Friday, February 17, 2012

The Sheep and the Goats 2/15/2012

Tonight's discussion started with a question of our resposibility to help those in need.  What if they are abusing the system or not really in need?  What if they are going to use our help to do something wrong?  Does all that matter?  What has God called us to do?  To figure all this out we looked at the passage in Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats.

Before I even get going on this I want to make one thing clear.  No matter what you think you read or think I am trying to say here remember this one fact:  We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9).

In this passage Jesus says that the sheep and goats are judged for what they did and didn't do.  Any time you help someone who is less fortunate you are actually helping Jesus.  If you deny them the help they need, you are denying Jesus that help.  It's that simple.  Whatever we do to each other it's as if we are doing that to Christ.  Maybe that will get us to think twice about the way we treat each other.  Judgment is guaranteed for everyone after they die (Heb 9:27).  Scripture is very clear that judgment will be the result of what we do as well (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11-15; Rev 22:12).  Each of these passages says that God will judge according to our deeds.  So does that mean God is sitting up there with a balance weighing our good deeds against our bad deeds to see if we make it into heaven?  How does this fit with that whole saved by grace idea up in that disclaimer?

Faith and Works:
Believe it or not this all works together perfectly.  To really understand it we need to look to the discussion James has about faith and works in James 2.  Pay close attention to verses 14-26.  The bottom line here is that our works are not what save us, but are works are there because we are saved.  In other words if you are truly following Jesus you will automatically do good works because of your love for Him and for other people.  It's not the works that save you, but it's the works that tell us that you are actually saved.

If that doesn't make sense think of it this way.  How do I know an apple tree is an apple tree?  I can tell by the fruit hanging off the branches.  That's the same way you can tell someone is a Christian.  You can tell by the fruit that is produced in their life.  If you are a Christian the fruit will naturally grow.  That's where the sheep and the goats come in.  How can you say you love Jesus and not care about His people?  If we truly love Jesus we will help the poor, the sick, the homeless.  We can't possibly turn them away because of our love for God.  The opposite is also true.  If we do turn them away then we clearly don't love them and we obviously do not love God.  This is a heaven and hell issue.  Jesus says the goats will go into eternal punishment and the righteous will go into eternal life.  You can't earn your salvation by doing good works, but if you don't do good works you aren't really saved.

Don't be a goat!!!

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