Many people know of Jesus’ kindness and love. We read of His cradling a little child in His bosom (Matt. 17:3), touching the untouchable leper (Matt. 8:2,3) and protecting the harlot from being stoned (John 8:10), of His speaking to the shunned Samaritan woman (John 4), and His dining among publicans (Luke 5:29). We read of His unparalleled teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, turn the other cheek, bless those which curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,” etc. The world in general and the religious world in particular knows and generally admires these qualities of Jesus.
Yet, while these things present a picture of Christ that is not untrue, it is also not complete. There was and is another side to Jesus. Jesus also overthrew the moneychangers tables and scourged those who made merchandise of the house of God (Matt. 21:12,13), He condemned the Pharisees and scribes as hypocrites (Matt. 23:27), He scolded Jerusalem and said He would return in judgement (Matt. 23:34-24:2) and told people bluntly that they were in error (Matt. 22:29). Another passage we want to examine is found in Matthew 7:21-23:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say 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?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Several lessons can be learned from this passage:
First, Jesus clearly taught that not everyone will be saved. However, there are some in the religious world who do not believe this. The Universalist, for instance, believes “that all people, no matter how evil they may be, are created by God; and that God…will eventually bring all people back to Himself and into Heaven, by means which we cannot know or understand” (http://www.loveallpeople.org/universalsalvation.html). In contrast to this, Jesus unmistakably said some “shall go away into eternal damnation” (Matt. 25:41).
It is not that God is not able to save. The Bible teaches He is able to save them to the “uttermost” who come unto Him by Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:25). No, God’s arm is not shortened that it cannot save (Isaiah 59:1). It’s not that salvation is limited, either. Contrary to what some teach, God has not chosen just a few for salvation. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (I Tim. 2:4). But God never has saved all people, though He wants to do so. In Moses’ day, for instance, the majority were lost and only eight souls were saved (I Pet. 3:20). Of the millions who came out of Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb were able to visit the promised land (Deut. 1:35-38).
Second, it is clear from Jesus’ teaching that only those who obey God’s will can be saved. Obedience is absolutely essential to salvation. Paul stated that obedience must be rendered to the faith (Rom. 1:5). He said there will be tribulation on every soul that does not obey (Rom. 2:8,9). In fact, it is through disobedience that sin came into the world (Rom. 5:19). We must be doers of the word and not hearers only, says James (1:22-25). On and on the list could go. But it is clear that salvation only comes through obedience to God’s word. That is why the view of “faith only” is manifestly false (James 2:10-26).
Finally, and sadly, many are mistaken about God’s will. Jesus said many will claim that they have done many good things in His name, yet He will say “I never knew you. Depart from Me.” Cornelius is a good example of one did many good things, he believed, for God, and yet needed salvation (Acts 10:1-6; 11:14). Apollos, was another good man that needed to be taught correctly (Acts 18:24-26). I know a lot of decent people, but they sadly close their ears to the truth. Some in the Bible, like the Athenians, heard the truth but rejected it (Acts 7:32). Festus and Agrippa are two good examples, as well, of those who were almost Christians (Acts 26:24-29). It is not that God’s word cannot be understood, but that some men will not submit themselves to it.
It is true, God is love (I John 4:8,16). It is also true the He loved us so much He gave His Son to die in our stead (John 3:16). It is equally true that Jesus gave us a commandment to love one another. But there is another side to Jesus. His character demands that justice also be meted out. He will deny us if we deny Him (Matt. 10:32). It is one thing to profess to know God, it is quite another to have God know you. May we never, ever hear Christ speak to us those dreadful, terrifying words, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).
Eric L. Padgett