The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     Last week, “From Daniel’s Den” introduced the Nominalizers as those “Christians” who (1) seek a simple or easy path to focusing on Christ, (2) savor the cultural practice of favoring Christ, and (3) shine amid a legal pattern of following Christ. In other words, nominalizers are those “Christians” who believe that joining a church or participating in church ministries, accepting the local customs and culture of the church, and checking all of the expected boxes properly in somewhat pharisaical fashion, qualifies them as Christian. Other “izers” are considered this week who, while often giving the outward appearance of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, may also hear Jesus’ response to the Nominalizers “I never knew you.” 

     Rationalizers and their cousins the Intellectualizers and Moralizers (along with their in-laws the Theorizers, the Surmizers, and the Analyzers) are other groups that could be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. Rationalizers often seek to justify or rationalize their acceptance by Christ through comparison with others. “I’m better than him” or “I don’t do all of the bad things that she does” might be employed by a rationalizer to convince them of their standing with Christ. The Intellectualizers could rationalize that the sheer volume of their Bible knowledge would surely yield a one-way ticket into heaven. Like the Rationalizers, the Theorizers, Surmizers, and Analyzers might also point to all of their good works and the amount of time they have spent benefiting others in Jesus’ name and assume they would be accepted for entrance into heaven.  Similarly, the Moralizers live by a code that promotes being good, doing good, and remaining on the right side of the law as evidence of their worthiness for salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus encountered members of these groups throughout his earthly ministry. To their claims of worthiness and acceptability, however (Matt. 7:22), Jesus will respond “I never knew you.”
     The Homogenizers, the Unionizers, and the Communalizers are “follow the crowd” and “strength and safety in numbers” kind of “Christians.” Rather than having a personal relationship with Jesus and unshakable convictions about following Jesus while standing firm despite the fiery darts of the Evil One (Eph. 6) and the deceitful scheming of man (Eph. 4), those situated in these particular groups would rather fit in and be accepted by the crowd rather than be accepted by Jesus. Rather than live by the conviction “If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Rom. 8:31b), homogenizers, unionizers, and communalizers tend to remove God from the equation and migrate toward the tenets of the group and allow others to influence their lives rather than embracing and living according to the precepts and principles of God presented in His word. To these groups, Jesus would say “I never knew you.”
     In some ways, Ritualizers may be closely akin to one branch of the Nominalizer family tree due to their focus on custom and ritual. Ritualizers can become more interested and intent on “doing church the right way” than on experiencing fellowship with the One who established the church. Ritualizers can place religious practices above enjoying a genuine and growing relationship with Jesus. Rituals can become “rutuals” and a rut is simply a grave with both ends temporarily kicked out. Ritualizers may one day hear “I never knew you.”
     The Improvisers, Compromisers, and Editorializers all want to base their present living and future hope on someone or something other than the “blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). These groups explore other avenues for salvation and eternal life other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ and personal faith in this unsurpassed gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9). A better answer and approach is always on the horizon for these folks complete with fresh opportunities and new-and-improved options. Most assuredly, these groups will hear “I never knew you.”
     Like the ICE groups above, others desiring entrance into the kingdom of heaven through alternate means might include the Exercisers, the Organizers, and the Simonizers. Some folks think that disciplining themselves physically through exercise is the key to heavenly rewards. After all, the body is the temple of God. Others feel like they can simply organize their lives in a neat and presentable manner by meeting deadlines, staying busy, on schedule and on task. Still other folks try to simonize their lives by trying to appear without blemish by overlaying their sin and shortcomings with polish rather than trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. All of these will inevitably hear “I never knew you.”
     Like the bank teller who needed my driver’s license as identification, those receiving life abundant and eternal (John 10:10, John 1:12, 3:16; Romans 10:9-10) are identified. In keeping with the Great Commandments (love God, love others, Matt. 22), Jesus declared “they will know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). Jesus further classified “denying self, taking up one’s cross, and following me” as an identifying characteristic of those having a relationship with Him (Luke 9:23).

     Unlike a business session or other gathering during which a particular matter is discussed, a motion made, a vote taken, and the moderator declares “the ayes have it,” entrance into the Kingdom of heaven is not about all of the “izes” that surround us. Rather, “only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21). What is God’s will? A personal faith relationship with Jesus (John 6:28-29; 1 John 3:23). In such a relationship, believers enjoy intimate fellowship with Jesus (children of God, John 1:12) and embrace an intentional followship of Jesus (Luke 9:23). Those without such a relationship will hear, “I never knew you.” Why? Because the “izes” don’t have it. Only those who say “aye” (“yes”) to Jesus in faith will gain entrance to eternity with Him.