Matthew 25:1 - 46
ESV - 1 Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
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Jesus gives 6 examples of kindness and compassion shown to people in need, in Matthew 25: 35-36. 1. I was hungry and you gave me something to eat 2. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink 3. I was s stranger and you invited me in 4. I needed clothes and you clothed me 5. I was sick and you took care of me 6. I was in prison and you came and visited me These are 6 tangible, physical examples that express our love for other people in need. These are not spiritual or metaphorical, they are real, practical ways that we can bring the kingdom of God to people who need it. This is exactly the same as Jesus’s ministry. He met the practical needs of everyone he encountered, whether the need was physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. The question asks “if we don’t do these exact things, will we be punished?” In response I want to make the following points: 1. This sheep and goats account is the judgement that will occur when Jesus comes for the second time. 2. The sheep are believers in Jesus 3. The goats are those who have rejected Jesus as Saviour and Lord 4. The 6 examples Jesus gives, represent the good works that Christians perform, in this human life, in obedience to Jesus command 5. All believers will be rewarded in our eternal inheritance, for all the good deeds we perform that obey Jesus commands to “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love other people as much as we love ourselves” 6. There is absolutely no punishment for believers at Jesus second coming 7. All the punishment is meted out to the unbelievers for their evil and wickedness. They will suffer eternal punishment 8. The good deeds that are listed as examples does not mean that these things earn or merit our salvation. Jesus acceptance of us is based on our personal relationship with him that begins when we hear the gospel message and choose to accept him as our personal Saviour and surrender to him as the Lord of our life. 9. Jesus is the shepherd and believers are the sheep. He calls us by name. We hear his voice and follow his lead. 10. God has prepared good works for us to complete, Jesus is training and equipping is for the job, and the Holy Spirit is given us the wisdom and power to make it happen. 11. We only have this lifetime to complete God’s will for our lives. The earlier parables in Matthew 25 (10 virgins, bags of money) show us the importance of being diligent to use the time, talents and resources God has given us to do everything possible to advance his kingdom on earth until the day Jesus comes again. 12. Time that we waste chasing after the things of this world instead of obeying Jesus’s commands represent rewards that could have been ours but are lost for all eternity. 13. We only have this lifetime to fulfill the commission Jesus has given us and we don’t know how many days we will have until he comes again. The book of Revelation ends with this prayer and benediction (Revelation 22:20-21) He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” This should be the prayer and hope of every Christian if we are diligent and ready for his return.
First of all, I would say that the Bible makes it clear that we are saved by faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Good works that Christians then do are the visible product and evidence of their right relationship to God in Christ, and of the salvation that they have already received, rather than the cause of that salvation. Next, in my opinion, the examples of righteous deeds that Jesus gave in the parable of the sheep and the goats were not meant to be an exhaustive list, but were indicative of the spirit of selfless service to others that saved individuals should have. Such service can take many forms that are not limited to the specific examples that Jesus gave. The crucial consideration is that the works are done in His name out of gratitude to God. This can include both ministering to material needs (as in the case of those literally hungry, thirsty, sick, ill-clothed, or in prison) or to psychological or spiritual needs (as through sharing the gospel message). Last, I would say that those deeds serve as the basis for the reward that the redeemed will receive from God in eternity, rather than being a determining factor in their salvation, which (again) is solely through faith, which imputes Christ's perfect righteousness to His followers in God's sight (Romans 4:5). (In the parable, Jesus spoke of the redeemed inheriting the kingdom that had been prepared for them before the foundation of the world -- that is, prior to the time when they could have done anything to earn that salvation.)
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