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; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’”
Muslims pounce on this verse and say, “See? Jesus will reject you Christians!”
Let’s take a closer look at what the verse is saying.
First of all, take note that Jesus is describing events that will unfold on the Day of Judgement.
If you pay close attention, you will realize that Jesus is in a position of power and authority on the Day of Judgement. Here he shows he has the power to pronounce judgement to determine the eternal destiny of those workers of lawlessness.
In other passages, we see that Jesus clearly claims to be the Final Judge of all mankind.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. ALL THE NATIONS will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.Matthew 25:31-33
Jesus said He has the final authority to condemn the wicked to hell.
Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.Matthew 25:41
Jesus also said He has the final authority to grant entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.Matthew 25:34
To give access to heaven or to cast into hell is a divine prerogative. Only God can do this. Yet, here is Jesus doing what only God can do. Can a mere man send other men to heaven or hell? Who does Jesus think he is?
Secondly, you will notice that the workers of lawlessness are pleading to Jesus! Why are they appealing to Jesus for mercy? Why aren’t they crying out to God? Isn’t it God alone who decides to have mercy or to withhold mercy? Where is God? Why are they invoking Jesus’ name repeatedly pleading the good works they performed in His name? They were basically saying, “Lord, I did these good works for you!” Many religions today teach that doing good works for God is the road to heaven.
These people addressed Jesus as “Lord, Lord.” Why? Who did they think He was? Where is God in all this? Was God just standing by quietly while someone else was being honored as “Lord” on the Day of Judgement? Jesus is God! These people recognize this on the Day of Judgment. It would not only be ridiculous but also blasphemous to call a mere man or prophet, “Lord!” if He was not God!
In fact, Jesus himself would be guilty of blasphemy if he did not rebuke them for attributing divinity to him if He was not divine! He didn’t rebuke them for addressing Him as God! If Jesus was not God, He would have denied it and directed them to God.
Now let’s look at the Muslim accusation that Jesus was addressing Christians as the “lawless workers” whom he will reject when He tells them, “I never knew you.”
Actually Jesus already identified who these people are, earlier on in this same passage.
“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves”. (Matthew 7:15)
It is these false prophets and false believers who are the lawless workers! They are dressed in sheep’s clothing. They look like sheep but they are wolves!
Did you notice that Jesus makes a clear distinction between the two?
There is sheep but there are also wolves who pretend to be sheep! Jesus was not rejecting the sheep. He was rejecting the wolves! Who are the sheep and who are the wolves?
In the next verse he also compares them to good trees and bad trees. Jesus was not rejecting all trees. He was rejecting the “bad trees” and receiving the “good trees.”
So Muslims are partially right when they claim that Jesus as the Judge was denying “Christians”. But the fact is, He was denying False “Christians”, those “wolves” who dress up to look like true Christians, the genuine “sheep.”
What is the determining criteria to differentiate between a true Christian and a false “Christian”?
The answer is given right there in Matthew 7:23.
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.”
I NEVER KNEW YOU. This is about RELATIONSHIP!
Relationship with Jesus! That is the criteria! If you are a Christian, the one thing Jesus wants to know is if you have a relationship with Him. You can think you are Christian just because you are born in a Christian family and have a “Christian” name or attend church… but if you don’t know Jesus personally, He’s going to tell you, “I don’t know you.” You can plead and recount for Him all the good works you have done for Him throughout your life but it is not going to cut it with Him if you never had a relationship with Jesus.
This is why we always say “Christianity is a relationship with God.” It is not a religion. Notice that Jesus says, “I don’t KNOW you.” He didn’t say, “You don’t know religion, and that is why I reject you.” Jesus was basically saying, “You don’t know me and I don’t know you. We have no RELATIONSHIP.”
Only those who have a relationship with God will enter heaven.
Muslims will now comment, “Wait. If Jesus is differentiating true Christians and false “Christians” in these verses, then what about Muslims or even people other religions?”
It’s not about religion! It’s about RELATIONSHIP! Do you or don’t you have a relationship with Jesus? That is the criteria whether you will be accepted or rejected by Jesus. Not whether you follow a religion.
Are you sheep that has a relationship with Jesus? Or are you a wolf that pretends to be sheep? Or are you a goat that does not even belong to the Shepherd?
“I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me… And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. ALL THE NATIONS will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a SHEPHERD separates the SHEEP from the GOATS. He will place the SHEEP on His right and the GOATS on His left.Matthew 25:31-33
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
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