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I know remarried couples who are excellent Christians. They will surely be saved.

Is it possible that committed Christians who demonstrate a genuine love for the Lord Jesus, have a real relationship with Him, hear His voice and follow Him could ultimately be rejected by Him? The frightening answer to this question is ‘Yes’[1].

The clearest example can be found in the life of Judas, one of the twelve disciples. First, Judas was one of the few people chosen by Jesus to be His disciple and close friend. Judas sat daily under Jesus’ teaching and followed Him wherever He went. Judas was given responsibilities, miraculous power and performed miracles in Jesus’ name.

But more importantly Judas had a real and intimate relationship with Jesus. One can assume that Judas ate countless meals with Jesus and talked often with Him. Jesus also served Judas, most memorably by washing Judas’ feet. And even as the final betrayal unfolded Jesus spoke kindly to him calling him his ‘friend’[2].

To outside observers including those closest to him, Judas was a true follower of Jesus and was accepted by Him. There is no reason to believe that Jesus treated Judas in any way that was substantially different to the other disciples. Jesus even gave Judas the important role of keeping charge of the communal money.

Likewise, it would appear to Judas himself that he was fully accepted by Jesus. And here is the key point – Judas was accepted by Jesus and had a real relationship with Him! Still Judas was eternally lost because he placed his love for money which Jesus forbade above his love for his master.

The remarried person does something similar. Although Jesus clearly forbids remarriage, the believer places their desire for their new spouse above their love for Jesus. Judas’ sin was covetousness. The remarried person’s sin is covetousness[3] and then adultery.

Adultery and covetousness (which is akin to idolatry) is what the Bible calls ‘lawlessness’ or ‘evil’. The gospels of Matthew and Luke make clear that ‘many’ will appear before Jesus on judgment day and be rejected because they were ‘workers of lawlessness’ or ‘evil’.

Mat 7:21-23 ESV  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  (22)  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  (23)  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Luk 13:24-28 ESV  “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  (25)  When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’  (26)  Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’  (27)  But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’  (28)  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.

The traits given in Matthew’s account differ substantially from those given in Luke’s.  Both accounts agree that those who are rejected acknowledged Jesus as their ‘Lord’. However Matthew’s account describes a believer who performs miraculous works such as prophesying and casting out demons while Luke’s describes a believer who ‘ate and drank in your presence’. These accounts show that a believer could be actively working in supernatural power or regularly communing on a personal level with the Lord yet ultimately rejected.

Although parables should not be used to develop doctrine, they can illustrate more fully a doctrine already established. The parable of the foolish virgins[4] provides an example of believers who are eagerly awaiting the Lord’s return but are ultimately rejected. They are shocked when they are rejected by Christ. They looked just like the true believers who were accepted, they were betrothed to the Lord and possibly living a relatively righteous life (hence the imagery of a ‘virgin’). But the area in which they were lacking resulted in their eternal loss.

Interestingly, Paul uses identical language in his second letter to the church at Corinth. This church had had serious issues with immorality and were the recipients of the longest teaching on divorce and remarriage (1 Cor 7).

2Co 11:2 ESV  For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

Another example can be found in the parable of the wedding supper. The King fills the wedding hall with guests but discovers one that is not wearing ‘a wedding garment’.

Mat 22:11-14 ESV  “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.  (12)  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  (13)  Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  (14)  For many are called, but few are chosen.”

A reasonable explanation of this parable is that the wedding supper refers to the final wedding supper for Jesus, the Lamb of God[5]. The invited guests are those called by Jesus and have followed Him[6]. But the ‘friend’ was not living righteously[7] and so was rejected by Jesus.

It is possible that Christians can be in an intimate relationship with Jesus and yet finally be rejected by Him. The proof of our final acceptance is not our relationship with Him but our obedience to Him.

1Jn 2:3 ESV  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

[1] This is not in any way an argument for salvation by works. The ground of our salvation is exclusively limited to the gracious work of Jesus on the cross.

[2] Mat 26.50

[3] Exo 20:17 ESV  …you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…

[4] Mat 25.1-13

[5] Rev 19.7-9

[6] Rev 19.9

[7] Rev 19:8 ESV  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

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