"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"
Who Will Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven? (Mt 7:21-23)
1. Most people believe they will go to heaven when they die…
a. Their hope is fostered by the comforting words of many preachers,
priests, and rabbis
b. Their hope is based upon the idea that heaven is for all
believers, or for those whose good works outweigh the bad
2. But are such hopes well-founded?
a. Will most people go to heaven when they die?
b. Is salvation based upon good works? Is it based upon faith only?
3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus gave some ominous warnings…
a. Few, not many, would be saved – Mt 7:13-14
b. Many religious people, including some believers in Jesus, will
learn that they too will be lost! – Mt 7:21-23
4. With Mt 7:21-23 as the spring board for our study, I wish to address
the question: "Who will enter the kingdom of heaven?"
[Before considering this question, perhaps this is good opportunity to
answer another one first…]
I. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
A. THE TERM "KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"…
1. Is synonymous with the "kingdom of God" – cf. Mt 4:17 with
2. Refers to God’s kingship, or rule, from heaven
— The kingdom of heaven is focused in the Person of Jesus
Christ, and is especially manifested where He rules in the
hearts of men – Lk 17:20-21
B. IN BRIEF, THE "KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"…
1. Is spiritual in nature – Jn 18:36; Rom 14:17
2. It began when all authority (rule) was given to Jesus –
Mt 28:18; Acts 2:36; Eph 1:20-23
3. Today, it includes the Lord’s church on earth (for those who
submit to the Will of Christ are added to the kingdom) –
1 Col 1:13; Rev 1:9
4. In the future, it will involve the "new heavens and new
earth," where we will be with God and Jesus for eternity!
– Mt 13:40-43; 2 Pe 3:10-13; Rev 21:1-22:5
— The kingdom of heaven was "inaugurated" on the Day of
Pentecost, and will be "culminated" when Jesus returns to
deliver it back to God – cf. 1 Cor 15:23-28
C. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IN OUR TEXT…
1. Appears to have the future aspect of the kingdom in view
a. Note that Jesus says "in that day…" – Mt 7:22
b. An apparent reference to the day of judgment –
cf. 1 Tim 1:12; 1 Tim 1:18; 1 Tim 4:8
2. Thus Jesus is talking about who will enter the kingdom in its
a. Of which He spoke on other occasions – Mt 25:31-34
b. Of which Peter wrote in 2 Pe 1:10-11
[What a wonderful blessing, to have an abundant entrance into "the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"! But this
leads me back to our text (Mt 7:21-23), and to the main question of our
II. WHO WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
A. NOT EVERYONE WHO PROFESSES JESUS…
1. "Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the
kingdom of heaven"
2. There are some who teach that as long as one believes in
Jesus, they will be saved
a. That salvation is by "faith only"
b. Even though the only time "faith only" is found in the
Scriptures, it says: "You see then that a man is justified
by works, and not by faith only." – Ja 2:24
3. But there is such a thing as "an unsaved believer"…
a. The demons believe, but are not saved – Ja 2:19
b. There were some who believed in Jesus, but were not saved
– Jn 12:42-43
c. Jesus described a true disciple as one who not only
believes in Him, but does what He says – Jn 8:30-32
— Let no one think that just because they "believe" in Jesus,
they have a free ticket into heaven!
B. NOT EVERYONE WHO DOES MANY GOOD WORKS…
1. "Many will say to Me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we
not…" – Mt 7:22
2. Here were people who not only believed in Jesus, but believed
a. Prophesied in His name!
b. Cast out demons in His Name!
c. Done many wonders in His Name!
— I.e., they thought they had been empowered to do such
3. Such good works certainly did not earn their way to heaven
a. Indeed, salvation is by grace, not meritorious works – cf.
b. Good works had not saved Cornelius, he still needed to be
told what to do to be saved – Acts 10:1-5; Ac 11:14
4. Indeed, sometimes what we may think is a good work is without
a. Jesus condemns these as those "who practice lawlessness"
– Mt 7:23
b. Literally, those who act without authority
1) It was not that they did something condemned by Jesus
2) It was that they did things for which they had no
— We might be very religious, and do many things in the name of
Jesus, yet He might still say: "I never knew you; depart from
[Who then will be saved?]
C. ONLY THOSE WHO DO THE FATHER’S WILL…
1. As Jesus said, "…he who does the will of My Father in
heaven." – Mt 7:21
a. Here is the dividing line: those who DO the Father’s will!
b. As James would write later, it is the "doer of the work"
who is blessed in what he does – cf. Ja 1:22-25
2. Is this legalism?
a. No! Legalism is salvation by perfect law-keeping, believing
that one earns salvation by the merit of what they have
b. Salvation by grace does not preclude the necessity of
1) We simply need to recognize that our obedience does not
earn or merit salvation
2) When all is said and done, we are still unworthy! –
cf. Lk 17:10
3. The Father’s will, while it offers salvation by grace, does
a. Only those who obey from the heart will be delivered from
sin – Rom 6:17-18
b. Christ is the author of salvation to all who obey Him
– Heb 5:9
c. Christ will come in judgment against those who obey not the
gospel – 2 Th 1:7-9
1. Who will enter the kingdom of heaven?
a. Not those who profess to believe, but do not obey
b. Not those who think they are doing many religious things, but
c. Only those who do the Father’s will!
2. This is why we must take an earlier statement in Jesus’ sermon so
a. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…" – Mt 6:33
b. We must make the finding of God’s will and rule the number one
priority in our life!
3. What is the Father’s will? It begins with…
a. Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ – Ac 20:21
b. Confessing Jesus as Lord – Ro 10:10
c. Being baptized into Christ for the remission of sins – Ac 2:38
— Followed by a life of faithful service to Christ, confessing our
sins along the way – Re 2:10; 1 Jn 1:9
Are you doing the Father’s will?