This well-known and sobering and yet comforting word of God reads as follows: “Not everyone 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 unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In this word of God Jesus very clearly speaks of two kinds of people, both in their heart and manifes­tation in life.

In the first place he speaks here of people, who simply are evil trees, which bring forth evil fruit. It is impossible for them to do ought but sin. Their very religiousness is sin. Even their saying: Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Thy name does not change this matter one iota. Their inward thoughts and works are evil continually. There is only evil fruit in their life.

The deepest reason? It is because they are not known of God; That is the deepest reason for their being banished from the sight of God, as God reveals Himself in the one man Christ to whom all judgment is given. Jesus will not simply say to the evildoers in that day: I do not know you. He will say: I never knew you; depart from me ye workers of iniquity.

Over against these my text clearly speaks of those who “do the will of my Father in heaven”. These are certainly the foreknown of God in sovereign elective love and grace, and efficaciously called in Christ Jesus. This is here not explicitly stated in the text, but it is implied in the contrast and it is the clear teaching of holy writ. God made them good trees in sovereign love and grace through the operation of His Holy Spirit, working faith in their hearts by the preaching of the gospel and strengthening it through the use of the Sacraments.

These are good trees which cannot bring forth evil fruit. They cannot really sin, for in their inward man they have been made alive in Christ Jesus.

Now, both of these groups say: Lord, Lord! But not all who say Lord, Lord shall enter into the King­dom of heaven. Some, however, of those who say Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

Now certainly those who are the “doers of the will of My Father in heaven” are the very people who are the poor in spirit, whose is the Kingdom of heaven. They are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and have been translated into the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

And by virtue of this translation the righteous are not workers of iniquity, but those doing the will of my Father which is in heaven.

What does this doing the will of the Father imply?

This certainly does not mean: working works of law, in order to establish a righteousness with God. It is not sanctification in order to be justified. Then grace would not be grace, and works would no long­er be works. That is the righteousness of Pharisees and scribes who never enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

What then?

Doing the will of the Father in heaven is funda­mentally, that we trust God alone in Christ, rightly learn to know Him as the only true God, love, fear and glorify Him with all our heart, with humility and patience submit to Him, so that we renounce and for­sake all creatures, rather than commit even the least thing contrary to his will. To do the will of the Fa­ther implies that I have a sincere resolution in my heart to walk in gratitude, that I ever learn to see how little I yet possess of this in my actual life, and that as much as I love the salvation of my soul I will avoid and flee all sin, and will never share in the deeds of the workers of iniquity but that I shall hate them with a perfect hatred. It means that I pray: Search me, O God, and try me, and see if there be an evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

For mark you well, Jesus is here speaking of the will of “My Father in heaven”. When Jesus thus speaks he is speaking of the will of the Triune God as this will comes before us in Jesus. Jesus here speaks as the Mediator in our flesh. He is, indeed, very God of God, yet he is at the same time also truly man. And He came to perform the will of God, that is, to deliver all whom He had received from the Fa­ther and, therefore, those whom he ever knew. He is speaking of the Lord, our God, who has principally de­livered us from Egypt out of the house of bondage. And as such we trust Him, love Him, obey Him in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

This will is expressed in the Law of Sinai. It is the same law which the law of the Spirit of life in Christ works in our hearts. It is the expression of the will of “my Father in heaven”.

And what a contrast these form with the “work­ers of iniquity”!

Are these “workers of iniquity” in any way like the stumbling saints, or like the saints in their mel­ancholy falls, or in their greatest temptations?

No, they are simply men who delight in evil. They have no delight, according to the inward man, in the law of God. They cannot rest save that they perform evil. They delight in performing iniquity, in perse­cuting God’s saints, who as much as they love their soul’s salvation, would rather forsake all creatures than commit the least thing contrary to God’s will. And standing before the face of God, they say: For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: evil will not sojourn with thee. And while the right­eous tell the Lord, their God all this, these workers of iniquity have no faithfulness in their mouth, their in­ward part is very wickedness, their throat is an open sepulcher and they flatter with their tongue. In mul­titude of transgressions they rebel against God.

They are evil trees which cannot bring forth good fruit.

They are in no sense like David even at his worst. It is not true that we can ever speak of the good that sinners do; we can never say that the wicked unbeliev­ers often put the righteous to shame. They never put the righteous to shame. Even their very religious deeds are so many shining sins. A David sins and has his bones wax old in him because of the roaring and disquietness of his heart. A Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. But workers of iniquity have a delight in lawlessness. Such a worker of iniquity David could not be though he fell deeply in the sin of adultery and murder. And it took the stern word of the pro­phet Nathan to bring David to the humility of a lit­tle child, so that He cried for mercy and wrote the beautiful Psalm, the fifty first. Hear how he cries: create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me, cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit….”

How David wrestles with mighty wrestling before the Lord.

What an exhibition of the struggling saint to en­ter with all His soul into the joys of the Kingdom of heaven once more!

Such a praying saint, that has ceased to see the mote in his brother’s eye and only sees the beam in his own eye enters in through the straight gate that leadeth unto life; he certainly belongs to the few that find it. He no longer thanks God that he is not like other people, but cries saying with the publican in the temple: O, God, be merciful to me the sinner!

And thus he surely experiences the true joy in God through Jesus Christ, to with love and delight live according to all the commandments of the King of Kings in the Father’s Kingdom. And he prays: rule me so by Thy Word and Spirit, that I may submit myself more and more unto Thee. May thy Kingdom come in my heart, and may I enter into the life of Thy Kingdom in thus subjecting myself, Father! May I crucify my old nature and thus enter into life and into joy of thee, my God in Jesus Christ!

To such confessors of the Lord Jesus the assur­ing word is here given: you shall surely enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

You shall surely enter into the Kingdom.

You shall enter it now by faith and hope. In this faith and hope we enter into the Kingdom in joyful anticipation, we enter into the Kingdom joys, into all the fruits of the Spirit, justification, sanctification, the certainty of persevering even to the very end, that no one take our crown.

When I thus with David humble myself as a regen­erated child of God through the power of the Holy Spirit then I have the requisite of God in me which makes it possible and a reality to enter into the joy of forgiveness, and to say: O, the blessedness of the man whose sins are forgiven and whose iniquities are pardoned. And we enter into the Kingdom through the opened door of the preaching of pardon to every one humbling himself in contrite confession by faith.

Yes, the doers of the will of God in humble trust shall surely enter into the Kingdom and its joys, ever anew.

But finally, too, they shall enter.

It will be a great day. Not only will it be said: now you may enter the Kingdom: you may now enter the glorious realization of the Kingdom of heaven, since Jerusalem has not come down from heaven as the beautiful city, and Zion has put on her beautiful garments, but it will be said: you now can enter into it. Enter into the perfected joy of Thy Lord, the bridegroom, as the beautiful bride.

O, the joy of the Lord, the great bridegroom at the sight of the hundred and forty four thousand out of every tongue and people and tribe and nation. What a joy of the King in His strength in the city four-square. How the King in His strength will be glorious in joy; so will the King desire thy beauty. And as the heavenly bride we shall forever enter in­to the Joy of our Lord, our Maker, our Husband.

—G. Lubbers