I Never Knew You
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 05, Apr 2016
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:46
‘Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?’
People face choices throughout their lives; choices about food, medical care, lifestyle, occupation, relationships, and schooling, to name a few. But the one decision that far overshadows all others is the choice that determine one’s eternal destiny.
Religion thrives in the world because people want to go live after death in heaven. Please believe me that I want to go to heaven and I am sure you too want to go to heaven after you die. Different religions have diverse description of heaven; the nirvana of Buddhism, a place of perfect peace and happiness; the paradise of Islam, where each man has access to 70 to 100 women; the godhood of Mormonism, where you will be gods; the freedom from the cycle of reincarnation (you no more have to go through the cycle of reincarnation) and union with Brahman of Hinduism. These religions offer some form of bliss, happiness, fulfilment, or reward on the afterlife.
There is a widespread belief that anyone who is sincere in their faith (whatever religion they are in) will go to heaven. Even many professing Christians hold the view that God will accept them when they are sincere in their religious commitment. As an answer to all religions, the gospel is uncompromisingly exclusive and that is where Christianity offends all other religions. Well Christ himself says that He will be a Rock of offense. Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
If there were any religion apart from biblical Christianity close enough to this truth that its followers might get to heaven it would be Judaism. Christians and Jews have much in common. Both believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Both believe that God is holy, sovereign, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, creator, sustainer, and judge. Both believe in the reality of sin and the need for righteousness. Both believe in virtues such as humility; honesty; kindness, and forgiveness. And Jews believe in the Old Testament Scriptures. We put our faith on our Messiah 2000 years ago. The Jews put their faith and look forward for the same Messiah to come. And Jesus will come for the Jews; just that it is the Second Coming.
But it was to these very people, the Jews and the Christians who held these very beliefs that Jesus is addressing primarily in this verse, not any other religions. Many were fascinated by Him, as evidenced by the huge crowds that followed him when He walked on earth. This is also proven by the fact that there are 2.2 billion people that call themselves Christians today; one third of the World’s population are Christians. It has been on record recently that the Pope is more popular than any global leaders (more popular than Obama, Aquino, Hollande, Merkel etc.) and the two groups of people that the Pope is really popular with are the Christians and the Jews. Some even identified themselves as His disciples and affirmed Him to be in some sense their master or teacher. Yet despite all of that, many fell short of salvation because of the Lord’s pointed question “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” A couple shared with us recently that their brother-in-law entered into a heated argument that for a Christian, once you are saved, you are always saved. This brother-in-law just wouldn’t give up the argument and the next day he called up the couple and wanted to know whether they are convinced that as Christian, they are once saved, always saved. Well Jesus gave a very clear answer through this verse, ‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not what I way?’
Who are those people that Jesus is addressing? We must understand that they are not unsaved church members as many believe. Lost church members cannot accomplish what these people had accomplished; prophesy, casting out demons and miracles which I will show later. Who is Jesus addressing?
1. They are the professing Christian.
Well these people would call Jesus Lord, Lord instead of just Lord. Why say Lord twice? Isn’t that redundant? In the Greek language where the New Testament was written in, the word that’s translated into English as Lord can be used to show respect, much like we use the words sir or mister today. It can also be used to refer to someone in authority. For example, people would often refer to a king as lord.
So when someone addressed Jesus as Lord, Lord it was crystal clear that they were addressing Him with respect while also acknowledging Him as an authority over their lives.
So firstly there is the verbal confession and he or she is very polite. There is courtesy and respect in this verbal profession. Please note the danger of verbal profession. Jesus warns us about the danger of a merely verbal profession. Notice the emphasis on ‘say’; verbalizing a profession of faith. Jesus tells us that our entrance into the kingdom of heaven is not determined by what we are saying to Him now nor by what we will say to Him on the last day. It is like saying I am a Christian when ask by another person. By verbalising you are a Christian doesn’t gives you the ticket to heaven. The only kind of person who enters the kingdom of heaven is the person who does what he says. It is the person who does the will of God.
Secondly there is the orthodox (accurate) confession. It is an accurate style of address because it acknowledges Jesus for what He is. He is the ‘kurios’; He is the Lord. ‘Kurios’ is a divine title, which is used in the Septuagint for ‘Jehovah,’ for God. In the context of Matthew 7:21, to call Him ‘kurios’ implies that Jesus is Jehovah. God the Father has exalted Him and given Him all authority over the universe. Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Therefore the title ‘Lord’ corresponds to the reality that all powers have been subjected to Him. I have a better understanding of God as Jehovah in the last four years. So I have an orthodox confession of Jesus.
Thirdly there is the enthusiastic confession. Notice the enthusiasm of the speaker. ‘Lord, Lord.’ It is not a formal ‘Lord,’ but a fervent ‘Lord, Lord.’ We can feel the zeal of the person’s devotion to Jesus.
This ‘Lord, Lord’ is not just said privately, but also publicly. The people that Jesus is talking about openly and publicly confessed that Jesus is Lord.
Fourthly there is the ministry confession. Matthew 7:21-23 ‘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!’
Notice the phrase Lord, Lord is repeated again here in Matthew 7:21-23
Many Christian can claimed that they prophesied, cast out demons and performed miracles in the name of Jesus. On the Day of Judgment, these people will emphasize the fact that they did all these things in the name which they professed. Have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? Surely, Jesus should know them. But Jesus will say to them, ‘I never knew you.’
We have trained you in prophetic download and many here are used by God in prophecy. I don’t doubt your prophesy and they are real. Now think about this for a moment. Suppose you have the gift of prophesy or you can perform prophetic download. Wouldn’t that be an exciting experience? You might even be prophesying in tongues. You feel that you have joined the rank of the prophets like Isaiah or Jeremiah. It is quite possible that God is using you at that particular moment to fulfil a specific task. But the Lord Jesus makes it clear that the ability to prophesy is not a guarantee that you will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Or you might say, ‘If prophecy is not a guarantee, then casting out demon must be a guarantee because Jesus Himself said that Satan never casts out Satan (Matthew 12:26). ‘Therefore if I can cast out a demon, then surely the Spirit of God is working through me.’ You are probably right. God’s power is working through you. But again, that does not mean that you will enter His kingdom.
Or you might say, ‘I can do mighty works. I can perform miracles. Surely, the power of God is working through me. I must have a seat in heaven.’ But Jesus says this surprising thing, ‘Not necessarily. Doing mighty works does not automatically prove that you are a spiritual man.’
These three verses in the book of Matthew are probably some of the most troubling scriptures to many. They trouble many because they describe many in the Body of Christ, who at face value, are seemingly doing all the right things, yet at death are refused entrance into the eternal reward of the righteous. They even are addressing not just ordinary Christian but leaders who hold offices in the Christian civilisation.
Multitudes in the Church today are blessed with a tremendous anointing to move in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. During church services, prophecies, words of wisdom or words of knowledge seem to just flow out of them (…have we not prophesied in thy name?). Many have stood face to face with some of the most wicked spirits that hell could produce, casting them out of their victims, and sending them limping back to the abyss (…and in thy name cast out devils?). Still others have built large and far reaching ministries and mega-churches. They have fed the poor, supplied relief and funds to third world countries. They have seen multitudes come to Jesus and receive salvation and physical healing (…and in thy name done many wonderful works?). As they stand before the Lord of Lords expecting to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). His words will ring in their ears throughout eternity.”… I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
I think it will the greatest devastation when you have been a member of evangel tabernacle for all your entire life, only to meet the Lord when you die for him to say ‘ I never knew you? You will say, ‘what?’ Please don’t think this is impossible. There are 100 million people in this country. They go to church every Sunday or at least few times a year. You know it is not unfathomable for Jesus to say to them, ‘ I never knew you.” Why? Because you know the truth of the bible and they are not doing the will of the father. Then if they can miss heaven after all these years being in church, what makes you so sure you will be in heaven, even if you are a regular member of this church? Imagine, for a moment what it would be like to die and open your eyes in hell. Even more terrifying is if you had spent your life in church.
He described the stark contrast between those who choose to obey Him with those who choose to please themselves. Jesus made it clear that when we’re saved, a drastic change needs to occur in our lives. We are not expected to stay the same because we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In fact, our eternal destination depends on it. Too many Christians these days think that they don’t have to change because God’s grace allows them to continue living their lives any way they like. After all, Jesus paid it all, right? Don’t misunderstand me, I believe in God’s grace towards believers but we are not to abuse it as some kind of legal loop hole to continue living in sin. Jesus himself 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 (Matthew 7:21).
So what is wrong with this Christian profession? There is nothing wrong in itself. The problem is that these people never did what they said. They confessed Jesus as Lord with their lips, but they never put into practice His teaching. They said, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but they never submitted to His lordship. Jesus says, ‘If your desire is to enter the kingdom of heaven, don’t just call Me ‘Lord.’ You have to do the will of My Father.’
2. I never knew you
Of all the scripture that comes to mind, perhaps the saddest and most fearful of all is the very words of Jesus. ‘I never knew you.’ Jesus tells us that at the second coming, there will be some people who will fully expect to ascend to heaven with Him in the clouds of glory, but He will have to tell them; “….depart from Me, I never knew you.” Can you imagine those words falling from our Savior’s lips to you? “Depart from Me, I never knew you!” Make no mistake about it; there will be people on the Day of Judgment that are going to be expecting to go to heaven, yet instead of inheriting the Kingdom, they are going to hear those saddening words of Christ; “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
Church people will be turned away–and all because they lacked one very necessary qualification; they didn’t truly know the Lord and so He will be forced to say to them, “…depart from Me, for I never knew you.” Notice the basis on which a person is excluded from the presence of Jesus. When the Lord Jesus says, ‘I never knew you,’ it implies that the eternal destiny of a man depends on his relationship to Christ, whether Christ knows them and whether they know Christ. This emphasis here is intimacy with God but I will come back to this point later.
Actually the phrase of Jesus, ‘I do not know you’ here in the the Persic version adds, “be gone from my sight, and be far from my door”; expressing indignation at them, an abhorrence of them, as not being able to bear them in his sight, or near unto him:
3. An evildoer
Matthew 7:23 says, ‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Not only Jesus say ‘I never knew you,’ but he added ‘you who practice lawlessness.’ Another translation put lawlessness as evildoer. Another, iniquity. A lawless person is one who does things contrary to or without regard for the law. He is a being without law; uncontrolled, unbridled and unrestrained. An evil doer is a person who does evil or wrong. This person is engaged in lawlessness (evil).An evildoer is a lawless person who just does what he likes. He does not do the things that Jesus teaches. You are an evildoer if you live in your own way, doing whatever you want to do, without considering the will of God. Notice that in Jesus’ teaching, an evildoer is not necessarily somebody who is guilty of murder, or adultery, or robbery. You may not have committed any of these sins but in God’s eyes, you can still be an evildoer. God looks into your heart because sin originates in the heart. He looks at the root of all sins. And in the heart of any sinner, there is always this inclination to go his own way, to do things the way he wants, without any regard for the will of God. You may claim to do spectacular works in your ministry, yet your works are works of evil if they are not done in obedience to the will of God.
4. The ultimate Will of the Father
A once Roman Catholic shared this testimony. He said, ‘For the first 21 years of my life I was raised a Roman Catholic. Then I had a religious person witnessed to me about the Pope being the Anti-Christ, or praying to Mary and departed saints being idolatry. I would have believed their report and agreed to convert to their doctrine. I still would have been lost and on my way to hell. Thank God He sent me another person who was dedicated to the Word. Through the scriptures the Holy Spirit was able to reveal to me that my sin, not my theology, my doctrine, had separated me from a holy God. Because He loved me He sent His Son to the cross to bare my penalty of death. And that if I would repent of my sin and follow Jesus as Lord, my sin debt would be cancelled, and I would be made righteous in Christ Jesus. I have learned since then that I who have profess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, must examine every aspect of my life, ministry and Christian walk to see if it align with God’ plan and purpose for my life.
Matthew 7:21 ‘”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’
If you asked the average church member what he or she believed the ultimate will of God for their life was, the answers could fill a book. However, I believe the will of God for every one falls into two categories. Everything we can imagine as God’s will for us can only be accomplished in our lives when these two requisites have been met.
The first is intimacy. “And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23). I believe Jesus’ heart’s cry was for intimacy with us. When two people become intimate they open the doors of communication. They have a passion to know what the other is thinking, needing or wants to do. They long to be in each other’s presence. They never work independently, or enter into competition with each other. They are one! This can only come to pass when one is in constant prayer and devotion to the Word of God. There is a relationship involved when one pray and read the scripture. Paul says in Philippians 3:10 ‘”That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death:” What Paul is saying is “I want to know Jesus’ heart, His every desire, His friendship, comfort and correction. I want to know that the same Holy Spirit power that raised Jesus from the dead will fill me and bring spiritual life into every area of my being. I want to know and enter into the same suffering, rejection and persecution that Jesus endured. I want to know that my life, because of my surrender to Him, is conformed to His will and purpose for me so that I can die and He can live through me.
The second is obedience. “…depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23) Obedience is a fruit of intimacy, for without intimacy, obedience is little more than dead religious legalism. When there is no obedience, there is lawlessness, iniquity and evil doing. I am struck by Bro Renee statement that says, ‘She is religious but not righteous’. That is a powerful statement. Then I learnt another statement recently, ‘You can be religious but lost.’ You can be doing the works of God, without the consent, direction or presence of God. These people have become a law unto themselves, all because they lacked intimacy with Jesus. It is one thing to be deceived by another, but more tragic is one who deceives himself. How many times have you tried to reason with someone and told them, “The Bible says…” But yet they respond with, “I know what the Bible says, BUT, it is different with me?” Or it is different with my situation, or my ministry or my problem. They have deceived themselves because they have already refused to obey the Word of God and are deceived into thinking that the conclusion they have reached is the answer to their problem. In the end, this house of self-will they have built for themselves will come crashing down, “…and great will be the fall of it.” I’m not implying they are not saved, but I can say under the authority of the Word that they have never gone on with Jesus into a relationship of intimacy. Many Christians today, have traded their Bibles for convention, music symposium, television evangelists, DVD sermons and notepads. They have no fresh Word from a holy God. A holy hunger for Christ no longer motivates you, only getting their needs and wants fulfilled. We must understand that everything Jesus does is to bring us to Himself. When we were lost and enemies of God because of our sin, He sent His Spirit to convict us and draw us to Himself for salvation. Now that we are born again, He commands us to draw ourselves to Him through intimacy and holy living. If it is our intention to hear Jesus say “Welcome, good and faithful servant,” rather than “I never knew you”, it stands to reason we must change. When we get into His presence, which will be where we are able to hear Him speak. He will speak to us because He loves us and has a specific plan for our lives. Out of that love will come encouragement and hope as well as correction and instruction. All to bring us to Himself in intimacy and obedience. He has set forth His heart’s desire for us and sealed it in prayer.
Look at the life of Jesus Christ. He said in John 6:38, ‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.’ Whatever Christ does is in willing harmony, cooperation with, and not in opposition to, the Father’s heart. John 4:34, ‘”My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’ Jesus is saying ‘my strongest desire is to continuously fulfil what he sent me on my mission to this people and to this world. Jesus clearly tells us the only way: only he who does the will of the Father shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is very clear, ‘I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me.’ As I become a Christian longer, I felt this verse becoming true to my life; the statement that Jesus made to Peter, ‘‘When you are young you can choose where you will go; but the day will come when they will stretch forth thy hand and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.’ That is following the will of God even if thou wouldest not.
Luke 13:24-28. “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you,’ I do not know where you are from. ‘ “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out.’
The phrase here ‘we ate and drank in your presence, and You taught in our streets’ refers to those who think that just because they are members of a Christian civilisation all is well. This is a familiar way of saying, “But, Lord Jesus, we were members of your church in good and regular standing. How come you don’t even know us? We were part of Your church!”
‘Strive to enter by the narrow door’ means entry to the kingdom of heaven can never be automatic but is the result and the reward of a struggle. We have the word ‘strive’ from which the English word ‘agony’ is derived. The struggle to enter in must be so intense that it can be described as an agony of soul and spirit. The Christian race is run with a certain danger. The Christian way is like a climb up a mountain pathway towards a peak which will never be reached in this world. It was said of two gallant climbers who died on Mount Everest; ‘When last seen they were going strong for the top.’ It was inscribed on the grave of an alpine guide who had died on the mountain side; ‘He died climbing’.
There will be surprises in the kingdom of God. Those who are very prominent in this world may have to be very humble in the next; those whom no one notices here may be the princes of the world to come. There is a story of a woman who had been used to every luxury and to all the respect. She died and when she arrived in heaven, an angel was sent to conduct her to her house. They passed many a lovely mansion and the woman thought that each one, as they came to it, must be the one allotted to her. When they had passed through the main streets, they came to the outskirts where the houses were much smaller; and on the very fringe they came to a house which was little more than a hut. ‘That is your house.’ Said the conducting angel. ‘What?’ said the woman, ‘That? I cannot live in that’ ‘I am sorry’ said the angel. ‘But that is all we could build for you with the material you sent up. To me this example is at least a soothing thought that this lady made it to heaven, even though a small hut. The worst is to have Jesus said to us, ‘I never knew you’. And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth; you yourselves thrust out, with indignation and contempt, with shame and “ignominy”, as the Persic version adds; not suffered to go in with them (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), though their sons and successors; but bid to depart, and ordered to be for ever separated from them, as only fit company for devils and damned spirits.