“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
IF WE THINK THAT OBEDIENCE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR CITIZENSHIP IN GOD’S KINGDOM, WE ARE MISTAKEN. For Jesus Christ to be our Savior, He must be our Lord. And the lordship of Christ involves more than just saying He is our Lord. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
The first hearers of the gospel two thousand years ago would have been more familiar with the word “lord” than we are. It simply meant “one who is in authority.” But used in reference to Jesus Christ it had a special meaning. In Matthew 28:18–20, He claimed that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him. He was the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
Remember that we have defined the problem of sin as the problem of rebellion against God. If that’s what our trouble is, it makes obvious sense that for our sins to be forgiven we are going to have to lay down our rebellion, come back to the rightful King, and once again submit ourselves to His rule. Wonder of all wonders, He is willing to forgive us of our treason, but His grace requires that we begin doing what we have not been doing: obey His will. He must be our Master, our Ruler . . . our Lord.
But how do we know if Jesus is our Lord? We know by taking a look at whether we’re actually obeying Him or not. Whatever we may say, He is not our Lord if we are not obeying Him.
Perhaps we could not do better than to end these thoughts with Jesus’ vivid conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24–27).
“What gets me into the kingdom, from Christ’s own statement, is not saying, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but acting ‘Lord, Lord’ ” (Jim Elliot).