"...I NEVER KNEW YOU..."
Most professing Christians believe that there are two kinds of people: the saved and the unsaved, or, the believer and the unbeliever. There are no in-betweens and there are no gray areas. The Bible says, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 Jn. 5:12). While it is true and correct to believe this, the Bible actually speaks of three types of people: the saved, made up of all true believers in God’s one true Gospel; and those who are not saved, who do not believe the Gospel of Christ’s Righteousness, this latter group is comprised of two sections, one of which is made up of those who ended their lives not believing in anything about God or Jesus Christ His Son, and the other, the third of our groups, or sub-group if you like, is made up of a multitude of religious people who were firmly convinced in their minds that they were Christians, that they did believe in God and yet the various gospels they held to were false gospels, evidencing the fact that they were all false christians!
So, we have those who believe, those who do not believe and those who believe they believe but believe amiss! This article will look at just who these people are who consider themselves believers but who are in reality unbelievers and what the Lord Jesus Christ will say to them on that Last Day.
The Gospel of Matthew is where we find the Lord Jesus addressing the three types of persons who inhabit the earth. What Christ will say to these three groups is seen in His teaching about the goats and the sheep. In Matthew 25:34, after describing His own people as "sheep"—those whom God has chosen from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4); not according to their works but according to His own purpose and grace (2 Tim. 1:9); whom He had ordained (predestined) to believe in Him and who, in time, would do so (Acts 13:48); whom He had given, and therefore would come, to Jesus His Son (Jn. 6:37); for whom Christ died on the cross (Jn. 10:15) in order to pay for their sins (Isa. 53:8,11) to cancel the debt which they owed to God for their sins (Acts 13:39) thereby satisfying forever the wrath of God, having successfully delivered His people from that wrath (1 Thess. 1:10), and having washed away their sins and guilt (Col. 2:13,14 & Heb. 9:12,14), having their sins imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to them (2 Cor. 5:21)—the Lord Jesus says to them, "...Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). Every true believer born of God, born of His Gospel, can expect to hear these blessed words from their Savior. What a glorious eternity awaits those who believe on Him as He is revealed in God’s power unto salvation: the Mighty Gospel! What a marvellous and eternal bliss awaits those whose sins have been blotted out by the blood of Christ. How wonderful is the everlasting love and mercy of the great and gracious God for His people.
Later, in the same passage of Scripture found in Matthew 25, we see the future unveiled, the ultimate and everlasting end, of all unbelievers. These unbelievers include all those who had no belief whatsoever in God and also those who professed to believe in Him, yet in reality did not. All such people are referred to as "goats" by the Lord Jesus and are eternally separated from God’s sheep: "And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matt. 25:32,33). The goats have no part with the sheep. Their end is quite different from that of the sheep, but just as certain and just as real. Jesus the Lord and Judge over all mankind says to these goats in Matthew 25:41: "...Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Eternal torment awaits those who die in their sins; who enter into eternity with their sins unforgiven. They will spend eternity in endless and intolerable agony and "...the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever..." (Rev. 14:11). Their eternal suffering and unbearable torment is due to the fact that they died unrepentant sinners who took pleasure in their rebellion against God.
Now to the third group: the ones who were convinced they were Christians but never were; the ones who were convinced they believed in the Truth but were deceived by a lie which they trusted in and embraced; the ones who took just as much pleasure in, and yet were quite ignorant of, their rebellion against the true God and their real spiritual condition before Him. This group of religiously minded people who come from the four corners of religion, from the Roman Catholic world, the Pentecostal/Charismatic world, the Arminian world and the Cultic world will go to the same end, for they are all part of the second group mentioned earlier: the goats. Their destiny is also an everlasting fire that torments and which does not cease day or night. But there is something different about these goats. You see, though they too are goats well and true and always had been, they believed themselves to be sheep. As far as they were concerned, and according to what they had been taught, they did not live or die rejecting Christ but proclaimed His name to the very end. In fact, many of them were convinced that they’d even prophesied in His name, and also cast out devils in His name. Most claimed they’d performed, to their minds at least, many wonderful works in His name (see Matt. 7:22) and that God had given them grace to enable them to repent of much immorality and illicit conduct. These people, and there will be a multitude on that final day, also called Jesus "Lord" and therefore believed Him to be God and worshipped Him as such. They all prayed and worshipped. Many of them lived exemplary lives seeking to help, and being mindful of, others and careful not to disobey God’s Law but to live as good a life as they possibly could. As far as these people were concerned, all the evidence around them was enough to convince them they were Christians: they ‘believed’, they read their Bibles, they had been baptised, they treated their fellow man fairly and lovingly, they attended ‘church’ every week and sang their hymns and choruses with great gusto and read all the respected ‘christian’ authors etc., etc., yet despite all their religiosity and piety, these people will receive the most chilling, the most terrifying and most shocking pronouncements of all. God the Son, Jesus Christ, the one whom they all believed they loved and followed, will look upon them without mercy and without love and profess unto them, "...I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:23). You will notice that the words "depart from Me" are the exact same words the Lord Jesus says to all the accursed goats in Matthew 25. Jesus also said, "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’..." (Matt. 7:22), yet they were among the deceived and deluded ones; they worshipped Him in vain; they were goats and not sheep and their faith was as worthless as that of demons (Jas. 2:19). Their names had NEVER been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8; 20:15), unlike those of the elect. The Lord "...knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nah. 1:7) but not those who trust in false gods. These whom the God of Grace had never known and who therefore had never truly known the Grace of God, had never at any stage of their lives been Christians. They had either believed they were, or that others could be, saved before or without hearing and believing the Gospel of Christ. They had never once been born again, born of the Gospel of God, and preserved in Christ, though for all appearances many, including themselves, believed they had been, and were, Christians. These accursed ones, as the Lord calls them, were not those whom many believe had at one time professed belief in Christ and later abandoned Him, for their names had NEVER been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8). Jesus did not say to them, "I ONCE knew you but not any longer." Christ declares that He NEVER knew them, He never had a covenant relationship with any of them, He NEVER knew them in the intimate and personal way He knows His sheep, those who are His own. He NEVER knew them as His sheep but only ever recognized them as goats and therefore they were NEVER saved! Also, the Lord Jesus states that the true sheep, His sheep, shall NEVER perish! (Jn. 10:28,29). They are eternally contrasted with those whom Christ Jesus says He does know: "My sheep hear My voice, and I KNOW THEM, and they follow Me" (Jn. 10:27,28), and "I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine" (Jn. 10:14). Scripture says "...the Lord knoweth them that are His..." (2 Tim. 2:19). It stands to biblical reason therefore that if the Lord does not know you then it is clear that you are not, never have been and never will be, His. He never loved the goats but only His Church, the sheep, for whom He gave up His life. Jesus said: "...I lay down My life for the sheep" (Jn. 10:15; cf. Eph. 5:25). Those whom the Lord does not know were not once saved and then fell away and lost their salvation. How could this be, for they were NEVER saved in the first place! Christ had never laid down His life for them. To have been saved they must have at one time been sheep and therefore their names must at least temporarily have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life—pencilled in only to later be rubbed out. But Scripture states emphatically that their names were NEVER at any time written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, hence they could never have been sheep. These are all people who called Him "Lord" to the very end of their lives and are among those Jesus referred to when He said: "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven..." (Matt. 7:21). At no stage had Jesus the Christ ever called these people His and therefore at no time could He have been the one they had trusted in. They were not among the elect, the chosen ones of God. They had never been ordained to eternal life. The Lord Jesus did not die for their sins; He did not lay down His life for the goats; He did not plant the tares; He did not die for the tares for they were of their father the Devil (Matt. 13:38,39). He NEVER knew them and they NEVER knew Him. They are such an accursed lot that they all share in the very fate of the Devil and his angels! They are part of the Devil’s herd, not God’s flock! They all died in their sins with a religion of their own making, a jesus of their own imagination and a vain belief in doctrinal error, which is always indicative of a false gospel, which cannot save. These who professed to be Christians yet who believed in a christ that was espoused to them out of a false gospel, which is by definition NOT the power of God unto salvation, these people who called Him "Lord" and yet were never known by Him, and who therefore worshipped Him in vain, are among those described for us in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 who "...perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved." One must have a love of the truth and therefore a saving belief in that truth, as revealed in the Gospel, to be saved. These people were not given justifying faith but were sent strong delusion by God "...THAT they should believe a lie: THAT they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:11,12). Though there was obviously a head-knowledge, an intellectual acknowledgment to some of the truths of God, these workers of iniquity only possessed a form of godliness but always denied the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5), "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7). They were not, and could not possibly have ever been, of God for Jesus Himself tells them, "I NEVER knew you..." Christ never knew them as what they believed and professed themselves to be—Christians and therefore His people. He only and always knew them as accursed goats whom He would one day command to depart from His presence.
Specifically, who are these people? It is clear from their addressing Christ Jesus as "Lord" that they cannot be J.W.’s, or Hindus, or Buddhists, or Muslims or any other group who deny the Lordship and therefore the Deity of Jesus Christ. These goats called Him "Lord", obviously believing Him to be Lord and God, yet He did not know them—NOT EVER!! They believed in a jesus but not THE Jesus; they believed in a gospel but not THE Gospel; they were guided by a spirit but it was not THE Holy Spirit of God. Such things are possible, in fact they happen every day. People being deceived by fraudulent gospels into believing they have the true God when all they have is a false god, an impotent counterfeit who cannot save. Incidentally, not every false god goes by the name of Allah or Buddha. The worst and most deceptive of false gods are called ‘god’ and ‘jesus’. The right names and titles of God are often used in false gospels which promote false gods that can only provide people with a false sense of security. One might feel safe in calling one’s god ‘jesus’ but is it the Jesus which the true God reveals in His Gospel?
It is important to note that Christ does not disown these people, but by His words recorded for us in Matthew 7 it is quite evident that HE HAD NEVER OWNED THEM TO BEGIN WITH! They were NEVER His for He NEVER once called them His brethren, or even former brethren, they had never fallen away from Him for they had never truly come to Him! They were NEVER drawn to Him by the Father (Jn. 6:44). There NEVER was a work of God performed in them and, as evidenced by their belief of a false Gospel, had never been given saving faith to believe God’s one and only Gospel. They were NEVER blessed of God; Jesus Christ did not bare their sins on the cross and therefore they were never at any stage of their lives made acceptable unto the Father, for their sins remained unatoned for and they were clothed only with a righteousness of their own. They were never in Christ and so were never of Christ. If this were not the case, then it must be asked for what purpose would Jesus Christ have died for the sins of those whose names had never been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the foundation of the world, those whom God had not ordained to eternal life?
Returning to the question Who are these people? most may be found within, but not exclusive to, the Charismatic movement, the Pentecostal movement, the Faith movement, the Roman Catholic Church, all Arminian assemblies as well as the Seventh-Day Adventist churches. They are also found in Calvinist groups, where most believe that Arminians are saved regardless of the false gospel they believe. NOT ALL the people in these movements are amongst those whom Jesus NEVER knew, for God has and will continue to bring out all His own from these organizations; from believing in false gospels into His marvellous Light where is revealed His one and only Gospel. (Lk. 15:4-6). But most of the people in the above named groups will be found among those to whom the Lord Jesus will one day formally utter those dreaded words, "I NEVER KNEW YOU: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity!" Every Charismatic, Faith movement follower, Roman Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist and believer in every form of Arminianism and every tolerant Calvinist believes that Jesus is Lord and refers to Him as such. And, as the Scriptures say, many will claim to have prophesied and cast out devils in His name and done many good and wonderful works in His name, and yet there NEVER was a work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit performed in them. The principal evidence for this lies in the fact that they never turned from their false gospels and were never led by God’s Spirit of Truth to the true Gospel of God, the one which says: man is dead in sin and cannot come to God in and of himself (Matt. 19:25,26; Rom. 3:10,11; Eph. 2:1,12); that God chose a people for Himself before the foundation of the world, not based on anything they did but upon His will, wisdom and grace and according to His purpose (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Tim. 1:9); that Christ Jesus was sent to the earth to establish a perfect righteousness, to die for these people God had chosen and entrusted to Christ’s care (Jn. 10:27,28; 17:2,3; Eph. 5:25); that their sins would be charged to Him and His Righteousness to them, thus making them wholly acceptable unto God (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:2); that all these people would believe His Gospel and be saved, for this is the will of God and none of them will perish (Jn. 10:26-29). The one thing that stands out like a sore thumb about all these people is they believed in a gospel which God was not the author of. Whilst calling Jesus "Lord", these goats who believed they were sheep believed many untruths about Him, thereby actually placing their trust in another jesus a savior of their own making, a jesus of their own imagination. They denied the sufficiency of His precious blood alone shed upon the cross as a full and complete atonement for the sins of His people. They added to His death false teachings necessary, they claimed, to secure salvation. In their adding to His death they actually take away from His glorious work. They, therefore, preach another gospel about another christ and are filled with another spirit and not that Holy Spirit of God Who leads and guides all the elect, all the sheep, into Truth.
The apostle Paul’s response to the Jewish believers’ desire that circumcision be included in the Gospel of Christ, thereby perverting and making it a denial of Christ rather than a promoter and revealer of Him, is clear. In Galatians 1:8 Paul says, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, LET HIM BE ACCURSED." Something as small and as seemingly insignificant as the cutting away of the foreskin of a male, when added to the Gospel of Christ, was significant enough to pervert it entirely, thereby producing a false gospel which, if any man preached or believed, would render and demonstrate that one to be in an accursed state. The Bible says that "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). If such a seemingly insignificant thing as adding circumcision to the cross renders a man accursed, how much more so when he directly takes away or adds to the finished work of Christ on the Tree? Only belief in the true Gospel of God is the gateway to Heaven and all His sheep have/will believe it. Only "...the TRUTH shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32). Those who do not believe God’s Gospel, either by not believing anything about God or by falling for the lies contained in false gospels, reveal themselves as goats and shall be judged accordingly. Remember, "...the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:7,8).