21 Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?” 23 Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Read the scripture above and use the questions below to meditate on today's reading.
- These are staggering words and should provide a shock to those of us who take comfort in our cultural Christianity, or who think that merely being churchgoers is enough. Even those who are active in their Christian faith – those who prophesy in Jesus’ name, or drive out demons and perform miracles in His name (see, for example, Acts 19:13-17) – are not safe. Do you find Jesus’ words unsettling? Why or why not?
- Those who enter into the kingdom of heaven are those who do the Father’s will. According to John 6:40, what is the Father’s will? What do you think it means to believe in the Son?
“For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
- Mere intellectual assent – “I believe that Jesus is God’s Son” – is not enough (see James 2:19). The New Testament idea of belief is one of trust, placing your faith in, and surrendering to. Given that understanding, do you believe in Jesus today? How does this belief undermine “being your own boss” or your attempts to “be good enough” on your own?
- Read the following commentary on this passage:
“It is true, of course, that no man enters the kingdom because of his obedience; but it is equally true that no man enters the kingdom who is not obedient. It is true that men are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ; but it is equally true that God’s grace in a man’s life inevitably results in obedience. Any other view of grace cheapens grace, and turns it into something unrecognizable. Cheap grace preaches forgiveness without repentance, church membership without rigorous church discipline, discipleship without obedience, blessing without persecution, joy without righteousness, results without obedience. In the entire history of the church, has there ever been another generation with so many nominal Christians and so few real (i.e., obedient) ones?” 
- What is your reaction to these words? Do you agree? Why or why not? How would you explain the tension between salvation being completely by God’s grace and not our efforts, and the importance of obedience?
- How do you read Jesus’ words in light of what Paul says in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”? Are Paul’s words contradictory or complementary? Explain.
- Is Jesus your Lord? What does this mean to you?
 D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World: An Exposition of Matthew 5–10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 139–140.