The Worst Words In All The Bible

When John Wesley first came to America as a missionary, he failed miserably. On his return to England he complained to himself, “I came to convert the Indians, but oh, Lord, who will convert me?” It’s possible to speak all the right words and do all the right works, and not know Jesus.

So apparently it’s not enough to do religious works. It’s not enough that our parents were religious, or our other family members, or our friends. It’s not enough that we grew up in the church, or have “always been a Christian.”

“Many” will say this to him on “that day.” Many will make this mistake, and have it revealed on the Judgment Day.

The Bible teaches, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Revelation 20 says that on that day, God will open the “book of works” to show us that none of us has earned heaven. Then he’ll open the “book of life” which records those who know Jesus and are known by him. With this result: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (v. 15).

Trust in the One who knows you

So don’t trust in right words or right works. It’s not enough to know the hymns and the vernacular, to come to church and do religious works. Jesus warned us that he would have to say to those who trusted in words and works: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (v. 23).

“Knew” means a personal, intimate relationship. It’s not enough to say that we know him—he must say that he knows us. You would know George Bush or John Kerry if they walked into the sanctuary—would they know you?

What does it take for him to “know” us? We must “do the will of my Father who is in heaven” (v. 21). Is this works righteousness? Right words and right works?

“My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

“This is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us” (1 John 3:23).

Then we will hear the best words in all the Bible: “Well done, good and faithful servant…Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).

Then we will know that we know him, not because of our words or works but because of his word and his works. Our assurance is not based on what we can do but on what he has done.

Jesus promised, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). We don’t have to hold onto him—he’s holding onto us.

He knows us, and will never forget us: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 1:14).

“The man who loves God is known by God” (1 Corinthians 8:3).

“God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his'” (2 Timothy 2:19).

Once he “knows” us, he never forgets us in all of eternity. He’ll remember us on the day of judgment. He’ll call us by name. And he’ll welcome us home.


Why is it so crucial that we know that we know him and that he knows us? Because this is the only way to eternal life. Jesus was adamant and blunt: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “No one,” no exceptions. If Jesus doesn’t know you, you won’t get in. You can claim that you know him, but he had better know you.

One of the great perks of pastoring in Atlanta was getting tickets to the Masters each year. The former governor of Georgia, Carl Sanders, was kind enough to arrange this remarkable experience. It’s like watching golf played in church—everything is hushed and almost “holy.”

Jeff Byrd, our missions minister, was the Executive Pastor of our church in Atlanta, and he and I would go to the tournament together. One year Carl let us use the clubhouse passes belonging to his daughter and her husband. I got to be David Botts; Jeff had to be Betty Botts. The guards at the door let me in—I guess I looked like a David Botts. But they wouldn’t let Jeff in—he resembled no Betty Botts they’d ever met. It didn’t matter that we said we knew the governor. The guards had to know that he knew us. And we couldn’t arrange that, so we got stopped at the gate.

Don’t get stopped at the gate. Does Jesus know you? Are you trusting in your words, the fact that you say you’re a Christian? Are you trusting in your works—your church attendance, your good deeds, your religious actions? Millions of Americans are. Don’t be one. The worst words in all the Bible are, “I never knew you.” Don’t take the chance that he’ll say them to you.