Entering the Kingdom of Heaven - Part 2 of 2

by Spiros Zodhiates

Dr. Spiros ZodhiatesVerse 18: Jesus expanded His teaching with logical inference, specifically definition. Not only is it true that good trees do not produce bad fruit, but good trees cannot produce bad fruit. This is the nature of logical necessity by definition; a fruit tree includes fruit in its definition:

"A good tree is not able [from dnamai] to make evil fruit; neither is a corrupt tree able to make good fruit." (a.t.) Jesus here taught the impossibility of cross production. People produce what they are and they cannot produce what they are not. Unless God changes persons from rotten to good trees, they cannot do anything good.

Verse 19: God limits the production of bad trees that are eventually destroyed:

"Every tree not producing good [from kals, intrinsically good] fruit is cut down and cast into the fire" a.t.).

Who cuts down the worthless tree? The farmer who is worthy of the name "farmer." He cuts it down because he has the good sense to know the difference it will make in the yield of his crops.

Verse 20: "Wherefore," Jesus concluded as He did in verse 16, "by their fruits ye shall know them."

Believers are known by the fruit of the Spirit of Christ, which can produce only good fruit, just as unbelievers are recognized by fruit that is consistent with their depraved natures and the work of the devil who leads them captive (2 Tim. 2:26). We can only judge individuals after a considerable amount of time. Consistent actions and attitudes, particularly during persecution, show one's true character (Matt. 13:20, 21). Hypocrisy always looks good in the short term.

Verse 21: The hypocrite's words and actions do not agree:

"Not every one [ps, every individual] that saith [légon, the present participle of légo, to intelligibly speak] unto me, Lord, Lord [krios {2962}], shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will [thélema, the determinate will of God viewed as a product; thus, the -ma suffix] of my Father which is in heaven."

Verbal confession of Jesus Christ as Lord is not enough. Jesus said, "This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mark 7:6; cf. Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:8, 9; Mark 7:6). A sincerity of heart must accompany these words; thus, the Apostle Paul wrote: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9, 10).

Only as we partake of Christ's "divine nature [phsis {5449}]," as described in 2 Peter 1:4, are we able to grow and produce divine fruit unto sanctification (hagiasms), which is a holy life. This is the only way we sinners by the power of God are changed and justified-that is, declared or constituted righteous and converted.

Such a person is the subject of the participle "he that doeth," meaning "continually does," the will of the Father. In an ultimate sense, only Jesus Christ our righteousness (Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30), the final object of our faith, continually (i.e., without sin) did the will of the Father.

Thélema here is equivalent to what Acts 2:23 describes as "the determinate [from horzo, to determine] counsel [boule]...of God" that delivered Christ to the cross, which was part of the broader plan of the Father who "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11 nkjv).

The choice of thélema here, then, means that the "will of God" is the determinative cause, and "doing" is the effect. "Continually doing," therefore, is a product of God's will. Jesus told His disciples to acquiesce to this determinative will of God when they prayed, "Thy will [thélema] be done" (Matt. 6:10).

Verse 22: The path to destruction is broad: "Many will say [erosi, the future tense of eréo, to say with exactness; distinct from légo, to intelligibly say; and phem, to say with assurance] to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"

This refers to the day of the final judgment following the return of Christ. The Father has delegated all judgment to His Son: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). Since "there is not even one righteous person [dkaios, righteous]" (Rom. 3:10; a.t.) except the sinless Jesus (Heb. 4:15), He alone qualifies to judge humankind. In this we can see the perfect justice of God the Father in that He Himself will not judge anyone but commits judgment to the one person of the Godhead who took our sins on Himself and suffered for humanity.

The repetitive "Lord, Lord" expresses the intense final pleas of many desperate unbelievers. The power of self-deception is seen in their tenacious claims of prophecies, exorcisms, and "wonderful works"-all in Christ's name. For the unsaved, self-deception is strong, and these people ask a question expecting a yes answer: "We did do all these wonderful works in your name, didn't we?" The unspoken follow-up question is, "How can you condemn us?"

Hypocrites cannot address Christ as "my Lord," which Thomas did (John [20:28]) in spite of his doubts, because the Lord has not possessed them personally at any time. At best, "Lord, Lord" concedes the undeniable-Christ's authority to judge.

Verse 23: Christ's response is terrifying: "And then will I confess [from homologéo from homo, together; and légo, to intelligently say] unto them, I never [oudépote not at any time'] knew [from ginosko, to know personally] you. Depart [apochorete, the present imperative of apochoréo, meaning space yourselves away from me'] from me, you that are working [ergazmenoi, the present participle of ergzomai, to work] the iniquity [from anoma, lawlessness]" (a.t.).

The present participle, "you that are working" (i.e., even to this present moment) the wicked reality, undercuts the religious profession. "I did not know you at any point in time" (see below) is the most terrifying pronouncement in the entire Bible since it slashes through the arrogant self-assurance of those who convince themselves daily that they are believers.

On that day, however, the hypocrites' deceived opinion that they are born again-lies they told themselves and others-will not count. God's opinion alone, which is objective truth, will prevail (Prov. 19:21). The Lord knows everyone, but this knowledge reflects the higher level of intimacy found in Amos 3:2, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."

In the final judgment (John 5:27-29), all humanity will stand before Christ. Sincere faith will be revealed and hypocrisy exposed. According to the Lord's words, some will face that judgment with the self-generated faith of evil spirits (James 2:19) in lieu of "the faith of God's elect" (Titus 1:1), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

In terror, hypocrites will appeal to all their works only to hear at the end that the Lord did not ever know them. The claims, therefore, are not objective; they are sayings, not doings: "Every one that saith unto me" (v. 21); "many will say to me" (v. 22); "and then will I [not say' but] profess [homologeso] unto them" (v. 23). They "say" lies; Jesus "professes" truth.

Oudépote, absolutely never, covers every point in history. These people, then, were never converted or regenerated, never personally related to Jesus Christ in their professed miracle-working. Accordingly, the Lord does not gratify them with so much as a single concession to their lives' volumes, all products of the flesh. He simply announced He never knew them, an implied, "No, you did not at any time do these things for My glory; you did them for the sake of your own legacy that ends right now."

"Iniquity" (lawlessness) is what they "are working," not prophecies, exorcisms, or other miracles. The present participle extends their lies right up to the face of the King. This is the Lord's opinion of what they did and are doing as they face Him, which means their claims are lies, self-deceptions, even now before the Judge. The definite article before "iniquity" possibly refers to mimicking "the" offense of the devil (see Matt. 13:41; 2 Thess. 2:3, 7).

Dr. Zodhiates is president emeritus of AMG International and publisher emeritus of Pulpit Helps.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad