Misguided Assurance of Salvation

Misguided Assurance of Salvation

Robert Wurtz II


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.

(Matthew 7:21 ESV)


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. (Matthew 7:22, 23)


Early in the Lord’s ministry, He clarified a common misconception that was sure to present itself in the months and years to come: the supernatural is not evidence of Divine approval, nor are miracles meritorious. In other words, Jesus debunked the false belief that one is right with God because they prophesy, cast out demons, or performs miracles. 


Matthew 7:21 makes it clear that the people who go to Heaven are those who do the Father’s will. I wonder why this isn’t taught and preached more urgently and frequently, given that God’s will is mentioned over fifty times in the New Testament alone. Unfortunately, some people believe their supernatural works are the definitive evidence of their right standing with God. Matthew 7:22-23 suggests that this belief is so entrenched that it deceives many to work iniquity (practice lawlessness), believing they are going to heaven. 


Identifying the Group


Who are these people? Regarding Matthew 7:22-23, we can safely eliminate millions of Christian Cessationists who believe the gifts of the Spirit and other manifestations ended after the Apostolic Age. It is not the purpose of this article to discuss Cessationism, but generally speaking, many, if not most, Reformed Christians, such as Baptists and Presbyterians, are Cessasitionist. They don’t prophesy, cast out devils, or perform wonderful works (acts of Dunamis), so they don’t fit the description of Matthew 7:22-23. 


Prophesying and casting out devils are typically modern-day Pentecostal and Charismatic (Full Gospel) practices. Their emphasis resurged with the modern-day Pentecostal Movement, though history records these things going back to the book of Acts. However, the scripture does not forbid or cast doubt on casting out demons, prophesying, or working miracles. Instead, many have assumed that those who work miracles, prophesy, or cast out demons are thereby spiritual when in fact, they might not even be saved. 


Proof of Salvation


Miracles and manifestations of the Spirit have long been used to authenticate a minister, doctrine, or belief system. Jesus redirected this emphasis, saying, “by their fruits, you will know them” (Matthew 7:16-20). He further clarified this comment saying, “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.” 


Luke 12:47-48 makes it clear that our punishment or reward on judgment day is determined by whether or not we did the Father’s will. Of course, some understand God’s will more clearly than others, but the expectation is that we should know and do His will. Obedience is paramount. No amount of casting out demons, prophesying, or miracle-working can compensate for a life of disobedience.  


The Duty of Obedience


So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10 NKJV). 


Salvation is a free gift received by grace through faith. We need salvation in the first place because our disobedience results in indebtedness. Luke 17:10 explains that even when we are obedient, we are still unprofitable servants, and we only do our duty by obeying. Therefore, God owes us nothing and can never possibly be indebted to us. 


The Greek word for duty in Luke 17:10 means to be under obligation to do something or to owe something. The parable of the 10,000 talents reminds us that man’s indebtedness to God is irretrievably great, and that forgiveness can be revoked if we refuse to forgive our fellow man. It is our duty to forgive others just as it’s our duty to honor all of our God-given obligations. We were bought with a price and belong to God as a servant to his master.  


Ongoing Disobedience 


Many people are fascinated by the sensational, which opens them up to gross deception. For example, Simon the Sorcerer used this human tendency to enslave the people of Samaria. Acts chapter 8 details how he bewitched the people from the least to the greatest until they believed he “was the great power of god.” He enjoyed this attention. 


Simon turned a profit on the enterprise. When he saw that people received the Holy Spirit by laying on hands, he wanted to buy that power. Peter discerned that the man was still in bondage to unrighteousness (Acts 8:23 NKJV). Undoubtedly he worked iniquity much like those to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from me you who practice iniquity.” He was in line (the queue) to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit, but he never turned from his unrighteousness. 




Peter exposed Simon and averted the tragedy of having such a man involved in the Church. But, unfortunately, all too often, people are sitting in churches just as duped as those deceived Samaritans who followed Simon. Worse, many will be lost on that great judgment day because they believed their own hype. They continue disobeying God and His word, believing that God is pleased with them because of their miracles and prophetic utterances. 


It seems that Jesus could shout with ten megaphones, “You will know them by their fruits!” and people would still look for the miraculous. Their mind will default back to looking for prophecies, healings, or some other supposed supernatural event to validate themselves and others despite this well-known teaching. Jesus’ words are not a possibility but a prophecy. Many people will say, “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?” It’s like the devil is in their minds switching the discernment meter off of “fruits” of the Spirit and on to “gifts” of the Spirit.


Wrong Criteria – Wrong Destination 


The individuals in Matthew 7:22-23 did not say, “Lord, Lord in thy name have we not loved our neighbor as ourselves? Have we not given to the needy and lifted up the widow and orphan? Have we not followed after love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, and faith? Have we not obeyed your word to the best of our ability? Have we not trusted in you with all our hearts?” None of these criteria were in their defense—only sensational – supernatural proofs. 


Again, obedience is paramount. Nothing can substitute for it. We can’t be a child of God without obedience (Matthew 12:50, Mark 3:35, Hebrews 2:11). The people of Matthew 7:22-23 are wholly deceived; that’s why they are stunned to hear His words, “Depart from me…” They believe God’s approval can exist while practicing iniquity. It’s impossible. It is a demonic deception, and the enemy will inspire many to damn their souls with it. 


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. (Matthew 7:22, 23)


Related Topics:

Salvation in the New Testament

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