*Not Just Saying One’s Prayers
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name?’”
Matthew 7:22 NASB
Our Lord frequently declared that none who have not the kingdom of God within them shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Yes, He well knew that many would not receive that saying. So he confirms it yet again: “Many [not one; not a few only; it is not a rare thing] will say to Me in that day,” not only have we said many prayers; we have spoken Your praise; we have done no evil; but what is much more: “we have prophesied in Your name.” We have declared Your will to men and women, we have showed sinners the way to peace and glory. And we have done this “in Your name,” according to the truth of Your gospel. In or by Your name, by the power of Your Word and of Your Spirit “have we cast out devils. And in Your name [by Your power, not ours] have we done many miracles.”
But Jesus said, “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you”: I never knew you as My own, for your heart was not right toward God. You were not meek and lowly; you were not lovers of God and all mankind. You were not renewed in the image of God; you were not holy as I am holy. “Depart from Me, you” who, in spite of all this, are “workers of lawlessness”—transgressors of My law, My law of holy and perfect love. You have built upon the sand.
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this fiftieth lesson on prayer, Wesley draws a clear distinction between “the gifts and calling of God” (Romans 11:29), and the acceptable response on our part to grow in Christ through sanctification. Since God gives His call and gifts those He calls without revoking the call, one can be rich in what God gives and yet be bankrupt in one’s soul, refusing the grace God lavishly gives to “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
When Jesus addressed the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23-33, He was addressing those who looked good on the outside but were rotten on the inside. People were impressed by their actions and their piety, their outward demeanor and their religious behavior. They were, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:5, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…” (NASB).
23″ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24″You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26″You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27″ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28″So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29″ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31″So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32″Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33″You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? (NASB)
Wesley finishes the lesson with, “But Jesus said, ‘And then I will declare to them, I never knew you’: I never knew you as My own, for your heart was not right toward God. You were not meek and lowly; you were not lovers of God and all mankind. You were not renewed in the image of God; you were not holy as I am holy. ‘Depart from Me, you’ who, in spite of all this, are ‘workers of lawlessness’—transgressors of My law, My law of holy and perfect love. You have built upon the sand.’”