Please don’t be terribly shocked at judgment day.
(This is Chapter 11 of my book “Christianity 101” which is available on this website as a download)
Jesus told three terrifying stories where people get to the great white throne judgment and find out too late that they are going to the wrong place. In Luke he responds to a question of how many will be saved with one of these terrifying stories.
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ (Luke 13:22-27, emphasis added)
So even fellowshipping with Jesus (or at least thinking you are) and listening to his teaching doesn’t cut it. They were doing evil and didn’t really know him although they ate and drank with him. Maybe it was a casual eating and drinking as he taught them but they never pursued the relationship further. The same story is recorded in Matthew.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:13-23, emphasis added)
This is a surprising passage. Even though they were doing some seemingly amazing things (perhaps for show), we see clearly that they actually weren’t doing His will, didn’t have good fruit and were doing evil. He calls them evildoers in both of these stories. God takes evil very seriously (chapter 8). Crying Lord, Lord didn’t cut it either. Just as He says later:
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. (Matthew 15:8-9)
It’s even in the Old Testament where people claim to acknowledge God but he rejects them based on their actions.
Israel cries out to me, ‘O our God, we acknowledge you!’ 3 But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him. 4 They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction. (Hosea 8:2-4)
Therefore you have to know Him and do His will. What is His will? Here is a compilation of several verses for a good summary:
We are saved by grace “to do good works” (Eph 2:10) and we are to “encourage each other daily” against sin (Heb 3:13), “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles” (Heb 12:1), Abhor evil (Romans 12:9), “not love the world or anything in it” (1 John 2:15), take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan (James 1), think about whatever is lovely and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8) and “deny ourselves and take up our cross” (Luke 9:23) until we “bear fruit” (John 15:1, Luke 8:15).
Or basically it’s living 100% for Jesus day by day, seeking Him and finding out what pleases Him (Eph 5:10) and doing it.
And as Paul said it’s not living for yourself anymore:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Good fruit is the goal:
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance … 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:8, 10)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:1-10, emphasis added)
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. 46“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:43-49, emphasis added)
In the famous parable of the sower and seeds, the seed that produced fruit is the only one that didn’t die out (also found in Matthew 13:43-49):
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)
As Jesus said, you have to count the cost before following Him. If you are not ready to give up everything you have, you can’t follow Him. Just like the branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off to be burned in John 15, in this passage salt that is not salty can only be thrown out.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:28-35, emphasis added)
These may be hard, even incredible, words for people in our lukewarm generation. However, keep in mind that following Jesus is very fulfilling after God fills you with love for people. See Appendix 2.