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Author: Ron Graham

Listen to Jesus

I Never Knew You
—Matthew 7:21-27

Jesus says something quite astounding: many people call him Lord but he doesn't know them and calls them workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:21-27).

Sometimes we get into situations where people manipulate us, and we find ourselves having to get involved with them when we don't really want to, and having to do things their way when we would rather follow our own inclinations. We don't really trust these people yet they have a measure of control over us. But Jesus doesn't suffer from that problem. Nobody can manipulate him or push him into an association with them that he's not comfortable with.

Nobody can control Jesus. He associates with people on his terms only. You can say what you like, do what you like: it won't impress Jesus. But if you listen to Jesus, and do what he says, then he will accept you into his company and bless you. Otherwise, he simply doesn't know you. You might reckon that with such a non-negotiable attitude he won't get many followers. He knows this, but he won't budge an inch.

It's no use telling Jesus about all the “wonderful works” you have done in his name. He will just tell you to go away and take your baggage with you because it is “iniquity”.

1 Words that Jesus Questions

Jesus hears many people address him as, “Lord”. They even say it twice, “Lord, Lord,” to make it more impressive or convincing perhaps. But Jesus is neither impressed nor convinced. He says to them, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:22-23).

So how does this shocking situation come about? How can there be many people calling Jesus Lord, whilst he denies any association with them? We don't have to puzzle or guess about this; Jesus gives us the answer. And the answer is so simple we could easily miss it.

The answer is in a question —a very pointed question Jesus asks: "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and don't do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

So there's the answer. Many people call Jesus Lord, but he rejects them because they don't listen to him and don't do what he says. Undeniably, if you call Jesus “Lord” you ought to do what he says, otherwise there is a huge question mark over the word “Lord” on your lips.

2 Wonders that Jesus Rejects

The words “Lord, Lord” are only the beginning of what these many people say. They also say to Jesus, "Didn't we prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and work many miracles in your name?" (Matthew 7:22). But Jesus calls these people "you who practise lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23).

Referring to these same people, Jesus earlier said, "Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but within are hungry wolves. You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16).

On another occasion, Jesus said, "False Christs and false prophets shall arise and show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones" (Matthew 24:24).

These signs and wonders are rejected by Jesus as evil works, even though they are claimed to be done in his name. It is a sobering thought that there can be great miracles done by false prophets.

Be Not Deceived

Jesus assures us that we can know these false prophets by their fruits. What fruits? We listen to Jesus and compare their deeds with what he says. If they are not doing what Jesus says, they are false. It doesn't matter how great their signs and wonders are.

We do not need to be misled and deceived by any great sign. The teachings of Jesus were proven to the people by Jesus himself, for he did miracles and signs that were undeniably genuine. So did his apostles and prophets. These miracles are recorded in scripture and are more than enough to convince us that Jesus is Lord and his teachings are true.

So we can safely take the attitude that we won't seek confirmation of our faith in any miracles but those that are written in the Bible. We will just listen to Jesus, and we will ignore those who claim to cast out demons, to prophesy, and to work signs and wonders. We don't need their miracles, and they are likely to be false. It is enough for us to listen to Jesus and shut our ears to those who boast of their miracles.

3 Wisdom that Jesus Demands

Why is Jesus telling us about these people who call him Lord but don't do as he says? Why is he telling us of their false signs and wonders? He wants to direct our attention to what matters, and he immediately tells us what that is: it's not that we call him Lord; it's not that we can perform miracles; it's whether we are wise or foolish that matters.

Jesus defines that essential wisdom very clearly: "Everyone who hears these words of mine, and acts upon them, will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock" (Matthew 7:24). By contrast, the one who hears the words of Christ but does not act upon them, is foolish (Matthew 7:26).

So we understand the wisdom Jesus demands of us. Listen to his sayings, but listen in the sense that you don't ignore what you hear, but act upon it. It's not even enough to believe what you hear if you don't obey.

So how do we get counted among the wise, among the people Jesus knows and accepts? We follow six steps, which he himself has laid down, as follows...

Six Steps to Grace

The words of Paul in Romans (and his agreement with Jesus in the gospels) on what people should do to receive grace.

1. Hearing Christ’s word (Romans 10:8-17, Matthew 7:24).

2. Believing —having faith (Romans 1:16-17, John 3:16).

3. Repentance from sin (Romans 2:4-5, Romans 6:1-2, Luke 5:31-32).

4. Confessing Christ (Romans 10:8-10, Matthew 10:32).

5. Being baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3-4, Mark 16:15-16).

6. Ongoing commitment (Romans 12:1-2, Romans 12:11-12, Luke 9:62).


Webservant Ron Graham

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