Question: Matthew 7:21-23 talks about Jesus saying, “depart from Me I never knew you.” And John 14:16 says no body gets to the father except through me (Jesus). Now I know there’s a good chance I’m over thinking this but how do we know we know and have a relationship with Jesus if we’re always praying to God? We often connect with others mainly through conversation and time spent with them but if we are to pray to God then how do we spend time with Jesus?
It is very important when understanding scripture that we don’t isolate scripture from its context and sometimes that means the whole Bible. When reading scriptures, especially ones that tend to trip people up more than others, we need to look at the Word first as a whole, then as the audience being taught, then apply it individually within those parameters. Paul said in Acts 20:27 (NASB), “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose (some versions read counsel) of God. We need it all, sometimes to even understand a little.
How do you know which are “troublesome” passages? Understand, if something in scripture catches or troubles you it most like did and does to many others. Often times these scriptures of woe often are the place people get into erroneous understandings. Trigger words like slave, sin, submission, and the like tend to trip people up, getting them mixed up into weird ideas of the Truth. In this realm belongs all those who claim, “It’s how you interpret it.”
Understanding prayer is an important part of a believer’s walk and yet so many just don’t get it. They “try” prayer based on their understanding of communication but never come to know really what God gave to us through prayers ability. Before we get into this, let me clear some things up about what we commonly call the Trinity first.
God is one, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:9 (NASB), “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Also in John 10:30 (NASB), “I and the Father are one.” The Bible teaches that God is one God manifested in three persons. A basic way of understanding this is like water. Water never changes what it is but it’s form does from liquid, to solid, to gas. All very different but all completely the same.
When you pray to God the Father, you are praying to the others… in essence. The Jews always prayed to their Heavenly Father and we do as well. Jesus did this for example while He was here. The problem is, people who did not have covenant with God (which included all of us non-Jewish people) had no right to come to God. That is what He was speaking about in John 14:16. He was telling of how He was the only true access to the Father. When Jesus was here, His disciples depended on and asked Him for things. Jesus stated in John 16:23-24 (NASB), “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” This was quite a transition and an important key to our prayers.
Saying that we would pray to the Father in His (Jesus) name was not about what we say, but about the authority (another trip up word) in which we say it. Because of Jesus, now we have assured access to the Father which is not just Him but representative of all that God represents and otherwise employs. The “relationship” we often talk about is not as much something we build as it is something we obtain. We obtain it through faith in what Christ already did for us! How magnificent!
Let me state this more plainly. You can do nothing to have a relationship with God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit except receive what Jesus has done for you, by faith, and believe that it is something for you to walk in continually. No amount of works or prayer or reading the Bible will bring you any closer to God. Those things only do one thing, they change YOUR understanding of it and that helps you.
When Jesus said, “I will say depart from Me,” He was not referring to some believer who misses it in various places of their life. He’s talking about people whose motives were wrong, like the man who wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the disciples. Or like people who try and use the faith to make themselves rich, or for power and prestige. This was not written for the humble believer who tries to live godly and finds themselves failing. If that were the case, we’d all need another savior.
So to sum this all up, all who desire to have a relationship with God can freely receive it by embracing what His Son, Jesus Christ did for us all. You can’t earn it but you can receive it. Then, as that person reads the Bible, prays to God, goes to church, and fellowships with believers they will grow in their understanding of that relationship. Race doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter, societal status does not matter, God will show Himself equally to any one who desires Him!