“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. 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? Then I will declare to them I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).
I’ll be honest, this verse shakes me to the core.
In this passage, Jesus speaks directly to a person or group of people present with him then, and also to all those in the future, who proclaim with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, yet at the end of their lives, they are turned away because of . . . what?
Something doesn’t fit. They performed miracles but at the gate to heaven the Master says, “I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness.”
Seems almost harsh, but we know from the context that Jesus wants all mankind to enter heaven. So how do I understand what it means to NOT be that guy?
Consider the words, “but the one who does the will of My Father.” Everything folds around that statement. If I understand the will issue then I can ensure I will not walk through the wrong door.
The Father’s will for your life is that you shine for God and influence this world as salt and light. And that your righteousness doesn’t come from works so much as from relationship with God, as you walk with character and conviction.
We’ll live in joy when understand the will of God; His sovereign will, moral will (as shown in the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ life), and our call or vocational will as some refer to it.
Grasping the sovereign will of God can takes years of study, but boils down to embracing the reality of God’s holy, perfect character. Therefore, how He intercedes in circumstances or allows circumstances we don’t understand, defies our right to challenge. Because of His immutable love and mercy, and sovereignty, His judgments remain beyond our ability to grasp and so instead of fighting or trying to explain, we humbly submit to His will, even in confusion.
So, we understand then that when God says everybody will die and experience an eternity, well then everybody dies and experiences some form of eternity.
When God says that Jesus Christ will come again to redeem the world, then Jesus Christ will come again to redeem the world.
The reality of God’s sovereign will disturbs many.
However God must be able to do whatever He deems necessary and good, otherwise He ceases to be God. He must be able to intervene with the world in such a way that represents His sovereign attributes, even when He allows certain things to happen, that we, created in His image, don’t understand.
So when He allows us to make a choice about our eternity, He is sovereign.
As for moral law, we can choose to either live morally or immorally. We can choose to obey that truth or not obey that truth. Yet for the Christian who has trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior, He absolves the eternal payment required when we act immorally, covering our sins by the blood of Christ.
How does this connect to being “known” by God?
When Jesus refers to “knowing” in the sense of being known by God, he uses the Greek word, ginosko, meaning a deep knowing. A knowing that goes deep into the intellectual, emotional, physical, relational, essence of our being; all conceptualized into one.
This knowing reaches far back in time to the beginning, when Hebrews used the word “yada” for “to know” as in Genesis two referring to Adam knew Eve. We think of sexual knowing but Hebrews understood that it was a full knowing, a knowing that went so deep that there is an emotional, spiritual, relational, intellectual and physical connection.
Jesus teaches us that we can miss God when we call him “Lord” and even do works in His name, but still not know Jesus Christ intimately.
We would call that works based righteousness, which is exactly what Jesus is spending the entire Sermon on the Mount destroying, deflating, decomposing and bringing off the throne so that we can see the beauty of what it looks like to know God, to love God, and to serve God with pure motives, free of religion.
When we accept His sovereignty, we discover that God is God and we are not. Then we accept His justice clinging His grace, love, mercy and forgiveness. When we know Him and rest there, we are children of God.