By Olin Williams
July 1, 2021
“Not everyone that saith unto, 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 done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7: 21-23).
This refers to unrepentant Jews who thought that their ancestry automatically entitled them to the kingdom of God. They thought that they were assured of special favor by God because of their ancestry and their good works.
Jesus is saying no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless they follow the will of God. What is the will of God?
Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).
The will of God is that a person must be born again to be able to go to heaven. A person must be convicted by the Spirit of God that he is a sinner by nature and needs a savior. He must repent of his sin of unbelief and pray the
Lord to forgive him and convert him.
This conversion is accomplished by the work of the Spirit of God and not by one’s good works or religious efforts. In the natural cognitive thinking, a person may believe his good works or religious practice earns merits toward entrance into heaven. Not so. The only way is through the merit of Jesus dying on the cross in substitution for guilty Man.
Jesus continues to say that there are many who trust their own wonderful fruits of labor to convince them of their eternal home. At last when an unrepentant individual stands before God, trusting in his ancestry or good works, God will say, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”(Matthew 7:23).
What does this mean? Is God not all knowing? What does he mean when he will say, ” I never knew you.” God is all knowing. He knows everything about us and even our thoughts.
The same word “knew” occurs in Genesis 4:1. “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said , I have gotten a man from the Lord.”
The word in Hebrew is “yada.” It means to know, to experience, to learn, indicating the most intimate relationship between a man and a woman, the marriage bond.
The Choctaw word is “ithana or ikhana’, meaning to acquaint, to embrace, to acquire knowledge and experience. So what God is saying is, I know you but I never had personal relationship with you. Unless one is born again by the Spirit of God, he could never have relationship with God, who is a spirit. Behavior modification, philanthropy, and church activities are all good social endeavors, but they are not salvation of the soul.