’s NOT what is meant here. That would be contrary to the whole Gospel. God came to save the sinners.

      What Matthew 7 refers to when it says “he who does the will of My Father in heaven” is simple, it’s as clear as the light of day in John 6:40: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

      God bless you. Don’t believe the hypo-grace message. It’s not the Gospel.

    • We are told to repent of our sins, not to stop sinning. We will all sin till the day we die. To repent of sin means to turn away from the sins we have made, leave them behind you and accept christ paid for them.
      If you do something wrong again, recognise it, ask for forgiveness, and rest in the fact that you are forgiven. Just repeat this till the day you die.
      “And they overcame by the blood of the lamb and the testimony of his word” means you accept the blood of the lamb for your sins, and you believe his word when he says to ask for forgiveness and you’ll be forgiven.
      Tryin to improve our sinning statistics and become perfect is a waste of effort. It won’t save you.

    • Be full of The Spirit and put the flesh to death. It’s possible. Paul isnt lying. I’ve struggled, like you, for years. To the point that I wrestled with thinking I didn’t have The Spirit and thus was not saved. But The Spirit is and you must have a relationship. The Spirit comes alive in you when you choose the cooperate with it. If you grieve the Spirit you will quench it. I urge you to take the journey of learning how to live in a relationship with the Spirit and watch it come alive in you and it will put the flesh to death. You cannot kill the flesh in your own power. But you can make choices that delight the Spirit and you can enjoy being drunk by the Spirit. So wonderful.

    • Jack, many of us have been there. I so relate to your comment. God takes His own way with each of us. When I wanted God to change “C” in me, He first dealt with “A”, and “B”, and finally “C”. But He was growing me consistently.
      Are you stronger in Christ than you were a year ago? Get with other believers. Ask God to deliver you, no matter what it takes. God will not be harsher than necessary. Remember that “weeping may endure for a night, but Joy cometh in the morning”.

  15. Once God does something it can never be undone; God does the saving, not man, nor can man make himself no longer a child of God once “born again”.

    • I disagree.
      You choose to believe, and can choose to not believe.
      That is why god says in revelation… to him who overcomes.

      God arranged things in my life that tested me for almost 40 years. One day I realised, I can unbelieve if I want to. God gives us free will. Its my choice to overcome, or not to.

      • Chris – you and this author end up with the same problem that Calvinists do: no ability to do anything freely out of love. Everything you do is to some degree attached to your desire to ensure you are saved…or still saved. Only if we KNOW we are saved forever are we free – we only KNOW we are saved if we believe Jesus is the Christ (which is the will of the Father). Notice God didn’t say “I don’t know you anymore”; He said “I NEVER knew you”. Big Picture – If modern Arminianism or Calvinism were true the gospel would be potentially good news that would bring hope that might bring joy eventually; not good news that brings joy now.

        • Eric, I embrace the belief that we can choose to believe or to unbelieve. IMy Armenianism has not caused the least bit of insecurity in salvation, or caused me to have a ‘works’ righteousness. I simply know Him. My Armenianism does not imply that His grace is based on whether I have been “good” or “bad” that day. The relationship is consistent, regardless. If I consistently maintained distance from God because of sin, I would then question my state of salvation.

        • Eric,

          It has become my hard earned experience that it actually works this way.

          1. God arranges someone to hear his word.
          2. The spirit then convicts that person.
          3. The person then chooses to believe or not to believe.

          But you are saying it ends there. You are now saved forever.
          But in reality it never ends there, as you are saying it does.
          Because as life goes on, day after day.

          4. The person will be tested, to uncover their character.
          5. They will choose again, and again, and again, until the day they die. To believe, or to not believe.

          God is creating a kingdom. One where there is no evil in it.
          First the angels were tested, & are still being tested. They are choosing their path.

          Then us. He is now giving each person constant choices to see which way they will choose. Which path they will take.

          What you did in your life will be decided at the end. Not half way through.

          2 tim 2:11-13 clearly says:

          Here is a trustworthy saying:

          If we died with him,
          we will also live with him;
          12 if we endure,
          we will also reign with him.
          If we disown him,
          he will also disown us;
          13 if we are faithless,
          he remains faithful,
          for he cannot disown himself.

          Don’t skip over verse 12.

          That is why it says that blasphemy of the spirit is the only sin that cannot be forgiven, and is an eternal sin.

          Because the spirit has spoken, or moved a person towards believing in salvation, but the person degrades the spirits leading to that of nothing.

          Blasphemy is thinking you are equal to God, or conversely lowering god to equal you & our silly human thinking.
          Counting the Spirit’s move in you, or prompting as nothing is blasphemy of the holy spirit.

          Every single person on the planet has been given the spirits direction at some point. It may happen when they see a beautiful sunset, or see their childs birth, or they cry out to god in frustration of life.

          It says in Romans 1:19 “In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart.”

          Therefore people are born with that knowledge already in their heart. So they must blaspheme (lower) the holy spirit, and lie against that inner knowledge in order to make a choice to choose to not believe.

          Your understanding sounds to mean that, once i believe, therefore i am saved & that can never be undone.

          Does that meanthat once i am saved i can go & murder thousands of people? & go and cause trouble for everyone on the planet?

          After all i am saved, & cannot be unsaved according to your theory.

          The truth is No, because the spirit prompts you to believe. It also prompts you keep believing. It prompts you to remain in him. It prompts you to not do evil, to know what is good. It prompts you to not turn away. etc etc etc.

          It constantly prompts you, leads you, arranges situations for you.

          But you can stop that if you choose & disown him anywhere along the way. He will then disown you, as 2 tim 2:12 says.

          Why? Because you have blasphemed the holy spirit.

          You have committed an eternal sin. And unless you repent of your sin, you cannot be saved.

          You must believe in God.
          You must also do his will ( what the Spirit of God is prompting you to do).

          Only doing one of the above is not enough. You must do both to be saved.

      • Why would you want to stop believing?

  16. “They did works consistent with someone who has the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in their lives. And yet, despite all their spiritual giftedness, and the work of the Spirit in prophecy, demon possession, and other works, these individuals were never saved.”

    How could a person who never believed in God (Jesus) have been able to cast out demons, prophesy, and perform miracles in Jesus name? Compare the scenario in Matthew 7:21-23 and Hebrews 6:4-7

    • There are the laws of god. These laws are what the universe operates on. Think gravity, physics, faith, ask, believe, receive etc

      Now think of the two verses that say “whosoever says to this mountain be taken up and cast into the sea… it shall be done for him. Then the next verse says ” therefore, I say to you, when you pray, believe you have received it and you will have it.

      In the first verse jesus is letting us in on a secret of the universe. One of God’s laws. In the second verse he is telling us that prayer follows that law.

      Books like “the secret” are based on this first verse also, from the writings of Wallace wattles. That’s how they teach you to tap into that law of faith – ask, believe and receive.

      Why do you think jesus says to forgive your enemies? It’s not so you can become a perfect person. It’s so you wont be judged and you can live free from that burden, by following the law of forgiveness, so that your joy may be full, and your burden may be light.
      You must forgive to be forgiven. Another law of god.

      The laws exist for believers and unbelievers alike. And can be used by both.

      The antichrist causes fire to come down from heaven in revelation, and He is a man. He uses laws of god to operate with the devil to create a miracle.
      Could he not cast out one of his own demons the same way? Or prophesy etc, or whisper in men’s ear to do the same? It happens all the time. People are constantly being used by the devil in the very same manner.

      • Jesus said Satan cannot cast out Satan. A house divided cannot stand. I completely do not understand how anyone can deliver demons unless they believed and operated in the power of Christ. Can anyone help me with further revelation on this?

        • In matthew 7 : 22 it says “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

          Your making a few errors.

          First, Satan is not the one casting out. A man is.

          Second, you quoted the verse incorrectly. It never says “satan cannot cast out satan”. It says “if satan casts out satan”.

          Third, you and I are unclear on what a demon can choose to do and not do. If someone casts them out in the name of jesus can they not choose to do that if it seems to further their motives?

          John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

          Someone who believes, but practices lawlessness will not be saved. “I never knew you” will be said to them.

          They may believe in jesus, call on him, cast out demons in his name and perform miracles. They do believe. And those things actually happen.
          What they dont do is “obey” him. Because of that they are not saved. Do you see the difference?

        • I believe out of mercy for the person being ministered to God will sometimes honor a miracle/deliverance done in Jesus’ Name, even if the vessel used is not in Christ. For example, Balaam. Balaam was by all appearances not saved, although he was a prophet of the Lord who delivered accurate prophecies. Balaam certainly seemed to have some sort of relationship with God, and even prayed he would die the death of the righteous. Which is interesting when you realize he prayed this, turned around, and taught Israel’s enemies how to tempt Israel to sin for a cash reward. So he heard from God, had a ministry, had a relationship with God, yet he wanted both the riches of the world and righteousness. Needless to say, he did not die a righteous death and judging from 2 Peter 2, did not go to heaven.

          It is a sobering thought that you must look to the cross for assurance of salvation.

        • “Many will say”….That’s what they will say to Jesus on that day. How do we know if what they said even occurred? Jesus just quoted what they will say.

      • So have you forgiven everyone? How do you know that you have truly forgiven someone.

  17. To have faith ( the political correct word for hope) of text written by man over, and over. And idea to make things work. God is an idea, those of us who never had faith to begin are judged on the bias of human text. To suffer to be saved? To war to be saved? To be mortal to be saved? The blindly accept in order to be saved we have to suffer and accept it as common? We will stop and never exists once death happens. After all we never existed before birth? Do you remember being something before being born? Of course not. We are a mystery of existence in the universe. God is an idea to help the clueless cope and the fools to war. Case in point: “I would rather “believe” and found out their nothing and have nothing to worry about than to not believe and found out there was”. How a convenient excuse.

    • Neo, you can choose to believe, or choose not to believe.

      But belief is nothing without action.

      If God is real. Ask him to show you and he will answer you. But if you won’t then you will never prove he doesn’t exist either. But by asking you will.

      A choice each person must make. Not to believe, but to ask.

      I don’t believe France exists. But I can argue all year with someone who says they’ve been there when I haven’t.

      I have asked God. And now believe in God.

      You haven’t. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. It just means you haven’t tried it. It’s your choice.
      But please don’t hate others for trying what you aren’t willing to. After all, they may know more than you!

  18. You write: ” So when Jesus says “I never knew you,” He is saying to the masquerading Christians, “I don’t know you, neither at this time nor ever. I have never known you.”

    Consider: when Jesus walked the earth and spoke to people, Christianity rsp. Christians did not exist yet. He was speaking to Jews.

    This puts quite a different light on the texts.

    By divine power, one might be able to cast out demons, but not obeying God and seeing in Jesus the Son of God, all is void.
    The 10 virgins all had deeds (the lamps) but only 5 had what it needs to bring light into the world – the knowledge of who Jesus is.

    Like Paul says: “Without love I am nothing.”

    Jesus is saying to the Jews: “If you do not recognize and know Me as who I am, I will not know you.” Recognizing Jesus as the only path to salvation and the only one who gives our lives and actions a meaning and purpose.

    • No. I don’t think so. According to Jewish people, Jesus was born, lived, and died a Jew. Then many,many,many years later the new testament was written. Then many versions of this story telling was documented but now there are how many versions? How many branches of Chritianity are there?

      • There are many branches but the majority are branches based off different styles of worship, methodology, or tradition.

        And even then, I believe it’s BEST that the church is in branches. God split humanity into nations to preserve humanity. Israel being split into 12 tribes helped preserve Israel. Christianity being split has been a plus, because no one denomination has total control. If the Methodist church leadership becomes corrupted and alters the gospel, the gospel is not lost because they have no control over the other 36,000 denominations. Since the gospel is the same for the vast majority of these denominations I don’t see the issue.

  19. When Nicodemus talked with Jesus he understood that to be born-again was better than been born of the flesh so can we take our bodies and put them back to the egg and seed ? no can we be unborn of the flesh . !! So with the second Adam if we become born -again of the spirit and of water how can we be unborn what is the greater that born of flesh or of the spirit once born thats it you cant be undorn .the parable of the sower some will fall away it dont mean they are unborn .

  20. I just want to thank you sincerely for studying the scriptures and sharing God’s truth. We can never hear the truth enough! God bless you for caring about his sheep.

Leave A Comment...