21 “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. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
This is by far one of the most haunting verses that I find myself reading in the Bible.
I have this scene that plays out in my mind as I read this. I’m standing there watching as someone approaches Christ… Our Savior… The One who died on the cross for us… who took the punishment for our sins. As this person approaches I hold my breath… I can’t quite tell if it’s fear that’s making them hold their head high as they prepare to earn their way into heaven with their list of good works or pride that allows them to confidently approach thinking they’re all set with all the good that they’ve done in the name of Christ. I slowly let out my breath as I hear those words….
As the silence grows heavier with each passing second this person quickly begins to explain themselves… I gave money to my church, I worked with the homeless, I supported a child oversees, I served in the nursery, I never missed a Sunday, I raised good kids, I never cheated on my spouse. The seemingly endless list is quickly interrupted…
“Depart from me”…..
Forgetting to breath, I’m instantly overwhelmed with the total and complete hopelessness on their face as they begin to realize their eternal reality.
This verse haunts me.
I instantly reflect on myself… Am I saved? Is there a possibility that I’m going to stand before God and he’s going to say he doesn’t know me? Am I going to see people I know and love be told to depart from there?
Wait a minute… Aren’t we supposed to be talking about families? Shouldn’t that be encouraging and exciting? Yes we are and yes it is. Working in the Children’s Community one thing that I love seeing more than just about anything else is families who are working hard to make Christ the center of their home. I love seeing parents who are actively leading their kids to a relationship with Christ and children who know they can go to mom and dad to ask them all about God. Working in the Children’s Community one thing I see far too often is families who are working hard to “keep up with the Jones”. I see parents who are trying to raise good moral children and children who learn everything they know about God from the one hour a week they are “at church” on Sundays.
I see a lot of moral families raising good moral children.
And then I think of this verse in Matthew.
And it terrifies me.
Whether you are single or married, with kids or without, young or old, you are part of a family. It might me your immediate family; it might your church family. Maybe your friends are more like family than your actual family or maybe it’s those you work with that you are closest to. Regardless of who you consider family, we all have one. So is your family a gospel centered family or a moral family? Are you living a gospel centered life or a moral one? Are you influencing people with the gospel or with morals? Do you know the difference?
The difference between the two is, simply put, Jesus Christ. A gospel centered family is one that is built on the gospel that is clearly given to us in scripture. God loves us and wants us to love Him (1 Timothy 2:4, 1 John 4:8). We are all sinners whose sin separates us from God (Romans 3:23). God loved us so much he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross so that our sin could be forgiven (John 3:16). And we are saved when we put our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8-9). A gospel centered home is one that is centered on Christ and what He did for us.
A moral family… Well… a moral family is a good family. You show kindness to others. You want your children to behave. You don’t break the law. You donate your time and money to good causes. You might go to church regularly. You probably even bake cookies for the new neighbors. The list is endless of things we consider good.
Can’t I be gospel centered and moral? The incredible thing about the gospel is that it does produce morals. When we accept Christ as our Savior, he gives us the Holy Spirit to help us with this. Galatians 5:21-22 talks about the fruits of the spirit. When we choose Christ those fruits; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should be seen in our lives. A gospel centered family produces a moral family. That same list of good things seen in a moral family will probably be seen in a gospel centered family. The purpose of those things though will be to bring glory to God, to honor Him, and with the hope of impacting other with the same truth in the gospel that has changed you. Unfortunately, gospel centered and moral are not interchangeable. While a gospel centered family produces a moral family, a moral family does not produce a gospel centered family.
I reminded of Matthew 7:24-27 as I think about the differences between a gospel centered and moral home.
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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.”
Both are good homes, maybe even identical. But with one key difference…
What they are built on makes all the difference. So, which home are you living in? What’s your family’s foundation? What’s your foundation? Do you have a foundation? Is Christ and His gospel your rock? Or are you depending on yourself?
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me.’ - Matthew 7:23
As haunting as this verse is to me and as much as I may begin to question my own salvation at times after reading this, I hold tight to the truth that I will never have to experience this. Why? Apart from Christ, I am nothing. Nothing I can do, no amount of good works, can fix the sin in my life. It is only because Jesus Christ gave up his life on the cross for my sins that I have any hope of an eternity in heaven with him. An eternity with Christ in heaven… it’s a gift that Christ offers to anyone willing to put their faith in him. And the moral of this story is found right there. Choose Christ. Be more than a moral family raising moral children. Be a gospel centered family. Choose Him. Accept His gospel. Know that you will never have to hear those words “depart from me” when you do this. Let him be your foundation. Let any good works you do be a reflection of Him!
Family Month, The Point Church, 2015