Lately I have been giving a great deal of thought to the verse in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The reason for my preoccupation with the verse being that I have had the belief of eternal security preached at me a number of times lately. Now I have written on eternal security here http://bibleconundrumsandcontroversy.blogspot.com/2014/05/is-there-or-is-there-not-eternal.html , so I do not see the need to go into the subject in detail when I have already written on it. What I would like to address here is, to whom is Christ speaking when He says that He doesn't 'know” them?
When Christians read this passage, they inevitably point the finger at someone else. They never even remotely consider that this passage might be speaking of them. And you will find this attitude pervades every Christian denomination or cult across the board. Well, the problem is, it applies to someone, so to whom does it apply? Obviously the people in question in the verse believe they are Christians. In fact they think they are good Christians. They believe in God, they believe in Christ, they even have power in using Christ's name. They have prophesied, cast out devils, and done wonderful works by the power of His name. The evidence of these actions would seem to fall under the category of fruits of the spirit, so when we are told that we can judge by looking at the fruits, we find that this is not always the plumb line that we can trust, for clearly people who seem to have had fruits still do not make it into heaven. In fact they are said to be workers of iniquity. This is about as frightening a passage in the Scriptures as one can find. In this passage Christ gives two more evidences that must be considered along with the evidence of works and gifts of the Spirit. The first is that we must do the will of the Father and the second is that we must “know” Christ.
When it comes to fruits and gifts in the name of Christ, one must look to see whether or not it is the Christ of the Bible or some other “christ” whose name is being used. New Age believers believe in a “christ” spirit which can give powers to some of them. The source of the powers though is not the Christ of the Bible, it is a demonic power impersonating Christ. Then there are actual Christian churches who have false prophets and teachers who use the name of Christ, and the people believe they are speaking of the Christ of the Bible, but in reality it is a different Christ. So we must be very careful to see what Christ is being referenced in the name of these works to see the source of the power behind the works. That requires having a thorough working knowledge of the Bible and its teachings, which so few seem to have these days.
The next criteria, that of doing the will of the Father can only be wholly determined by the individual in question. The outward actions of a person can only show so much about a person. We are told that if we love Jesus, we will obey His commandments. Living by the Ten Commandments (not nine, but ten) is a good indicator that a person is walking with God, but it is not a decisive factor, for many can conform in outward appearance (look at the Pharisees) while being inwardly rebellious. We also cannot know what God is asking of that person in which they may be resisting His will. We cannot look at someone else and decide whether or not they are doing the will of the Father, for we are not God and do not know His will for that person nor can we look at that person's heart. We can only look at them and see whether or not it looks as if their life is under His control. For ourselves we have to ask ourselves, are we living in accordance with God's commandments, and do we turn to God for every decision we have to make and try to find out what God's will is, or do we simply make decisions and expect God to go along with our decision? Often it seems hard to know what God wants from us when it comes to decisions in life that are not about sin vs. obedience but simply life choices, for the path may seem murky, or there is more than one path. Making decisions in these situations is most difficult, and often we find ourselves doubting that we have made the right choice. We can only pray and look for peace in our decision, for I have found that peace seems to be the one thing that we can count on to help us make the right choice. There are occasions when we are presented with opportunities which come out of the blue, and the natural reaction is to say that it must be from God, as we were not looking for this opportunity. In such cases we often will jump on that decision thinking we are doing God's will, but that is not always the case. Sometimes Satan will give us a temptation for an opportunity that will improve our lives materialistically and God is waiting to see if we will go for the gold, or take into consideration the cost of that decision in terms of spiritual well-being or the cost in other ways, such as family life. We must always weigh all the costs when determining God's will. There may be sacrifices that are necessary to follow God's will, but they will never be ones that will imperil our spiritual well-being by leading us away from Christ, and should not ruin our relationships with the godly members of our family. I specify “godly” members, as those who hate Christ will hate us if we follow Him, so we should not expect their approval.
The last criteria, and the one I want to dwell a little more on is whether or not Christ “knows” us. There are many ways that the word “know” is used in the Bible. Adam “knew” Eve and they had a son. In this case the “knowing” took the form of physical intimacy. Adam did not have to have intellectual knowledge of Eve to know her in this way. He did not have to know her desires or preferences or facts about her. He knew her carnally. This is the first type of “knowing” someone.
Another way to “know” someone is to have knowledge of the facts of their life - where they were born, grew up, went to school, etc. It is an intellectual knowledge of a person. We can get to know Christ in this way as we read about His life in the Bible. We gain a head or intellectual knowledge about Him and who He was and what He did. It does not necessitate that we love Him. This is a second type of “knowing” someone.
Even further we can “know” someone when we become friends and we spend time with them, getting to know their personalities, how they will react in situations, what their preferences are. This is a more personal knowledge that results from spending time with someone. We feel affection for our friends and we enjoy their companionship when we are with them, but when we aren't, they are not generally present in our minds. We don't dwell upon the thought of them, but when with them, we thoroughly enjoy their company and doing things together with them. We do love them with a brotherly kind of love, but it is not generally all encompassing to our lives. They are a pleasant and enjoyable companion for whom we feel affection and we like spending time with them. We learn to know Christ this way when we initially accept His gift of justification and forgiveness, and study God's Word and see into the heart and mind of Christ as He revealed Himself, and spend time in prayer talking to Him. He is in our hearts and we feel a love for Him, but our thoughts are not always turning to Him. He is a sometimes presence in our lives, when we go to church, when we do devotions, etc. This is a third way of”knowing” someone.
Finally we have the kind of knowledge which is the kind that marriage should result in, but so seldom does. It is the kind of knowledge that embraces the previous three, but goes a step further. It is the kind of knowledge that results when there is a combination of two elements, sacrificial unconditional love, and a constant intimate presence of two individuals together in spirit if not always in person. Their spirits and souls have become one in essence. This is how married people become “one.” They know each other intimately physically, they know each other's personal facts, they know each other's personalities and preferences and enjoy each other's companionship, but even more they have a deep abiding love for each other and know each other's deepest secrets, longings, and even when not physically in each other's presence, they have a constant awareness of the other individual in their mind and heart. They are always thinking of the other person and how what they do will affect that person, for that person's welfare and happiness is paramount to them. They are bonded in body, soul, and spirit, and start conforming to think alike and can even finish each other's sentences, because they have so joined their souls together that they almost think as one. This is what marriage is supposed to be, and hardly ever is. This is the fourth type of “knowing” and is why Christ calls us His Bride, for this is the kind of relationship He wants with us.
In this passage in Matthew the word “knew” is “ginosko” in Greek and can be said to mean “be aware of.” To be aware of something generally indicates that its presence is constantly within our perception. It is this constant awareness of the other person's presence in our minds and hearts that is defined in the type of relationship that one should find in marriage as described above. And to repeat, this is exactly why we are called the Bride of Christ. Our relationship with Christ is not supposed to be just a physical one where we have feelings that get all worked up when we are having an emotional outpouring at a rousing service, or the physical indwelling of the Spirit whom we can let guide us or quench if we do not want to listen to Him. It is not supposed to just be a head knowledge of Christ, who He was, what He did for us, or the facts of the Bible. It is not just supposed to be an affectionate relationship where we do love God to an extent and are familiar with the Bible and know the basics of what is expected of us, and spend Sundays (or Sabbaths) in worship, and may even read a devotional and pray every day to spend some time with God, but when not doing those things, it is "out of sight, out of mind" as far as He goes. Knowing Christ and God the Father has to go further.
Knowing Christ in such a way that He knows us has to be a relationship where you willingly submit and sacrifice self to His will. Christ should be constantly aware of your presence, because you should be constantly aware of His. Your thoughts must be conformed to His thoughts, your love must be as sacrificial and unconditional as His is. You should know God intimately in a physical way when you listen to the Holy Spirit and don't quench His teaching, guidance, chastisement, etc. Christ should be your best friend and you should have an intellectual knowledge of Him as well as enjoying His company as a friend whose companionship brings you joy. You must have all of the kinds of “knowledge” listed above for Christ to “know” you. He must be as aware of you in His life as you are of His in yours. If He is not, then this is probably the scariest passage for a Christian to read, for it does not offer blanket eternal security to all believers. There will be Christians who thought they have known Christ, because they have trusted in their church or a baptism to give them salvation and have thought that they lived their lives for Him (in their estimation) by demonstrating gifts of the Spirit and good works, and who yet have missed the mark. There will be those who have accepted salvation as a free gift as born again believers, who read their Bible, attended church, and have done good works and still they do not know Him, or rather He does not know them, for He has not been the Lord of their lives. They have walked with the world in a carnal Christianity and an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality instead of constant awareness, submission, and holiness. So having Christ “know” you is a serious business. One that more people should consider carefully to decide if they will be among the people He addresses, or if He will know them upon sight.
The question for the reader becomes not one of “Do you know Christ?” , but “Is Christ aware of your presence in His life? Does He know you?”