Lord, Lord
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
Preached in PCC Worship Service, 28 April 2013
Part 2 of 3

We are continuing in our study of Matthew 7:21-23, which contains another name repetition in the Bible, namely, Lord, Lord. In the previous article, we looked at something of the person and work of Christ from this passage. In this article, we want to look at the person and work of those who are not true believers in Christ and who will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Something about the Person and Work
of False Believers

The first thing we learn about false believers is that they may actually be very sound in their understanding of doctrine and the truths of scripture. Or to say it in another way, false believers are not necessarily those who hold to false doctrine. It is quite possible for them to be very orthodox in their theology.

Look at the words of verse 21 again, “Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord…” Now please understand that there is nothing wrong with addressing or saying to Christ, “Lord, Lord…” In fact, everyone should confess that He is Lord.

Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

So those who say, “Lord, Lord” to Jesus are actually doing something very right and good. They are confessing a very important truth about Christ, and Christ does not condemn anyone for that. But what He is saying is that not everyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord will be saved. Or if you like, confessing with our lips that Jesus is Lord is very good but it is not enough.

But before we proceed any further, let me speak a word to those who may not have confessed that Jesus is Lord. Dear friend, understand that anyone who does not confess Jesus as Lord and who does not say to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will most certainly not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

No one can be a Christian and be saved if he or she refuses to say, “Lord, Lord” to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, when I say that you must confess that Jesus is Lord, I do not mean merely saying the words with your lips. Rather, I mean having at least a basic and sound understanding of who Jesus is – His person and His work.

To say, Lord, Lord is to confess that He has both a divine and a human nature that are joined together in one person, forever. To say, “Lord, Lord” is to acknowledge that He is both Saviour and Lord, and that unless one receives and rests upon Him alone for salvation, and submits to His Lordship, one cannot be saved. To say, “Lord, Lord” is to recognize that He is the great King of kings and the Lord of lords, who is seated even now at the right hand of God as the head of the Church, and indeed the ruler and governor of the whole universe.

These are some of the basic truths that a person acknowledges when he says to Christ “Lord, Lord”. Dear friend, do you acknowledge that Jesus is Lord? If you don’t, then you are still in your sins and are under the wrath of God. Would you not seek Him this day to be merciful and gracious to you?

Now notice that Christ is not addressing unbelievers or seekers in this passage. He is addressing those who are in the church and who readily confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord. And here is the thing which is so frightening and alarming – that not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those who do not say it can never enter in. But even among those who do say it, not all of them will enter in. Some will, but the rest will not.

And so the first thing we note about false believers is that they may actually be quite sound in their understanding and confession of doctrine and of the truths of scripture.

The second thing we learn about false believers is that they may be very fervent and zealous and even emotional about their faith. Notice how twice in our text, they are described as approaching Christ and saying to Him, “Lord, Lord.”

In the Bible, when someone wants to express his affection for and his closeness with another person, he would repeat his name when calling him or speaking about him. To repeat a person’s name is thus a term of endearment. It is an expression of love and affection for him.

These false believers do not simply address Jesus as Lord. They go further. They say, “Lord, Lord.” There is an element of great feeling and deep emotion involved. They are expressing their sense of closeness and nearness to the Lord. Never for a moment think that false believers are necessarily cold hearted and unemotional or indifferent towards the Lord.

It is true that an indifferent attitude or a coldness of heart towards the Lord and the things of God is an indication that a person’s faith may not be genuine. But on the other hand, we see here that those who seem very keen and are full of fervour and deep emotion may still be out of the kingdom of heaven.

How do we account for this? Well, we do so by making a distinction between carnal or fleshly or natural enthusiasm and emotion on the one hand, and true spiritual fervour and affection on the other. The way to distinguish the two is to examine our hearts and motives.

Ask yourself: Why am I feeling this way or doing what I’m doing? Why do I feel enthusiastic and emotional and fervent about certain things? Is it because I have a true love and affection for God and a desire to glorify and enjoy Him? Or is it simply because it makes me feel good or it draws attention to myself or it makes me look good in front of others or some other selfish motive?

And so great enthusiasm and emotion in the things of the Lord does not necessarily imply true spirituality. This is what our Lord is warning us against when He describes false believers as saying to Him “Lord, Lord.”

The third thing we learn about false believers is that they may be actively engaged in many activities and works for God and His kingdom. Verse 22 says, “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?”

Three things are mentioned here, namely, prophesying in the name of the Lord, casting out devils in the name of the Lord, and doing many wonderful works in the name of the Lord.

Let’s briefly consider each of these. First, these false believers, on the Day of Judgment, appealed to the fact that they had prophesied in the name of Christ. Now to prophesy is essentially to bring a message from God to the people. This message may involve foretelling, which is saying something about the future, or it may simply be forth-telling, that is, declaring a word or truth from the Lord.

In the first century, while the apostles were still alive and while the scriptures had not yet been completed, God gave His the church prophets or men who had the gift of prophesy. But even after this gift and other related supernatural gifts had passed away, there were still the ordinary gifts of preaching and teaching that continue till today. (Eph. 4:12-13)

 And so when the Lord talks about those who prophesy in His name, He is by no means restricting them to first century prophets, but rather He includes all who preach the word of God throughout the ages.

In the Old Testament, we read of the prophet Balaam, whom Balak the Moabite king had hired to curse the people of God. Balaam was unable to do so. Instead, he was compelled, by the Spirit of the Lord, to speak and prophesy the truth. So while the message he delivered was true, he was nevertheless a reprobate and not a true believer.

In the New Testament, we read of Judas Iscariot who was sent out in the name of Christ to preach the gospel.

Thus, it is very possible to preach sound and true doctrine without being a soundly and truly converted person. It is a terrifying thing to think that some men who have preached great and sound sermons may nevertheless be outside the kingdom. The Day of Judgment may well be a day of great surprises in this regard.

Second, we read in our text that these false believers, on the Day of Judgment, appealed to the fact that they had cast out devils in the name of Christ. “Lord, Lord,” they say, “have we not cast out devils in thy name?”

And indeed they did! This casting out of devils, like the work of prophesying, is not necessarily false or a sham. They could well be true and genuine. Again, think of Judas Iscariot. He was sent forth by Christ together with the rest of the disciples to preach and to perform miracles, and one of the miracles included casting out of devils in the name of Christ.

When the seventy disciples returned from their mission, they said in Luke 10:17, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” What they said applies equally to Judas Iscariot. But Judas was not a truly converted man. He was a reprobate or a son of perdition as John 17:12 says. And so we see that it is possible to drive out demons in the name of the Lord and yet be outside the kingdom. God may and does give power to a man to do such a remarkable work, and yet the man himself may be lost.

Third, these false believers appealed to the fact that they had done many wonderful works in the name of Christ. “Lord, Lord,” they say, “have we not done many wonderful works in thy name?”

I can imagine them going on to list out in detail what these many wonderful works are. Mark 16:17-18 mentions some of them, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

So in addition to casting out demons, they are able to speak in tongues, take up poisonous snakes and drink poison without being hurt, and they are able to heal all kinds of diseases and ailments.

Once again, there is no need to assume that these many wonderful works, which they did, were not genuine or real. They could well be true and wonderful works. Nevertheless, the ability to do these things is no proof at all of the genuineness or reality of one’s faith and spiritual state.

So it is possible to preach sound doctrine, to drive out demons and to do many wonderful works, and yet be in a state of unbelief and spiritual death. The Lord says in verse 23 of our text, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

These false believers claimed to know the Lord and even to know Him intimately. But the Lord plainly says to them, “I never knew you.” It is not that the LORD once knew them but has since forgotten or forsaken them. No, the LORD says that He never knew them at all. At no point in their lives did the Lord ever have any knowledge of them.

Now Jesus, of course, is not saying that He was unaware or ignorant of their identity. He knows full well who they were. What He is saying is that He does not have an intimate or close or special relationship with them.

In John 10:14 the Lord says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” But here in Matthew 7, the LORD Jesus says that He never knew these false believers and disciples. He never knew them as His sheep and people, and they never knew Him as their Shepherd and Saviour. They had no intimate knowledge of one another.

And so because there was not this intimate knowledge of each other, the Lord says to them in the Day of Judgment, “Depart from me…”

Matthew 25:41 gives a fuller description of this final sentence of the Judge to false believers, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” The final destination of all sinners, including all false believers and professors of the faith, is everlasting hell or the lake of fire. They will forever dwell in a place where God’s love and care and grace and friendship will not be felt and known. There is nothing worse than being cast into that place of eternal torment.

But I’ll like to point out one final thing about false believers in our text and it is that the LORD describes them as those who work iniquity. A more literal translation of this phrase is, “you workers of lawlessness.” The verb “work” is in the present tense indicating continuous and regular action. It speaks of an overall pattern and lifestyle of lawlessness and iniquity.

In the next article, we will consider something about the person and work of true believers.

—Linus Chua