Published November 11, 2014

Paul's Epistle...
"I Never Knew You"

Some of the most powerful songs are those that illustrate truths by telling stories. And one that surely fits in this category is the classic Southern Gospel song called, "Sorry, I Never Knew You." It was first popularized by the Sego Brothers and Naomi back in the early 1960s, and which, I'm told, sold more than a million copies in 1964, even crossing over into country music and some pop markets at the time.

I once had an e-mail, which I read on the air, from a listener who recounted how that song had a major impact on his life. Here's what he wrote:

"Paul, I have been a lover of Southern Gospel music since I was a young child in the late 1940s, but I never became a Christian. I was under conviction (although I didn't know it).

"In 1968, after my wife had been to a concert, she brought home some record albums. One of them was by the Sego Brothers and Naomi.  I played and enjoyed them. But when it would get to the song, ‘Sorry, I Never Knew You,' it bothered me so much that I had to stop listening to it. I had speakers out in my garage where I spent a lot of time, and I had to install a switch so I could turn it off when this song came on.

"In January of 1968 I got the mumps and couldn't get away from this music [which was] coming from the living room where my wife was playing it.  That's when I stopped running and asked God to come into my life. If I ever see Naomi Sego in person, I'll tell her, ‘Thank you for singing this song!'"

What a powerful testimony to the power of the Gospel message in song! Although it's more effective if you hear the song sung, the lyrics themselves tell the story:

     "Last night as I lay sleeping a dream came to me.
     I dreamed about the end of time, about eternity.
     I saw a million sinners fall on their knees to pray.
     The Lord just sadly looked at them and this I heard Him say,

    "Sorry, I never knew you,
     depart from me forevermore.
     Sorry, I never knew you.
     Go serve the one that you have served before.

     "I thought the time has surely come when I must face the trial.
     and I told the Lord that I had been a Christian all the while.
     But through his book he took a look and sadly shook his head
     Then placed me over on His left and this is what he said:

     Sorry, I never knew you,
     I have no record of your birth.
     Sorry, I never knew you.
     Go serve the one that you that you served while on earth.

     "There were my wife and children, I heard their loving voice.
     They must have been so happy, O how they did rejoice.
     Their robes of white around them, their faces all aglow.
     My little girl looked over at me and this is what she said:

     Daddy, we can't go with you,
     we must dwell in the joys of our Lord.
     Sorry, for we still love you,
     but you'll never be our Daddy anymore.

     "Now when I had awakened, the tears were in my eyes.
     And looking all around me, there to my surprise
     There were my loving babies, I knew it was a dream.
     Down beside that bed of mine you should have heard me scream:

     "Father who art in Glory,
     I know you gave your only Son;
     Father please Forgive me,
    For I want to be ready when He comes!"

Although the song is written as a dream, it captures a realistic and, to some, frightening picture of what it may be like when each of us must stand before the Lord to give an account of ourselves. And we most certainly will! (See Romans 14:12.) And it will be no dream — but, rather, the ultimate reality.

The key message here is that not everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian will actually be accepted as such by the Lord. Many so-called "Christians," unfortunately, don't know what being a Christian really means. Many don't realize it's not the family or society or church you're born into. Their faulty understanding of true Christianity will have tragic consequences if not corrected before it's too late (as the man in the song, above, did).

True Christianity is all about having a personal relationship with Christ. It's seeking His forgiveness in true repentance. It's about granting Him Lordship over our lives — living for Him daily, every day, continually living in accordance with His will.

Here's what the Lord Himself says about this: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers." (Matthew 7:21-23, NRSV.)

Those are words no one wants to hear! Those who do  hear them in that day of judgement will face a literal, actual, eternal punishment beyond all imaginings.

Rather, these are the words we want to hear on that day: "Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of thy Lord." (Matthew 25:21.)

Which will it be? "Sorry, I never knew you." Or, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" The choice is up to you.

- Paul

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