Most of us have heard someone say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that counts”. That’s probably true in many cases, but there is more to it than that when speaking of having eternal life in heaven. Concerning eternal life in heaven, it is what you know, who you know and also who knows you! Let us consider the importance of each of these.
First, we quickly recognize that one must know the Lord in order to have eternal life. As Jesus prayed to His Father, he said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). However, “knowing the Lord” means more than just knowing who He is or that He exists. Many are the passages wherein an evil spirit being cast out knew that Jesus was the Son of God. When Jesus came out of the ship in the country of the Gergesenes, He was met by two who were possessed with devils. “They cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? (Matt. 8:28-29). At one time, vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth” (Acts 19:13). In one case, “the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? (Acts 19:15). They knew who He was, but they were not followers. Then there are also those who were acquainted with Jesus, but did not truly know Him. Some of the Jews were speaking to Jesus, face to face when Jesus said to them, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also” (John 8:19).
Secondly, “what we know” is connected to the “who we know”. In other words, it is not possible for one to know the Lord as is needed for salvation without knowing something else. The apostle John wrote, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3-4). It is imperative that one know and keep the word of the Lord in order that they know the Lord. Paul wrote to Titus of some who he said were defiled, saying, “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Tit. 1:16). Since we are considering these things with the idea of having a home in heaven, we must acknowledge that the gospel of Christ must be obeyed in order to have that eternal home. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Paul said that the gospel of Christ “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). In the second chapter of the same epistle he wrote, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Therefore, to truly know the Lord, in the sense that is needed to have eternal life requires knowing and keeping His word, not just what others have said He said, but what He actually said.
The final point that is often left out is that we must be known by the Lord as well. This too is connected to the last point, that we know and obey the word of God. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). Notice these people were religious people, obviously zealous and working people, but the Lord did not know them, for they had not been obedient to His commands. In the parable of the ten virgins we read, “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:11-12). These five foolish virgins were foolish because they did not fully prepare for the coming of the Lord, thus He did not know them. In Luke 13:25-28, Jesus speaks of those who would knock on the door calling for the Lord to open, but He would answer, “I know you not whence ye are”. They argue that they have eaten and drunk in his presence and he has taught in their streets, “But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity”. Would the words “I know you not” be terrible words to hear on judgment day?
The prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). What you know is of absolute necessity. Knowing the truth and obeying it will determine who you know which also determines who will know you in the last day.
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