AN EMAIL FROM A READER
by Ron Hutchison
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful WORKS? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that WORK iniquity. Blind ones it's not about what YOU will do...it's about what HE already has done......wake up in Jesus name..."
We occasionally get an email from a reader like the one reproduced above. 99% of the time nothing specific is mentioned and the person who sends the email does so without signing it. I replied to the above email like this:
Thanks for the message. I appreciate you visiting my web page.
Evidently, something you have read on my web page concerning works has prompted you to write me, but I cannot know what specifically you object to until you tell me. If there is anything on my web page that you believe teaches error please let me know. I will be glad to study what the Bible teaches about the subject of "works" with you or any other subject. Please let me know if you would be interested in such a study via email.
This email bounced back to me as "undeliverable." I'm not sure why that happened, but I do wish that folks would be willing to discuss differences rather than just making a blanket statement as if their statement were the last word on the matter. In my opinion such action shows a closed mind. The only last word we have on any subject is God's word. When He says it that closes the discussion. When human beings say it, that ought to open the subject for discussion as we compare what we say with what God says in His word. We should not be surprised at the closed mindedness of the e-mailer because the same attitude was exhibited by many people that Jesus and the apostles tried to teach. I hope that the person who sent me the email would read this article and respond with a willingness to study with me. Remember that God said through the prophet Isaiah, "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord...." (Isaiah 1:18)? Surely, one who is interested in truth and in being right with God (and in others being right with God) would be willing to "reason together" concerning the teaching of the Bible.
With all of that said, I wanted to compare what the writer of the email said with what the Bible teaches. I believe the writer of the email has a misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about works. However, I am willing to study with anyone who disagrees with me. I understand that I can be wrong. But I also understand that the Bible is never wrong and if I teach something the Bible does not teach then I know I am wrong. Please read on and see if what the e-mailer wrote is what the Bible teaches.
The writer of the email quotes from Matthew 7:22. In order to understand the verse in its immediate context we will read verses 21 through 23: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV). It is interesting that Jesus first speaks of those who say to Him, "Lord, Lord." There are many folks today who are taught to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation. But notice that Jesus points out that those who merely "call upon the name of the Lord" will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of the Father will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus then speaks of judgment day. On that day many will claim that they had done many things in the name of Jesus. They are listed: "prophesied in Your name", "cast out demons in Your name", "done many wonders in Your name." But Jesus does not save a person because he has done or claims to do these kinds of things. Notice that there is a contrast between doing the will of the Father and doing these things. Evidently these people thought that doing wonders in the name of Jesus was what would provide salvation. Jesus makes clear that doing the will of the Father is what is necessary. The works that these people did were evidently not what the Father required for salvation.
The writer of the email implies that there is nothing that a person must do to receive salvation. He says, "Blind ones its not about what YOU will do .... its about what HE has already done .... wake up in Jesus' name." Is this what the Bible teaches? There is no doubt that we are saved because of what Jesus has done. There is no argument there. Without the shed blood of Jesus we can not be saved. But does the fact that Jesus died and shed His blood for us mean that there is nothing that we human beings must do to receive the salvation He has made available? The fact that Jesus said that it is only those who DO the will of the Father who will enter the kingdom of heaven, clearly points out that people must DO something BEFORE they can enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, the very verse the email writer uses to try to prove that Jesus has done everything and there is nothing that man can do to receive salvation proves just the opposite!
There is such an aversion in the denominational world to doing something to be saved that most have gone to the extreme position that there is nothing that man must do. I wonder why the apostle Peter did not know this when he was asked by people on Pentecost Day, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). It seems to me that if Jesus has done it all and there is nothing for men to do that this would have been the perfect time for Peter to point this out. Surely, he should have replied to their question with these words: "Blind ones its not about what YOU will do... its about what HE has already done...wake up in Jesus' name." But is this the answer that the inspired apostle Peter gave to the question ask on that day? Read Peter's answer for yourself: "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...." (Acts 2:38).
Now here are some questions I would like to ask the person who wrote the email and those who may agree with him/her: Was Peter right or wrong when he told those people to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins when they ask, "men and brethren what shall we do"? In telling them to repent and be baptized for the remissions of sins, did Peter tell those people to do something or not? If so, was he telling them to do the Father's will? If it was not the Father's will, whose will was it? Is it the Father's will that we repent and be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins? If it is not, then why did the Holy Spirit inspire the apostle Peter to tell those people on Pentecost day that it was? If it is, then why don't you believe and teach it? These are questions that we all need to answer ... that we must answer if we are going to be honest with ourselves and with the Father and if we are going to have the hope of heaven. We either believe and accept what the email writer said, or what the inspired apostle Peter said. Both cannot be right because they are opposites. So we ask the question:
WHO IS RIGHT?
The Emailer? OR The Inspired apostle Peter?
There are many other passages that we could study from the Bible that show the necessity of obedience to the Father's will for salvation. But the answer that Peter gave in Acts 2:38 is enough to show the contrast between what people teach and what God teaches in His word. I would encourage you to study God's word and accept what it says rather than just accepting what you may have been taught all your life and/or the doctrines and commandments of men. "Let God be true and every man a liar!" (Romans 3:4).
It is my prayer that the person who wrote the email will open his eyes and just accept what the Bible teaches. I stand ready to study this subject in greater detail with anyone who is willing to open his/her Bible and reason together.