By Zhang Min
I saw thesaid in the Bible, “Many will say to me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). Every time I read these verses, I would be puzzled: Since we believed in the Lord, we’ve suffered much and paid the price in preaching the Lord’s gospel. We’ve shepherded the Lord’s flock, taken up the cross and followed the Lord, practiced humbleness, patience and tolerance. Have we not been following the Lord’s will? Is our practice of wrong? Why did the Lord say that He never knew these people and condemn them as evildoers in the end? What, after all, are the Lord’s intentions?
Then one day, I saw the following passages of God’s words, “In the Bible, the Lord Jesus says, ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?’ (Matt 7:22). What then does the Lord Jesus say? (‘I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity’ (Matt 7:23).) Why does the Lord Jesus say this? Why have those who heal the sick and cast out devils in the Lord’s name, who travel to preach in the Lord’s name, become evildoers? Who are these evildoers? Are they those who do not believe in God? (No.) Who are they? (They are those who believe in God but do not practice truth.) Correct. They believe in God and follow God. They also expend themselves for God, give things up for God, and perform their duty. However, in performing their duty they are not loyal and do not have testimonies, and their performance of duty has become wickedness. So, the Lord Jesus says, ‘Depart from me, you that work iniquity.’”
“What is the standard by which a person’s acts are evaluated as good or evil? It is whether or not you, in your thoughts, expressions, and actions, have the testimony of putting truth into practice and of living out the reality of truth. If you do not have this reality or do not have this living out, then you are without a doubt an evildoer. How does God look on evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts all make God ashamed. They do not testify of God. They do not put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, in everything they are the mark of making God ashamed. You are not testifying of God, not expending yourself for God, and not fulfilling your responsibility and obligations toward God but instead are acting for yourself. What is the implication of ‘for yourself?’ For Satan. So, in the end God will say, ‘Depart from me, you that work iniquity.’ There is no reward. God does not remember them. In God’s eyes their acts have not been good but have become evil acts. Is this not emptiness?” Through God’s word, I came to know that the standard by which God measures people is different from that of people. People only look at these surface efforts and spending, so they think: Those who know more about the Bible are just the spiritual people; those who can endure sufferings are the ones seeking the truth; those who have sacrificed a lot are people full of love; those who have preachedmore and usually help others are people loving the Lord. However, God inspects people’s hearts, and He doesn’t see what people are like on the surface or whether their behavior is good or bad; instead, He only sees whether one’s essence has the reality of obeying Him, and He sees one’s intentions and objectives of doing everything, and one’s motives behind his actions and the consequences of what one has done. Just like the Lord ever said that those who preached and cast out devils in the Lord’s name, and who did many wonderful works in the Lord’s name were not ones doing His will but were evildoers. Why is that? It is because although they serve God and interpret the Bible, their intentions and objectives are to exalt themselves, bear witness to themselves, show off themselves, make others worship and follow them, and bring their brothers and sisters in front of themselves. They usually teach the believers to practice forbearance, patience and love, but they don’t fellowship about God’s will at all. They only let people keep the letters of the Bible and some rules but don’t emphasize practicing God’s words. Thus they are unable to bring people into the , and instead, they have become blind guides. These people may believe in the Lord’s name, pray to Him, know the Scriptures very well, and serve God in the church, but they have not known Him. When God’s new work comes upon them, they don’t accept it but even seal off the churches, so they have become the Pharisees who resist God. Just as God says: “Man acknowledges only the existence of God, but not that of the truth; man acknowledges only the existence of God, but not that of life; man only acknowledges , but not His substance.” Therefore, in the end no matter how many years they believe in God and how much work they have done, God doesn’t admit they are ones who truly believe in Him, but condemns them as evildoers.
At that moment, I remembered God’s word, “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this. You must realize that all those who do not follow the will of God will be punished. This is an immutable fact.” From God’s word, I saw that God’s righteous disposition must not be offended by anyone, and He doesn’t stress personal feelings with anyone. He finally decides the destination of us not on the basis of how much we have worked or suffered, but according to whether we possess the truth, whether we practice His words and whether we follow His will. Then I realized that if we believe in God but do not know Him, only according to our conceptions and imagination to believe in God and follow Him, it is too dangerous. No matter how devoted is our belief, it shall be wishful thinking and we shall not receive God’s praise at all.
God says, “I am now walking abroad in the midst of My people, I live in the midst of My people. Today, those who bear genuine love toward Me, people like these are blessed; blessed are those who submit to Me, they will surely stay in My kingdom; blessed are those who know Me, they will surely wield power in My kingdom; blessed are those who seek after Me, they will surely escape from Satan’s bonds and enjoy blessing in Me; blessed are those who are able to forsake themselves, they will surely enter into My possession, and inherit My kingdom’s bounty.” God shows us the path of practice to be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. Clearly, God wants those who can love Him, submit to Him, seek the truth and know Him, forsake themselves and triumph over Satan, and people like these are blessed by God. For example, Job was robbed of the hills of cattle and sheep in a day and lost his children, but he didn’t have a heart of complaining in the slightest, and what’s more, he praised God by saying: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Finally, he made a resounding testimony to God and became “a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil” in God’s eyes. For another example, Abraham, he was given a son by God when he was a hundred years old. Afterward, when God asked him to make his only son Isaac a burnt offering to Him, Abraham bore great pain in his heart, but he could obey God’s word and still offered Isaac. At last, God blessed him with the promise of making his offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the sea shore. Another one is Peter. He was a person pursuing loving God and knowing Him. Despite having not done much work, he sought to fulfill the duty of a creature of God, and focused on knowing and loving Him and in the end he could be nailed upside down to the cross for God and became the one who knew God most, so God gave him the key to the kingdom of heaven. The reason why they were approved of and blessed by God was because when they believed in and followed Him, no matter what they encountered, they had a heart of obedience and reverence for God and bore resounding testimony in these trials. From this we can see: It doesn’t matter how much work we do for God or how much we suffer in our belief in Him; the most important thing is to betray our personal ambitions, desires or impurities, have a heart to obey God and satisfy Him, be willing to spend everything to carry out God’s will without seeking recompense. Even though facing trials and tribulations, we won’t blame God or rebel against Him, and instead we can still obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. In this way, we will be able to become those praised by God and will live forever in His kingdom.