“Does Jesus Know You?”
I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union. I grew up in a loving, moral family where no religion was practiced. When I was a teenager, my parents took me to a Pentecostal church, and that’s where I was introduced to the Bible for the first time. I never doubted that the Bible was the Word of God. Evolution was taught in my school, but I didn’t believe it. I knew that the world was designed, and evolution didn’t make any sense to me. After attending the Pentecostal church for a while, I ended up praying a prayer, asking Jesus to come into my heart. Shortly after that, I was baptized. I stopped cursing, I tried to respect my parents, and I even started going to church more faithfully. In spite of all my efforts, I still did not have a real relationship with God. One day, I came across Matthew 7:21-23, “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.”
According to these verses, on the judgment day, many professing “Christians” will be standing and thinking that they are right with God. Sadly, Jesus responds to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” I was very troubled by this passage, and I took it to my pastor. I asked her, “How do I know that I am not one of those people Christ would reject?”
“To my disappointment, she didn’t have a Bible answer for me.”
In 2000 at the age of 16, I moved to the United States and attended Minnesota State University Moorhead. Like many young adults, I had a struggle within me. I wanted to know more about the Bible, but at the same time, I was drawn to experiment with new things as a college freshman. One of my friends invited me to a campus Bible study through Fargo Baptist Church. The first time I went, I was pleasantly surprised as I could tell that the Bible study teacher was well versed in the Word of God. Even though I couldn’t find the majority of the passages he covered, I knew that this is where the truth was preached. To my amazement, at one of the first Bible studies, the message on Matthew 7 was taught. I was surprised how the Bible was presented in such a clear manner, and it actually made sense. I started attending Bible studies on regular basis.
After a semester of studying the Bible, I realized that I wasn’t born again or saved. (Note: salvation and saved and born-again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.)
“Even though I was baptized and was fairly active in the church, when I compared myself to the Bible, I realized I was a sinner condemned to hell because of the sins I had committed.”
Ultimately, I didn’t have a relationship with Christ. I knew of Him, but I didn’t know Him, and in turn, He didn’t know me either. As time went on, I learned more about salvation and what it involved according to the Bible. Jesus says we are to come to Him in faith and repentance. The idea of repentance and faith was scaring me. I realized it’s not adding Jesus to my life, and it’s not eliminating cursing from my vocabulary. It is a complete change of mind. It is living for Jesus with all my mind, spirit, and soul. As my pastor likes to say, “If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord AT ALL.”
I was always a driven individual. By an early age, I knew what I wanted from life: I knew how much money I wanted to make, when I wanted to retire, that I never wanted to be married… So here I was: at 18 years old, I knew I was lost, but I just couldn’t repent. I was too scared to give my life over to Christ. “Signing a blank check” and allowing God to fill it in, to have complete control of my life, didn’t sit well with me. Satan is very good at drawing us away from God. He will do anything possible for us to remain in our lost condition, and I wasn’t an exception. After almost eight months of struggling and putting my salvation on hold, the Lord used my pastor as he brought the message on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The pastor was saying that God will draw us, which He did draw me, but we must accept the gift. Not saying “yes” to God meant that I was rejecting His gift of salvation. Also, God put Mark 8:36 on my heart, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
“I realized I could have everything I want in this world, but if I ‘lose my soul,’ or make a choice that sends it to hell, I gain absolutely nothing.”
So finally, on August 5th, 2001, I surrendered and accepted Christ as my Savior. On that day, I finally grasped God’s true love towards me. I understood in my heart that whatever He had for my life was better than my plans. Also, I know that on that day, I became a child of God, and my Heavenly Father knew me and had a relationship with me now. From that day on, if I would stand before Christ on the judgment day, I have nothing to bring to God but the shed blood of Christ that covers me, the unworthy sinner. “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” (Nahum 1:7)
Friend, Does Jesus KNOW you? Do you know of Him or do you know Him? There is a big difference between the two: one is eternity in heaven, and the other is eternity in hell. The chance that we will die is 100%; where will you be?