Monday, December 23, 2013

"I Never Knew You"

Once upon a time, a bunch of sem-wives were gathered for a class with a sem professor.  One of the women took it upon herself to tell the rest of us that we weren't really Christians, that we hadn't asked the Lord into our hearts, that we hadn't truly made Him lord of our lives.  She insisted we would come to the end of our lives and  
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," He will answer and say to you, "I do not know you." ...  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.  (Luke 13:25-28)
The professor did not contradict this woman.  He agreed that this verse made him uneasy.  Would he be one to whom the Lord says, "I never knew you"?

After a period of deep distress (anfechtung) for me, a pastor preached the gospel to me and assured me of Jesus' promises and that His death atoned for my sins and that in baptism He claimed me as His own.  Thanks be to God for Tom Baker!

So anyway,
this section of Luke came up recently in Bible class.  I know too many people who quote verse 24 ("strive to enter through the narrow gate") as if it were preaching salvation-by-works.  C'mon!  You have to strive!  You have to do what's right!  The entryway to heaven is narrow, so you better get it right, and do all the right things!

So I had questions.

Pastor talked about how our "striving" is not so much striving to do all the right things, dot the i's and cross the t's, and pile up our goodness.  It is striving against the Old Adam -- the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5).  Our "striving" is when our sinful nature is drowned daily and dies with all sins and evil desires.  Our striving is putting to death that inherent pride which thinks God will look on us in kindness because we've been such good Christians.

He "knows you" by lavishing forgiveness upon you.  And if you can't be sure that Jesus knows you, it's because you are relying (at least to some extent) on your works. 

I love it when Pastor goes on a rant-of-sweetness about certainty, about the promises Jesus has made to us, and how He is the one who holds onto us. 


  1. Hi Susan, Merry Christmas to you and pastor and your family,
    I just wanted to comment about your post. I'm amazed that the prof in your story didn't correct the seminary wife who spouted bad theology/false doctrine in the Bible class. No wonder we have false views of Scripture in the Lutheran church! Anyway, Burt and I are doing well. We're back at St. John's in Pecatonica and we'll be going to Florida for a few weeks in January/February. God bless your family in 2014.

    In Christ,

  2. Diane, I think he didn't contradict her because, at that time, the Law she spoke stung him so that he had no response. He agreed that the verse she was quoting scared him. At that point, he didn't have the certainty that Jesus' claim on him was greater than his sin and whatever "trustingness" he could muster up. It would be nice to know if he has since found the comfort which I (and apparently he) needed in the face of such accusations.

    Tell Burt hi! Just last week Maggie was flipping through photos on the computer, and one of you and Burt popped up. And it made my little heart filled up with warm-fuzzies! You have a wonderful trip to Sunshine-Land. And a blessed celebration of our Jesus' incarnation!