What About Those Who Cry “Lord, Lord?”
On four occasions, Jesus spoke about people who would cry “Lord, Lord” yet not be received into his kingdom.
Who are these people and what have they done, or not done, to find themselves on the wrong side of Christ?
First, note that Jesus is NOT talking about believers. Whenever Jesus used the phrase “Lord, lord,” he was talking about people who don’t know him:
- In Matthew 7:21 and 22, “Lord, Lord” is the plea of the self-righteous who brag about all they’ve done for the Lord only to find their works count for nothing.
- In Matthew 25:11, “Lord, Lord” is the cry of the foolish and locked out virgins.
- In Luke 6:46, “Lord, Lord” is said by those who have not built on the solid foundation.
- In Luke 13:25, “Lord, Lord” is uttered by those who refuse to enter the narrow door.
What do these Lord-Lord folk have in common?
Jesus doesn’t know them. They may claim to prophesy and cast out demons, but Jesus calls them evildoers. They may be busy “working for the Lord” but it’s all dead works because they haven’t done the one thing that matters.
They have not received from the abundance of his grace.
Instead of putting their faith in Christ, they’ve backed themselves. Instead of resting in his work, they have wearied themselves with hard labor.
And the result? Dung.
Which reminds me of something that happens whenever I travel.
When you enter New Zealand, you can expect the customs people to look at your shoes. They want to know if you have been walking in places exposed to dirt and disease.
It’s fanciful, but I like to imagine that’s how we enter the kingdom of God. At the door are two big angels checking our shoes. They want to know if we’re walking in grace or dung.
“Eww, you stink of dead works. Go stand over there with the other smelly people.”
“But I’ve done so much for Jesus.”
“Yeah, we can tell.”
That’s not what I want to hear. I’d rather hear something like this.
“Hey Gary, smell this guy.”
“Whoa, he smells just like Jesus!”
“I know, right. Mm-mmm, I could smell him all day. Look at him. He’s just dripping in the grace of God. Come right in, sir. We’re thrilled you’re here.”
I know, it’s a crazy picture. But I’d rather bear the fragrance of his life-giving grace than the stench of dead works.
“Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God… an aroma redolent with life.” (2 Cor 2:15, MSG)
Sign up to our free email list and we’ll notify you about new articles as soon they come out.
Escape to Reality exists thanks to the generous support of our readers:
Great article. Please am I permitted to share this article on our blog with credit to you? Thank you.
Sure, but please also include a link to the original article. Thanks.
Hi Paul, I was wondering, how do we as believer’s under grace put something like Psalm 119 into perspective? You have any articles on that? I couldn’t find any in the menu and I think it’s an important topic to touch on considering how much the law is referred to as a source of strength in that one chapter…
Hello Isaac, this is not Paul, but I hope I can help you . . .
David loved the Law, but he couldn’t keep it so though he said: “O what love I have for your law!” He was never able to keep the Law that he loved so deeply on the contrary this is what he did:
He lied to Ahimelech the priest and because of this lie a whole city of priests was destroyed. “O what love I have for your law!”
References: I Samuel 21:1 and 2; 22:15-19 and 22
David “made it seem as if he was off his head, hammering on the doors of the town, and letting the water from his mouth go down his chin.” (I Samuel 21:13), but this is not all, David was attacking Israel’s enemies and when the king asked him about his attacks David lied to him. “O what love I have for your law!”
References: I Samuel 21:12 and 13; 27:8 and 9
When David was supposed to go to war, he stayed in Jerusalem and saw a married woman and this led him to adultery, a murder, the death of a newborn child and David’s children paying the consequences
“Why then have you had no respect for the word of the Lord, doing what is evil in his eyes? You have put Uriah the Hittite to death with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife; you have put him to death with the sword of the children of Ammon.”
II Samuel 12:9
David failed miserably, though he had good intentions, he had good prayers and good psalms, he had NO respect for the word of the Lord and sinned over and over again. HOWEVER, he was loved by God so deeply that God had mercy on him and David could taste God’s goodness and grace:
“As David says that there is a blessing on the man to whose account God puts righteousness without works, saying, Happy are those who have forgiveness for their wrongdoing, and whose sins are covered. Happy is the man against whom no sin is recorded by the Lord.”
So I think we could all say: “O what love I have for your law!” BUT we know we can’t keep it, and it is funny when people quote David’s words to teach us to keep the Law when as we see he couldn’t keep it . . .
Let us live in God’s Grace and let’s love the one who kept the Law and gave us a brand new life, now our relationship is not with a book, but with a person . . . trying to live under the Law is trying to live an impossible life and this is called “bondage”.
I hope my words can help you !!!
Thank you Juan if you read this, that actually was VERY helpful my brother, God bless… And may the Lord continue to use you mightily also Paul in proclaiming the beautiful gospel of grace…
Thank you Isaac for your words . . . we are a family and we help one another . . . I’m happy we are on this website and we can grow in grace . . . God bless you greatly !!!
Thank you. Sure will do so.
Nice touch with the shoes
For the life of me I could’nt figure out how they were related to the post till I read it
This article smells of grace! Beautiful! Thank you 🙂
Yep, they are not saved, but they certainly believe they are.
Hmmm……. I was speculating that this was referring more to people whondon’t REALLY believe they are. I’m thinking they were “evildoers” and just shot from the hip when they needed to give an answer (as opposed to being “Christians” that mix the law and grace, never really understood grace, or just joined a denomination because their parents did).
I love your post, Paul! I have a question. I’ve struggled with the parable of “the foolish and locked out virgins.” In my mind, if they are a virgin, then they must be pure, i.e., belonging to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). Could you expand on this for me, please?
Yes please. I too have never really felt like I get that parable!
I’m not Paul and I’m sure he would do a much better job of answering, but I could point out that it seems you are stuck on the ‘virgin’ part. The story isn’t about sexual purity. Both the wise and the foolish were virgins. I hope that helps. 😊
I wouldn’t get too hung up on the virgins or the lamps and oil. The point is that they knew He was coming but some did not properly prepare. And when He came, they were not ready. The custom Jesus used for His story was one well understood by the audience, but a little lost on us. It might be easier on our minds to say: “on the day of the championship race, some drivers filled their tanks with gas and some didn’t bother to check to see if they had enough gas for the race. (we can grasp how foolish that would be) And when the race started, they were not ready.” Vs 10 gives the takeaway – Those that were ready went in with Him for the festivities and the door was shut behind them. HOW one makes sure they are ready is not so much the point of the story, but the fact that there will be those who get left out because they were foolish. The only way in is to be a part of Jesus’s party. That may seem like bad news, but the only way is also the easiest way. No skill set, reputation, money, achievement, or begging required – Just believe! The Gift is offered to all.
To not give the wrong impression, let me add: HOW to be ready is in the parable. The use of the lamp, oil, and virgin is important if you want to look deeper. The oil represents the Holy Spirit. The lamp represents our perception of truth. And virginity is used to represent those who have chosen to not partake and join themselves to the world. And as you can see in the story, having a dedication to law, or what’s right, or abstaining from bad stuff is not good enough. Also, having a perspective of truth that is good and respectable etc. is not good enough either. (Jesus joins His spirit to ours and only then is true revelation from God possible – His oil lights our lamp) The only thing that is good enough is the Holy Spirit. And He’s knocking at the door of everyone’s heart.
Hey Kim, not Paul here,
But, I don’t believe the virgins represent anyone belonging to Christ. We are the bride, also pure. During these times, the “virgins of the city” would lead the groom to the bride’s house when He had returned to get her. The bride was already prepared and made ready by the Groom’s assistant. She wouldn’t be waiting like that and certainly wouldn’t be at risk of being locked out! I can speculate on who Jesus was referencing when He talked about the virgins but it wasn’t the new creation. Especially, because He’s talking about those who have missed the coming of the Kingdom.
I hope you or someone reading can help me understand how these scriptures coincide with the gospel of grace.
On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ (Mat 7:22)
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. (Lu 11:19)
John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Lu 9:49-50)
How could they even perform miracles and cast out demons in his name if they weren’t believers?
And wasn’t Jesus talking about works here:
A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. (Mat 7:21)
You can find articles on some of those scriptures in the Archives > Scripture Index. Thanks.
Danny, Paul Ellis is a gifted writer and a great teacher, but since he obviously can’t answer all the questions his readers post, there is the archive (which is super awesome), and there is us – each other. E2R has been my go to reference and springboard for growing in Christ for a few years now. I’m on board with 99 % of Paul’s posts and I love studying and learning with the Lord. I’d like to look at your excellent questions. (1)“How do these scriptures coincide with the gospel of grace?” Well, the Gospel is that Jesus has done it all – He went into the kitchen and like a master chief, made the most incredible mouthwatering buffet you could imagine and spread it all out for us. And there is an endless supply in the kitchen, so free refills forever! The dinner bell has been rung! The announcement to COME AND GET IT is the Gospel. Blessing, healing, understanding, joy, love, satisfaction, power over this world are all on the table and available to us. That’s Grace. Mat 7:22 is saying: If I’m casting out demons by Satan, then so are your sons. But that’s not the case, just go ask them and they will settle that for you. And if it’s by the power of God, then recognize the Kingdom of God is here and your greatest longing and true need is standing right in front of you. You are standing here arguing with God… you might want to reconsider how smart that is. (2)“How could they even perform miracles and cast out demons in his name if they weren’t believers?” I think demons are not as powerful as we are led to think. They have crafted our perception to make us think we need to cower and fear them. I believe that even apart from Jesus, our “authority” as humans is greater than theirs. I don’t know about the miracles. (3) “Wasn’t Jesus talking about works here?” Sort of. He was contrasting the uselessness of works of the flesh vs fruits of the Spirit. Something the apostle Paul would later write about and expound on extensively. Hope those thoughts help Danny.
That’s always been an odd scripture to me. Obviously these people had gifts of the spirit, if they could cast out demons, prophecy, heal, etc. I still have trouble reconciling that someone can receive a gift of the spirit and yet not actually be saved. I’m going to rule out losing their salvation(Paul would say you can’t anyway), as God said you “never knew me”. I would focus less upon the fact that they could have these gifts, and more on what that meant. Just because someone operates in the Spirit and seems to do great things for God, doesn’t mean they are of God. Most importantly keep that in mind for yourself(less for judging others). Make sure you have that relationship rather than works. Then focus on the fruit more than the gifts of the spirit.
In the KJV the people claim that they cast out devils, prophesied in God’s name and did many wonderful works. There are those in spirit based religions that have the appearance of being able to cast out demons. Prophesy does not always mean to foretell future events. Sometimes it just means to speak under divine influence. If you are not of Jesus I would think it would be easy to fool yourself as to the source of the message you were hearing. Even atheists can do many wonderful works, good deeds, charity etc. The people in Matt. 7 did not need to have the true gifts of the Spirit in order to do what they claimed. The key part of the passage is Jesus never knowing you. In order to receive His Spirit He has to know you so something else was at work in their lives.
Nice article.What are you proposing will happen to those that have dung on their shoes? thanks.
Jesus said they don’t enter the kingdom of God (Matt 7:21).
I like the picture you paint here Paul. The aroma of Christ versus the dung of “good works”. Thank you.
Mmmmmm life. 🙂
This article doesn’t say enough. Faith without works is dead. That’s also in the Bible. Once someone is wonderfully saved by God’s GRACE alone, (not of works lest any man should boast), then what? Too many people use grace as a free ticket to sit on their new found salvation and coast through life, not caring if those around them hear the gospel, not proclaiming the gospel or working for the kingdom of God. Works are NOT for salvation, which is freely given. But works motivated by a genuine love for God as an offering of love to Him and others needs to be mentioned. Works don’t get us there or give us importance. Works help others find God. The fruit of these works will be our rewards in heaven.
Just curious – what sort of rewards are you expecting to get?
@ Janet. whatever good-works are done must flow naturally by the energy of the Spirit. folks need to have time for Grace to produce fruit in their lives. we are fruit bearers, not fruit producers. some fruit will take longer for some than others and should not be rushed. that’s what’s wrong with the church now, as soon as someone walks through the church doors they try to put them to work without first finding out where they are at, what they need to know and helping them grow. they need to be discipled first. this will rid the church of trying to fit square pegs into a round holes.
Janet, you ask a good question: “Once someone is wonderfully saved by God’s Grace alone, then what?” The answer, as I’m sure you are acquainted with, is to CONTINUE to live and walk in God’s Grace ALONE. It’s hard for us to grasp this, but when we do, the lights come on and we see so clearly… that the same way we did not work to get saved, we do not work to live saved. King Grace is the supply for both. We can work for God if we must, and people will think we are awesome. But lost or saved, works of the flesh are still works of the flesh. And the great awesomeness that people pat us on the back for, the Lord sees as dung. This is what the apostle Paul learned and wrote to help us see. It may be hard to believe, but God is not interested in our offerings (they are smelly). He is interested in us receiving from His offering. Christ, who indwells us, wants to live HIS life through us. Our works, well intended and motivated by love, as you say, actually get in the way of the will of God that the Holy Spirit wants to do through us. The discipleship that Felicia is talking about will not produce lazy, do nothing Christians. It will teach us how to draw from the well of Christ’s spirit into our spirit and we will be transformed into conduits of God’s love. Getting a lot done, all while in a state of rest. Janet, drop your defenses. Read the post again. It’s all there in the scriptures. The Lord doesn’t need our help. It’s us who need His help. He will reach the lost through us. We don’t need to reach the lost for Him. God bless you.
Thank you for writing that! Wonderfully explained! Such a great explanation of what finally brought the Christian walk to LIFE for me… where I finally experienced the peace and joy I had only read about in the Bible before that… where striving ceased, and I let him be Savior
(for Jesus paid it all)!
Fantastic, PE! We are blessed in Christ in you!
Mr Dan and Mrs Sherry Camp from the frozen redolent cornfields of Indy!
Great article. People through tradition get so confused because they don’t rightly divide the Word. They don’t read it in context. These passages clearly reference those who try spirituality on their own. They are trying to be their own savior. One thing I find of interest in Matthew 7 is they said they did great works. They said they did miracles. I note Jesus didn’t agree with them. He never confirmed or denied they did anything for him. He just said I never knew you. Tradition teaches that if people who work miracles aren’t secure how can you be? Jesus words dispel any lie or myth of tradition. He said I never knew you. Not I once knew you and now I don’t. These passages actually confirm our eternal security in Christ.
Beautiful picture fills my heart with love and joy
Of all your posts, this might be my favorite. The picture of angels giving us the “sniff test” really brought this to life.
my thoughts go to why are they even engaged in “trying” to do what they consider KINGdom work. “No one can say JesUS is Lord” except by Holy Spirit If they are referring to JesUS as Lord are they not simply disobedient to his leading and are not able to enter His rest of intimacy and love.
Thank you for another great grace post. Back to staring at the stars…
With the utmost of respect: It is at least very interesting – the comments here are all over the map, regards the point of, “but Lord Lord…”. The person declaring these words is sounding totally secure & sincere; their being known & knowing the Master – before making the personal defence.
Might the statement by the Master (I never knew you) be salted with fore-knowledge – that people all over the world – in so many 1000’s of Christian sects within what is known as “Christianity”, they are relying on a default of presumption by association? (i.e) I am a Christian because I was born into it.
Churchianity has produced millions of cultural-Christians.
True Followers of The Way [today] – of Yahsuah (Messiah)__ Are they Christians at all? Christianity – Is it not a construct of the traditions of men holding which greater sway in the lives of people… much similar as was the religion of the Pharisees to control the people in the Master’s day? When he scolded those same leaders for employing 100’s of oral written rules on the people – keeping them away from him?
The Master is not partial to the rules men make inside of the various religions. Subsequently__ “I never knew you”… back then, let alone now.
Ha! Chruchianity, that’s a good one. Certainly, much of today’s lifeless, religious activity in church is like that of the Pharisees in Jesus day. The point is clear that those who CRY OUT, “Lord, Lord” are those who said no to the Holy Spirit’s pull on their heart and yes to their abilities in the flesh. We’ve all experienced somewhere in life a time when we found out we were wrong about something when we really, really, really thought we were right. Jesus wants us to see that great pastors, authors, missionaries, charity workers etc that we look up to will not be received into His kingdom based on any of their works. Someone who has never lifted a finger in “service” to the lord will be received into His kingdom if they have received the gift of Life FROM His kingdom. And someone who’s done great impressive works all their life will not be received into His kingdom if they have rejected the gift of Life. Works that impress in this kingdom stink like poo when we try to offer them in His kingdom. Indeed, the gate keepers will be looking for the smell and glow of Jesus Christ and nothing else.
jason b – It is remarkable; the One Only True Yahuah (Elohim) – at no time gave indication that those of the Way should go on to choose to follow men. Yet, the desire to protect wealth & reach of power by a few pagans – spawn the formation of religion[s] – similar to the choice of Simon the Sorcerer [asking the Apostle, may I buy the gift of healing] – Christianity began to take root. How many claiming Christian today, send their children to be educated by Caesar – then, as the children return – are shocked to see they are Romans?
Thank you so much for all you do in the fight for freedom. I was listening to a prominent US teacher saying; 1.) since Mt 24:12 uses agape instead of phileo then Jesus was talking about true sons who would fall away, and 2.) since Mt 7:22 says the works were done “in Jesus’ name” it was also true sons who were now not known by the Lord.
This doesn’t agree with the Spirit in me but I wondered what your thoughts are.
God’s blessing on you,
That’s drawing a long bow. If one were to draw such a conclusion on the basis of a single word, one might wonder why Jesus said people (polos) instead of sons (huios).
I am always struck by the fact that Jesus said “I never knew you” not “you never knew me”. The word that is translated “knew” is a very intimate word. We have to be completely open with Him in order for Him to “know” us. Also, do we really think that when we stand before Him that we will be more concerned about what we have done for Him than about what He has done for us?