I recently received this email question:
How do you interpret Matthew 7:21? This has always been a stumbling block for me.
If I had a nickel for every time I’d been asked about Matt 7:21-23, I’d have a lot of nickels.
The will of the Father is to believe in His Son. That should be obvious, right?
The Lord Jesus said that the Father sent Him to proclaim the message of everlasting life for all who believe in Him (John 5:24). To believe in Jesus is to believe in the Father who sent Him.
John 6:39-40 clearly shows that it is the will of the Father that we believe in His Son for everlasting life.
Matthew 21:31 also uses this expression. Jesus tells a parable about two sons. One of two is said to have done “the will of his father.” He had been told by his father to work in the vineyard. Initially he had said he would not do it. But then “he regretted it and went.” While we might see that as saying that the will of the father is to obey the ten commandments or all of the commands of the Old Testament, that is not how Jesus intended the parable to be understood. When Jesus explained the parable, He indicated that when the Jewish religious leaders heard John the Baptist, “you did not believe him, but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterwards relent and believe him” (Matt 21:32). Notice the three-fold reference to believing the testimony of John. Of course, John the Baptist called people to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:7, 29, 35; 3:36; Acts 19:4).
In Matthew 12:50 Jesus indicated that His true kin are those who do the will of His Father. We know from John’s Gospel that to be a child of God one must believe in Jesus (John 1:12-13). The Lord Jesus specifically excludes works as a means of being born again (John 6:28-29). See also Eph 2:8-9.
Here is a suggestion. If you have a question about a verse or passage, go to our website, www.faithalone.org, and click on the magnifying glass. You can search. By doing that I found this article by me, one which is a transcript of me questioning Zane Hodges, and a short video by me too.
Here is a key to handling any passage which seems to contradict the free gift of everlasting life by faith in Christ, apart from works: Realize that whatever it means, it does not and cannot contradict the simple truth of John 3:16. Stand on the truth of John 3:16; 5:24, 39-40; 6:35, 37, 39, 47; 11:25-27; Acts 16:31; Rom 4:4-5; Gal 3:6-14; Eph 2:8-9; Rev 22:17.
The will of the Father in terms of entering Jesus’ kingdom is that we believe in His Son.