Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Most Frightening Words in the entire Bible
"I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness"

Commentary by John Gill

Matthew 7, Verse 21.
Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord,....

Not every one that calls Christ his Lord and Master, professes subjection to him, or that calls upon his name, or is called by his name; or makes use of it in his public ministrations. There are many who desire to be called, and accounted Christians, and who make mention of the name of Christ in their sermons, only to take away their reproach, to cover themselves, and gain credit with, and get into the affections and goodwill of the people; but have no hearty love to Christ, nor true faith in him: nor is it their concern to preach his Gospel, advance his glory, and promote his kingdom and interest; their chief view is to please men, aggrandize themselves, and set up the power of human nature in opposition to the grace of God, and the righteousness of Christ. Now not everyone of these, no, not any of them,

shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This is to be understood not of the outward dispensation of the Gospel, or the Gospel church state, or the visible church of Christ on earth, in which sense this phrase is sometimes used; because such persons may, and often do, enter here; but of eternal glory, into which none shall enter,

but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
This, as it may regard private Christians, intends not merely outward obedience to the will of God, declared in his law, nor barely subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel; but more especially faith in Christ for life and salvation; which is the source of all true evangelical obedience, and without which nothing is acceptable to God. He that seeth the Son, looks unto him, ventures on him, commits himself to him, trusts in him, relies on him, and believes on him for righteousness, salvation, and eternal life, he it is that does the will of the Father, and he only; and such an one, as he is desirous of doing the will of God in all acts of cheerful obedience to it, without dependence thereon; so he shall certainly enter the kingdom of heaven, and have everlasting life; see John 6:40 but as these words chiefly respect preachers, the sense of them is this, that only such who are faithful dispensers of the word shall enter into the joy of their Lord. Such do the will of Christ's Father, and so his own, which are the same, who fully and faithfully preach the Gospel of the grace of God; who declare the whole counsel of God, and keep back nothing that is profitable to the souls of men; who are neither ashamed of the testimony of Christ, nor afraid of the faces of men; but as they are put in trust with the Gospel, so they speak it boldly, with all sincerity, not as pleasing men, but God, and commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God: such as these shall have an abundant entrance into the kingdom and glory of God. The Vulgate Latin adds this clause, "he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven," and so does Munster's Hebrew edition of the Gospel according to Matthew.

Verse 22.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,....

That is, in the last day, the day of judgment, the great and famous day, fixed by God, unknown to angels and men, which will be terrible to some, and joyful to others; the day in which the faithful ministers of the Gospel shall be owned by Christ, and received into the kingdom of heaven: "many," not of the common people only, but of the preachers of the word, who have filled up the highest station in the church below; not one, or two, or a few of them only, but many of them "will say to me"; to Christ, who will appear then as the judge of quick and dead, to which he is ordained by his Father,

Lord, Lord;
not "my Lord, my Lord," as the Syriac version reads it; for they will not be able to claim any interest in him, though they will be obliged to own his dominion, power, and authority over them. The word is repeated to show their importunity, sense of danger, the confusion they will be in, the wretched disappointment they will have; and therefore speak as persons amazed and confounded, having expected they would have been the first persons that should be admitted into heaven. Their pleas follow;

have we not prophesied in thy name?
This may be understood either of foretelling things to come; which gift wicked men may have, who have never had any experience of the grace of God, as Balaam, and Caiaphas, and others; or rather of preaching the word, which is sometimes called prophesying, Romans 12:6 and which may be done in the name of Christ, pretending mission and authority from him, and to be preachers of him, and yet be no better than "sounding brass," or "a tinkling cymbal"; yea, nothing at all as to true grace, or spiritual experience.

And in thy name have cast out devils?
Diabolical possessions were very frequent in the times of Christ; no doubt but they were suffered, that Jesus might have an opportunity of showing his power over Satan, by dispossessing him from the bodies, as well as the souls of men; and of giving proof of his deity, divine sonship and Messiahship: and this power of casting out devils was given to others, not only to the twelve apostles, among whom Judas was, who had the same power with the rest, and to the seventy disciples; but even to some who did not follow him, and his disciples, Mark 9:38 and some did this in the name of Jesus, who do not appear to have any true faith in him, and knowledge of him; as the vagabond Jews, exorcists, and the seven sons of Sceva, Acts 19:13. An awful consideration it is, that men should be able to cast out devils, and at last be cast to the devil.

And in thy name done many wonderful works?
that is, many miracles; not one, or a few only, but many; such as speaking with tongues, removing mountains, treading on serpents and scorpions, and drinking any deadly thing without hurt, and healing all manner of diseases and sicknesses. Judas, for one, was capable of pleading all these things; he had the gift of preaching, and a call from Christ to it, and yet a castaway; he had the power of casting out devils, and yet could not prevent the devil from entering into him; he could perform miracles, do wonders in Christ's name, and yet, at last, was the betrayer of him. These pleas and arguments will be of no use to him, nor of any avail to any at the great day. It may be observed, that these men lay the whole stress of their salvation upon what they have done in Christ's name; and not on Christ himself, in whom there is salvation, and in no other: they say not a syllable of what Christ has done and suffered, but only of what they have done. Indeed, the things they instance in, are the greatest done among men; the gifts they had were the most excellent, excepting the grace of God; the works they did were of an extraordinary nature; whence it follows, that there can be no salvation, nor is it to be expected from men's works: for if preaching the word, which is attended with so much study, care, and labour, will not be a prevailing argument to admit men into the kingdom of heaven; how can it be thought that ever reading, or hearing, or any other external performance of religion, should bring persons thither?

Verse 23.
Then will I profess unto them,....

Publicly before men and angels, at the day of judgment,

I never knew you;
which must be understood consistent with the omniscience of Christ; for as the omniscient God he knew their persons and their works, and that they were workers of iniquity; he knew what they had been doing all their days under the guise of religion; he knew the principles of all their actions, and the views they had in all they did; nothing is hid from him. But, as words of knowledge often carry in them the ideas of affection, and approbation, see Psalm 1:6 the meaning of Christ here is, I never had any love, or affection for you; I never esteemed you; I never made any account of you, as mine, as belonging to me; I never approved of you, nor your conduct; I never had any converse, communication, nor society with you, nor you with me. The Persic version reads it, "I have not known you of old," from ancient times, or from everlasting; I never knew you in my Father's choice, and my own, nor in my Father's gift to me, nor in the everlasting covenant of grace; I never knew you as my sheep, for whom, in time, I died, and called by name; I never knew you believe in me, nor love me, or mine; I have seen you in my house, preaching in my name, and at my table administering mine ordinance; but I never knew you exalt my person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; you talk of the works you have done, I never knew you do one good work in all your lives, with a single eye to my glory; wherefore, I will neither hear, nor see you; I have nothing to do with you. In this sense the phrase is used in the Talmud {y}: "Bar Kaphra went to visit R. Juda; he says to him, Bar Kaphra, Mlwem Krykm ynya, 'I never knew thee.'" The gloss upon it is, "he intimates, that he would not see him." So here, Christ declares, he knew them not; that is, he did not like them; he would not admit them into his presence and glory; but said,

depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.
The former of these expressions contains the awful sentence pronounced by Christ, the judge; which is, banishment from his presence, than which nothing is more terrible: for as it is his presence that makes heaven, it is his absence that makes hell; and this supposes a place and state, whither they are banished; which is elsewhere called their "own place, the lake" which burns with fire and brimstone; "everlasting fire," prepared for the devil and his angels. Departure from Christ's presence is the punishment of loss, and being sent to everlasting burnings, is the punishment of sense; and the whole, as it is an instance of strict justice, so a display of Christ's almighty power. The latter expression contains the character of these persons, and in it a reason of their punishment; they were "workers of iniquity": it may be, neither adulterers, nor murderers, nor drunkards, nor extortioners, nor thieves, or any other openly profane sinners; but inasmuch as they did the work of the Lord deceitfully, preached themselves, and not Christ; sought their own things, and not his; what they did, they did with a wicked mind, and not with a view to his glory; they wrought iniquity, whilst they were doing the very things they pleaded on their own behalf, for their admission into the kingdom of heaven. Some copies read, "all the workers of iniquity," as in Psalm 6:8 from whence the words are taken.


pilgrim said...

Those are indeed scary words, and ones which I think of when I've been asked about false doctrines that arise within the visible church. Some of those doctrines are silly, some are unimportant, but many are ones that affect the very gospel and the nature of god and nature of Christ. These ones we need to address and correct. To be sure there are those who do not do this biblically and wisely.
But that doesn't mean they don't need to be addressed.

If it denies the gospel it is essential.

SJ Camp said...

I couldn't agree more.

We must get the gospel right; it cannot be nuanced; or made political; or even pragmatic.

I thought Gill was spot on.

Thank you for sharing...

donsands said...

Heavy words. But needful.

I thought of our Lord's words about the two men in church.

One thanked God he was good and was doing good things for the church, and not doing bad things like other men.

The other said, "God be merciful to me a sinner."

I heard Alistair Begg say, "What would you say to the Lord when you die and you stand before the gates of heaven to why you should deserve to go in?"

He said our answer should be, "I don't deserve to go in".


"When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne."

dec said...

...but inasmuch as they did the work of the Lord deceitfully, preached themselves, and not Christ; sought their own things, and not his...


And here is my nomination for the runner-up "most frightening words in the entire Bible":

Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

SJ Camp said...

They are heavy words and thank you as always for your thoughts. We forget sometimes in the blogosphere that this is an eternal issue...

I thought these words on Matt. 7:21-23 were very much needed after reading through the cacophony of comments at TP on that most adolescent post Dan and Frank wrote apparently for numbers attraction only. Fun, but absolutely meaningless.

The heartbreaking issue for me was how they treated Helen there. If this woman truly doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ, is this how one should proclaim the gospel to someone who is lost and dead in her sins?


(Phil's Spurgeon post last evening was a good corrective step.)

Souls are at stake beloved; this is not a game... Let's not treat it as such.

Fully agree... Thank you!

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

donsands said...

"If this woman truly doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ, is this how one should proclaim the gospel to someone who is lost and dead in her sins?"

Much of the dialouge with Helen was good, I thought. I was praying for the Lord to open her heart; for her to trust Christ, and repent.
There were some who may have come on a little strong, but to cofront is sometimes hard words. But surely it always needs to tempered with grace and compassion, as I thought it was.

Of course I have blind spots, and I pray the Lord would show me where I may be to outspoken, or perhaps too timid.

I'm continuing to pray for Helen. But it has come to be dusting my cloak off as it were, as far as dialouging.

I hope I didn't take this too far off subject, but I felt i needed to share my heart on Helen, and not TP as such.

Alice said...

Hi--first time commenting; I recently stumbled across your blog. This is actually in reply to your 8/27 post regarding the exposition on 2 Tim. 4 (I wasn't sure if you read later comments on previous posts). I'd be interested to know if you've heard of this pastor and/or this sermon:

He is a really faithful preacher of the Word, from the Chicago area. I've not seen him mentioned ever on your blog and just thought you might be interested (and encouraged).

Best wishes,

P.S. I grew up at WBC in the 70s &80s. I remember you singing in the evening service occasionally! Your music continued to minister to me throughout my college years at MBI as well...

Sacchiel said...

How terrifying it will be to those who receive that judgement. Thanks!