Article: Does God know us or not? | Jacob Varghese
Does God know us or not?
(Seven-word horror story: “I never knew you; depart from Me…”.)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one 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!’” (Matthew 7:21–23).
Jesus said, “then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”. It seems strange to hear our all-knowing Lord say to us that He doesn’t know us. Jesus refers not to an intellectual knowledge here but to a relational knowledge. Jesus is wrapping up His Sermon on the Mount with a final warning about the true faith. Jesus predicts that false Christian prophets will be coming to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15). They may use all the right “Godly and spiritual vocabulary” and even make impressive displays of the power of the Holy Spirit, but they will not belong to the Lord.
In Jesus’ words on Judgment Day, we see several important truths: A verbal claim that one follows Jesus, or nominal Christianity cannot save. Also, it’s not a demonstration of spiritual insight or power, that saves. A person can seem like a Christian in the eyes of other people, yet still be an “evildoer” in God’s sight and such people will be sent away from His presence. Only those who do the father’s will and who are known by God will enter the kingdom of heaven.
The relevant question is what is the father’s will? In John 6:28–29 we see some men came to Jesus once with a question about what God required of them: “They asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’”. Yes, God wants us to have faith in His Son: “This is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23). Those who are born again by faith in Christ, have to produce good works for the glory of God (Ephesians 2:10).
When Jesus said, “I never knew you,” to the insincere disciples, He meant that He never recognized them as His true disciples or His friends. He never had anything in common with them nor approved of them. In Mark 3:34–35 He says “whoever does God’s will be mine.” According to the scriptures, Christ did not dwell in their hearts (Ephesians 3:17), nor did they have known the mind of the Lord (1 Corinthians 2:16). In all these ways and more, Jesus never knew them. The important thing to note here that Jesus is not breaking off the relationship instead there was never a relationship to break off. Despite their high-sounding words and showy displays of religious fervor, they had no intimacy with Christ. So, it turns out that what matters is not so much that we know God on some level, but that God knows us. As Paul explained, “Whoever loves God is known by God” (1 Corinthians 8:3; also see Galatians 4:9). The Lord “tends His flock like a shepherd” (Isaiah 40:11), and a good shepherd knows who are His sheep (John 10:14).
It is not about whether I know God or not; but the question is, does God know us or not? Those strong words “I never knew you: depart from me” in Matthew 7:23 show that Jesus is indeed omniscient. He did not “know” them in the sense He would if they were His followers, but He knew their hearts—they were full of iniquity! Isaiah’s condemnation of hypocrisy fits this group well: Isaiah 29:13 says “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”. The evildoers whom Jesus does not know are fake Christians, false teachers, and nominal adherents of religion.
Those who are sent away from the presence of the Lord will not take part of the blessings of the kingdom. That is why Revelation 22:15 says “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” As per Matthew 8:12 they will be cast “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Those fake Christians whom Jesus says He never knew will not produce the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22–23; rather, they will produce the opposite, the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19–21.
Jesus warns that one day He will tell a group of religious practitioners, “I never knew you.” 2 Peter 3:9 says God takes no delight in sending people to hell to perish, but those who are told to depart have rejected God’s eternal purpose and plan for their lives (Luke 7:30). They have rejected the light of the gospel as seen in 2 Corinthians 4:4, choosing the darkness instead, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). At the judgment, they try to justify themselves as worthy of heaven on the basis of their works (prophecies, healing ministries, miracles, etc.), but no one will be justified by his own works (Galatians 2:16). While claiming to do all these good works in Christ’s name, they failed to do the only work of God that counts: “to have faith in the one he sent” (John 6:29). And so, Jesus, the Righteous Judge, condemns them to eternal separation from Him telling “depart from me”.