“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV).
Growing up in Ghana, I often heard the expression, “whom you know is more important than what you know.” In a close-knit society with limited opportunities for advancement in life, people relied on relationships to achieve their goals. For example, to obtain admission to school; to get a good job or any job at all; to remain on the job or get a promotion; to receive better treatment at government-provided facilities or services; to obtain a high-level political appointment; or to be awarded a contract or access to a lucrative business opportunity and so forth depended, to a large extent, on whom you knew. I believe the “whom you know” phenomenon is not unique to Ghana; it is that way in many other societies and countries today.
However, a careful reading of Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount quoted above, shows that for Jesus, it is not necessarily whom you know or what you know, but more importantly, who knows you. Specifically, does Jesus Christ know you?
Many Christians are looking forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus promised to come back and take his followers home to heaven (see, for example, John 14:1-3). In an apparent reference to that event in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that on that day not everyone who says to him Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of his Father.
In other words, it is not enough to know about Jesus or to even call him Lord. Many people have read the Bible and some have actually studied it in school or on their own, and perhaps achieved excellent grades in Bible knowledge or religious studies. For those reasons, they may know a lot about Jesus. Some may have even gone beyond knowledge of Jesus, and have prophesied, cast out demons, and healed people in his name.
However, we can infer from Jesus’ statement that not all are genuine because he cautions us to watch out for false prophets. It means that false prophets and teachers existed at the time Jesus walked physically on this earth and they are with us today. Some of them know that these days it is not popular to openly worship a fetish or deity other than the Almighty God. They cannot attract a large following that way, bind them under satanic forces, and cheat them out of their money, property, and dignity.
Therefore, instead of building fetish shrines, they build churches; instead of calling themselves fetish priests, they call themselves priests or pastors; instead of holding fly-whisks or animal tails such as horse tails, cow tails or sheep tails (“bodua”), they hold the Bible; and instead of openly calling on the names of gods or river deities that they actually worship, they cover up with the name of Jesus. They are deceiving and misleading unsuspecting followers and thinking they are mocking God, but God cannot be mocked. Those are some of the evildoers that Jesus says he never knew.
Knowing about Jesus and using his name to prophesy or cast out demons are not the same as embracing Jesus as your Lord and personal savior. You may prophesy, cast out demons or heal people, but you need to firmly establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to make your deeds worthwhile and bring glory to God. Taking Jesus as your Lord and personal savior is a prerequisite for Jesus knowing you. In that way, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will guide you to do the will of his Father in heaven.
To strengthen his point, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 NIV). What a blessed assurance! And so Jesus knows his sheep, they listen to him, follow him to do his Father’s will, and are given eternal life.
Are we listening to Jesus and following him? Are we imitating Jesus Christ – doing what Jesus would do, saying what Jesus would say, going where Jesus would go, and suffering the consequences? That is how Jesus will know us and help us to do the will of his Father.
Jesus points out a few things in the Sermon on the Mount to show us the characteristics of those who do the will of God or how to do the will of God. They include those who are poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted because of Jesus and righteousness, salt of the world, light of the world, recognized by their fruit; as well as those who mourn, hunger and thirst for righteousness, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, turn the other cheek, love their enemies, give to the needy, forgive, pray, and store up treasures in heaven (see Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 NIV). These are some of the ways by which Jesus will know us, but not by religious titles or positions held, miracles performed, or social statuses attained.
It boils down to this: does Jesus Christ know you? If not, it is not too late to accept Jesus as your Lord and personal savior, and begin to walk on the path of God’s love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, and salvation. Those who know Jesus and are known by Jesus, are assured of eternal life. As the Apostle Paul reinforces, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NIV). It is my prayer that no one who reads this article will ever hear Jesus say to him or her, “I never knew you,” but that everyone will hear him say, “well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.