Friday, August 8, 2014

Separating The Sheep From The Goats

Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31-33)

Here Jesus uses the example of a shepherd separating his sheep and goats to help understand what will happen when he returns.  As he explains, all of humanity will be divided into two groups, the goats and the sheep just as a shepherd would do, placing the sheep at his right and the goats on the left.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

The kingdom of heaven is prepared for those on the right, the ones who took time to meet Jesus’ needs.  As Jesus points out, they were not even aware they were doing these things for hi.  They just had an attitude of helping other people and doing what was right, and will be blessed because of it.  By their concern for others they have demonstrated their love for God.  They will receive everlasting life.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: Mt 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:41-46)

By their refusal to care for others, those on the left have demonstrated their disdain for God and his standards.  Many of them think they are serving God and will be shocked to learn they have not been pleasing him.  This is exactly what Jesus said in 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.”

Those who will be saved are those who do God’s will, who obey his commands, not those who have done what they thought was right or important, or even those who have indiscriminately given to other people.  John 14:23-24 says, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”

Some people are just giving things to other people to earn their way into heaven.  I Corinthians 13:3 warns, “… though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”  Even their charitable giving is worthless without love for God.  

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