The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Matthew 7:21 never enter heaven?

I’m interested in how people here would respond to this:

Jesus’ statement was not false. Entering the Kingdom is entering the call of God to service… Jesus was NOT talking about who does or doesn’t gets into heaven postmortem — one is saved to serve, NOT get into heaven. Entering the kingdom is about purpose (service) NOT position (heaven).

Yes, the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God is not the same as heaven, for there is said to be continual violence by men in the kingdom of heaven, e.g., “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). Has violence occurred in heaven by the actions of men from the days of John the Baptist until the “now” referred to in that verse?

Also, there is Matthew 23:13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Could scribes and Pharisees control who gets into heaven, even if they could control who gets into the kingdom of heaven?

And there is further biblical support for the notion that the kingdom involves earthly life and not heaven.

Matthew 16:28, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Mark 9:1, And Jesus was saying to them, "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."

Luke 9:27, “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”


Who are you quoting there, Origen?

Here is that verse in its larger context:

Matthew 7:19-23 (NIV)
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 MANY will say to me ON THAT DAY, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

As a futurist, I believe “that day” is yet to come. Those who are judged and rejected at that time will certainly have more opportunity to repent and surrender postmortem.

But it is most sobering to me (especially as a charismatic) that these guys quoted above seem genuinely surprised at their rejection; and that amazingly, Jesus does not deny they indeed prophesied, drove out demons, and performed MANY miracles in his name!

These guys were really into WORKS. But as “grace teacher” Joseph Prince of Singapore says,

“The Christian life is not about right doing, but about right believing!

Again, the “work” of God is to believe in Jesus:

John 6:28-29
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

First things first: believe in (and seek to truly know) Jesus, and then work.

And here is a favorite story of the priority of BELIEVING (true relationship with Jesus) over well-intentioned WORKING:

Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but few things are needed—or indeed only ONE. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Only right believing can lead to right working.

Well, here’s the take of “you know who”

Drum roll please!

Hezekiah 1:1 Only right believing can lead to right working.

…followed closely by…

Hezekiah 1:2 And only right working will allow entrance to heaven.


What you are disagreeing with me about escapes me this time, Davo.


-I don’t think you believe we are saved by works.

-I don’t think you believe that works done with sincere good intentions are always inspired by God.

Your statement that… “Only right believing can lead to right working.” — where do you draw the magical line as to how much of your right believing is required? Where did Jesus say this?

Davo, the argument I was attempting to make is that we must first be in a genuine, submissive (“not my will, but yours”) personal relation with Jesus, in order to learn to recognize and be led by his Spirit; and then as a result to do the works that God desires, when, where, and how He desires.

But that if we are not being led by the Spirit, then our works will not be of the Spirit, but of the flesh.

The surprised people in the Matthew 7:19-23 passage appear to have never come to that place of surrender and salvation (because of wrong believing), so they were subsequently not being led by the Spirit when they did their “good” works in Jesus’ name.

There is only one true gospel, the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). Apparently these surprised people in Matthew 7 had heard and accepted a different gospel, of salvation by works.

It’s from an anti-universalist on another forum.

If, as per the OP argument, they will never enter the kingdom, how would they ever have the “opportunity to repent” and what good would it do them? I don’t see how you’ve addressed the OP argument:

Are you going to lightly dismiss it & relegate Mt.7:21 to your list of Scriptures that you do not consider to be inspired or of God?

1– I am not seeing a “never” in Matthew 7:19-23. Possibly a better anti-universalist verse for your purposes, which does use “never,” would be,

"…Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:29 (NIV).

However, the literal translation of that verse does not utilize “never” or “eternal”:

“Whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit hath not [οὐ] forgiveness – to the age, but is in danger of age-during [aiōnios] judgment.’” Mark 3:29 (YLT).

2– I do believe all Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), but not dictated by God. Further, for Scripture to be rightly understood and rightly handled requires the guidance of the Holy Spirit–making the study of Scripture primarily a spiritual matter, more than an intellectual matter.

Well, That is your VIEW, please don’t present it as a ‘biblical fact’ there are other views and other ways of looking at it.

Some would say that we don’t have to be ‘ANYTHING’ that the position between God and the Christ has well dealt with any disturbance between God the Father and His creation. And that is good news! :wink:

Hermano - I think you are dead-on correct in those two quotes of yours, above. Keep the faith, brother! I don’t necessarily connect with you on every particular of your futurist thinking, but on the matter of the clear teaching of the necessity of a submissive and loving relationship with God the Father and His Son, and the filling of the Holy Spirit, yeah I’m right there.
My view, obviously. I know there are others! :slight_smile:

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As stated the word “never” was in the argument of the OP:

Mt.7:21 says ““Not everyone…will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. So how are those who will not enter this kingdom going to be saved? Can one not enter heaven & be saved?

As a general principle and in terms of conscious service to God through Christ, well that’s fair enough. Service to God however is not restricted to the framework of Christ. Anyone for example working righteousness (which ISN’T dependant on knowledge of Christ) IS acceptable to God, as per for example…

Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

But with regards to your statement that… “Only right believing can lead to right working” — ANY believer knowing full well the right can STILL choose to work the wrong. So definitely the emphasis is on your “can.

Interesting. I have been reading Acts - it’s actually a lively and somewhat exciting book, unlike the couple of commentaries on it that I’ve read.
In chapter 10, Peter arrives at Caesarea in response to a request by Cornelius. Right before this, Peter had the vision of the ‘sheet’ with unclean animals being lowered from heaven, and the Lord’s voice telling him to kill and eat the animals. We all know the story, how Peter refused because he never ate anything unclean, and the Lord telling him that whatever He declared is fit, is okay; the lesson showing that unclean Gentiles, if declared ‘clean’ by God. would be accepted into the Kingdom.
So Cornelius and his household were Gentiles, and God had spoken to Cornelius and told him to request Peter. So Peter showed up, and said the words davo quoted above Acts 10.34-35.
THEN - that is not the end of the story. As Peter preaches Christ, the Holy Spirit falls on Cornelius and his household - speaking in tongues, even.
So, they were ‘right doing’ but that was not enough! They still had not heard the gospel, and needed to hear and understand it n order to respond and find forgiveness of sins, and be baptized.
Just sayin’ - it was necessary not just to ‘work righteousness’, but to believe in the gospel and be filled with the Spirit. I have no reason to believe that the same thing is true today.

Berean Literal Bible
Not everyone saying to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of My Father in the heavens. (Mt.7:21)

According to a number of commentators the “kingdom of the heavens” (Mt.7:21) is associated with Christ’s millennial age kingdom. So exclusion from this kingdom would not necessarily mean a person will never be saved.

“The characteristic phrase is “the kingdom of the heavens”. This refers to Daniel’s prophecy, “And in the days of these kings the God of the heavens shall set up a kingdom which shall not be harmed for the eon, and the kingdom shall not be left to another people. It shall crush and terminate all these kingdoms…(Dan.2:44).”(Concordant Commentary)

Rev.5:10 and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."

Rev.20:4c And they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Exodus 19:6
And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to speak to the Israelites."

Mt.7:21 Not everyone saying to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of My Father in the heavens.
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

What is “that day” (Mt.7:22) referring to? Possibly “the kingdom of the heavens” (v.21) itself as the millennial (1000 year) age kingdom of Christ? Peter says 1000 years (a millennium) is as a “day” to God (2 Pet.3:8) & also speaks of the “day of the age” (2 Pet.3:18):

Young’s Literal Translation
2 Pet.3:18) and increase ye in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to him is the glory both now, and to the day of the age! Amen.

Well in terms of God’s “acceptance to God” such as is testified IS enough, BUT, in terms of the more excellent way (Acts 18:26) of Christ, then yeah, as you say. What you’ve brought up IS what is involved with service to God through Christ — not everybody is called to that.

Trouble that notion is… there is absolutely NO mention of a millennial age made. Verses 20 and 24 make it clear the whole context is about the works/fruit of the faithful, i.e., the wise.

It seems to me, davo, that one of several conceivable “troubles” with - any - interpretation is that “that day” (Mt.7:22) is not defined by the context:

Mt.7:21 Not everyone saying to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of My Father in the heavens.
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

How do Pretesists & Pantelists interpret “that day” (v.22)?

Universalist futurists could interpret v.21 in light of the “that day” of v.22 & claim that all the passage says is that on “that day” of Christ’s future return will those who do not do “the will of My Father” (v.21) be excluded from “the kingdom of the heavens”. So Mt.7:21-23 does not necessarily rule out anyone (e.g. those in Hades or the lake of fire) from eventually doing His will, entering the kingdom & being saved. So it is harmonious with Scriptural Universalism.