How is this really possible?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Just finished watching a video from a series (18 videos) on John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied on YouTube with my folks. It’s a really great series and it should be the first thing that comes up when you search JM’s RA&A.

In this one video though he (the speaker) brings up Matthew 7:21-23. It really hit me hard and I just had to wonder about it and wanted to bring the passage here to the PB.

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Mat 7:22 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?

Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

if one takes the time to look at what these people were doing it really is something:

- Saying “Lord,Lord...”.
- Prophesying
- Casting out devils
- Doing “wonderful works”

Here’s the big question: did they love Jesus? That’s a huge pivot point! I struggle with this verse because it leads one to wonder who then is a Christian. It leads one to wonder if they themselves are. Now if these people didn’t really love Christ that makes it a whole other matter. Here is how my mind is working on this matter:

- How can an unregenerate person do all these things mentioned?
- If they can, then how is that possible? Can an unregenerate person prophesy? My quick answer is no, but is that true?
- If they can‘t, then why were they doing these things?

- If they were regenerate, what did they not do in order for Christ to not have them?
- Christ said that He didn’t know them, which would indicate they weren’t chosen to begin with.
- Which seems to indicate they were unregenerate.

If it comes down to one looking at their life, all their good works and maybe even prophesying, building up the church and other things don’t mean anything. All that would then be vapour, not indicating that you’re born again. But then how would you apply this verse in this situation?

Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Mat 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Pretty concerning.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
First, you can have two sorts of people who present as one thing, who are actually another: deceivers of others, and the self-deceived.

Deceivers of others are often very good at that deception, they can pull off some amazing things, whether in word or in deed. How they manage it can be as simple as giving people what they want to experience; or it can go so far as to involve devilish power. The Israelites were warned not to heed false, clearly lying prophets, Dt.18:21f. But, what if what the prophet or wonder-worker claimed seemed to come true? Still the people were to compare his teaching to the word of God, and shun the error, Dt.13:1-5.

The self-deceived present troubling cases where seemingly sincere believers can apparently "go far" in the faith, but fall away in the end. Apostasy is real. The cause is that men may cling to an imagined Christ, or even to things pertaining to Christ in fact while not laying hold of him. For genuine salvation, we have to lay hold of him (the true Christ) who has already laid hold of us, Php.3:10. Him holding on me is infinitely more important than my grip of him. But they go out from us in order that it might be evident they never were of us to begin with, 1Jn.2:19.

There are examples in the Bible of some quite-gifted individuals, who experienced "common operations of the Spirit," and even some not-so-common ones; while lacking the key operation of new-heart-transplant. Saul was named "among the prophets," 1Sam.10:11 & 19:24. Judas Iscariot was one of the Twelve, sent out two by two, who preached, healed, and cast out demons, Mk.6:7, 12-13, 30; cf. Lk.10:17.

"God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick," goes the saying. Regeneration is clearly not some sort of "bare minimum" for having God do even a special work through someone. "Prophecy" doesn't always mean telling the future, even though it wasn't impossible to do that if God willed: consider Balaam. Run of the mill prophesying was preaching God's word, even that which was already delivered to the saints; anything "new" would have to be conformable to what was already given.

So, we have plenty of evidence from history that unsaved preachers have preached powerful messages, and people have been brought to faith, or had their faith strengthened. But the man doing the proclamation was unsaved! Yet, God uses such instruments to raise the dead, and ruined souls come to life in Christ.

There are plenty of people whose fruits show them to be what they are in fact. The more reliable demonstrations are of the ungodly. You may be able to tell a lot by seeing clearly the hypocrisy of someone; all the more if he obviously remains unrepentant. And some people are deceptive. Jesus' statement Mt.7:16-20, isn't a blanket promise: "You can always perform this test and get a perfect result."

We are not to put great stock in "fruit inspection." Tell me what you confess about Christ. Yes, we are warned also about empty professions of faith, but still the faith comes before the deed. Some believers are genuine but immature in the faith, or slow to divest from certain sins. But knowing the content of your faith, I may discover if what I encounter in your life is consistent with that profession or not. Then I may have reason to challenge you to "conform" to that confession if you seem to turn aside, see Gal.6:1-4. My chief concern for what "shows" must be my own work, and not judging that of others. And no work is of any value that does not have its origin in faith and love for the Redeemer, that is not a fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-24).


The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Many will say to me in that day
Here is the difference Stephen. Jesus is teaching his disciples how to spot false prophets. Verses 16-20 preceed 21-23. This will be the response of false prophets who declare their works before the Lord as proof for what they think they are. They are self deceived people with a faulty understanding of salvation. And their fruit will prove that. In fact they have probably deified themselves as the modern Word Faith Movement has. Ye are gods like Jesus is. That is their teaching.

Let me point to a specific real life picture now. Let's look at the recent Televangelists or famous gifted preacher who accommodates others with what they want to hear. Some get on the telly and supposedly do great miracles, supposedly give prophetic utterances (and teach the Bible with a lot of misinterpretation), and stand before great lines of hungry children handing out necessities of life. These are the same guys who plead for us to send in a gift of ministry so that we may receive blessing while they live in plush mansions and hop on their Lear Jets to skate around and do their supposed ministry as they teach others to think they are gods who can name it and claim it. A good book was written many years ago exposing the Word Faith movement called Agony of Deceit. They deify men and make less of the true Jehovah while taking his name in vain.

There is nothing wrong with self examination. We are encouraged to do it often. We are encouraged to do it at the Lord's table, We are encouraged to do it in 2 Corinthians 13:5. We are encouraged to in 2 Peter 1:10. And there are other places I can call forth. But that is all based upon our faith and total reliance upon God who gives us that faith and power to believe and do in the Person and Work of Christ. That is why we are also encouraged to abide in the vine as John 15 points out. We are also encouraged to know if we are bastards or not by knowing if we are chastised or not by the Lord in Hebrews.

I hope this helps.

1Jn 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
1Jn 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

We need to be careful of the gnostics and heretics who preach a different Jesus. These false prophets and false believers never knew the Lord as they supposed.

Paul's concern...

2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2Co 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
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