Turn with me to Matthew 7:21-23. Today, as always, we have a lot to cover, so I am going to move quickly into our text and get right to work.
- 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. 22 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?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
As some of you have been learning through our Wednesday night Bible Study, the answer to this question is because Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you enough to tell you the truth in hopes He will never have to look you in the eyes on the Day of Judgment and send you to Hell.
For some of you today, I want you to see this as your intervention. This is God sitting you down and rebuking you so as to break the chains of your addiction to yourself and your sins.
On that Day
The first thing that I want to draw your attention to are the three little words in verse 22, “On that Day.” What day is Jesus referring to? Jesus is speaking of the Day of Judgment. It is a day like no other day that will ever exist. It is the most joyous and simultaneously frightening day that will ever exist. Here is a window into that day.
- Revelation 20:11-18 – “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Record of Your Sin
One this day, something amazing will happen. There will be a division of the people; a separation; a filtering. Books will be opened and these books will bring everything to light. For they will tell the Universe of everything you have ever done. And it will be the evidence that stands against you demanding your eternal punishment for your sins.
These books will be a record of your life. Every lie you have ever told, every penny you have hidden from the IRS, every lustful thought that has crossed your mind, every time you said the Lord’s name in vain, everything in these books. All of it will be exposed, and the evidence of our sins and the debt of our transgressions against an infinitely Holy God will be overwhelming. These books will be a record of our debt that we owe our infinitely Holy Creator. For they will be full proof that we deserve Hell. There is no other day like this day. The weight of this day is suffocating.
But, there is “another book.” This book is different. It is unique. It is a small book. The name of this book is the “Book of Life.” When this book is opened all you see are names. Names like Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the rest of the prophets. One by one as these names are read off from the Book of Life these people are asked to stand off to the side. They separated from the sea of faces. One by one the names are read…Steven, Peter, Mary, Timothy, Clement, Augustine, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoffer, CS Lewis, John Stott. With each name, your heart beats faster. Eventually you hear names of people you knew on this earth and you watch them step out of line. And the pages of this book continue to turn, and then you hear the one of saddest sounds in Heaven, the closing of the Book of the Book of life. Your name was not called. You continue to stand with the masses. This is the moment that Jesus is speaking towards in Matthew 7:22
- Matthew 7:22 – “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?'”
For how could these people not know that they weren't saved? How could these people be duped? How could they spend a lifetime living and breathing religion, and not get to Heaven? Jesus tells us that these people spoke for God, cast our demons, performed miracles. These are the people here on earth that we would say qualify for sainthood. Yet they are cast out of the presence of God into the lake of fire. How could this happen?
I Never Knew You
Jesus tells us plainly in verse 23 why they were dammed, “I never knew you.” What an amazing statement, “I never knew you.” There destiny hung on Jesus knowing them. This was not the only time Jesus said something like this. The night before Jesus died he prayed this in the ears of his disciples.
- John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. “
Other than Jesus, no one on this planet understood this reality more than Paul. I love how Jesus used Paul. Turn with me to Philippians 3:4-11
- Philippians 3:4-11 – “ If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
- Philippians 3:8-9 – “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“
Did you know that the “Book of Life” that we read about in Revelation 20 is actually the abbreviated title of this book? Revelation 21:27 gives us the longer name.
- Revelation 21:27 – “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.”
- Revelation 13:7-8 – “and all who dwell on earth will worship it [the first beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.“
- John 1:29 – “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!“
So this leaves us with a question, how do we get in the book? Jesus tells us. He must know us. What does it mean for Jesus know you? First, it is clear that name dropping is not proof of Jesus knowing you.
- Matthew 7:22 – “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'
- Matthew 1:24-25 – “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.”
Being a follower of Jesus is not about rules, it is not about traditions, it is not about sacraments, it is about love. God’s love for you and your love for Him. Period.
If you want to find your name in the Book of Life of the Lamb Who Was Slain than you need to stop committing adultery with this world and cleave to the Bridegroom of Jesus Christ. Just as we sang earlier, your heart must cry our, “I am yours and you are mine.” For this is they way to avoid that most dreadful words ever to be spoken.
What About Lawlessness
This leaves us with one final question: What about lawlessness? What about doing the work of my father in heaven that we read about in verse 21? This is so crucial to understand. The work of God that he desires is a work that flows out of knowing Jesus. Works are a product of being in an abiding relationship with Jesus. They are fruit.
- Matthew 7:17 - “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit..”
Does Jesus know you? Does Jesus know you as his bride? Does he know you intimately? Or are you just kidding yourself? Hard questions, but eternally important questions.