Matthew 25:31 - 46
NKJV - 31 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
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First, I would say that although Jesus speaks of the nations of the earth being gathered before Him, the separation of those people into the sheep and the goats to whom Jesus refers will not be on the basis of their earthly nationality, but on the individual status of each person with respect to his or her own salvation. Some people cite the parable referenced in the question as an indication of the ability of humans to be saved by their works. However, I would say that the separation that occurs will, first and foremost, be based on faith in Christ. The Bible makes clear in passages such as Isaiah 64:6 that, apart from faith in Christ, all our works (even those that seem righteous by human standards) are as filthy rags in God's sight. Also, note that Jesus says to both the saved and the unsaved that the actions that they did or did not perform were either done or not done to Him. Only Christians/believers (the sheep in Jesus' parable) would have performed those actions in the name of serving Christ, as if they were actually ministering to Him. Such actions will have been evidence of their salvation, rather than the cause of it. The unredeemed (goats), by the very fact that they did not possess saving faith in Christ, will not have performed any of the works that they did as a service to Him.
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