“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. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23
The passage gripped me once again when I encountered it in my devotion time recently. It is one of the most troubling words of Jesus Christ. Here lies a stark warning: spiritual giftings are not marks of spirituality. One may be gifted in preaching and perform miracles in His name, but these are not evidence that he is acquainted with Jesus Christ. In fact the passage suggests that one can be a “worker of lawlessness” while doing God’s ministries.
I must admit that I can easily fall into the trap of measuring my relationship with God based on the “successes” of my ministries.
The passage stressed however that it is the “one who does the will of my Father” who is considered right before Him. I have always assumed I understood what it means to be doing the Father’s will. I thought that surely it means serving God and getting involved in the ministries of the Gospel.
Yet in that devotion time I was led to reconsider my assumption. I searched the Scripture and found something else:
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
Two verbs stood out in this verse: “looks” and “believes”.
The word ‘believes’ means “to think is true, to be persuaded, to place confidence, to entrust”. True believing necessarily effects total dependence and obedience. Believing in the Son is to entrust oneself to Jesus Christ, meaning one is totally dependent on Him and totally obedient towards Him.
In some other versions the word ‘looks’ is translated with the word ‘behold’. It means to steadily and continuously contemplate on something. It is the same word to describe “enjoying being in the presence of”. It involves single-mindedness, not looking at other things, without distraction, being wholly devoted. It involves intensity, deep and close observation, looking at minute detail, being wholly captivated. It involves continuity, and to keep looking for a lengthy period, being wholly committed. The necessary effects of “behold” is devotion, joy and identification. Beholding the Son means one is continuously contemplating Jesus Christ, with regards to His works and His worth. Beholding Christ leads to pure devotion and joyful identification.
That day I ended my devotion recognizing that my life is not to be measured by my supernatural abilities or effective labours, but by being found continually believing and beholding the Son. It is not the spiritual gifts or experiences that count, but that I am growing in joyful identification with Christ my Saviour and Lord.
I am determined not to lose sight of Christ in my daily life, be it in church, at work or at home.
In 2014, will you join me to fix our eyes on the Person, Jesus Christ!
By Rick Toh, Lead Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 4&5 January 2014)