As a Pastor, it has been my lot to surface this verse and to deal with it with God's people. And unless it be misunderstood, I have applied it's terrifying impact upon myself as well! What a shocker it would be if I were to have professed to have been a Christian "all my life," gone through school and thereupon to have entered ministry for years only to discover at the judgment that Matthew 7:21 applied to ME!!
You may say to me, "Oh, but you haven't seriously applied it to yourself have you? Surely, after all these years of serving God, you would know by now that you are saved!" That's a valid question certainly. But if I understand the tenor of this verse, I MUST consider it carefully especially in light of the proofs that are cited immediately after it, that is, "prophecying" (preaching), "casting out demons" and doing "many mighty works" and all "in Jesus' name"!! See what I mean? These are not slight spiritual acts. Now, let me answer the concern with an affirmation. I do believe that my salvation is secure. But I also believe that it is important to take such verses seriously . . . quite seriously! How else can we treat such things?
So, having given this background, let us hear from A. W. Tozer, who reveals how vague mankind has been with regard to Jesus' person. We best not fall into this pattern. Building on the same verse, Tozer writes:
We can only conclude that Jesus is universally popular today because He is universally misunderstood.
Everyone admires Jesus, but almost no one takes Him seriously. He is considered a kindly idealist who loved babies and underprivileged persons. He is pictured as a gentle dreamer who was naïve enough to believe in human goodness and brave enough to die for His belief. The world thinks of Him as meek, selfless and loving, and values Him because He was what we all are at heart, or would be if things were not so tough and we had more time to cultivate our virtues. Or He is a sweet, holy symbol of something too fine, too beautiful, to be real, but something which we would not lose nevertheless from our treasure house of precious things.
Because the human mind has two compartments, the practical and the ideal, people are able to live comfortably with their dreamy, romantic conception of Jesus while paying no attention whatsoever to His words. It is this neat division between the fanciful and the real that enables countless thousands of persons to say “Lord, Lord” in all sincerity while living every moment in flat defiance of His authority.Tozer on the Almighty God : A 366-day devotional. 2004. Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.
May the Lord stir up his people to a healthy and thorough self-examination!