"Not everyone 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)
Jesus spoke these words during what is usually called the sermon on the mount. He was not speaking to the world, but to disciples, for we are told "And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain and when He was seated His disciples came to him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them..." (Matt. 5:1)
Imagine the scene: Jesus, in the full power and authority of the Spirit after having returned from His time of testing in the wilderness, has begun His ministry throughout the Galilee by teaching in the synagogues, preaching in the marketplaces and healing all kinds of disease among the people. News of His supernatural power, especially the healings and deliverances, has spread throughout the region and huge crowds are flocking to the area in the hope of seeing, hearing and perhaps even touching Him. They have come from near and far, even from as far away as Jerusalem. In the midst of surroundings that must have appeared to be bordering on chaos, Jesus sits down on the side of a large hill, surrounded by "disciples", and begins to teach them things they have never heard or imagined. Over and over again He repeats: "You have heard that it is said, but I tell you...." He is actually saying "It used to be that way, but now it is going to be this way!" Everything He is teaching them is new to them. He is teaching them how life is to be in this new Kingdom He has come to declare. He tells them not to pray any more in the same manner as their religious leaders, and shows them how to pray in a way pleasing to God. He even refers to Almighty God as "our Father", telling them that if they will seek His Kingdom first, all their most basic needs will be provided. He astounds them by telling them to forgive those who mistreat them rather than exercising their legal right to retribution. He shocks them by revealing the thoughts of their hearts. He thrills them by telling them Heaven belongs to the humble and contrite rather than the pious.
With what anticipation and excitement they must have drunk in His words! This Kingdom He talked about would indeed be different to the uncertain and oppressive lifestyles most of them currently endured under Roman occupation. When would Jesus set up this kingdom, each one must have wondered? And more specifically, what would be his or her role in this new Kingdom? How much authority would they personally carry, and how soon could they start to enjoy the rewards of being among the first to sign up? Perhaps it was then, perceiving their thoughts, that Jesus chose to drop this "disclaimer". Among those seeking to enter this Kingdom, He tells them, there will be those who do all the right things, say all the right words, yet who will be exposed in the end as insincere and illegitimate pretenders.
And so the scripture tells us that when He had finished His teachings, the crowds were amazed. He did not teach in the manner of the scribes in the synagogues. His words carried a weightiness, a certain sharpness that cut to the heart of a matter and at the same time resounded with truth and hope. He spoke with an authority unknown to them, an authority not of this world.
His Name is the Key
Who, then, could these be who Jesus said would prophesy, minister and even perform "many wonders" in His Name, yet who He would rebuke as lawless and unworthy of His Presence? The Greek word translated as lawlessness is "anomia", which can also convey "wickedness", or "unrighteousness". Essentially, however, it means "illegal". Jesus is referring in this statement to a group of people who have been using His Name without His authority!
So often in seeking to understand this very clear warning given by Jesus, we find ourselves left with more questions than answers. That signs and wonders can be performed in His Name by those who obviously don't know Jesus, should not confuse us. After all, Jesus did say there would be those who would use the power of His Name while still not following Him (Mark 9:38-39). Supernatural signs of the Kingdom are given not to confirm people and ministries, but to confirm the Word of the Lord (Mark 16:20). With that in mind we need to acknowledge that God is still well able to use a donkey to perform a sign if His purpose is served.
However, if we will just allow Holy Spirit to adjust our religious mindsets sufficiently we will see that it is not signs and wonders that are the issue in the statement Jesus made. The issue is His Name.
I strongly believe that we, as the Body of Christ, have barely even begun to comprehend the awesome magnitude, might and holiness represented in the incomparable Name of Jesus Christ. Oh, we like to call on His Name when we are in trouble; we like to add His Name to the end of our prayers to ensure they reach the mark; and we like to invoke the authority of His Name when dealing with the enemy - all of which are valid and scriptural. But we have for the most part failed to grasp what it is to actually dwell IN His Name!
"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name." (Ps. 91:14)
Calling on His Name, or Knowing His Name?
Men first began to call on the Name of the Lord in the days of Enosh, the grandson of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4:26. ) It is interesting that the name Enosh derives from a root Hebrew word meaning "frail, feeble, melancholy, desperately wicked, incurable, sick, woeful." From the time that mankind first began to perceive sin and suffer from its effects, we have called on the Name of the Lord. There is a great difference between calling on the Name of the Lord, however, and knowing the Name of the Lord.
When God chose to reveal Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He did so as El Shadai, or God Almighty. However, the revelation of Himself He offered to Moses was of a profoundly more intimate nature. To Moses, He revealed Himself not only as El Shadai, but also as Yahweh, or Lord (Ex. 6:3). Yahweh is the sacred, personal Name of the one, true living God, meaning "self-existent" and "eternal". Even though it was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob God established His covenant, it was to Moses He began to reveal His divine personality.
It was with Moses that God spoke "face to face". To Moses, God revealed His ways, and not simply His actions (Ps. 103:7) To Moses, God granted relationship and fellowship, and not simply commandments. (Ex. 33:11, Deut 34:10). To Moses, God revealed His glory (Ex. 33:18 & 19), a glory no other human being had witnessed since mankind exited the garden. Why was this deeper revelation of these attributes of the Almighty granted to Moses? Because Moses' heart was to KNOW God (Ex. 33:13). He wanted more of God than Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had known; he wanted the fellowship of God as well as His Lordship. And as the scriptures show, his desire for that intimacy with His Lord delighted the heart of God.
"So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Exodus 33:17-19)
When Yahweh chose to respond to Moses desire to see His glory, He said He would allow Moses to encounter Him in three specific ways. In allowing His goodness to pass before Moses He was declaring the unbounded beauty of His righteous character; in proclaiming His own Name He was revealing the eternal holiness and power of that Name; in declaring His right to choose to whom He would show His grace and compassion, He was declaring His absolute sovereignty. Righteousness, holiness, power and sovereignty are central to God's glory. So, one of the truths we learn from this Old Testament passage is that God's Name is essentially associated with His glory.
The Israelites, also, were given the opportunity to know their God on this personal level, but declined due to preoccupation with their own suffering (Ex. 6:6-9). God promised Israel, however, that in every place where He recorded His Name, He would meet with them and bless them. (Ex. 20:24) Wherever His Name is, therefore, His manifest Presence and His blessing will also be present.
Bearing the Name of Christ
"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."(Phil. 2:9-11)
The church, as the Bride of Christ, has yet to realize the full significance and awesome privilege of bearing the Name of Jesus Christ. In order to appropriate and honor the Name of Jesus in all its fullness and glory, we need to come into a far deeper revelation of that which God has revealed in His Word concerning His Name. Because Jesus is the express image of His Father, the principles that apply to the Father's Name also apply to the Son's Name (Heb. 1:1-3). Due to our lack of teaching and understanding about His Name, we have fallen into the practice of using the Name of Jesus as a formula. Too often we religiously add His Name on to our prayers and proclamations as if we were asking Him to sign a check. Jesus never intended for His Bride to keep His Name in her recipe box! The mature Bride of Christ speaks forth her prayers to the Father from a place within the Bridegroom's Name, because she is one with Him. Therefore, the Father recognizes and endorses her. Jesus' Name has been given to His Bride-church as a precious and irreplaceable token of His deepest love and commitment to her.
"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." (Rev. 3:12)
Jesus commanded the church at Philadelphia to hold fast to what they had, so that no-one would take away their crown. He promised to write His Name, the symbol of His presence and His blessing, upon His overcoming Bride. In similar manner, as a shadow of what was coming, God had commanded that the words "Holiness to the Lord" were to be engraved on a gold tablet and attached to the forehead of the High Priest whenever he entered the Holy of Holies to minister to the Lord (Ex. 28:36).
Church, please understand the Name of Jesus Christ was given to be worn as a crown upon the forehead of the Bride! When Jesus told us to pray "in My Name", He was not giving us a formula or a mantra. Rather, He was speaking of a hidden PLACE in Him, a place which can only be spiritually discerned. "In My Name" means "hidden in Me", "abiding in Me", "surrendered to Me", and most of all "knowing Me and known by Me." If we know Jesus, we are in His Name! Jesus wanted us to understand that when we pray from that spiritual place that is "In My Name", He was making available to us not only the full weight and authority of His Name, but also a place within Himself where we would be covered, cherished and endorsed due to our intimate knowledge of Him.
In His Name is where His Bride is to live, move and have her being, nothing less than that! When we ask for whatsoever "in His Name", we are speaking forth from the place of fully functioning Bride-ship. When we agree together "in His Name" we proclaim that we are standing in the place of unity as the mature, corporate wife of Christ. The sons of Sceva who tried to use the Name of Christ to gain recognition for themselves were unsuccessful because they tried to operate from another's knowledge of Christ, and not from that hidden place within His Name that only belongs to His Bride (Acts 19:13-16).
This "knowing and being known" by the Lord is defined by the Greek word "ginosko". Jesus used this word to describe the nature of His relationship with His Father (John 10:15 ). It is also the same terminology used to describe intimate knowledge between a man and his wife (Matt. 1:25, Luke 1:34). Vine's Expository Dictionary states that "ginosko" implies "an active relation between the one who knows and the person or thing known". This is the word used by Jesus when He said "I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness".
Two Stages of Bride-ship
The covenantal Bride-ship we are called to as the church of Jesus Christ can only really be grasped in the context of the Jewish culture. When Jesus drank the cup of blessing with His disciples at the First Supper He was in effect betrothing the church to Himself as His Bride (Luke 22:14-20)
(For more on this see the article
"Letter to a Reluctant Bride" )
He promised that He would not drink again of the fruit of the vine until He was reunited with His Bride in the fullness of the Kingdom (Matt. 26:29) Traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies were not conducted in the same manner as many of our Western-cultured marriage ceremonies. In the traditional Jewish marriage, there were two basic stages. Firstly, the Bride and Bridegroom would be betrothed, and their betrothal would be sealed by a ceremony which included the drinking of the Cup of Blessing together. From that moment on, their covenant was sealed and they were legally bound to one another. The young betrothed bride covered her face with a veil as a symbol of her covenant with the Bridegroom, which she would not remove until her betrothal was over. The bridegroom would return to his father's home for a period of a year or a little longer to prepare for the arrival of his bride. This time-period was considered sufficient to test the faithfulness of the bride, and for her to make herself ready. At the appointed time, the bridegroom would then return for his bride to bring her to the marriage supper. However, before they enjoyed the wedding supper together, they would retire alone to a tent or a room especially set aside, where they would come to know each other intimately. The great celebration of the wedding supper was held with great joy AFTER the consummation of the marriage, to celebrate the union of the bridegroom with his bride.
Too many in the church don't yet understand that there is a journey involved from Promised Bride to Faithful Wife. The betrothal stage represents those who have been called to enter into covenant with the Bridegroom and have responded. They have made their vows and agreed to the terms of their future relationship, but they are not yet living with the Bridegroom in the full status of a wife. Like a young immature girl showing off her engagement ring, choosing her wedding dress and dreaming of a future event where she will be greatly admired for her beauty, this betrothal-stage bride is caught up with her newly found bridal status, and as yet knows little about the bridegroom. When she thinks on their relationship it is still in terms of her own needs being satisfied, rather than her bridegroom's. Sadly, many in the church remain in this stage of immature Bride-ship. They have taken on the Name of the Lord but are not yet dwelling IN His Name. They foolishly believe they can wield His full authority while remaining self-focused and uncommitted to His needs. They call Him Lord but do not allow Him Lordship.
The tragedy is not that the church must pass through this immature stage. It is necessary for each one of us who truly follow Jesus to walk out this phase in our relationship with Him, and we do, without exception. No, the tragedy is that there are those in the church who willfully and consistently refuse to leave behind the place of Betrothed-Bride and become the Wife-Bride, because the cost to them is judged too high. And so, the Bridegroom is not deemed worthy. Unless they repent and go on to maturity, these are those to whom the Lord will one day say "I never knew you." To understand the full impact of those words, we must understand that the word Jesus used for "never" literally means "no, not even once". Not even once did these ones truly seek to come face to face with Him; not even once did they embrace Him in the fellowship of His sufferings; not even once did they cry out "More of You Lord, whatever the cost!" They have claimed His Name but they are not crowned with His Name. Therefore they are unrecognized and unauthorized by Him and cannot stay in His Presence. They have coveted the power of His Name without desiring to know Him and co-habit with Him, and in so doing they have robbed Him of glory!
The Bride, the Lamb's Wife
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." (Rev. 21:9)
In the parable of the ten virgins invited to a wedding, five of whom were wise and five of whom were foolish, it is sobering to realize that all ten were called to the wedding feast but only five who were known to the bridegroom actually entered (Matt. 25:1-12). Jesus said that many would be called, but few chosen. He said many would call Him Lord on the day of judgment whom He had never known. He said those who would be with Him would not only be called and chosen, but faithful (Rev. 17:14).
The spotless, unblemished Bride our Lord is yearning over is so much more than that glorious picture in white most of us associate with the word "bride". The Bride He is returning for has passed beyond betrothal to meet with Him in the secret place. She has removed her veil and beheld His Face. She is both Bride and Wife, already enjoying intimate knowledge of her Bridegroom. She yearns for more than His Name, she yearns for His manifested Presence. And while she waits faithfully to behold the full glory of her Bridegroom to be revealed in the Kingdom, nevertheless she has already entered into His Name through their ever-deepening relationship. She is the one found standing with the Spirit at the end of the age crying "Come!" His Name is her refuge and strong tower. His Name to her is as ointment poured forth. His Name is the first Name on her lips. And His Name is her crown and glory.
From that place within His Name the Wife-Bride of Christ represents Him on the earth, proclaiming His Word with fearsome boldness (Acts 9:27-29), and bringing forth salvation's, healing's, deliverance's, signs and wonders (Acts 3:16; Acts 4:12; Acts 4:18; Acts 4:30). When the Father looks upon her, He sees His Son reflected in her eyes and He is well-pleased!
Many are called as the Wife of the Lamb, but sadly, few will be chosen. Let us go on to maturity, let us seek His Face and the knowledge of Him before all else. Let us give Him pre-eminence in all things. Let us enter with joy into His Name!
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe." (Prov.18:10 NASB)
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Lord, grant us the ongoing revelation of Your Name! Grant us the certain knowledge that those who love, obey, fear and honor You are indeed already held securely within Your wonderful Name. Grant us to proclaim the majesty of Your Name with the wisdom and grace Your Name is worthy of. Grant us the power to proclaim to the world that there is indeed no other Name under Heaven by which men shall be saved! Grant us to destroy our enemy's works as we proclaim your Name with authority in this world. And grant us to always wear Your Name in such a way that You alone are glorified, exalted and lifted high!