Does Jesus Know You?
"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!’" (Matthew 7:21-23)
"Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)
"And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:17)
They called Him, "Lord, Lord", but Jesus never knew them. Does Jesus know you?
The day of reckoning is coming, the day of judgement, when all shall face the great Judge of the universe: Jesus Christ. It will be a day of great separation. It will be a day of jubilation and a day of woe. It will be a day of revelation of the true followers of Jesus (children of God) and of the false prophets and false disciples.
For many professing Christians (perhaps millions) the words of Jesus - "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" which constitute the most fearfully damning and eternally fatal words ever - will be heard before they are cast into hell forever.
Jesus said, "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." Those that Jesus never knew, as depicted here, thought that they had good standing with the Saviour. They believed they were doing all the Christian things. After all, they ministered in His name. In His name, they taught and preached. In His name, they cast out demons. In His name, they carried out many miraculous works. They fooled many, including themselves, but they didn't fool God. Their ministry was public as they preached and taught openly and cast out demons openly. They showed signs and wonders before the people. Yet, while they honoured Christ with their lips, their hearts were eternally far from Him. They had zeal for "doing ministry"; they were probably widely recognised and highly regarded by many. They clearly had spiritual gifts, but the grace of God which transforms was tragically absent from their hearts. Their motive for service was all wrong: God's pleasure was not their chief concern. They were not backslidden disciples. They never had a relationship with the Jesus that they called, "Lord".
We learn from this that authentic Christianity is not mere profession of the faith. While true saving faith does entail profession, it must also have the vital Spirit's work in the soul. There must be true repentance, faith in Jesus alone, a turning away from sin. Jesus said that those who enter the kingdom of heaven are those who "do the will of My Father in heaven". This does not mean that it is their works which save them, as Scripture does not teach a "works" salvation. But it means that the evidence of true faith is a changed life. It is a life characterised by a denial of self (one's own goals and ambitions) and a true submission to the Lordship of Christ. Jesus Himself said that He did not come to do His own will, but that He came to do the will of the Father (John 6:38). At Gethsemane, Jesus said, "...not My will but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). In John 4:34, Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work". Born-again believers, the true followers of Christ, will likewise do the will of the Father. By contrast, instead of doing the Father's will, the "Christians" that Jesus never knew practised lawlessness. Their lives were completely at odds with their profession of faith in Jesus Christ as they lived contrary to the will of God. They claimed to know God, but by their deeds, they denied Him (Titus 1:16).
It is further sobering and alarming that Jesus said that "many", not a few, will be in this dreadful category on the day of judgement. Is it not great mercy that our Lord Jesus should warn us? Should we not regularly examine and search our hearts, judge ourselves, so that we may not be judged and found wanting? The questions to be asked are:
"Does Jesus know me?";
"Am I in the faith?";
"Am I doing the will of God?"
Clearly, Jesus knows those that are truly born again by His Spirit. They are true converts by the operation of divine grace in their hearts. The change wrought by the Spirit of God in their hearts is so radical as to designate them "a new creation". True saving faith is necessarily obedient to God and is not lawless. This does not mean that a perfect and flawless obedience is achieved in this life, but it does entail a life characterised by sincere love of God and zeal to please God. True Christians will always be people who seek to fulfil Paul's strong exhortation in Romans 12:1:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
True believers are "doers" of God's word and not merely "hearers" of the word. True disciples of Christ are moulded by the word of God. They obey God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6). At the judgement in Revelation 20:11-12, we see that people were "judged from the things written in the books according to their deeds". True disciples possess a genuine love and fear of God, and His will is their joyous goal.
What then is the will of the Father? God's will starts with believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was asked, "What shall we do, that we may do the works of God?" Jesus replied, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:28-29). "Believing in Jesus" means entrusting our souls and lives to Christ as Lord, trusting in His death and resurrection as the sole source of forgiveness for our manifold sins.
In Matthew 12:50, Jesus said that whoever does the will of His Father, that person is His brother and sister and mother. God will not play games - He requires authenticity. Authenticity means Christ-likeness. Those whom God foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
Many Christians look for signs and wonders. They elevate pastors and teachers for their gifting. But God's emphasis is not on "gifting"; rather, it is on the work of grace in the heart of an individual. Where there is no transformation, there is no grace. Those "Christians" that Jesus never knew continued "dead in trespasses", while outwardly they looked like it was well with their soul. In reality, they lacked true humility, the fruit of the Holy Spirit and genuine surrender to and pursuit of God's holy will.
O that our hearts could truthfully echo the words of Galatians 2:20:
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
May we humbly and thankfully heed the gracious warning of our Lord and Saviour, and search our hearts regularly to see whether we are in biblical faith. It is not that God wants true Christians to be in perpetual turmoil over whether they are saved or not; but we should never become spiritually complacent. May we die to our own will and live for His, looking unto Jesus, Who is the Author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
May we live daily with the Day of Judgement in view, that we may live righteously, fruitfully, pleasing God. May we never ever hear from our Lord Jesus those eternally catastrophic words:
"I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:23)
May we, on that Day, hear instead the blessed and eternally glorious words:
"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34)