A couple years back, I watched a sermon by a preacher named Paul Washer who talked about Matthew 7 on the topics of the narrow gate, the wide gate and the two houses built on the sand and the stone. And there was an interesting point he made part way through the message that I want to share and elaborate on with you tonight.
In the middle of this message where he was essentially rebuking the church for their lukewarm Christianity, he pointed out: if you go to church to socialise and make friends, but you aren't friends with God, then you have reason for grave concern.
Essentially he was saying: be known by God.
But first, before we get to that, let's touch base with the importance of knowing God.
As Christians, we know the importance of knowing God. This is our purpose: to seek Him out, to know Him better, to know His grace, His mercies, His character, His glory.
And this knowledge is incredibly essential to us with establishing our faith and trusting Him. Let me illustrate this for you:
Imagine someone who is close to you, someone you know and love. A brother, a sister, a spouse, whomever. And imagine someone tells you something that that person did that was wrong but you knew that person whom you love would never do that. How often do we feel uncertain and have that nagging feeling to clarify this rumour rather than trusting the character of the person you love?
Its the exact same with God. How often when someone says something like 'Oh, you're suffering yet you obey God? He must have abandoned you" or they say something that is contrary to Scripture, something that seems totally out of line with who God claims to be. It sounds like the exact same scenario with that person that you love, except with one slight difference. People change, God doesn't.
Malachi 3:6 NIV says, "I the LORD do not change."
He is our Rock, He stands firm. His character is the same since eternity past till eternity beyond. And we know that whatever we may learn about Him, we can be certain of and can hold onto that truth for eternity.
And we need this in times of struggle, we need that assurance, that hope, knowing that when all else fails, He won't let go of us... and guess what? He knows that too.
Psalm 46:10 NIV says, "Be still and know that I am God."
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
He never changes.
Ephesians 1:17 NIV says, "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better."
Paul knew the importance of knowing God and expressed his desire for the people of Ephesus to know Him too, but he adds in an extra point here we need to remember.
The Spirit. We can know nothing of God without the Spirit revealing it to us. 1 Corinthians 2 points out that those who are not spiritually aware do not understand spiritual matters. In the same way, without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we do now know Him.
And, with the Spirit, how do we know Him?
Exodus 33:13a NIV says, "If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You."
His ways and His promises are found all throughout Scripture, each one revealing a part of who He is. If you want to know God, read the Bible. God isn't hiding, some of us simply don't want to read the pages.
So far, we've established the importance of knowing God, but coming back to the original point of this message, what about Him knowing us?
Matthew 7 gives a blunt warning to anyone who thinks that knowing God without being known is enough to enter Heaven.
Let's take a look.
We recall the passage found in verses 21-23 where Judgement Day has come and the people cry out: Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name and cast out demons in Your name?
And what is His reply?
I never knew you. Away from me.
If that isn't chilling enough, let's take a look at another one.
Matthew 10:33 NIV says,"But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in Heaven."
Christ makes it clear. Unless you surrender your whole life and go the whole way, not halfway or lukewarm, with your faith, He will not acknowledge you before the Father as though He never knew you.
Wouldn't that be troubling? Living this life, thinking you'll go to Heaven, being the good Christian and you stand on Judgement Day to hear Him say the words: I never knew you.
And slowly, we begin to see the importance of not only knowing Him, but Him knowing us. That, truly, the opinions of others don't matter in our lives, apart from His because, if anyone holds our fate in their hands, no matter how powerful some people are, its still God.
He is still the one in control and it can either be a fearful or amazing thing to be held in the palm of His hand.
The real question is: does He know you?
Jeremiahs 17:10 NIV says, "I the LORD searches the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according what his deeds deserve."
This is how He knows us. God is not fooled by outward appearances, He searches the heart.
Know Him to the full and He will know you.
Purify your heart according to the Word, surrender and abide in Him so that He will know you, and will watch over you as His own.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13 NIV)