What did Jesus mean when he said “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”

This saying, which can be found in Matthew 7-21 comes near the end of the very well known biblical passage the sermon on the mount.  It is often used to demonstrate that there are errors and contradictions in the Bible. It is asserted by those that claim there are errors and contradictions in the Bible, that this saying contradicts, or rather is contradicted by Paul’s statement in Romans that WHOSOEVER calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

Romans 10-13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

So if everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved how can Jesus say that not everyone that calls upon him will enter the kingdom of heaven?

There are some rather subtle but also rather important details that we need to notice in order to understand what Jesus meant and to explain the apparent contradiction.

Firstly notice that Paul very clearly states whoseover shall CALL upon the NAME of the Lord shall be saved.

When we go back and look at the people that Jesus refers to he does not say that those calling on his name shall not enter the kingdom of heaven at all, these people are NOT stated as calling upon his name. In fact they are referred simply to as saying Lord Lord. 

What’s more is that Jesus says that not all who say to him Lord Lord. Jesus does not say that everyone who says Lord Lord but that not everyone who says this will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

When we go further on what we will actually see is that Jesus explains who these people are, the people who say Lord Lord but wont enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus refers to these people who say Lord Lord as appealing to their WORKS.

Matthew 7-22 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?

Jesus says MANY will say this but clearly not all. It is these people who will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. These people are not calling upon his name but “calling upon” their own works. They are boasting in their own works.  It is NOT by works through which we will be saved. We are saved by grace through faith SO that no man can boast

Ephesians 2-  8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 

Anyone boasting in their own works will have no reward for they have had it already.

Matthew 6- 1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Those relying on their works who boast to Jesus about them will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Jesus very clearly stated in verse 21 that it is the people that do the will of the father in heaven that will enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

So we must ask what is the will of the father? Well, Jesus himself answers this elsewhere. 

John 6- 40   And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The will of the father is to give everlasting life to those that believe on the son.

Doing the will of the father then would be to believe on the son, Jesus.  

It is those that are relying on Jesus, calling on him and not of their own works that will enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

Those who are relying on themselves rather than Jesus will be told  to depart from him for he never knew them, they are workers of iniquity.

Matthew 7- 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

These are very strong words that Jesus utters. Words i’m sure no Christian wants to hear.

Iniquity is the Greek word ἀνομία anomia and could be translated as lawlessness or sin. 

So those that are relying on themselves are referred to as being lawless or working sin. 

Now rather than this meaning that those who Jesus will say depart from me being people without the law and so Jesus is referring to those who are not following the law, this actually means the exact opposite. 

Lawlessness does NOT mean to be without the law it means to be WITH the law but NOT in fact keep it. 

It is actually those that are following the law that Jesus refers to as WORKING LAWLESSNESS or sin. It is actually impossible to follow the law today (see my many writings on this). There is no temple for a start. So those that are following the law rather than Jesus are those that work lawlessness as they have failed to keep the law that they are professing to keep. 

We know that those that are following the law are indebted to keep the whole law. 

Galatians 5-3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

And we know that a  person who fails at one point of the law has failed at all points 

James 2-10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

As it is impossible to keep the law today anyone that is doing so will fail and so is working lawlessness, they are not keeping the law they profess to follow. Lawlessness is breaking the law not being without it.

As sin is disobedience to God they in fact are working sin. 

Those that have trusted in Jesus rather than the law have been freed from sin as sin is not imputed where there is no law

Romans 5-13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

So those who follow Jesus and are not under the law CANNOT sin (or rather have sin imputed as they have no law to impute it).

1 John 3-9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

This does not mean a Christian should not sin but they CANNOT seeing there is no law of imputing sin. 

John later tells us what the commandments of God for the new covenant believer are.

1 john 3- 23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

So we see again the command is to believe on the son Jesus NOT to follow the law. 

Those following the law and relying on their own works are not believing in the son, they are not in fact calling on his name but boasting in themselves. 

Jesus said that the works of God are to believe on him who he sent.

John 6-29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Jesus then, teaches us to trust in him, the son and what HE did for you rather than yourself for salvation and THIS is doing the will of the father, believing in the one he sent. Its all about belief in him.