There are two conditions that you must meet to be saved. Let us look at the prayer of Jesus just before He went into the Garden of Gethsemane. “‘And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’” John 17:3. There are many places in the Bible that tell us that the world does not know God. One place is right here in this prayer.
In verse 25, Jesus says, “‘O righteous Father! The world has not known You.’” The world does not know God. But if you know God, you are going to have eternal life. That is one condition, and the second one is like unto it.
Not only must you know God, but He must also know you. In the gospel of Matthew we read about some people who say that they know the Lord, but the Lord says that He does not know them. “‘Not every one who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”’” Matthew 7:21-23.
Does God Know You?
These are people who think that they know God, but God says I do not know you. So these are the two conditions you must meet if you are going to be saved: You must know God, and He must know you. Everybody who knows God will be saved. Everyone that God knows will be saved.
Now we are human beings and sometimes we get confused in terminology. We think that if we know something about God, that is the same thing as knowing God. Many years ago I heard a story about a preacher. Late one night the telephone rang, and on the other end of the line was a young woman who was about to commit suicide. Almost every preacher or pastor has had at least one telephone call from somebody who was contemplating suicide. It is more common than you might think.
Do You Know God?
This young lady was planning to commit suicide, but before she did, for some reason, there was one question that she wanted to get answered. So she asked this preacher the one question on her heart: “Do you know God?” It just took him aback, because do you know what preachers know? Well, we know Greek; we know Hebrew, and we know history. We have been taught about public speaking; we have been taught about church administration, how to run committees and boards, how to administer communion, how to baptize people; we know theology, teaching, philosophy, psychology and sociology.
But she did not want to talk to anybody who knew all that. She wanted to talk to someone who knew God. That is the question I want to ask you. Do you know God? Does He know you? The Bible makes it very clear, there in Matthew 7, that many people think they know God, and they really do not.
There was a lady who came to one of our workers at the State Fair this past summer. She said, “Well, I know my Lord.” Because she knew Him, she knew He would and would not do certain things, and it is very interesting what people think they know about what God will and will not do. They think that they know, but they really do not. Matthew 7:21–23 is a good example of that. But there are others.
Luke 9:55 speaks about the apostles. Surely they knew the Lord. But notice what Jesus said to them: “He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.’”
And again, in John 14:9 Jesus is talking to one of His own disciples: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father?”’” You see, these people had been with Jesus for over three years at this time and Jesus asked Phillip the question, how could I be with you so long and you not know Me? You see there are many people today, many Christians who know Jesus the way the apostles knew Jesus when He was here in the world.
What Is the Difference Between Professed and True?
“Then one said to Him, ‘Lord, are there few who are saved?’ And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us,” and He will answer and say to you, “I do not know you, where you are from,” then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” But He will say, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. . . .” Luke 13:23–28. This is but another example of this same problem.
I will just give you a little tip for your own devotional study. If you look in the gospels where Jesus talks about weeping and gnashing of teeth, you will find out that every single time He is talking about a certain group of people at the end of time. He is talking about people who were in the professed church, who believed that they were part of His chosen people, that they were part of His own, but they find out at the end that they are not. They were in the church, and they were sure they were going to be saved, but they come right up to the end, and they are not. It is serious when you put it in that vein, is it not? But that is whom He is talking about every single time when He talks about weeping and gnashing of teeth in the gospels. (See Matthew 8 and 25.)
Incidentally, there are going to be a lot of preachers in that crowd. A lot of them. In fact, Ellen White says that a lot of them had high positions in God’s work. (See Upward Look, 301.) I can tell you that you and I do not want to be in that group.
We need to talk to the Lord about this and say, “Lord, is my religion real? Or is it just a game of pretend?” The apostle Paul talks to a young preacher about this very problem. He says, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Titus 1:16.
The Horror of Rejection
So we can see from these Scriptures that there will be many people who thought that they knew God and that God knew them. They will come right up to the end, and they will have the most bitter, awful disappointment and shock that they have ever had.
I try to imagine this in my mind over and over again, and frankly I am unable to do so. I cannot imagine how terrible it would be to realize that probation is over, and you are lost. There is not going to be another second chance like a lot of people think. It is over. You have already had your second chance, and you are lost. This has happened not just to individuals but to whole groups and nations and people. There are many texts in both the Old and New Testaments that point this out as a problem with the Jewish nation.
Isaiah 58:1, 2 says, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God.”
These are people who are very religious. They go to church and they say, “We want somebody to preach to us and show us the ways of God.” It says they delight in the ways of God, but the Lord says, “You do not even know Me. You do not even know the way of peace,” as you can see in Isaiah 59:8.
Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet, because he did a lot of weeping. He says, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night. . . . They have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:1, 3.
The Lord says My own chosen people do not know Me. They just think they do. They are very religious. These people, even from a human point of view, probably seemed much more religious than the average Seventh-day Adventist today.
The gospel of John, of all the gospels, deals with this issue and this question a great deal. In fact, John deals with it in all of his writings. This is John the Baptist speaking: “John answered them, saying, ‘I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.’” John 1:26.
They Did Not Know Him!
Jesus had been in the world for 30 years at this time, and they did not know Him. They did not know Him! Now there had been much evidence given. Everybody knew about the shepherds and about the wise men. And there were many of the leaders of the people who knew about the time when Jesus had been in the temple for three days asking questions of the leaders of Israel.
But they did not know Him. This theme keeps coming up over and over again. “Then they said to Him, ‘Where is Your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’” John 8:19.
So the Jewish people did not know that God was among them in the flesh. It was the greatest opportunity that had ever been given to the human race since Adam and Eve. He was there, right then, and they did not know.
Are you aware of the fact, friend, that very soon we are to be given the greatest opportunity that has been given to God’s people since the time of Christ and the apostles? Did you know that the majority of Adventists will not know what is going on? Are you aware of the fact that Ellen White says that the light that lightens the earth with its glory will be called a false light.” (See Review and Herald, May 27, 1890.)
The Last Message of Mercy
The light that lightens the earth with its glory is an expression from the Bible. What is that about? It is about the Loud Cry that is described in Revelation 18:1. It says, ‘I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” (KJV.)
The Loud Cry is the last message of mercy given to this world, and it is going to be accompanied by an experience of primitive godliness that has not been seen since the days of the apostles. You can read about that in The Great Controversy, 464. It is going to be accompanied by more miracles than any of us have ever yet seen. Signs and wonders are going to follow the believers. That is what it says.
Miracles of healing will be wrought. Everybody that is an Adventist is going to know that something is happening. But Ellen White said that they would call this light that lightens the earth with its glory, a false light.
Why? How could that be? Because the people do not know God, that is how. That is why. They did not know Him. That is why they crucified Him. They did not know who He was. Paul says that if they had known who He was, they would not have done what they did. But they did not know Him. The question is, do you and I know Him? As we draw closer and closer to the end, we are going to have to know Him.
Friends, you and I are going to be told that we are in league with the devil, that we do not know God at all and that we are the cause of all the trouble coming upon the earth. We are going to be told that, and if you do not know Him, you are not going to make it. Do you know Him? Do you know that you know Him? Do you know that He knows you?
An Intimate Relationship with Your Redeemer
This is a big theme in the Bible. Do you know God? Does He know you? The problem is not God knowing about us, and us knowing about God. It is not talking about knowing information about someone; it is talking about us actually having an experience, a relationship with that person.
God wants to have a relationship with you and you need to have a relationship with Him. “‘To him (that is the Good Shepherd) the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.’” John 10:3, 4.
Do you know His voice? If you know Him, you will know His voice. Do you know how to distinguish the voice of Jesus from a stranger? Jesus says that the sheep can tell the difference. In verse 5, He says that His sheep will not even listen to the voice of strangers; they will flee from them.
What is the difference between the voice of the Shepherd and the voice of the stranger, and how do you tell the difference? Here is one quick tip: the voice of the Shepherd will never contradict anything in the Bible, especially the law of God. That is why you need to be studying the Bible, so you can recognize the Voice, because there are lots of voices today.
“‘I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.’” John 10:14. Jesus says, the people who belong to Me, they know Me. I know them, and they know Me. No exceptions! People who are taken to heaven when Jesus comes will be people who know Him, and He knows them.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” So there is one question you can ask yourself, “Can I tell the difference in the voice?” Now the gospel of John also points out certain criteria so you could know which people are not the Lord’s; they are not His sheep; they are not His people, and they do not know Him. Maybe this is not so pretty, but it is surely appropriate for the times in which we are living.
Hated and Persecuted for Christ
In John 15:19, 20, Jesus is telling His disciples that they are going to be persecuted. The world is going to hate them and persecute them. Why is the world going to hate them and why is the world going to persecute them? Verse 21 explains it: “‘But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.’”
Why? They do not know Him. They do not know God. “‘These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [They will disfellowship you, in other words.]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.’” John 16: 1, 2. The Greek text says, “Whoever kills you will glory that he is doing service for God.” He will exult that he is doing something for the Lord because he is killing God’s people.
“‘And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.’” Verse 3. Why do they do these things? They do not know God. I want to tell you, friends, if, in your heart and in my heart, we ever have the desire to get even with the people that abuse us, there is something wrong. We do not know God. There is a lot of that going on today. Professed Adventists even take other Adventists to court, so they can put them in prison, if they do not do what they want.
God’s “Professed” People
Why? Jesus told us why. They do not know “the Father nor Me.” Are you brave? Are you ready for me to get very specific? We are living in a time just like this time. Who was it that Jesus was talking about that was going to do this? Was it the Romans? No, it was the Jews, God’s chosen people. His professed people. That is the way it is today.
It is a very serious thing to profess to be one of God’s children and then get involved in persecuting other children of God, because they are heretics or fanatics or whatever they are. I do not believe in heresy; I do not believe in fanaticism; I believe in fighting both of them, but I do not believe in killing the people. I do not believe in putting the people in prison because their doctrines are wrong, or they are fanatics.
Jesus said the people who do this do not know God. “They do not know the Father nor Me.” Now let us just think this through a little bit. I want you to think.
Are You Involved?
I want to ask you some questions. Do you think that God is going to finish His work in this world through people who do not even know Him? Is that what you think? Well, that is what some people think. That is what some Adventists think. They write me letters and tell me that. Some people think that God is going to finish His work through people who do not even know Him.
“Oh,” they say to me, “that is not everybody.”
Now listen, let us think that one through. Not everybody. There is a Nicodemus. Let me tell you something, friends, Jesus did not finish the work that God gave Him to do through Nicodemus, and He did not do it through the Sanhedrin. Those people in the Sanhedrin did not know Him. Even Nicodemus did not really know Him yet. It took him a while. After the cross, Nicodemus got it figured out.
We are not passing judgment on who is going to be saved and who is not going to be saved. Not at all! That is God’s business. But it is time to think things through and it is not rude or sacrilegious for a preacher to ask you some questions such as, “Do you really believe that God is going to finish His work through people who do not even know Him?” That is what the majority of Adventists believe today. Jesus said the people who are involved in persecuting other believers do not know Me, and they do not know the Father. It is too pointed!
Somebody says, “Well, Pastor John, they are not all involved in that.”
I am sorry, brother and sister, that is not true. You are mistaken. They are all involved, and the reason they are all involved is very simple; they all belong to one organization that is doing it. Unless they are protesting it, they are part of it!