Four Painful Words
Read Matthew 7:21-23
"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.' "
Who was Jesus talking about in these verses?
I'm haunted by four painful words in the Bible: "I never knew you."
To me, these are the most terrifying words in the Bible. Jesus spoke them while teaching on a mountainside. Does this include Christ-followers, too?
I know Jesus was warning about religious phonies and people He described a few verses earlier as "ferocious wolves" in sheep's clothing. But what about ordinary Christian folks who mess up from time to time?
What about the times when I doubt ... or the seasons when I don't feel close to God? What about the struggles I often battle?
Is Jesus saying that it's all about a perfect score? If I don't always do the do's and avoid the don'ts ... is it possible that I could miss eternity, too?
Is God that cruel?
The answers to these questions, of course, are " NO!" God loves us passionately despite our imperfections. Change does not bring about salvation. Instead, salvation produces change in our lives. And God is incredibly patient as He works it all out step by step.
Yet here's something that troubles me: Too often when new believers exhibit no change in their lifestyles or when they revert to former lifestyles, we often refer to them as "unsanctified carnal Christians." However, the term carnal Christian appears to be useless with regard to discipleship and genuine faith.
If there is no behavior that separates the carnal Christian from the non-Christian, there is really no such thing as a carnal Christian. These are simply people who made a profession of faith but are yet in their sins. Again, only God can judge the heart; research cannot. But research analyzes behaviors ... and where there are no changed behaviors from Notional Christ-followers there is reason to suspect the genuineness of their salvation.
Here's what Jesus said: "Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:16-17, 20).
The test of true life in Christ is growth and maturation, not verbal profession.
I have observed a significant behavioral and lifestyle differences between Christ-followers who know what the Bible is and what it is for and those who don't.
Engaging God's Word really works!
With that said, are you ready to stop searching in the dark? Are you yearning to fall in love with Jesus and to begin pursuing Him with all your heart?
Lord Jesus, I want to know You intimately. Change my heart, grow my faith. Amen.