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The Dialogue on Christianity

Chapter 6

Bryan had much more to say that he had learned from his friend Ben. He continued.

Bryan: Ben also took me to Matthew 7:21-23, which reads,

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 lawless-ness!"

That explained a lot. Here are sincere people who use the name of Jesus and do some religious things, supernatural things. But Jesus had just said in the verse before this, "by their fruits you will know them." And now He is saying that a mere profession of belief is not enough, nor are supernatural powers that can be counterfeited by Satan—a new heart must be evidenced by an obedient life.

No one will get to heaven except "he who does the will of My Father in heaven." That is another way of emphasizing the idea that a new heart that follows God is the genuine evidence of a changed man.

I used to have an orange tree at my old house. It bore some sad looking oranges those first years, but it never bore lemons. And if a person calls himself a Christian and doesn't bear the fruit of a Christian, he just isn't a Christian, no matter what he says. A changed heart loves obedience. And though the believer is certainly capable of sin and really does sin, he sins out of weakness more than through the old rebellion, apathy, or the self-righteous assumption that God is impressed with him.

Christ was saying that only persons with that new heart will enter heaven. He doesn't really know the others. He knows all about them, but He doesn't know them in any intimate way—they are really law-breakers at heart. Nothing has changed in them, except that they now use religious language.

All of that realization will come as quite a surprise to these religious people in the future. I saw myself in all of that. I had been sincere, but I didn't know Christ, and I was still a law-breaker at heart myself. But in saying this I don't want you to misunderstand me—I still sin even as a true Christian, but there really is a difference. I wish I could just give you my story without that confusing part, but I've given it to you exactly as it happened. I had a false start, I guess.

Read Chapter 7
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