Many are about to stand before Jesus, and will hear something they didn’t expect. This video is an urgent warning to be ready for that approaching moment. This isn’t about “works”…but a call to recognize the mark of true followers of Christ.
As Jesus said, those who hear “depart from me” for practicing sin “never knew Him”. The girl in this video was likely not truly His or she would have demonstrated John 13:35.
“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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Jesus says that it is possible to call on him and not be with him for eternity. Yet Romans 10:13 tells us, “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Is it possible to call on God and to be rejected by him?
According to Jesus, the answer is “yes.” To understand this apparent contradiction, we need to examine the context of “I never knew you.”
The Meaning of “Depart from Me, I Never Knew You”
The ESV and other modern Bibles divide Matthew 7 into these subheadings: Judging Others, Ask and It Will Be Given, the Gold Rule, A Tree and Its Fruit, I Never Knew You, Build Your House on the Rock, and the Authority of Jesus.
Matthew 7:21-23 nestles between Jesus’ instructions about how to obey God, how to treat other people, and signs that one is truly living in Christ.
Jesus teaches that his power is all-encompassing. Consider how Matthew 7:21-23 rests between “by their fruit you will recognize them” and “therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:20, 24).
As the Rock, he is mighty, his word is foundational, and his disciples are changed by it. They change inwardly, becoming more patient and kinder. They also grow from him like branches from a vine and can only live as part of that vine. Unbreakable Rock; sustaining Vine: Our Savior is simultaneously powerful and tender.
Growing Fruit on the Rock
Jesus provides a test for discerning believers: “You will recognize [false prophets] by their fruits” because a “diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
Believers can recognize one who is in Christ, and be assured of their own salvation, by the same test for “a healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit” (Matthew 7:15-18). Disciples are tender towards those who need Jesus’ power in their lives.
Jesus makes a distinction between results and fruit. He seeks a heart that is devoted to him, relationship with other believers, and real joy in worship. He is uninterested in the mighty works of those who do not abide in him.
One can accomplish great things in Jesus’ name and abide in him as well, but great works alone do not prove that one is saved. He said, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Jesus frequently chooses the worst situations to show his power because that’s where power seems unlikely, even impossible: Miraculous. He can work through anyone, in spite of that person’s proclaimed beliefs, but joy comes with submitting to the one true God.
Disciples rest in him because, thanks to rich, daily personal time with him, they know he is trustworthy. Like David, who praised God even while hiding from his enemies, we can declare, “On my bed I remember you” (Psalm 63:6).
Even though “sleep is a time when one would be especially vulnerable to surprise attack,” David knows “that God is his shelter. Because of this, he is confident in God’s protection.”
Sleeping might not seem like an act of worship, but in this case, David really is demonstrating his full reliance on and trust in God. This is as important, perhaps more important, than having the courage to fight an enemy in battle.
Those who try to earn salvation, worship their own ability, not Jesus’ power. He is not foundational to their lives. Teachers who do not rest on the Rock are “false prophets” who “come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” They proclaim Jesus but inwardly worship self.
Not only do they offend God and risk damnation, but they also deceive the unguarded heart. It is possible to be misled, for example, by prosperity preachers or liberal “all-roads-lead-to-God” preachers whose platforms are self-made distortions of gospel truth.
What It Means for Jesus to Know Us
“You will know [disciples] by their fruit,” or Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” There are multiple meanings for “to know.” One might recognize a person and say, “I know him” or understand a concept and say, “I know what that means.”
When one says, “I know Jim,” he could know Jim as a close friend or as an acquaintance.
With a close friendship, a deep kind of knowing is evident. Respect, honor, concern, love: These are all displayed when two people possess more than statistics, but hopes, struggles, dislikes, goals, dreams, hurts, and joys.
In this latter verse, people ignored the gospel, turned away from Jesus, and did not realize they needed a Savior. The evidence of God’s power did not satisfy them; it will be too late to change their minds once the door is closed.
In Matthew 7, Jesus’ use of “ginóskó” goes deeper. He talks about followers who accept him but do not perceive him correctly. They recognize his power, but not the depths of it or the depths of their own depravity.
They hope to obtain power and authority for themselves by their connection to Christ; Jesus himself is not their greatest need and desire.
The verb is even used in reference to sexual intimacy, and although that is not what Christ is referring to here, he does invite communion with his people at the deepest spiritual level.
Taken out of context, one might build an incomplete picture in which all you have to do is cry “Jesus!” but truly knowing Jesus, relying on him, is similar to abiding.
Abiding in Jesus
There are five features of abiding in Jesus, which all believers share:
1. Those who abide in Jesus bear good fruit. Good fruit stands in contrast to one’s unique pre-salvation fruit; the harvest of conflict, worry, or greed.
Angry people are less inclined to fight with others and enjoy warm, peaceful relationships; greedy individuals covet money less and are more generous, and worriers enjoy peace.
2. Those who abide in Jesus keep his commandments. The two greatest of these are to worship God with one’s entire being and to love others as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-40)
A life abiding in Christ is not perfect, but worship becomes deeper, richer, more frequent: Central to one’s life. Making worship central feels like privilege, not drudgery.
3. Those who abide in Jesus read his word, and it comes alive. It is relevant, meaningful, essential.
4. Those who abide in Jesus love well. They find themselves loving people who are hard to love; people who might not love them back or who even reject and abuse them.
5. Those who abide in Jesus are joyful. Knowing the hope of Christ, that salvation awaits them, provides disciples with “pure joy” when they “face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
Calling on the Name of Jesus
Calling “Lord, Lord” means calling on the names of the Lord, many of which are embodied above, but others of which are essential for living a fruitful life in the Vine. Jesus is the Cornerstone of Luke 20 and the Tree of Matthew 7.