"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. Man 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. Away from me, you evildoers!' "
This passage should make every Christian stop and give pause. It is presented in the Bible as part of Jesus's discourse known as the Sermon on the Mount. He has just cautioned those that came to listen to Him that the gate to Everlasting Life was small and narrow, while the road to Destruction was broad and that particular gate was wide open. He followed these brief verses with a warning to watch out for false prophets; those who claimed to be preaching the Good News of Jesus's Gospel. But He advises His followers to examine the fruit that such "prophets" bear. By the fruit of their testimony, we will know what lies at the heart of their ministry.
And it is to these people that Christ is giving notice. These are the ones who claim to have preached in His name, and performed miracles and cast out demons. But Jesus questions their motives and their results. And He tells them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"
Jesus spoke those words to a specific group of people in a specific time. How does it pertain to us? Although this admonition was spoken over 2000 years ago, it is no less significant to us, as Believers and Followers of Christ. Our "prophets" or pastors/preachers stand in a pulpit each week and proclaim that they are speaking in His name. But we must examine their motives and their results. And this warning is not limited to authorities in our churches. We are subject to the same examination. Are our words and our efforts for the ultimate glory of God, or do they just bestow honor on ourselves?
I can just hear Jesus saying, "I have seen you in my house, preaching in my Name, and worshipping in my Name. I have seen you at my table administering and partaking of my ordinance. You do and say all the correct things, but I never knew you to make it about Me -- to exalt my person, my blood, my righteousness, and my sacrifice. You talk of all the good things you've done for the less fortunate, and the work you've done for the Kingdom. But was any of it pointing to My Glory? Were any of these good works for the simple purpose of glorifying Me or my Father?"
Jesus then goes on to tell us that "on that day", He will pass judgment on our motives and our hearts. I do not know the exact timing of "that day", but I feel it is coming ever closer; the day in which He will return to judge mankind, through the authority bestowed on Him by our Father in Heaven (John 5:22). And then comes the obvious question ..... Will my Lord know me? Have I honored Him in all my professions of faith and my works for Him? Or is the attention focused on me? You see, Jesus and the Father are omniscient; which means they know everything. They know the motivation behind every thing I've ever done, especially those deeds I've proclaimed to be for Him. They know if my humble efforts at teaching the Word is inspired by the Holy Spirit or for my own reputation.
If I am found guilty, that means banishment from His presence, and that is a circumstance I could not bear. I know I have not been perfect and I desperately want to please Him with my service. So it is my hope that He will hear my prayers of repentance and recognize my honest efforts to perform His will, not my own.
And then I searched the Scripture for more insight into our Lord's evaluation of us. And I found it in Malachi 3:16-18. The Jews have returned to rebuild the temple after exile in Babylon, but have once again wandered from the Lord's decrees (as we often do). They are questioning what good does it do to follow the Lord when "evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape?" How often do we do that in our current society? How often do we say, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "If there is a God, why doesn't he stop Evil?" Well, here is our answer and the way to make sure Jesus knows us on "that day"...... Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
We are to fear and honor His Name; we are to revere and glorify Him in all we say and do. Then we can be assured to be a part of his "treasured possession" and He will greet us by our name, which will be sweet upon His lips.