Often when we read the Bible we come across verses that cause us to fear. It may be that we have listened to someone who wrongly explained the verse. Typically a wrong understanding comes from misunderstanding the context. This month I am going to write about some that have caused me angst in the past.
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. 7:22, 23)
This verse used to scare me, thinking I could hear, “I never knew you”. Was I doing enough? Was I good enough? I mean these guys had done great things – prophesied, cast out demons, and did many wonders; all in the name of Jesus. They even acknowledged Jesus as Lord! But He never knew them. The word for ‘knew’ implies relationship. Jesus had no relationship with them though they thought they had one with Him.
They were denied entrance because they had not done the will of the Father. “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.” (Matt. 7:21)
Jesus makes the will of Father very clear: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day ”(John 6:40). The one who has believed (relied) on Jesus to save them is the one who enters the kingdom of God. At the moment of faith in Jesus, you are born again. Like natural birth, you are spiritually born once and you can never be unborn.
The ones in Matthew 7 were trying to enter into the kingdom according to their good works; their good deeds. They had never entered into a faith relationship with Him. They thought that everlasting life and entering the kingdom was by self-effort; by doing things for Jesus.
When you understand the context of this verse in light of the rest of Scripture, no one ever enters the kingdom because of the great things they do. There is only one way. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Any other way, is the way to perish. I have talked with many that believe they will get in because they are good. But Jesus will say to them that He never knew them, if they continue in unbelief. You can never do enough and you can never be good enough.
This verse should not scare you if you have trusted in Jesus to save you. He is our sufficient Substitute. He took our place. He paid our sin debt and offers everlasting life to all who believe in Him (John 6:47). He promises that no one can snatch you out of His hand (John 10:28). He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:4). He is faithful even when we are not (II Tim 2:13). By faith, learn to rest in the security that you have in Him.
God made it simple. Jesus did all that is necessary to enter the kingdom. There is nothing for us to do. He died to pay our sin debt so we have no debt to pay. He rose from the grave offering us everlasting life as a free gift to anyone who will trust in Him alone. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31); and then will you never have to be fearful of hearing those words, “I never knew you.”