“I Never Knew You.”

The March 2008 issue of Tabletalk included a good article on Jesus’ words found in Matthew 7:21-23. The article is here reprinted with permission.


The Most Frightening Words

by Tom Ascol

As Jesus draws His Sermon on the Mount to a close, He makes one of the most frightening statements to be found in Scripture. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls His declaration the most solemn and solemnizing words ever uttered in this world.

“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 form me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matt. 7:21-23).

Last JudgmentIt is hard to imagine anything more devastating than to hear the meek and lowly Jesus Christ utter these words to people who were expecting to be welcomed into heaven by Him. These are people who have been deceived. They lived their lives believing a lie.

Think about the kind of people Jesus describes here. They are not irreligious. They call Jesus “Lord.” They know the lingo and even make a proper profession about Christ. Furthermore, they have been very active in the practice of their religion. They have been preachers, exorcists, and miracle workers, and they did all of their religious works in the name of Jesus.

On that fateful day, however, neither their religious fervor nor their activities will save them. They have deceived themselves into believing that they know Christ, but in reality they have missed Him. They profess to having a saving relationship with Him. He professes never to have known them. And Jesus’ profession is the one that ultimately matters.

Self-deception is an insidious condition. You will never meet a person who knows he is self-deceived. By definition, those ensnared are completely unaware that they are.

This is why God gives us so many warnings to be careful in our walk through this world (Acts 13:40-41; 2 Peter 3:17; Heb. 3:12, etc.). It really is a dangerous journey.

John Bunyan graphically depicts this in the final scene of The Pilgrim’s Progress. After describing the glorious reception that the king gave Christian and Hopeful into the Celestial City, Bunyan describes the outcome of the character he called “Ignorance.”

His name is not a commentary on his intellect but on his lack of understanding of the true way of salvation. Earlier in the story we learn the Ignorance is quite confident that he will make it to heaven because, as he says, “I know my Lord’s will and have been a good liver; I pay every man his own; I pray, fast, pay tithes, and give alms.” Furthermore, he speaks freely of Christ and says that he often thinks of God and heaven and genuinely desires to go to them.

Despite Christian’s and Hopeful’s best efforts, they are unable to dissuade Ignorance from his confidence, ill-founded though it is. He has not been born again. He is not trusting Christ alone to justify him before God. Thus he is not living by faith in obedience to God’s commands.

So in that final scene that takes place at the very threshold of heaven, Ignorance’s self-deception is exposed when he is not allowed to enter. The king has him bound hand and foot and taken away. “Then,” Bunyan writes, “I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven.”

That is the very point that Jesus makes in the Sermon on the Mount. Why does our Lord speak these frightening words? Is it simply to scare us? Is it to make us worry about our salvation or keep us from assurance?

No. It is to warn us and to spur us on to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). It is to motivate us to “examine ourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Jesus speaks these words not to rob us of joy but to help insure that we do not miss the joy that comes from knowing Him savingly.

At the end of the day, what matters is not a profession of religious zeal and activity. What matters is that we are known – savingly known – by Jesus Christ.

Those who know Christ and are known by Christ follow Him by obeying His commandments. They don’t obey in order to be right with Him, but because they have been declared to be right with Him.

This, after all, is the basis on which the Lord will make His shattering pronouncement on the Day of Judgment. Heaven is reserved for those who do the will of God. Those who do not do His will will be exposed as “workers of lawlessness” and, despite their religious professions, will be removed from His presence forever.

It is a great kindness that our Lord speaks so plainly to us in His Word. We are without excuse. He warns us of self-deception and instructs us in the way to avoid it. He speaks frightening truth in order to save.

Dr. Tom Ascol is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and executive director of Founders Ministries.


Reprinted from Tabletalk, March 2008, volume 32, number 3. Used by permission of Ligonier Ministries, home of Renewing Your Mind.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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61 Responses to “I Never Knew You.”

  1. amanda says:


    I missed that question…

    I don’t believe I stated that facts were a bad thing- or don’t have their place. I said they were unreliable when placed before faith. I was making a point of priority.

    We can’t lump all individuals together based on religious affiliation and suggest that they all come to their beliefs the same way. Anyone, as we have read in James, that seeks truth and asks God with real intent, nothing wavering, will receive wisdom- so if you disagree with this, you disagree with the premise in James.

    Many affiliate themselves religiously because of their upbringing and indifference, and many may be on a longer journey to finding Christ than you and I. I don’t think that my point is dis proven simply because God has a plan for all of His individual children. Those who are humble will eventually receive those blessings…This is why LDS believe so strongly in work for the dead.

    Let me address the scriptures you referenced.

    I Thes 5:21: Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good�

    I thought the most important way to “prove all things” was asking/acting in faith, i.e. prayer and obedience. Faith precedes the miracle. the good we find is the miracle. I’m not sure that scripture means, prove things with the scientific method- THEN go ahead and believe it.

    Acts 17:11: “…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”

    The bible itself isn’t proof of God- and the sacredness of its’ purpose. All it proves is that someone wrote all that stuff. They went to the scriptures to verify because they already had a testimony of the sacredness of the text, based on their faith (living its’ precepts). Their knowledge of it being sacred has to come from the Holy Ghost.

    BTW: James 1:5 says to ask for wisdom, not knowledge. They are different

    A distinction without a difference in this scenario- I’m not sure I understand the point of that remark.

  2. Michael P says:

    Well, Clarity, we’re both predictable, I guess, as I expected a response similar to the one you presented.

    And I am a firm believer that people CAN and HAVE been duped and bleive outrageous things, despite their outrageous nature. I remember a story, an article, I had to read while in college. The article dealt with a man who was charged with raping his daughters only after they were hypnotized. And the story they claimed in the state was that he took them out to the forest and in a ritualistic and occultish manner raped them. They (the girls) were convinced this happened ever after. The man, however, knew nothing of it, yet legally he was charged with rape.

    Yes, people can be decieved. And do you believe the followers of Manson, Koresh, Jones, Muhammod, etc all did not fully believe what their leaders proclaimed? It is not a full reach.

    As to the story changing, actually, there are events in my past that I can recount with the exact same accuracy as if it happened yesterday. And an event such as getting visted by an angel of God is something bigger than your car accidents and it is reasonable to expect the vision to remain clear, ESPECIALLY if the point of the visit was to restore GOD’s church.

    What are are doing actually creates some doubt as to how much we can take him seriously, if details were cloudy and he may not remember everything right. Why would we believe him if he’s not 100% accurate on every detail?

    The subject of his memory is in regards to our souls, not how big a fish we caught.

  3. amanda says:


    I don’t believe I even mentioned feelings. That was your assumption. I know how the Holy Ghost communicates with me- I don’t believe I mentioned the specifics of that communication because we know the spirit communicates with each of His children differently. I only mentioned the evidence of the Holy Ghost/answers to prayer.

    “Hence why you can feel the Book of Mormon is true and I can feel that it is a lie.”

    Exactly what verse in the Book of Mormon do you feel is a lie? Please give me a list of them…cite them, if you don’t mind, and tell me what verse in the bible disproves its’ doctrine. Or do you believe it is a lie based on YOUR feelings?

    “If such testimonies clash, as I noted April 21 they are utterly at odds, we must seek to understand why since while we can both be wrong we cannot both be right, nor can the testimonies come from the same source if we believe God does not lie.”

    I can’t speak for you, I can only speak for my own experiences with the spirit- your experience with the Holy Ghost is individual to you. And you will be accountable for that decision, whether it be wrong or right. So I have peace about that. All I can do is testify to the things I know to be true. If you find yourself at odds with that, it’s your decision what to do with it, not mine, nor is it my fault or responsibility to explain it.

    1 John 5:6
    6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

    Here is one example of how the Holy Ghost feels, “joy, peace, abounding in hope”

    Rom. 15: 13, 16
    13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
    • • •
    16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

  4. Lautensack says:

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but would not a “burning in the bosom” be something that is felt? Would that not classify it as a feeling? Also are not all experiences subject to human interpretation? Do not our presuppositions play a role in such interpretation? Therefore if we presuppose that God is the only spiritual being with whom people have experiences will that affect how we interpret such experiences? If we presuppose that the Bible has been corrupted will that not affect how we view other books claiming to be scripture?

    As for the Book of Mormon’s contradictions with the Bible the first and foremost is the very nature of God. Of course I am speaking just from the Book of Mormon not later revelations which even contradict the Book of Mormon. The Bible teaches that there are three distinct persons in the One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Deut 6:4, Matt 3:16-17, John 8:54; Phil 2:5-6, Acts 5:3-4) The Book of Mormon on the other hand teaches that there is one distinct person in the one true God who shows himself in three different ways. (Ether 3:14-16, Mosiah 15:1-7, Alma 11:26-40) We see in the Modern editions of the Book of Mormon that verses such as 1 Nephi 11:1,18,32, 13:40 now include the phrase “son of” which was not there in the original text. This theology of Joseph Smith can be clearly seen in D&C 29 where though there is one speaker, Jesus Christ,(v1) He refers to His only Begotten Son(v42). Not surprising is that there was a lot of trinitarian/anti-trinitarian discussion taking place in New York in the 1820’s. It is only after he is influenced by the Jewish Mysticism of Moses de Leon via Alexander Neibaur that we see his theology change, and then subsequent prophets change this further until we come to today’s LDS theology of God. You were looking for a contradiction, there’s a huge one, even with your own theology.


  5. Ed says:

    amanda –

    While I agree that *all* religions can’t be lumped together, it is reather myopic of you to assume that only the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims major spiritual epiphany that tells them that the religion they practice is true and that all others are wrong.

    1) FLDS (we knew a family once) pray and receive a confirmation from the Spirit that their branch of Mormonism is true. They are asking God in faith, and yet come to a different answer than you do by the same method that you use. This indicates a problem with the method.

    2) John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, claimed that his heart was “strangely warmed” (sound familiar?) when he heard the words to Martin Luther’s Preface to the Book of Romans (please Google this, it is a really neat story). From this experience, he realized that he was saved by grace through faith, and that his salvation was guaranteed. The problem, of course, is that Luther’s Preface and Wesley’s experience are completely at odds with LDS doctrine. Same method, different answers.

    3) The local cult that I met on my mission was lead by a guy named William Soto Santiago. His followers prayed to know if he was a true prophet, and they felt the same feelings praying about him that I had felt while LDS. The guy wasn’t associated with any Mormon or Christian movement, but he was able to use the same technique that the LDS use to decieve. If the LDS position were correct, all of the people that prayed about him should have had a “stupor of thought” (D&C 9:9) . . . but they didn’t.

  6. Ed says:

    amanda –

    As to the James passage, I don’t have any problem with what James is saying, but rather with how you are interpreting his words and applying them (as I see it) incorrectly.

    James tells us to ask for wisdom, not knowledge. Solomon asks for wisdom, and it is given to him (I Kings 3:1-15). I have no qualms with asking God for wisdom like Solomon did — actually, doing this was one step towards getting me out of Mormonism. Asking for knowledge through prayer, on the other hand, (i.e. “Is the BofM true?”) is going outside of the bounds God set in James passage, and so I would argue that you open yourself up to deception when you go that route. I would most certainly consider the LDS interpretation of James equivalent to asking for a sign (see Matt 16:4).

    The Biblical model for determining truth is what is indicated in the Acts 17:11 verse. When we are given a teaching about God, we search His word to see if it is correct. We can do this with confidence because His word is “inspired” (2 Tim 3:16; “inspired” is literally “breated out”) and because we are promised that Christ’s words will never pass away (Matt 24:35, compare Matt 16:18).

  7. amanda says:


    “This indicates a problem with the method.”

    The only problem I see is your method, Ed. The Lord looketh on the heart. YOU are making comparisons based on what people say to be true, and then you go on to conclude that therefore the method they SHOULD have employed is flawed– because what they SAY is contradictory?? We are taught what method to use in the scriptures, I am simply pointing that out. If what people SAY contradicts each other, that doesn’t mean the Holy Ghost isn’t there and isn’t communicating truth to God’s children. All I know, as I have stated before, is what the Holy Ghost has communicated to me, and I must act on what I know is right. Why? Well, because I’m accountable for what I do with the knowledge He gives me. I can’t answer for other people because I am not them- nor am I responsible for explaining THEIR actions/words.

    However, anything that contradicts what I know the Holy Ghost has testified to me, I simply MUST reject. End of story. But I have found that God teaches us line upon line…he may simplify things at one point in my life only to add more depth to it later, based on my own abilities, humility and preparation for truth. So this makes a personal relationship with Him absolutely necessary, because making generic comparisons (such as the ones you laid out) is not a sufficient method for developing a testimony.

    “…it is rather myopic of you to assume that only the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims major spiritual epiphany that tells them that the religion they practice is true and that all others are wrong.”

    I came about my testimony of the restored gospel by simple assumption?? I came about it through much prayer and experimenting on its’ precepts. So your minimizing of my spiritual convictions lacks maturity and perception. You are also wrong to suggest that LDS think all others religions are wrong, this is your characterization- it is utterly false. You’re throwing stones now..

  8. Michael P says:


    I am jumping in here with first a question: are you a converted Mormon or are you from a Mormon family?

    Second, you end your post criticizing Ed for saying that LDS think all other religions are wrong. So, if this is utterly false, do you think other religions are right?

    Remember when answering that we view that topic as an all or nothing proposition. Partial truths don’t add up to a correct religion. If part of it is false, the whole thing must be false, since partial truths do not get one to Christ. It is one truth– accepting Christ’s sacrifice at the cross as fully sifficient, that matters. Anything outside of that disqualifies one as a religion of truth.

    So, again, per your answer to Ed, are you saying all religions are true and the religion doesn’t matter? Please calrify.


  9. amanda says:

    (Ed, continued…)

    Let me speak for myself on this–it’s a cleaner more reliable source…

    I believe it is evangelicals who say we aren’t Christian simply because we don’t apologize for the restored gospel…I can’t change the very reality that Christ has restored His gospel. It is ridiculous to therefore be called un-Christian when I am actually accepting His plan, and you are rejecting it. Ironically, I don’t consider you un-Christian even though you won’t accept another testament of Him and His divinity.

    But I do have a question, because I find your behavior to be curious. Why, if you have felt such conviction in leaving the church, and such peace, do you post on a website that antagonizes the faith you left? Or is this just a desperate attempt on your part to find peace for your decision because you find strength in numbers?


    You should cross-reference more scriptures for context- and look up what the brethren have said for further clarification on what the book of mormon is teaching here. Ether is speaking of CHRIST. ..not our Heavenly Father…and the context can be found in Mosiah 15:2 (So you should have seen it in your reading). This is about submission and representation. Christ represents the Fathers purposes because HE SUBMITS HIS WILL TO HIM…so to be called “father” is like a Stamp of authenticity- that Christ represents the ONE LIVING GOD. Because Christ submitted His will to HIS FATHER (who is also OUR FATHER)–THEY ARE ONE- much as we are commanded to be ONE in purpose (submitting our will, LIKE THE SAVIOR DID, to the Father). Thank you, this is a great example of how the Bible and Book of Mormon have taught similar principles on the Godhead. It’s an organization with the SAME NAME, different beings. There is no contradiction.

  10. Lautensack says:

    The reference you gave for Ether 3:14-16, Mosiah 15:2 is one I did cross reference in the above post.(Mosiah 15:1-7) Now I am going to assume you are speaking of the cross reference from the statement “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” which References Mosiah 15:2 in my quad, tell me if your reference is somewhere else.
    “1And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. 2And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son— 3The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son— 4And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.” Therefore via the cross reference given we see that there is one God split into two forms, that is will (Father) and flesh (Son), or as verses 5-7 explain Spirit (Father) and Flesh (Son) however while the flesh is subject to the will or the will of the flesh subject to the will of the spirit they are parts of one god called Eternal Father. This is restated a chapter later in Mosiah 16:15 “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.” No where does the bible teach that the Son is the Father, in fact it teaches that the Son is not the Father though they are One. Also nowhere in the bible does it teach that God is an organization, rather it teaches that God is a being. And you have yet to answer my questions about the interpretation of your existential experience that you call testimony.


    P.S. Modalism is not Trinitarianism.

  11. Ed says:

    amanda –

    “We are taught what method to use in the scriptures, I am simply pointing that out. If what people SAY contradicts each other, that doesn’t mean the Holy Ghost isn’t there and isn’t communicating truth to God’s children.”

    I sincrely don’t mean to offend you with this statement, but I find your response incredibly smug. Essentially, you resort to marginilizing the spiritual experiences of millions of people in order to justify a method that obviously doesn’t yield uniform results. Not only does this show incredible arrogance on your part, but is ultimately circular reasoning. You are right simply because you say you are right, and everyone else must be wrong because they disagree with you.

    I also noticed that you didn’t respond to my comment on James 1:5.

    “Why, if you have felt such conviction in leaving the church, and such peace, do you post on a website that antagonizes the faith you left? Or is this just a desperate attempt on your part to find peace for your decision because you find strength in numbers? ”

    This is pretty rich coming from somebody who supports a church that proclaims that all other religions are an abomination to God (see JSH 1:19).

    The bottom line here, amanda, is that if the LDS church is wrong, it most certainly doesn’t deserve to be left alone. In the same vein, if traditional Christianity is wrong, it also most certainly should not be left alone. I have already posted Orson Pratt’s statement about this, and I invite you to review it. I am grateful that so many good Christians came out of their comfort zone to show me why I should not put my trust in Mormonism. I am here not because I like to see my own type, nor because I want to justify my decision to leave, but simply to return that favor.

    If any of us are on a path that is ultimately going to lead to unhappiness in the life to come, shouldn’t we be warned? Or does that just apply when your church is doing the talking?

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