How is it possible that many who think they are saved by Jesus will find themselves on the outside of God’s kingdom? Who are those Jesus never knew? Let us hear what Jesus says to those who have ears to hear.
Who Are Those Jesus Never Knew?
“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, testify, and preach in your name? In your name did we not drive out demons? In your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
We can know a great deal about a person and never know them.
Though during the time of Jesus, some commanded demons to be cast out Jesus says he never knew them. Some preached the word of God and Jesus and didn’t know him. Today some teach in universities and seminaries and testify to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, but Jesus says he does not know them.
How can we know if Jesus knows us and we know him? The evidence is the fruit we produce for him in our lives and the lives of our neighbors. The evidence is in the love we have for the Father and our neighbors.
For example, Paul writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry rather than out of love. They preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not from the heart.” (Philippians 1:15-17) Even so, the message of Jesus is greater than the man or woman who profits off his character and words. Though the person may not be saved, the truth of the gospel stands apart from those who proclaim it for selfish gain.
Listen again what Jesus says.
“Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” (John 17:21)
If we are born by the Holy Spirit of God — if we have the Spirit of Jesus in us — we will do the works of Jesus (John 14:12). He will come into us and we will go into him.
If Jesus lives in us we will speak the words of Jesus and reflect his glory by loving the Father. We can know that we intimately know Jesus when, in any situation, we understand what Jesus would do and say. This requires trust, prayer, silence, and often moments of solitude. This requires we first listen to the Father and read his word before seeking the opinions of others.
If we have his Spirit, we will begin to act like Jesus.
- Jesus forgives.
- Jesus has compassion on all.
- Jesus obeys the Father.
- Jesus keeps the commands.
- Jesus shows mercy.
- Jesus gave all.
- Jesus is humble.
- Jesus is peace.
- Jesus encourages and exhorts.
- Jesus convicts and comforts.
To be born of the Spirit of Jesus is to know with certainty that we are in the kingdom of God now — that we are saved now.
In Jesus we “have new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3)
To be born of the Spirit of Jesus is to know Jesus so intimately that we have full confidence that what comes after the grave is far greater than what comes before the grave. When we are in Jesus and he is in us, we willingly give away all we have now for a promised future we can only see with dim eyes.
This intimate relationship with Jesus is so important that he says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)
No one — not even those who preach, teach, or heal in his name — will enter the kingdom of God unless they are born by his Spirit.
“To all who receive Jesus, to those who believed in his name, he gives the right to become children of God — children born of God.” (John 1:13)
In law, a right is a power or privilege held by someone as the result of a constitution, statute, regulation, judicial precedent, or other type of law. Governments give rights to citizens. For example, the right to freely assemble or speak without fear of retribution is a right Americans possess. But if we do not act on these rights we can be silenced and scattered. To all who receive Jesus, to those who believed in his name, we have the right to become children of God and should act upon that right by asking to be born new by his Spirit.
If indeed the Spirit of God lives in us, we are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ, but remain in the realm of the flesh and are controlled by the flesh (Romans 8:9). This new birth is so important that the early church considered it clear evidence that someone was saved by the blood of Jesus.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Through the living and enduring word of God, you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable. You have purified yourselves by obeying the truth. (1 Peter 1:22-23)
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Do this and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)
The person without the Spirit cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. In fact, the things of Jesus and the Father seem foolish. Without the Spirit of Jesus, we can read the word of God but cannot understand its meaning. Only through Jesus’ Spirit can we hear and discern what the Father says to us through his word (1 Corinthians 2:14). The evidence someone is “in the word of God” and the word of God is “in” them is found in the fruit of their lips.
Do they profess Christ as Lord and Savior? Do they declare Jesus to be God in the flesh? Do they affirm that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one?
Jesus IS the Spirit that gives us new life (Philippians 1:19). Jesus IS the word of God made flesh.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among mankind (John 1:14).
“I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.” – Paul (Romans 7:7)
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now that I have come, they have no excuse for their sin.” – Jesus (John 15:22)
Jesus is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13).
If you have the Spirit of Jesus within you, his Spirit will affirm his words and the words of the Father. If you do not have the Spirit of Jesus within you, you will struggle to grasp the full revelation of God’s word and understand its meanings and implications for your life. In fact, you may reject it outright. Many who claim to be followers of Jesus reject his word.
Who are those Jesus never knew? Don’t wonder if it’s you. Be born again by the Spirit of Jesus. Then be in the Word of God — which is Jesus himself preserved for us in written form.