We need more than to know about Jesus to enter the kingdom of heaven. Today, R.C. Sproul reminds us of Saul of Tarsus’ conversion, emphasizing how critical it is for a sinner to be known by Christ in order to be saved.
Do you see the kind of Christ that comes and intrudes into the life of Saul of Tarsus? Saul knew more theology than any living Jew, but he didn’t know Jesus. But Jesus knew him. You see, it wasn’t Saul saying, “Jesus, Jesus,” but it was Jesus saying: “Saul, Saul. Saul, I know you. I know you intimately. I know you personally, and I love you. Come to Me.”
There’s a strange flip side to this that we find at the very end of the Sermon on the Mount. Do you remember how the sermon ends? It ends with a warning, where Jesus says, “Many will come to me in the last day, and they will say to me, ‘Lord.’” What? “‘Lord. Lord, Lord, did we not cast out demons in Your name? Didn’t we do this for You? And didn’t we do that for You?’” And Jesus has said, “And I will look at them, and I will say, ‘Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you.’”
Can you imagine anything more dreadful than that? To go rushing up to Jesus and say, “Lord, it’s so great to see You.” And He says: “Who are you? What’s your name? Please leave. I never knew you.”
The warning of the New Testament is that it is easy to honor Christ with our lips while our hearts are far from Him. It is easy to confess Him with our mouths while we know Him not at all. And that awful, dreadful warning is that on the judgment day there will be people who will come forward claiming to know Jesus. And the claim you see, as Matthew gives it to us, is not simply a claim of superficial, casual acquaintanceship with Jesus, but there will be people there who will claim to know Him intimately, claim to know Him personally, and they will not be recognized by the King.
In Christian circles, it’s a commonplace thing for us to have our own little vocabulary, our jargon in which we talk like this. We say: “Well, so-and-so’s not a Christian. He doesn’t know Jesus. And I want to help him know Jesus.” That’s perfectly appropriate language. But let us not forget that in the final analysis, the issue eternally will not be, Do you know Jesus? The issue will be, Does He know you intimately, redemptively, as he knew Saul and stretched out His hand to Saul and claimed him for His own.
I expect on the day of judgment that our Lord is going to look at my wife and He’s going to say, “Vesta, Vesta, inherit the kingdom which My Father has prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To say, “Marilyn, Marilyn, Jack, Jack.” Whoever is in Christ is known by Christ, is protected by Christ, is possessed by Christ, and will be redeemed by the King.