There are some words of Jesus that usually send chills up my spine whenever I read them. The fear of being turned away by God at the end of my Christian journey is sometimes overwhelming.
Before now, I had been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that I would make it to Heaven if Christ returned today. But as I began to contemplate His words more deeply, I have now resolved to become extremely careful in my daily activities as a Christian. I had been so engrossed in the euphoria of the loving-kindness and mercy of God that I seldom remember the terms and conditions that I am bound to keep.
When Jesus gave the instructions that self-denial and cross-carrying are prerequisites for becoming His disciple (Luke 9:23), he wanted us to deny ourselves and follow God. He wants us to collapse our will into the will of God and to get ready to suffer and die the most shameful death for the sake of the Gospel. I struggle every day to kill my flesh in my daily activities, but it keeps on pushing itself into my major decisions. I pick my cross daily, but I still notice that fear of being killed has not allowed me to operate maximally in carrying out the mandate of the Great Commission.
My fear is that I cannot claim that I have absolutely denied myself and have carried my cross. There are still fleshy manifestation and un-readiness to surrender my life for the sake of Christ. I have signed my death warrant along with my fellow missionaries, but we are all still afraid to venture into some areas even when we are convinced that God wants us to go to such places. At times, I do consider my actions as incomplete obedience, and that has increased my fear.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mathew7:21-23).
Did Christ really mean these words? If He did, then a lot of us are in deep trouble.
The above statement suggests that not all that profess Christ will enter into the Kingdom of God, but only those who did the will of God while on earth. My take on this is that every Christian who desires to get into the Kingdom of God should continually do the will of God. There are many who have done mighty works in the name of Jesus who will not enter His Kingdom, simply because they did not operate in accordance with God's will. “He that thinks he stand should take heed lest he falls” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
The unfortunate thing is that many Christians do not know that they had to pick up their crosses as soon as they gave their lives to Christ. Many run their Christian race without the cross. Cross-carrying is non-negotiable in Christianity, and anyone who refuses to adhere strictly to this will inevitably face rejection from Christ on the last day.
The day God opened my eyes of understanding to see what Jesus told the Church in Sardis in Revelation 3:5, is the day I woke my wife up in the middle of the night. We cried and begged God to help us finish strong. “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life but will acknowledge that name before my Father and His angels” (Revelation 3:5).
The most dreadful part of the whole scenario is that there will be no opportunity for repentance at the point of hearing, “I never knew you,” and no second chances. This fear has helped me to be watchful and pray and contemplate God’s judgement. For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.