The Seven Words You Never Want to Hear that Denise Wilson writes about are from Jesus: “I never knew you; depart from me” (Matthew 7:23). Those are frightening words indeed. I struggled with them when I was unsure of my salvation. Thankfully, as Denise’s subtitle indicates, she doesn’t stop there: she tell How to Be Sure You Won’t hear those words.
Those words of Jesus occurred in what we call the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. The full paragraph is as follows:
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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (7:21-23).
It’s possible to “do many mighty works in your name” and yet still miss salvation, miss knowing Jesus personally.
Denise discusses several ways that could happen. One is praying “the sinner’s prayer” without faith or repentance. Another is growing up in a Christian atmosphere without ever believing on Christ personally. Or one could be deceived by the prosperity gospel or a works-based religion. Perhaps we haven’t counted the cost of discipleship and only wanted passage to heaven rather than a life of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him.
People might need to examine their hearts if they say they have been saved yet their life has not changed. We won’t be perfect after salvation. We’re forgiven and cleansed, but we still have an old nature and still need to grow. We’ll still battle with sin—yet if we’re not battling it, but letting it have full sway on our lives, something is amiss.
Denise points out that Jesus did not use a cookie-cutter approach in dealing with people. Years ago I attended classes where we were trained in how to lead someone to the Lord using the “Romans Road,” a series of verses in Romans that explain salvation. That approach is fine as far as it goes. But leading someone to the Lord is not just a matter of getting them to allow you to read them a handful of verses and then you getting them to pray. We need to be open to the Lord’s leading as we speak to people. Only He knows what obstacles to salvation are in their hearts.
Denise includes several testimonies from the Bible, from history, and from modern times. Some of them, she points out, don’t look like what we think salvation looks like. Take the thief on the cross next to Jesus. He knew he was guilty and Jesus was innocent. He asked, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:39-42). Was anyone else ever saved using those words? I don’t know. But one thing I learned in my own struggle was that becoming a Christian was not a matter of saying the “right” words, like a magic formula or an initiation rite. It’s a matter of repentance and faith in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.” Denise provides helps to do that in this book.
God be merciful to me, a sinner. Thank You for Your redemption. May Your Spirit woo, convict, capture, and redeem those in desperate need of what only You can provide.
Those seven words would be terrifying. I’m praying in agreement with Linda today.
So grateful that Jesus made a way for us to know Him!
Such a poignant post Barb!
We’re neighbors at Seniors Link up!
This is a sobering post, Barbara. I’m thankful for God’s grace, that He is the only One who truly knows our hearts.
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