I never knew you

This is a short expository message intending to study a verse from the scripture.
Matthew chapter 5 to 7 are all about the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew 7, Jesus is telling a series of short parables about the entry to the Kingdom of God.
The scripture under study is as follows:

Matthew 7: 22, 23 (similar passage is seen in Luke 13:23 - 30)
22   "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?'
23   "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (NKJV)
Jesus presents two types of people who will come to Him on the day of separation and Judgment.
All will be seeking to enter the kingdom of heaven, but many will be turned away.
Those who will be turned down, will react in utter confusion and disappointment.
Jesus will turn them down saying, “I never knew you”.
Jesus is rejecting these people who prophesied in His name.
They have even performed miraculous acts such as driving out demons, healing and other miracles.
But Jesus is telling them: “I never knew you”

We are discussing here two important questions in connection with the above scripture.
The first question is, are all those who perform miracles in the name of Jesus must be from God?
Or can we consider, the ability to prophesy, preach eloquently or perform miracles as a sure sign that a person is really saved by Jesus and live under His Lordship?
The second question is: Who are these people and how can they do miracles in the name of Jesus, unless they are doing them by God’s power and authority?
Let us discuss these two questions in detail.

Many and few

Beginning in verse 13, Jesus discourses at length on the subject of true faith and false professions, using the technique of contrast and comparison.
Verses 13 &14 describe two paths that lead to different destinations.
Here Jesus is presenting a dichotomy of choices in life.
There are two pictures in the parable:
One is that of a wide gate and broad way; many people are going through it; and its destination is destruction.
The second picture is that of a narrow gate and narrow way; few people go through it; and its destination is life

That means, the broad way is full of people, so crowded that they push at each other, travelling to destruction.
Since they are not either chosen or saved people, there is cheating, killing, torturing and all kinds of wickedness among them.
It is not a comfortable journey there.

The narrow way is not crowded at all; only few people travel through it to life.
All of them have chosen eternal life as their destination.
Since they are chosen and saved by the blood of Jesus, there is no wickedness among them.
They live and travel under the lordship of Jesus like the Israelites in the desert.
Journey through the narrow way it peaceful and joyful.

The story is not just about the width of two roads.
The key to this short parable is “many” and “few”; Jesus is speaking about people not about roads.
He will return to the concept of the “many” and the “few” in verses 22 and 23.

In verses 15-18, Jesus again contrasts two types of people by using imagery of sheep and wolves; grapes and figs and thorn bushes and thistles, good trees and bad trees; good fruit and bad fruit.
Having established the idea of dichotomy in the minds of His hearers, He goes on to apply these truths to the spiritual state of all within His hearing.

Remember, Jesus is speaking about people, not roads, animals or trees.
He is talking about “many” people and “few” people.
In Matthew 7:23 & 24, Jesus continues the dichotomy of “many” who profess faith and “few” who really have faith in Christ.

The “many” in the parable are not strangers to Christian religion; they claim the name of Jesus.
These are those who would gladly say, “I am a Christian.”
They work their works in Jesus’ name. They pray and heal in Jesus’ name.
They preach and teach in Jesus’ name. They build huge churches and ministries in Jesus’ name.
They claim a relationship with Him. But Jesus never knew them.

Please note the words: “I never knew you”. What does Jesus mean by it?
There are two explanations to it.

1.   They were once saved by faith in Christ but now they have backslidden.
2.   They were never saved, not elected, never justified and never sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

The first is Arminianism and the second is Calvinism.
But whatever may be the past life of these people, Jesus said in the parable that “I never knew you.

In the Syriac version of the passage, they called Jesus, not just “Lord, Lord”, but "my Lord, my Lord".
They presented a long list of works they have performed in the name of Jesus.
But Jesus took not the responsibility of their action. He disowns all their deeds.
It is clear that whatever they had been doing in the name of Jesus were not done with the approval, assistance or power of Jesus.
The tragedy is that they always believed that they are prophesying and doing miracles with the power and authority of Jesus and that is a sure ticket to the Kingdom of God.
But Jesus condemned them saying that they “practice lawlessness!'
That means, throughout their popular career, they had no relationship with Jesus.
That can only mean that these people were not born of God's Spirit.
If He 'never knew’ these people, then they never belonged to Him at any time.
Jesus was not ditching them at the last moment.
But He never knew them; they never had a relationship with Him.

The above verse was spoken to the Jewish crowd standing around Jesus.
Some of them had already expressed an interest in Him and were calling Him Lord.
But Jesus knew that many who called Him Lord during His earthly ministry, would later refuse to accept sacrifice on the cross.

The Day of Judgment is not a day to start a relationship with Jesus.
But many, on that day would call upon His name and claim a relationship based on the works they have performed in His name; but the Judgment Day is not a day of salvation.

True believers are the good trees that produce good fruit.
They are the true sheep who look to Christ, depend on Him, commit themselves to Him, trust in Him, and believe on Him for righteousness, salvation, and eternal life.
These are the ones who will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

How did they perform miracles?

The exact meaning of “I never knew you” is the key topic of this discussion.
But before that let us think briefly about the question; “how could they perform miracles and prophesy in the name of Jesus, if He never knew them”?
If these people never did belong to God, how do we explain their ability to perform miracles?
Can those who do not have the Holy Spirit actually cast out demons and perform miraculous healings and spectacular signs and wonders?
For this question, there are three explanations popular among the theologians.

The first possibility is that their claims were simply false. 
The prophecies, exorcisms, and miracles were fake and contrived.
Casting out devils, healing, prophesy and good deeds can be stage managed for the popularity of a preacher.
Following this evil practice for long, the preachers would deceive themselves that they are really doing all these works for the Kingdom of God.
But the Kingdom of God need no human work based on the desires of human flesh.

The second is that some miracles are done by the power of Satan and his demonic host.
Evil spirits can manipulate physical elements to their own ends.
Consider how Satan afflicted Job with lightning, windstorm and boils all over his body.
Exodus 7 describes the magicians and sorcerers of Egypt who imitated with evil power, the signs performed by Moses with God’s power.
In the New Testament, Acts 13: 6 speaks about a Jewish false prophet named Barjesus
In Acts 19: 13 & 14 we read of a group of a Jewish vagabond exorcists who were the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest.
Jesus predicted in Matthew 24: 24 that “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (NKJV)
So we see that not all miracles come from God and not all who perform miracles in the name of Jesus are truly His.
Today there are miracle workers, healers, and exorcists who claim to work for Jesus Christ but are satanic deceivers.
Jesus calls them evildoers because the miracles they perform have evil as their source.

Third, there are times when God, in His sovereign will and for His purposes, will empower unbelievers to perform miraculous deeds.
King Cyrus is a good example for it.
Cyrus was a Persian gentile King who allowed Jews to return to Israel after 70 years of captivity.
One hundred fifty years before Cyrus lived, the prophet Isaiah in chapter 44: 28 prophesied about him as “'He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure”.
In Isaiah 45: 1 he is called as God’s “anointed”.
He is the only man outside of the covenant people of Israel, who is called “his anointed.”
The Hebrew word used for “anointed” is mashiyach (maw-shee'-akh), the word of Messiah.

Does that mean that Cyrus had a righteous standing before God or that Cyrus was filled with Holy Spirit? Definitely no.
The word “anointed” basically indicates a person God authorizes and sets apart for His service.
It only indicate that God chose him and appointed him for fulfilling a purpose of God.
He would acknowledge Yahweh to be a great God.

It is true that Cyrus declared freedom to Jews from captivity and assisted to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem.
Cyrus restored the temple treasures to Jerusalem and allowed building expenses to be paid from the royal treasury.
But there is no proof that Cyrus ever accepted Yahweh as his only God and savior.
Cyrus believed in polytheism; that is he believed in all kind of the gods.
Cyrus was willing to acknowledge Yahweh among the many gods on earth; he never went beyond that.
God prophesied about this gentile man 150 years before his birth; that means God chose this man long before his birth to fulfill a particular purpose.
God used this man to declare freedom to Jews from captivity and helped them to rebuild the Temple.
That simply means that, God controls everything, and no king exists on the earth without His permission.
God can use believers as well as nonbelievers to accomplish His purpose on earth.

Balaam (bey-lum) is another example for God using gentiles to fulfill His purpose.
Balaam was not an Israelite but apparently a Syrian who lived in Pethor, a town situated near the Euphrates. (Numbers 22:5). 
His family traditionally were sorcerers, magicians, diviners and soothsayers.
Balaam is called “the soothsayer” in Joshua 13: 22. But God used him to bless His people, Israel.
God put words of blessings to Israel in Balaam’s mouth, even though he was false and wicked.
And the most striking thing is that he prophesied about the coming Messiah and the Kingdom of God.

Numbers 24: 17 "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.  (NKJV)

Another person
In Mark 9: 38 & 39, we read the disciples complaining to Jesus about a man who was casting out demons in His name.
They continued that, because he was not following the group with Jesus, the disciples forbade him from performing such miracles in the name of Jesus.
But Jesus answered them not to forbid him from doing miracles in His name.
Jesus also added that no one who works miracles in His name can soon afterward speak evil of Him.

We are not sure whether this person had faith in Jesus as Messiah, the redeemer and the King.
It is not sure that he had accepted the Lordship of Jesus.
And also we have no reason to judge that he did not have true faith in Jesus.

But the core of the message of Jesus is that, if a person or group is performing miracles or any other kind of good works in the name of Jesus, let us not forbid them.
Jesus neither praises nor blames him for following an independent course, not working with his disciples.
He simply declares that he must not be forbidden.
The passage is clear direction to us on how to approach the spiritual activities of the other Christian assemblies.
They may not be doing all things according to our understanding of the scripture.
Still, those who work the same kind of work that we do should be regarded, not as enemies, but allies.

The prime example for God using people who are not chosen for salvation, is Judas Iscariot.
As we know, Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus.
In Matthew 10 we read about the commissioning of the twelve apostles for a short term training by the Rabbi Jesus.
Verse 1 says that, Jesus called His twelve disciples and gave them power over unclean spirits and to heal all kinds of sickness.
From verse 2, the names of the twelve disciples are given.
In Luke 6:13 says that “He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (NKJV)
Mark 3:14 says that Jesus “appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (NKJV)
Matthew 10:4 mentions the name of Judas as one of these twelve apostles; “Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him” (NKJV)

Jesus sent out these twelve, after instructing them, saying, “And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the deadcleanse the leperscast out demons; freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10: 7 & 8)
Jesus gave them the authority to preach, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons.

It is reasonable to think that Judas Iscariot also had the same power as the other eleven.
Judas might have prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles, including healing the sick.
But ultimately he was proved to be a "bad tree" who practiced lawlessness.
He was never a true disciple of Christ.
He was a deceiver and the “son of perdition” (John 17:12).
Yet God gave him the power to do miracles for His own glory and to accomplish His will.

A miracle done by God is a display of His power through the medium of another.
An act of healing the sick is a display of "His power" through the agency of another.
So of preaching or prophesying.
The same principle is applicable to miracles done by evil powers.
It is not necessary to connect the spiritual or moral character of a person with miraculous deeds.
God may use the agency of a man of talents, though not pious, to carry forward His purposes.
Saving power is the work of God, and he may convey it by any agency which he chooses.

Day of separation and judgment

Jesus also spoke through many other parables about the Day of Judgment and separation.
In the parable about Wheat and Weed, that we read in Matthew 13: 24 - 30, Jesus spoke about the final separation of the wicked from the good and the punishment of the wicked.
Both wheat and weed grew up together in the same field, to the time of the harvest.
But on the day of the harvest the farmer ordered to collect the weeds separately and burn them.
And He ordered to gather all good wheat and store them in his granary. (gra-nu-ree)
So a day of separation and judgment is coming.

John the Baptist also spoke about this day of separation.

Matthew 3: 12 "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (NKJV)

John the Baptist, the greatest among prophets, confessed that it is not in his authority to separate and judge the people.
The winnowing fan is in the hands of Jesus; Jesus will clean the threshing floor and Jesus will separate the wheat and chaff.
But we have enough warning against false prophets and preachers, we are warned to keep ourselves away from them; but we are not authorized to judge and stop them.


Let us go back to the text of our message - the parable about false Christians.
On the Day of Judgment, many would tell Jesus that, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” (Matthew 7: 22)

It may be observed, that these men lay the whole stress of their salvation upon what they have done in Christ's name; and not in Christ in whom there is salvation.
The fact that "many" such persons are among us, travelling through the broad way.
Though they were prophesying, casting out demons, and doing many mighty works in Christ's name, these religious people are called “you who practice lawlessness”.
It is a sad thing that, after performing many miracles, preaching and prophesying, healing and doing many good works in the name of Jesus, they are denied the inheritance to the Kingdom of God.

This is exactly the situation with the majority of religious actions practiced today in the world.
They are done in Jesus' name, but not by his authority.
This means, that the things done are not commanded by Christ.

I never knew you

Now, let move to the core of this message, the final part of our discussion.
The words of Jesus, “I never knew you” do not convey the common understanding of the word.
God sees everything that exists on this earth; He knows every action that takes place on the earth.
God is omniscient; that means there is nothing hidden from His eyes.
There is no time in heaven and hence no past and future; everything is present.
That means, by the omniscience of God, He knew these persons and their works.
He knew what they had been doing all their days under the guise of religion.
He knew the principles of all their actions, and the views they had; nothing is hidden from him.

Then what is wrong these people?
Let us read a passage from the first epistle of John.

1 John 2: 18, 19
18  Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (NKJV)

Apostle John says that the period in which we live is the “last hour” and that the antichrist is coming.
He continues to say that “even now many antichrists have come” already.
He may be referring to the spirit of antichrist, the satanic powers which roam roaring like a lion to devour God’s chosen sheep.
And by the fact that the wicked spirit of antichrist is already in action, we confirm that this is the last hour.

Now we move to verse 19, which is important for us in this study.
“many antichrists” went out from our congregation; but they really did not belong to us.
If they really belonged to us, they would not have gone out of us.
They once professed to believe in Christ but later renounced the faith and began to manifest the spirit of antichrist.
Since they have gone out, they are manifested in their true form that shows that they were not of us.
In short John is telling that “many antichrists” or people with the spirit of satan are among the Christian assembly, but they do not belong to Jesus Christ.

Now let us come to the key phrase: Jesus said, “I never knew you.”
Knew’ in Greek is, ginosko‘(Gk.1097), that describes knowledge that one gains through direct personal involvement or experience.
The words “know” and “foreknow” creates a different picture in the Bible.
In Scripture God’s knowing often refers to his entering into relationship with someone.
The word know is sometimes used in the Bible to describe an intimate or personal relationship between man and woman.

Jesus is speaking about the spiritual relationship between the bridegroom and the bride.
So here Jesus uses ginosko for ‘knew’ not to describe His understanding but the relationship with these evildoers.


So an intimate personal relationship with Jesus is important for inheriting the Kingdom of God.
This relationship does not go out of us; we cannot create it by any works.
It must come out of Jesus towards His chosen one. Jesus is the initiator and fulfilment of this intimate relationship.
We receive it by Grace and Grace alone; our part is accepting it.

This is not a condition for prophets and preachers alone.
The same condition is applicable to all Christians.
The name ‘Christian’ is not enough to enter into the Kingdom, but the King should have an intimate relationship with the person.

Not only are there false teachers, false preachers, and false evangelists who will look real, but there will be false Christians also.
Jesus is not their Lord. They are not trusting God to forgive their sins.
They may even be leaders in the church, but they are not real.

Lifting a hand or filling a decision card at a crusade as a sign of committing our life to Jesus is good.
But that does not create an intimate relationship with Him; it is only an expression of intent to start a relationship.
A relationship is a long way from there.
One person calling “my Lord” won’t make a relationship, the other also should respond positively calling “my son” or “my daughter”.
Here is the secret of knowing Jesus and Jesus knowing you.

Does Jesus know you? Does He has an intimate relationship with you?
This is the big question. Ask the question to yourselves; ask it to Jesus.
If you feel insecure, it is high time to mend the relationship with Jesus.
Hurry up! Jesus is coming soon!

Let me cut short; thank you all for watching and hearing this short message.
May God bless and keep you in peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment