Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Sheep And The Goats

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

God will judge sin - all sin. And as Christians we are not exempt. As Christians however have had our sins placed on Jesus; on the cross He took the judgment that we deserved upon Himself and He satisfied the wrath of God that our sin deserved. But it is important to remember that ALL sin will be judged.

With that said we come now to the passage that is known as the separation of the sheep and the goats. Jesus tells us that there will come a day when He will come in all of His glory, and He will bring His angels with Him. On that day He will sit on His throne and all of the nations of the earth will be gathered before Him. The passage goes on to tell us that He will separate the nations into two groups - the sheep and the goats. We are told that He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left, and that He will say to the sheep, "Come you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." And to the goats He will say, "Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels."

What is the difference between these two groups? Why are they divided as they are? Why are some received into His kingdom while others are condemned to hellfire? Jesus gives us the answer. He tells us that the sheep are those who had compassion and cared for their fellow man. But they didn't do this to earn a reward, they did this because they were followers of Jesus. And Jesus tells them that when they cared for the poor and needy they were really caring for Him. The goats on the other hand He says, didn't bother to help anyone. They are the ones who took everything they had been given and consumed all of it on their own comforts and pleasure with no regard for the welfare of their fellow man.

There are some today who have twisted this passage into a proof text for a works salvation, or to teach that Jesus' only purpose of coming to earth was to teach us to care for the poor. but is Jesus talking about a works salvation here? I don't think so, because that would contradict the teachings of the rest of Scripture. Or is He telling us that the most important thing we can do is help the poor? Again, I don't think so. Do we need to help the poor? Absolutely we do, but first we need to make sure that we are in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and when we are we will find that we are helping the poor not because we have to, but because we want to show the love of our Heavenly Father to the poor and hurting of the world.

Remember that in John 10:27 Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him; in this case it means that we will help the poor because He helped the poor. This is just another example that the true sheep listen to, and follow, the voice of the Shepherd.
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