Sincere But Wrong
I read an interesting story recently regarding a preacher, his teenage daughter, and a good friend of his who was also a preacher. These three had planned to take a missionary trip to Lithuania. They arrived at the airport and everything seemed to be going fine. But, then came the sad news--the passport of the preacher's daughter was expired! The group was in shock as they examined the returned passport. The father had mistakenly read the date improperly. "08 April 04" was the listed date of expiration. He had initially assumed that this meant the passport would expire on April 4, 2008. However, in actuality it had already expired April 8, 2004!

At first, he thought they could find a way for his daughter to come with them, but he soon learned the rules for international travel are very strict. There was no way that his daughter could leave the country without a valid passport, and it would not be possible for them to get her a new passport until next week. It was an honest mistake and the three of them all felt terrible about the mix-up. They were sincere but wrong, and there was nothing they could do to correct the problem. The two men continued on their journey, but the daughter had to go back home.

I'm reminded of the Judgment Day when I consider a story such as this one. I wonder how many people are going to come up before the Lord's counter, expecting to get into heaven even though they are not truly prepared. Many feel they are right with God, but they make sincere yet big mistakes in their life's choices, expecting God to make an exception for them.

Jesus, as He neared the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount, delivered some hard words relating to this theme - "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matt. 7:21-23).

Jesus spoke the truth plainly, didn't He? It's not enough just to cry out, "Lord, Lord!" One must do the will of the heavenly Father if he hopes to be saved! These verses clearly disprove the notion of salvation by faith only, though many denominations teach such. One must obey the will of the heavenly Father to the best of his ability (cf. Luke 6:46)!

There are "many" (cf. Matt. 7:13) who will try to rationalize their way into heaven by listing certain accomplishments or acts of service, but it won't work. The problem ultimately is that the Lord doesn't know them! In spite of the fact that they have done some good deeds, they are guilty of practicing sinful behavior ("lawlessness")! They are not right before God in taking the broad path that leads to destruction. They feel that they deserve salvation for certain acts of service, even though they haven't genuinely been obedient.

Friends, there are many religious people who believe in Jesus and have the appearance of righteousness but will end up in hell, even though they feel they should not receive condemnation. Let it be understood that to prophesy, cast out demons, or do many wonders does not excuse one from obeying God's revealed will! As important as these actions may appear to man, to do these things does not necessarily mean that one is producing good fruit; to obey God is to produce good fruit!

Dear listeners, thankfully the passport mistake was temporary. Perhaps the daughter will have other opportunities for overseas mission work in the future. However, when one stands before God's throne in judgment, the stakes are of an eternal nature. Is your "heavenly passport" valid? Have you turned from sin, confessed faith in the Christ, and been baptized into His kingdom? You must if you don't want to miss the greatest trip of all--the one to heaven! Those who are sincere but wrong won't make it into the heavenly abode. Do everything within your power to ensure that you are not of that number! Believe and obey God's word today!