Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 43: “I Never Knew You!” October 10, 2018

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

I have known a dozen people over the years who expressed worry, even fear … that on Judgment Day, they might hear Jesus say, “I never knew you!” They had ruminated too long on this passage forgetting that if Jesus never knew them … then they never knew Jesus and they would not be concerned about what he might say to them. We know if we know the Lord! Such people who never knew him have thought their good works would save them. But they did not know him, no matter what they did. They never sought the Lord. They sought only “achievements” in his name. They are not expecting to be rejected. They will be surprised. In other words, we who know Jesus do not need to fear that he will reject us. Fear of that rejection is a sign that we DO know him, and he knows us. This is subtle.

Like the person who worries that they might have blasphemed the Holy Spirit most likely never has … or they would not be worried about it. So, what to do with this puzzling passage? Let’s remember that it was preceded by these words from Jesus about works and “fruit” …

Matthew 7:18-20 (NIV) “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

At first, this seems to confuse things even further. After all, the people that Jesus rejects in our text were claiming to have done all kinds of “good” things. They prophesied, and they drove out demons and they did miracles. Those were not only “good” but great things, right? So, how come Jesus is rejecting these people? Because he never knew them! That is, they may have done things in his name and God may have allowed those things to actually “work” but we forget: false prophets are active and the evil one plays games with spirits. Charlatans have performed miracles! Just ask Moses about his experience with the magicians who served Pharaoh. So, whatever ‘fruit” they bore, it was not of the Lord. Let’s go back to the key here …

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

We can glean several interesting points from this text. Everyone will say “Lord, Lord.” Everyone! This is asserted in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Speaking of Jesus, he writes:

Philippians 2:8-11 (NIV) “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

This is why it is unnecessary to become frustrated with friends and family who reject the Gospel. I’ve said to many people who insist they will never receive Christ and that he is only a myth … “Well, you will know otherwise eventually. Perhaps you will remember this conversation. Every knee will bow!”

The Lord Jesus Christ almost gives us a word picture of people lining up for entrance. He will be at the gate and will know his own and welcome them into the capital of the Kingdom of God in the presence of the Father. Jesus will know who has done the Father’s will. But … if the “good works” are not his will, what then does Jesus mean?

God’s will can be discerned. It is different for every believer. It might be preaching the Gospel and being known for great pulpit power. Or preaching the Gospel as a missionary or a teacher or one who tends to the poor. But it might also be the man who quietly paints the hallway and tends to the parking lot. The person who drives the van down to the city to bring food to the needy. And it is interesting that as we are called, we must do what He has given US to do. In other words, the greatest preacher should not be driving the van because God has given that job to another person. We must seek His will at all times as to how we serve him. The people in the parable did some good things but they were not the will of God. Thus, we saw our Lord teach us earlier:

Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV) “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

This should not be mistaken for salvation by works. Rather, we who have been born of the Holy Spirit will demonstrate that re-birth by doing His will. And he will make that will clear to us. How? Consider Paul once again:

Romans 12:2 (NIV) “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

And who are those who no longer conform to the patterns of this world? Simple. They are described in Matthew 5 thru 7! Jesus might say “This is what they look like. And this is how they live, according to the Father’s will.”

Next: “Wise and Foolish Builders”

Blessings! Pastor Alberta

1 Comment

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One response to “Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

  1. Pamela Meyer

    Thank you.

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